Ewch i’r prif gynnwys

2013

A new app has been developed by researchers at Cardiff University that enables users to measure their understanding of different groups in society.

The 'Masquerade' app is based on The Imitation Game (IMGAME); a new research method that can be used to compare societies across space and time. IMGAME is innovative in its combination of collecting quantitative measures as well as qualitative data by asking sociological questions. It is based on a parlour game adapted by Alan Turing for his 'Turing test' for artificial intelligence.

The Imitation Game is a major research project funded by a €2.26M European Research Council Advanced Research Grant and led by Professor Harry Collins as part of the Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE) Network at the School of Social Sciences. It uses an elaborate computer programme to enable lots of people to play Imitation Games.

'Masquerade' is a stripped down version of the complicated software which enables any three people to play the game in a pub or cafe or at home. It is a simple game of pretence where two players share a trait (for example both are male, or both sports fans) while the third player does not (for example she is a woman, does not follow any sports team) but pretends to share it. One of the two players that shares the trait becomes the judge and must question the others to identify the pretender. 'Masquerade' can be used to measure people's understandings and prejudices of different groups in society.

Professor Collins, said: "To develop the app, we used the new concept of Interactional Expertise (IE); the understanding which comes from long immersion in the linguistic discourse of a community. For example, the blind have good IE when it comes to the sighted community because they have spent all their lives talking to sighted people.

"When we played these games with blind and sighted people we found that blind people could pass as sighted about 80 per cent of the time, whereas sighted people could pass as blind only about 15 per cent of the time" he added.  

The research principles used to develop the app can be applied to many educational and training settings such as helping medical students learn to understand the patient's perspective, measuring the value of internships in promoting in-depth knowledge of organisational practice or testing the extent to which managers understand what goes on in different parts of their organisation.

The researchers behind the development of the app are Professor Harry Collins, Dr Rob Evans, Dr Martin Weinel, Dr Andrew Bartlett and Jennifer Smith from the School of Social Sciences and Dr Rob Davies from the School of Computer Science and Informatics. The app was produced by Cardiff digital creative agency Sequence.

The app can be downloaded from the iTunes store for Apple devices and from Google Play for Android devices.

Visit the Imitation Game website for further information about the research project and the SEE Network: http://blogs.cf.ac.uk/imgame/

A MOBO award winning hip hop artist will be visiting Cardiff University to deliver a guest lecture to social science students.

Kingslee 'Akala' Daley will give the talk ahead of a performance at The Moon Club on Thursday 5th December to showcase his fourth studio album 'The Thieves Banquet'.

Akala is a record label owner and social entrepreneur who fuses rap/rock/electro-punk with lyrical storytelling. In 2009, Akala launched the 'The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company', a music theatre production enterprise designed to create social cohesion between young people from varying social and economic backgrounds.   

His talk on 'Hip Hop, Power and Resistance' was organised by Cardiff School of Social Sciences PhD student Jessie Abrahams. Jessie said: "I decided to invite Akala to speak because I was inspired by his passion and drive to use his power as a rap star to make changes to disadvantaged young people's life chances through engaging them in theatre and Shakespeare and drawing connections to hip hop."

"Akala's lecture will be beneficial to students and staff at Cardiff by highlighting a real example of positive and resistant hip hop. It will also be a great opportunity to engage the public and young people with Sociology and Cardiff University by making it accessible to them through Akala" Jessie added.

Dr Robin Smith, Lecturer at the School of Social Sciences, said: "The topics of power and resistance in society are strong themes in our undergraduate curriculum and in our 'Culture, Transformation and Subjectivity' research theme at the School.

"I am delighted that Akala is coming to the University to offer his insights to our students and to inspire them to think about culture, identity and power from Akala's perspective."

'Hip Hop, Power and Resistance' takes place at 5.00pm on Thursday December 5th  in the Council Chamber, Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University.

The talk is free and open to the public, but booking is essential. Please register at: www.socsiakala.eventbrite.co.uk

Tickets for Akala's performance at The Moon Club can be purchased from the Ents24 website

Creating safe learning communities on Welsh campuses will be the focal point of a national conference held this Friday (29 November) in the University's Hadyn Ellis Building.

  • Organised by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and hosted by the University, the 'Safe Campus Communities Conference' will advise attendees how to identify, engage and protect students who may be vulnerable and ensure that freedom of speech remains at the heart of Welsh higher education.

