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Research & KT News

Issue 4 February 2012

University hosts Research Conference 2012 The University of Portsmouth Research Conference 2012, held on 25 January, was an exciting start to a new year of research at Portsmouth. The conference was extremely well-attended, attracting nearly 300 delegates from across the University and demonstrating not only the importance of research to our activities, but also our commitment to sustaining and growing these in the future. The morning session started with two distinguished speakers from the most important research funders in the UK - Professor David Sweeney, Director of Research at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and Dr Steven Hill, Head of Strategy at Research Councils UK. Both speakers endorsed their commitment to work with universities to support excellent research in the UK, despite the obvious and considerable pressures from national budget constraints and global competition.

initiatives, such as a new Research Development Fund, a Peer Review College and further Grant Hothouses and, of course, by her ‘A’ team – the Associate Deans for Research (ADR).

Bringing the discussions closer to home, Professor Robert Allison (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, University of Sussex) gave a compelling and challenging presentation on his experiences of developing and implementing a research strategy at the University of Sussex. In particular, he highlighted the importance of encouraging and supporting our postgraduate researchers along the research ‘pipeline’ and of promoting ‘knowledge transformation’ at every opportunity.

The conference was a celebration of the excellent research at Portsmouth and confirmed the key role that research plays in our higher education mission. In doing so, it set the scene for the launch of the forthcoming research strategy, for future events and interdisciplinary activities and for continued enthusiasm in the year ahead.

To complete the day, the Deans and ADRs gave their Faculty perspectives on research, demonstrating not only an impressive variety of presentation styles, but also an exciting range of approaches to supporting research over the next few years.

Over lunch, delegates had the opportunity to network and to view the Portsmouth Impact posters, showcasing the benefits of our research to the wider society. The quality and diversity of these impacts was extremely impressive and the case studies from which they were drawn will be developed and publicised further to raise the profile of the excellent work that we do. And so we moved on to an afternoon dedicated to research at Portsmouth. Professor Taraneh Dean (Director of Research) introduced the draft Research Strategy (2012 – 2017), sharing the new vision for research at Portsmouth and outlining our key strategic objectives for the future. Tara stressed that the expectations and targets are ambitious, but staff and students will be supported towards our goals by a number of University-wide

Professor Robert Allison, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, addresses the conference.

Inside this edition: Update from the Director of Research – Professor Taraneh Dean .......................................Page 2 Funding update ......................................................................................................................Page 2 Towards the University Research Strategy ...........................................................................Page 3 When research hits the headlines – Joe Cox on illegal file sharing .....................................Page 5 Introduction from the ADR – Professor Jie Tong ..................................................................Page 6 Focus on a researcher – Dr Roger Eglin................................................................................Page 8

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

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Update from the Director of Research – Professor Taraneh Dean Well here we are, it is 2012 and I have already been in post as Director of Research for a year. My goodness, how quickly time goes. Reflecting on the past year, perhaps my biggest joy in the role has been working with colleagues across the University and developing an understanding of the challenges of research across a diverse range of disciplines. Early on in 2011, soon after my appointment, David Arrell and I visited all departments. If you ended up with me you would probably recall how hopeful and enthusiastic I was about the future of research here. So, reflecting back, was I naive to be so? The short answer is NO; so allow me to reflect on why I believe that to be the case by going through what has been happening on the research front over the last 12 months. Raising awareness I would like to start with the most recent event, our Research Conference. This gave substance to our commitment to strengthen and grow high quality research, and the plans we are putting in place to achieve this. Sharing our research activity and achievements more widely was a key priority for me, and both through this newsletter and a more systematic way of cascading research information, this has been possible. The newsletter is extremely popular with staff across the University – it is one of the most frequently followed links on the ‘all staff’ emails and the University Research website. As for the website, I hope you agree that the new format of the main Research tab is significantly improved. We now need to improve departmental research web pages and this will be something the Associate Deans Research (ADRs) will take the lead on over the next few months. All faculties now have an ADR (four of them are newly appointed) and they are carrying out this role on a 0.5 FTE basis. The ADRs and I will be working closely together and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their effort to date and for their even greater endeavours in the future! Support for research funding To provide structured support for researchers looking for external funding, the first ‘Grant Hothouse’ workshop took place in June 2011. This intensive workshop gave participants the chance to work on their grant proposals and subject their applications to internal peer review. Additionally, all participants receive tailored support from individuals across the University, including input from our Deans who helped with ‘Impact Dragons’ Den’ events, where participants made a pitch based on the impact of their proposed studies – sessions that, with hindsight, were