The meeting will provide opportunities for raising awareness of core systems, protocols and policies impacting on the safeguarding and well-being of students on and off campus, and will highlight best practice regionally and UK-wide.

Chairing proceedings will be Barrie Phillips, the All-Wales HE/FE Prevent Coordinator. He said:

"Safe Campus Communities focuses on the well-being and safeguarding of all those on and off campus. The conference underpins the reality that we all have a part to play – whether policy-maker, lecturer, counsellor, warden, facilities or law enforcement – and draws on experts and best practice to promote a collective approach."

Also speaking at the conference will be Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the University. She said: "The University is pleased to be able to work with Welsh Government and the Home Office on this important event. At Cardiff University we place a priority on the sense of community on our campuses and on student well-being".

Confirmed Speakers and Breakout Group Leads include:

· Dr Mansur Ali: Jameel scholar, Cardiff University

· Jo Attwooll: Policy adviser, Universities UK

· Alan Evans, Senior Research, Training and Evaluation Consultant, Cardiff University

· Lin Ashby & Becky Roberts: Charity Commission

· Dr Matthew Feldman: Co-Director, Centre for Fascist Studies, Teeside University

· Professor Helen Fenwick: Director, Human Rights Centre, Durham University

· Dr Paul Fitzpatrick: Chaplain-psychologist, Cardiff Metropolitan University

· DCI Mike Mantripp: WECTU Strategic Prevent Lead, Wales

· Sarah Huws-Davies: Director of Student Services, Swansea University

· Laura Jones: Muslim chaplain, Cardiff Metropolitan University

· Professor Michael Levi: Professor of Criminology, Cardiff University

· Gary Loke: Head of Policy, Equality Challenge Unit

· Roger Morgan: Chair, Association of University Chief Security Officers

· Professor Elizabeth Treasure : Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

· Rev Mick Williams: Senior chaplain, Staffordshire University

Finance Minister Jane Hutt has welcomed the news that Cardiff University's Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC) has been awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

The Finance Minister welcomed the news while visiting the £10m EU-backed SEREN project – a major research programme into ground energy, led by the GRC at the University's School of Engineering.

A biennial award scheme which is within the UK's national honours system, the Queen's Anniversary Prize is one of the UK's most prestigious forms of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution. The latest Prize awarded to the University is in recognition of the GRC's pioneering work, including SEREN's applied research that is developing ground-breaking low-carbon, geo-energy technologies, services and products in collaboration with businesses.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt, who was accompanied on the visit by UK Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP, said: "I wish to congratulate the Geoenvironmental Research Centre on receiving the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for their cutting-edge research and internationally renowned expertise.

"I am also delighted to see the significant impact EU funds are having in supporting innovation and the low carbon economy. This is another example of how Wales benefits from vital EU funds, which are helping to drive our knowledge economy, helping secure our global competitiveness, and boosting economic growth and jobs in our region."

SEREN has already assisted more than 38 businesses and undertaken 16 collaborative research and development projects.

One such business is Carmarthen-based Hendre Holdings Ltd. Group Managing Director Dr Steve Whitehouse, said: "We are working to utilise existing coal tips in Wales to produce chemical feedstock and gas via a new technology. The SEREN project is providing us with its research expertise and lab facilities. We will use its bespoke high pressure / high temperature rig to obtain experimental information that will enable us to develop our own production plant and significantly expand our operations. This work has attracted significant inward investment interest and is expected to create many new jobs in the South Wales valleys."

SEREN is backed with £5.7M from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. It pioneers research into areas such as ground-source heat, underground coal gasification to generate energy and carbon storage. Extensive research is also being undertaken on utilising mine water as an alternative and efficient ground-energy source to provide cost-effective heat energy to buildings.

Two UK teachers, Nick Gough and Richard Sears have overtaken the current world record for the longest journey in an auto-rickshaw in an expedition sponsored by Cardiff University.

After their motorised tuk tuk broke down, just 70km short of the world record distance, the duo were forced to spend three days pushing the 80kg vehicle before they were able to find a mechanic able to fix it.

The tuk tuk is now running again and Nick and Richard are continuing their journey towards Chile, where they will have travelled the circumference of the Earth.

Driven by a passion to promote and advance worldwide education, the educational campaigners have travelled 37,500km through 37 countries around the world while supporting grassroots education projects in Africa, Asia and South America and raising awareness for the Global Campaign for Education.