enjoyed by all. We are now inviting applications for the next ‘Grant Hothouse’, which will be held between 16 and 18 April 2012, so look out for this if you are keen to submit a grant application in May or June 2012. During these ‘Grant Hothouse’ workshops, it became apparent that some staff could significantly improve their chances of funding success if they were given the opportunity to generate some pilot data or if they could be helped to establish some collaborative links with other researchers elsewhere. The establishment of the new ‘Research Development Fund’ has been designed to address this and will allow researchers to apply for financial support to undertake such activities. This new scheme has now been launched and the deadline for the first round of applications is 16 March (see page 7). Developmental opportunities We have also launched a tailored training programme for Principal Investigators, to ensure they are up to date with all national and international research-related issues. In addition, a Research Staff Forum was set up in September and thanks to the efforts of Dr Callaghan and Research Staff Forum representatives, research staff from across the University meet on a regular basis and are committed to achieving the principles of the Concordat. In November, research staff completed the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) which has identified a number of issues that we now need to address. Preparing for the REF The Research Excellence Framework (REF) Steering Group was set up in 2011 and we have made steady progress over the year. Information about the group, and REF generally, is on the REF portal on the main University research website at www.port. ac.uk/research. We are in the process of finalising our REF Code of Practice and it will be available on the REF portal shortly. And finally, a strategy A lot of progress has been made towards generating a draft of our new Research Strategy (2012–2017). Over the last few months it has been my absolute pleasure to work with a team from across the University who have helped me shape this and I think the process we undertook in establishing the strategy has been exemplary. Throughout the process I have been supported by one of the best Research Support Officers in the UK, Karen Musk. So as you see, it has been a busy but rewarding year. There is, however, a lot more to be done!

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

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Funding update Awards made between 30 September and 17 November 2011. Portsmouth Business School Christine Welch Benefits Realisation, QA Hospital. Smart Use Ltd – £3,150. Charlotte Rayner Call Centres as Healthy Workplaces. UNISON – £18,400. Faculty of Science Joanna Scurr Unrestricted Donation from Sweatshop. Brasher Leisure Limited T/A Sweatshop – £1,500. Craig Storey When on Earth Did Modern Plate Tectonics Begin? Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – £403,781. David Loydell Integrated Biostratigraphy of the Trannon River Section, Wales. The Palaeontological Association – £6,385. Marisa Van Der Merwe Chemical and Physical Compatibility of Continuous Intravenous Drug Infusion Combinations Used in Paediatric Intensive Care. Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (via the University of Southampton) – £41,003. Mike Tipton Investigation of the Thermal Protection Provided by Different Combinations of Immersion Protective Equipment. Scottish Sea Farms Ltd – £14,930. Jim House Dismounted Soldier Sustain and Capability Baseline – Human Physical Performance Literature Review. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – £6,174. Humphrey Southall Old Maps Online. Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) – £140,000. University of Pittsburgh – £3,250. Faculty of Technology Murad Banaji Stability and Order Preservation in Chemical Reaction Networks. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – £100,192. Will Percival Euclid Definition Phase. Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) – £9,495.

www.port.ac.uk/research


Towards the University Research Strategy (2012–2017) In September 2011, Professor Taraneh Dean, Director of Research, called together a small group to define the University’s research strategy for the next five years. This Research Strategy team included representatives from all faculties, our centres of excellence – the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science (IBBS), the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) and the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR) – the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive, the Graduate School and research support services. Over three months, the team developed a draft strategy through a series of workgroup meetings underpinned by continuous consultation with their respective research communities. The first meeting was dedicated to setting the scene – reviewing the trends and challenges in the external research environment and assessing the University’s position. This provided the team with a platform to move on to the more important task of looking at where to take research at Portsmouth in the future, for which the services of an external facilitator were enlisted. The second meeting took the form of a workshop and involved a series of small group exercises, team discussions and the inevitable use of post-its and flip-charts. Through these activities, the team distilled a set of core values, drafted a vision for research at Portsmouth and identified six headline areas for objective setting. The second part of the process delved into the detail. Working with a mixture of examples from other universities and ideas from the team, objectives in each headline area were drafted and re-drafted. Consultation with the wider research community was invaluable during this stage, helping to define and refine our objectives, and providing essential reality checks along the way. The team met at intervals to check on progress and, at the final meeting just before Christmas, the final draft Research Strategy (2012–2017) was agreed. The Research Strategy has yet to be formally approved, but it provides the University with a strategic framework and the group is now working to define a series of realistic but challenging goals and targets and, most importantly, to identify the steps needed to achieve these. Look out for the next issue of Research & KT News, where the summary of the approved strategy will be a key article.

Members of the Research Strategy Team collect ideas

Caron King, Kingswood Plus, external facilitator, said: ‘I would like to commend the team on taking such a thorough, comprehensive and pragmatic approach to objective setting. It truly is an example of best practice in action.’ Thoughts on the University’s research values

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

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European Funding Day Our Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (R&KTS) held a very popular European Funding Day for researchers at Portsmouth in October that focused on schemes that support collaborative research. Jo Frost, European Adviser for UK Research Office (UKRO) – the Brussels body that provides advice and insight on European funding to the UK research community – was the main highlight. She explained that although developing collaborative research proposals is challenging and EU collaborative bids can be extremely complex, they nevertheless allow you to think internationally, be flexible in whom you work with and offer great opportunities for exploiting and developing your work. The success rate for UK institutions is also higher than the EU average and the European Commission gives equal weighting to the assessment of the science, project management and impact aspects of the proposal.

your bid. The application will also be judged on three criteria and you must make sure you meet all of these: •

• •

So how do you start to get involved? Jo suggested a number of networks which are particularly useful ways of making contacts, and of understanding and influencing the EU research landscape. These included: • •

Mel Johnson and Jo Penney from the University’s Research Finance Team also gave some useful advice and guidance on the financial and administrative aspects of developing an EU bid and managing projects when you are successful. The main piece of advice is to ask for help when costing EU bids as the rules are complex, the exchange rates confusing and there may be hidden extras.

Nominating yourself as a peer reviewer for EU proposals in your discipline. Attending Information Days organised by the European Commission or National Contact Points – a network of individuals representing specific areas of the EU work programmes. Involving yourself in relevant scientific and knowledge exchange advisory groups.

To provide us with a real-life example, Professor Darek Gorecki, from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, took us through his experience of two successful EU collaborative projects, which he likened to ‘wrestling with a tiger’! He explained that although there are drawbacks and frustrations with EU projects, they can add a rewarding dimension to your research and experience, and provide a platform for very beneficial long-term collaborations with researchers in other countries.

Developing your consortium and proposal takes a great deal of time and effort. Face-to-face meetings are most useful and there are small pockets of network and workshop funding to help you bring your consortium together. When you are developing your proposal, study the call carefully – most EU calls provide a great deal of information on exactly what they are looking for – make sure you reflect this in

The day was very well received and R&KTS are already planning a European Funding Day and UKRO visit in 2012. If you would like to learn more about EU funding, please visit the UKRO website at www.ukro.ac.uk or contact Karen Musk, Research Support Officer, R&KTS.

Featured website: Vitae

These activities include: • Developing tools and resources, such as the Researcher Development Framework, which can be used by researchers and those who work with and support researchers. • Offering a programme of national events and training courses focusing on the development of professional skills and career goals for researchers. • Publishing research and reviews such as the Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey 2011, Overview – a Vitae bulletin for supervisors and principal investigators, the What Do PhDs Do? series exploring employment destinations of researchers, and research and evaluation projects around the societal impact of developing researchers. • Offering opportunities for HEIs to share best practice and develop policy recommendations.

www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice Vitae is a national organisation that works with UK higher education institutions (HEIs) to embed professional and career development in the research environment. Vitae is funded through the Research Careers and Diversity Unit of Research Councils UK. It comprises a national team based in Cambridge and eight regional hubs located in universities across the UK. The South East Hub is based at the University of Sussex. Vitae plays a major role in innovating, sharing practice and enhancing the capability of the higher education sector to provide world-class professional development and training of researchers.

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

Scientific excellence: this is the main part of the proposal and you should describe your objectives (in line with the call), the state of current scientific theory and practice, and how your project will advance this. Quality and efficiency (management): you need to demonstrate that the members of your consortium are excellent, appropriate and will add value. Impact: you need to explain the potential impact of your project and how the consortium will ensure that this impact will be delivered. Remember to emphasise impact in the context of wider European objectives and goals.

You can register to receive regular Vitae newsletters and information on events, courses and publications on their website.