The expedition has been no easy task for the Tuk Tuk Travels team. They set out from London on 13th August 2012 and have had some major challenges to overcome throughout the course of their mammoth journey. They have tackled deserts and jungles, pushing the tuk tuk for hundreds of kilometres through deep sand and thick mud, survived close encounters with elephants in Uganda and Botswana, and an accident in Malaysia when a truck ploughed into the back of them. The greatest toll on the tuk tuk has been the mountain ranges lying in their path, including the Alps, the Himalayas and the Andes.

The last leg through South America involves negotiating cold temperatures, high altitude and the narrow and treacherous roads of the Andes before hopefully reaching the finish line in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in December.

Talking about their motivation, Richard said: "The World's leaders have made a commitment to achieving universal primary education by 2015 but, despite this pledge, over 57 million primary-aged children worldwide are still out of school; many more are in school, though still cannot access quality learning opportunities."

Nick commented about the adventure: "Although there have been many testing times, we have been privileged to witness such wonderful places and meet some truly remarkable individuals."

Nick and Richard have uncovered some inspirational projects across Africa, Asia and South America, and have witnessed firsthand the extent of the educational challenges facing these areas today.  They have joined street children in the slums of Cairo, Khartoum, Kampala, Mumbai and Phnom Penh; visited Congolese refugees in camps in Eastern Burundi and met Colombian refugees fighting to forge a new life in Ecuador; seen how education can help foster peace and reconciliation in Rwanda after meeting two young genocide survivors in Kigali; and witnessed how education can empower sex-workers in Delhi, and victims of human trafficking in Nepal.

The team has elected to travel around the world in a tuk tuk to take advantage of its slow-paced, open and friendly nature making it easier to explore and unlock different cultures and communities along the way and to learn about and from their values, struggles, inspirations and ambitions. The vehicle itself is iconic, exhilarating, eye-catching and engaging. No-one has ever succeeded in travelling around the world in a tuk tuk before.

While the team have now overtaken the current world record for the longest journey in an auto-rickshaw, they will not officially break the Guinness World Record until their expedition is complete and verified. The current record (37,410km) was set by Susi Bemsel and Daniel Snaider, both from Germany, in 2005.

Two scientists from the University are embarking on a mission to use both theatre and astronomy to inspire a new generation of scientists.

Dr Haley Gomez, an astrophysicist, and Wendy Sadler, Director of the award-winning spinout company, Science Made Simple, are both recipients of awards from the National Science Academy which is a Welsh Government Scheme designed to support STEM education in Wales.

Dr Haley Gomez, an astrophysicist, and Wendy Sadler, Director of the award-winning spinout company, Science Made Simple, are both recipients of awards from the National Science Academy which is a Welsh Government Scheme designed to support STEM education in Wales.

In recent years the numbers of students, notably women, taking up physical science subjects has been in decline. Outreach activities to engage young people are viewed by the Welsh Government as being vital to reversing this downward trend. STEM subjects, along with other numerical disciplines, are highly valued across a range of occupations, offering students varied career opportunities.

'The Universe in your Classroom' is a project led by Dr Gomez that aims to engage with 100 teachers and reach over 1400 Welsh primary school students. The initiative will employ a team of role models - ranging from astronomy undergraduates to professional astronomers - who will visit classrooms all across Wales (reaching 60,000 pupils over a decade). Role models will bring the wonders of the Universe into the classroom, by combining innovative teaching tools and technology including robotic telescopes, enquiry-based learning and Universe-in-a-box kits.

Dr Gomez from the School of Physics and Astronomy said:

"We now know that the way young children think is very similar to the way a scientist thinks, primary children like to test why things happen in an informal way and learn from watching and listening, linking different things together. So it's a perfect age to introduce these young scientists to the amazing universe and inspire them using creative activities based on the Moon, stars and other distant objects in the sky.

"Our diverse group of science role models will help demonstrate to young children that science is for everyone. We hope to help Welsh children (and their teachers) become more interested and more confident in science and technology, using the awe-inspiring medium of astronomy."

By establishing this project, Wales joins the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) project - a global initiative endorsed by the International Astronomical Union. It aims to use the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology in order to engender a sense of global citizenship.

Also based in the School of Physics and Astronomy, a University outreach company science made simple will be using quite a different technique to engage families with the wonder of science.