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When research hits the headlines Economist Joe Cox worked closely with Sophie Hall from the University’s Press Office to publicise his research, which analysed why people illegally download digital media. The lecturer from the Department of Economics found that illegal file sharers see themselves as the ‘Robin Hoods of the digital age’ and are motivated by altruism and a desire for notoriety. The research received coverage on over 20 different websites, including Yahoo! and MSN News. From Joe’s point of view

From Sophie’s point of view

Sophie contacted me to see if I could discuss my paper on illegal file sharing, which had been accepted for publication at the end of last year. We met to discuss my findings so she could gauge whether the research was newsworthy and, if so, draft a press release in advance of the work being published.

I’m a full-time Press and Public Relations Officer at the University and I work two days per week specifically for the Business School. On a Thursday I am based in the faculty office on the third floor of the Richmond Building. When I started the role I met with all Heads of Department, including Alan Collins who told me about Joe Cox’s research on illegal file sharing. I arranged to meet with Joe to chat about his paper and thought there was definitely potential for a good story. I read through the paper a few times before drafting a press release, which was a combination of some of his quotes and detail taken from the research. I then emailed this to Joe who came back to me with changes. After a little to-ing and fro-ing we agreed the final version, which had to be signed off by Alan and Press and PR Manager Anne Stanford.

Working with the media isn’t how I imagined it would be at all. Interviews are generally fast-moving and off-the-cuff when I thought they’d be far more rehearsed. It was valuable practice trying to explain my research succinctly and I found the whole experience really enjoyable. I was encouraged to submit an entry for the Portsmouth Business School research dissemination prize, sponsored by Neil Rackham. I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning, so was genuinely surprised and honoured to receive the award. An understanding of digital piracy issues is a vital ingredient of effective policy making, so I’m delighted that with the help of the Press Office I’ve been able to further publicise my research. Illegal file sharing is generally accepted as posing a significant threat to the creative industries, so it is extraordinary that so little research has been undertaken into the range of factors that motivate acts of digital piracy.

Once I had the final version approved, photos of Joe and a short video clip of him explaining his research (for the website), the story was ready to go. We don’t do this for every story but it is great to be able to offer journalists more than just text. I sent the press release out first thing on a Tuesday morning and it was picked up locally and on plenty of niche websites. Joe also did several phone and email interviews with journalists writing for specialist publications and a pre-recorded radio interview for BBC Radio Solent.

Although engaging with the Press Office and the media might sound daunting, I found it a positive way to spread the word about my work to a lay audience. It is increasingly important to demonstrate ‘impact’ with the introduction of the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) and I believe that disseminating research via the Press Office is an excellent way to do this. It is also helpful to inform public opinion and policy, to generate new funding opportunities and to show how taxpayers’ money is being spent.

I was pleased it appeared on national websites including Yahoo! and MSN News. It also appeared on niche websites including PC Pro, Computer World, Escapist Magazine and Hypebot.com. The story received the following coverage overall: • • • •

3 hits on national websites 3 hits in the south-coast regional press 17 hits on niche websites 1 radio interview

Six months later I’m delighted to say that Joe was awarded a £5,000 research dissemination prize, sponsored by Professor Neil Rackham, for the level of interest his research generated in specialist press. This was excellent for Joe and well-deserved – he was a real pleasure to work with. Joe used some of the money to travel around South America – disseminating research isn’t just about promoting what you’re doing – you may also end up on a fabulous holiday! Fellow Business School academics – if you’re working on newsworthy research please do let me know.

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

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Research funding – where do the figures come from? Every year the University produces its Facts and Figures publication, which provides useful information on the organisation and its achievements. On page eight of this year’s publication there is information on the University’s research income. The University was awarded £5.35 million in HEFCE QR funding and won an additional £7 million in external research funding in 2009/10 – but what does that all mean? What is the source of such income and what does the terminology mean? In 2013 the University will submit to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is replacing the RAE as the assessment process for the next round of QR funding.

HEFCE QR refers to quality-related research income awarded to us by the Higher Education Funding Councils, in our case the Council for England (HEFCE), based upon the quality of our research. HEFCE undertake an assessment exercise on a periodic basis and they ask universities to submit their research for assessment. The research is submitted to Units of Assessment (UoAs) and assessed by peer review panels, governed by published criteria.

External research income, on the other hand, is income that University’s researchers bid for based upon their expertise. To secure this kind of funding researchers must propose work to further research in a key area and write a proposal to the funding body. If successful they will be awarded that money to carry out the proposed research.