'Science without words' is a unique family theatre show that uses physical theatre, live science and humour to excite audiences about the science in the world around them. The show has no spoken language, but features a number of visually intriguing experiments presented by tech-savvy clowns to a musical soundtrack. The aim is to encourage children to ask more questions about the things they have seen, and to start conversations with their parents about science. The show is aimed at families with children from 4-11 years old and will be touring six theatre locations across Wales.

"We're thrilled to be able to tour this show in our own region across Wales following a sell-out stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival," said Wendy Sadler. "Families are increasingly looking for entertaining and educational things that they can do together, and with the follow-on activities we provide after the show we want to get parents and grandparents actively involved in recreating elements of the show in the kitchen when they get back home.

"Research suggests that it is vitally important that parents are positive about science to help encourage children to choose it as a subject to study later in life. We believe that capturing this enthusiasm earlier in life is essential to build a supply of future scientists and engineers for Wales," she added.

Controlling carbon emissions, reducing the waste sent to landfill and encouraging sustainable transport for staff are just three of the commitments outlined in the University's new Corporate Social Responsibility policy.

Launched during Sustainability Week (4-8 November 2013), the policy brings together all of the University's existing good practice and sets out a framework for its sustainable development in the future.

It covers how Cardiff will manage its internal operations and how it will engage with its stakeholders, staff and students.

Among its plans to promote good environmental practices are: to continue to comply with BREEAM excellent standards and review environmental impacts of all new builds; to review our Environmental Policies every year; and to implement sustainable development into the curriculum of every course.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, who oversaw the development of the policy said: "This is an exciting step forwards in demonstrating how important the University takes its responsibility to the wider society.

"Cardiff is committed to making a significant and sustainable contribution to health, economy, education and culture locally, nationally and internationally.

"The new policy prioritises community engagement and sustainable development, two of The Way Forward's guiding principles and shows that our ambitions will not come at any expense but alongside responsible behaviour in the interest of society."

People with alcohol addiction, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress may be able to help treat their condition by retraining the way their brains work.

A team of scientists, led by Cardiff University, is embarking on a major four-year study to test whether a technique known as Neurofeedbackis an effective additional form of treatment for people suffering with mental and behavioural disorders including: autism, alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

Previous studies have already suggested that this technique might help people with depression and Parkinson's disease improve their symptoms.

"Self-regulation of brain activity in humans based on real-time feedback of brain imaging signals is emerging as a powerful new technique," according to Professor David Linden, School of Psychology, who will co-ordinate the €5.9M European Commission funded BRAINTRAIN consortium alongside neuroscientists, physicists, psychiatrists and computer scientists from the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Germany, Israel and the UK.

"Using an MRI scanner, Neurofeedback allows scientists to monitor brain activity of patents in real-time. The activity levels are then fed back to the patient in the form of a simple display on a screen.

"Using the feedback, it allows patients to see and alter activity in specific parts of their brain. Previous studies have already suggested that this technique might help people with depression and Parkinson's disease improve their symptoms."

The project will bring together teams from academia and industry and explore the feasibility in a number of mental and behavioural disorders - specifically characterised by dysfunctional brain systems for motivation, emotion regulation and social communication.

Professor Linden adds: "By bringing together some of the world's best scientists in the field we will explore and refine real-time functional neuroimaging and find out whether they can be used to train patients to regulate their own brain activity.

"We want to establish whether it can help restore function, improve symptoms and promote resilience.

"Ultimately we hope to establish whether this new technique could become a part of comprehensive treatment programmes for these conditions."

Much of the research will be undertaken at Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre (CUBRIC) using MRI scanners. The Cardiff team is already evaluating the effects of the technique on depression and Parkinson's disease.

BRAINTRAIN is supported by the European Commission under the Health Cooperation Work Programme of the 7th Framework Programme (Grant agreement n°602186).

Cardiff University is set to benefit from a £350M fund to train postgraduate students in engineering and physical sciences, announced by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.

Cardiff has secured a share of the UK's largest investment in postgraduate training in engineering and physical sciences. In total the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will fund over seventy new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), spread across 24 UK universities.

Science Minister David Willetts said: "Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society. It is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.

"I am particularly pleased to see strong partnerships between universities, industry and business among the new centres announced. This type of collaboration is a key element of our industrial strategy and will continue to keep us at the forefront of the global science race."