After a process of review and adjudication, the research is rated in terms of its quality. You will often hear phrases such as, ‘research at the University of Portsmouth is world-class – with an average 40 per cent of the research rated internationally excellent’. This is an indication of the outcome from our assessment in 2008 during the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

Examples of funding bodies are the European Commission, traditional research councils such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), charities such as the Brain Tumour Trust, public sector organisations such as the National Health Service, and private businesses and industry.

Using the assessment, HEFCE is then able to decide how much of their research budget each UoA and each university will be awarded to further its research agenda. This money is commonly referred to as QR funding.

QR and external research funding represented £12.35 million of University income in 2009/10. The future challenge will be to maintain and grow these incomes.

Introduction from the ADR Professor Jie Tong is Associate Dean for Research (ADR) in the Faculty of Technology I am a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Head of the Mechanical Behaviour of Materials Laboratory in the School of Engineering. My research interests are in the areas of mechanics of materials and biomechanics. My role as Associate Dean for Research is to: • facilitate research activities in the Faculty • contribute to the University research agenda • engage more staff members to develop research and knowledge transfer

engineering and surveying. My current top priority is to lead the Faculty preparation for our submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2013. Although supporting established research centres and groups are very important, it is equally important to grow research from seeds of excellence wherever found. This is particularly so for newly appointed members of staff, who may well define the future of the University. I feel privileged to be of some help in this regard, although I am still finding a balance between my own research, teaching and the demands of a role as ADR. Professor Jie Tong

We have a diverse range of research interests, from cosmology and gravitation to civil

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

Professor Jie Tong

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Research Development Fund (2012-2013)

Successful Doctoral students

2012 competition Round One now open! The University has established a new Research Development Fund (RDF) to support activities that build our research capacity and profile, in line with our strategic research objectives. Such activities could include building consortia, organising workshops or showcase events, generating pilot data or accessing research resources not available within the University.

Between 4 August and 29 November 2011, the following students completed their research degrees: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries Jessica Holland – An English Sensibility: The Architecture of Oliver Hill.

Over the next two years, RDF awards of up to £25,000 will be made through a series of four competitions. Round One of the 2012 competition opened on the 25 January 2012 and has an application deadline of 16 March 2012.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Wegdan Mahoud Hagag – The E-Cultural Adaptation Framework (E-CAF): Adapting the Local Travel Interface for Egyptian Consumers. Siôn Jenkins – From Victimisation to Mobilisation: Study of the Dynamics of Campaigning Against Miscarriage of Justice. Hui Wang – To Investigate Relative Effectiveness of the Dimensions of Interactivity. James Wingrave – Reflection in Policing: A Study of How Constables in the Metropolitan Police Conceptualise Reflection.

Full details of the fund and how to apply for an award are available via the RDF link on the University Research website at www.port.ac.uk/research.

Upcoming events Some of the events you may wish to attend over the coming months: Fit to Bid Wednesday 22 February 2012 Learn how to be certain you have everything you need to ensure a speedy and complete application.

Portsmouth Business School Muna Buti Almuhairi – Momentum Investment Strategies in the UAE Stock Market.

Concordat Overview Wednesday 18 April 2012 What will the concordat do for you? Learn from Human Resources about the services that are available to you.

Faculty of Science Neil Crooks – Sexual Dimorphisms and Seasonal Changes in the Dermal, Dental and Ampullary Structures of the Lesser-Spotted Catshark, Scyliorhinus Canicula. Daniel Fordham – Development of a Biosensor Using Aptamer/Antigen Interactions. Isabel Mary Goodhand – A Novel Assay for the Quantification of Active Transcription Factors. Graham Malyon – Insight into the Digestive Processes of the Wood-Boring Marine Crustacean Limnoria Quadripunctata. Irene Milillo – Linear and Non-Linear Effects in Structure Formation. Siobhan Watkins – Physico-chemical and Microbial Factors Affecting the Operation of a Package Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Research Ethics Wednesday 20 June 2012 Learn how the University’s procedures approach the ethics agenda. Hosted by David Carpenter, Research Ethics Adviser. If you would like any further information on the events advertised or to book your place, please email rkts@port.ac.uk.

Useful contacts Finance For help with the financial aspects of research or knowledge transfer activity, contact Research Finance on ext 3309.

Faculty of Technology Barjas Aldousiri – The Manufacture, Properties and Characterisation of Layered Silicate Reinforced Spent Polymer Nanocomposites.