Professor Karen Holford, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Physical Sciences & Engineering said: "This funding is targeted at areas vital to economic growth and is good news for Cardiff's thriving postgraduate community.  Postgraduate study in the Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff offers academic excellence in areas with high levels of economic and societal impact. Our Centres will involve research that connects to key industries and important technologies which will aid innovation and growth."

Cardiff will lead the Centre for Doctoral Training in Catalysis addressing some of society's biggest challenges through catalysis: clean energy generation, environmental clean-up of air and water and sustainable manufacture.

This interdisciplinary programme led by Cardiff, with the universities of Bath and Bristol, will offer postgraduate training in Catalysis and Reaction Engineering. 

Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Catalysis, Cardiff University said: "This interdisciplinary programme will allow postgraduates to develop an advanced knowledge of traditional and emerging catalysis disciplines, an understanding of industry and global contexts plus research and professional skills. The resulting graduates will drive and grow the UK catalysis sector as well as support the needs of UK industry."

Cardiff is also a partner in two further Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).  The Water Informatics: Science and Engineering (WISE) CDT, led by Exeter and joined by GW4 partners Cardiff, Bristol and Bath. The Centre will develop scientists and engineers to manage the water cycle effectively. It will provide a postgraduate programme that fosters new levels of innovation and collaboration to train engineers and scientists at the boundary of water informatics, science and engineering

Cardiff also partners in the Diamond Science and Technology CDT – led by Warwick University and partners. Diamond enabled innovative technologies are emerging with the potential for major advances in basic science and end-application performance. The new Centre will bring together 40 leading researchers from the eight partner universities with industrial input embedded throughout.

Paul Golby, EPSRC's Chair, said: "Centres for Doctoral Training have already proved to be a great success and the model is popular with students, business and industry. These new centres will give the country the highly trained scientists and engineers it needs and they will be equipped with skills to move on in their careers. The standard of applications for Centres was very high and more could have been funded if we had the capacity."

The news follows a major boost to postgraduate training in earth and environmental scientistsawarded to the GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnershipby the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). And, significant postgraduate funding success in the arts and humanities by the South, West and Wales Consortium, in which Cardiff (joined with seven other universities) was been awarded £14.2 million funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

A pioneering University research centre that has tackled the legacy of past industrial activity and provided solutions to the world's future energy challenges has been recognised for its achievements.

The Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC), based in the University's School of Engineering, has been awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

A biennial award scheme, which is within the UK's national honours system, is one of the UK's most prestigious forms of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution.

Led by Professor Hywel Thomas, the Centre was established in 1996 and has since steered the field of geoenvironmental engineering.

From its earliest days, it brought together practitioners, experts, universities, industry, international organisations and governments to tackle geoenvironmental issues, and made the direct translation of its research to industry one of its guiding principles.

In Wales, 770 companies have benefitted from the Centre's work and expertise, while 14 new ones have been created as a result of its research. It has safeguarded jobs in the region and given companies the opportunity to compete in new markets in the UK and overseas.

The GRC currently leads a major "Ground Energy" programme of work, the Seren project. Areas being investigated include: Ground source heat, Geothermal energy from old coal mines, GIS based decision support systems (Geoinformatics), and Advanced Computational Modelling of Ground source heat processes. The project is aimed at helping businesses to find new commercial opportunities in these fields.

Its work has also in the past helped Welsh companies in the general geoenvironmental area to produce new and innovative fibre grass seed mulching products, reuse blast furnace slag waste and develop industrial wastes into cement substitutes.

Further afield, the Centre's ground-breaking research has helped shape the design of some of the world's first nuclear repositories and manage land contaminated by persistent organic pollutants – chemicals that don't degrade.

Staff from the Centre also contributed to an improved understanding of how arsenic was being released into groundwater in the Bay of Bengal – the worst case of mass poisoning in the world.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan said: "The Geoenvironmental Research Centre and their partners in industry have created an interdisciplinary body of expertise that is recognised and relied upon internationally.

"The Centre's work has had truly global impact, helping safeguard human health and regenerate the environment. It has been vital in tackling the legacy of past industrial activity in Wales, Europe and around the world. Its pioneering work is also shaping our future by providing new solutions to waste and energy sources.

"This is the fifth Queen's Anniversary Prize for Cardiff University and it's an achievement that we share with our whole community. On behalf of the University, I congratulate Professor Hywel Thomas and all at the Centre for their success."