Grant applications RKTS are here to help with identifying funding opportunities and the application process. Contact Research and Knowledge Transfer Services on ext 6191. Business interaction The Business Development team can help match your knowledge and expertise to business. Contact Research and Knowledge Transfer Services on ext 6191.

Professor and Reader appointments

Publicity materials The Research and Knowledge Transfer Service can assist you in writing case studies and getting your work to a wider audience. Contact us on ext 6191.

The following appointments were made between 30 September and 6 December 2011: Dr Hartmut Blank, Department of Psychology. Appointed to position of Reader in Experimental and Social Psychology.

Press and media The Press Office can help you get your work into the media and support you throughout the process. Contact the team on ext 3748.

Dr Daniel Thomas, Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. Appointed to position of Reader in Astrophysics.

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

If you are unsure where to go, please contact Research and Knowledge Transfer Services on ext 6191 or via the website: www.port.ac.uk/rkts.

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Focus on a researcher Dr Roger Eglin, Principal Lecturer in the School of Creative Technologies Research area

What is your greatest achievement? Helping students to set up companies that provide them with a source of employment after graduation has given me a great sense of achievement. Canoeing around the Isle of Wight also gave me a great feeling of success, but a five-day trek from hut to hut in the Julian Alps with my wife, daughters (aged eight and 10) and our friend Igor gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction.

Interdisciplinary research in creative technologies.

Current projects •

• • • •

Developing a mobile application to support people with Parkinson’s, who suffer from dysarthria (grant funded by Parkinson’s UK). The research team includes Peter Nolan and Lee Prior, in collaboration with Kings College Hospital. Special thanks go to Dick Curry for our many discussions and his helpful advice. Facial animation and believability. This is a project with my colleague Si Qiao, which follows on from Paul Charisse’s work at Weta Digital (Lord of the Rings). Computer games interfaces and exercise in collaboration with Dr Clare Eglin from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science. An investigation into the problem space of pervasive games with my colleague Neil Dansey. Development of a haptic device interface to objectively measure tremor in people with Parkinson’s.

Who has influenced you most in life and why? My Dad: he would pull me out of bed at 7am to watch the Open University programmes before I went to school. He also taught me to do quadratic equations in my head while eating a cream cake. At University College London it was probably my PhD supervisors who influenced me the most. They gave me a slip of paper with the title of my PhD on it, then showed me to my lab space and told me to come and find them in three months with some interesting results.

Presently we are trying to extend these areas, in particular looking at mobile applications interfacing with clinicians and hospital systems. I also hope to contribute to the computeranimated feature film Stina and the Wolf and also help my colleague Mel Krokos develop a network grid render set up.

After that it was a strange bloke with very bright trousers that I met after surfing while on a beach in California. It turned out to be Mike Tipton. Do not tell him this or he will be unbearable. Currently it is the critical eye of my daughters, who now vet my behaviour.

Why did you become a researcher? From the age of seven I have loved looking for patterns. I also loved to draw and was hooked on science. Disappointed with the standard at art colleges, this led me to take degrees in microbiology/genetic engineering, biochemical engineering and information systems. Where else could I have this great mix of research into art and science, apart from in computer animation and creative technologies! Describe a typical day at work Think of a way to write the computer animation degree to meet the Revised Academic Structure for 2012 (I hope to have it done by the time you read this). Reply to emails from students and sort out some of the ‘lost socks in the Laundromat of life’. Teach between three and four hours. Have a hurried meeting over lunchtime with researchers and collaborators. Dream about doing research and learning new software while on my way home.

What are your interests outside of work? My interests are many and varied. I have just bought my daughters a long board to skate on, and I really enjoy it, but because they will not let me play on it any more I have bought a pair of cross country roller skis. I occasionally like to beat Brian Heal at chess. I also enjoy five-a-side footy (scoring against ‘the cat’ is fun), beer, surfing and exploring Europe with my family.

What do you perceive to have been the biggest challenge you have ever undertaken? I used to think that it was finding my way out from a cave while cave diving. I lost contact with my dive instructor and torch in an unknown cave. I had a leaky mouth piece and it was my second ever dive. But I now think that trying to do research and teach is proving to be more taxing and dangerous.

If you could invite any three people to dinner (past or present) who would it be? I think that it would be Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and my brotherin-law who owes me ten quid. Pick five words that you associate the most with research. Fun, exploration, collaboration, understanding and cream cakes.

Research and Knowledge Transfer newsletter • February 2012

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R&KT News February 2012  

February 2012 edition of the University of Portsmouth R&KT News

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