BA2 issue 23

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How to keep cool in the heat of the moment.

What lies behind the logo and who really benefits?

Maths and sport – how to make it all add up.




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Welcome to your new BA2. What do you think? 08

We have come a long way since we published our first alumni magazine in 1993 (when alumni numbered a mere 28,000, compared to more than 100,000 today). This year the University of Bath turns 50, so we felt it was the perfect opportunity to relaunch BA2. We would love to hear what you think of it – please email the editorial team at and start your message with ‘BA2’.






View from 4 West

Sum total

Vice-Chancellor’s welcome.

A year at the Edge. We could make an alternative to

What if… palm oil?





Stage fright

Blasting off into the realm of big bangs and black holes with our first Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy.

Does your time in the spotlight leave you feeling like a rabbit in the headlights?

18 Fairtrade unwrapped Many people choose to buy Fairtrade in order to support local farmers in developing countries. But what lies behind the logo and who really benefits?



BA2 Issue 23 Editorial team University of Bath Rachel Skerry Department of Martin Cornish Development “Fourteen Materials Science 1976 graduates and Design & Alumni Relations Steers McGillan Eves their partners came2.2together for a weekend in May East Building Claverton – reuniting manyDown of us for the Photography first time in 40 years. Bath BA2 7AY Anthony Prothero Former students travelled from America, Holland and Nicolas DelvesAlumni enquiries and France as well as from allBroughton corners unless of the UK. +44 (0)1225 386824 otherwise stated, “With the help of the Alumni Relations ©Universityteam, of Bath we receivedbath-alumni-community a great welcome from University, a Thethe opinions expressed in BA2 areBowen those of the place to be proud of. Professor Chris gave @uniofbathalumni contributors and not #ba2 us a really interesting tour of the Mechanical necessarily those of the Engineering and Physics departments, which University of Bath. All content correct at the now incorporate Materials Science, and we were time of going to print.


impressed with the facilities and opportunities offered to today’s students. It was also great to meet up with two of our former lecturers and personal tutors, Dr David Packham and Dr Vic Scott, and their wives.

“There was a lot of laughter as we relived incidents from 40 years ago and it was particularly good to catch up on what everyone has been doing in the intervening years. We all agreed that it was a very special weekend – wonderful to reconnect after all this time, revisit old friendships and find it almost as if no time had passed.” Ingrid Saggers

Ingrid Saggers (front right, both photos)



If you’re coming back to Bath with old friends, why not recreate a Snap back in time of your own? Send your then and now photos to



Come back to campus for our 28 anniversary celebrations and 31 take a Bath duck home with you. Find out more Meet the teacherandLeading questions First Prise about our memorabilia, all things Guardian journalist Graduate volunteer Eilidh Prise 50th, at James Randerson Sonya Chowdhury, studies maths.


She also competes meets Professor at the highest level Laurence Hurst. in a sport that demands mastery of not one, but five events. How does she make it all add up?

CEO of Action for M.E.

32 Ask an honorary graduate Broadcaster Maggie Philbin answers your questions.



Bath’s best…

Our playlist

Cheesy chips.

Songs for the dancefloor.

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ON PARADE Highlights from the University of Bath Vice-Chancellor


Dates for your diary:

View from 4 West


Back in March, I met England Rugby Head Coach, Eddie Jones, at the Sports Training Village where he was putting his players through their paces. Could England owe their Grand Slam win (their first since 2003) to our wonderful training facilities? Or was it the University of Bath rugby shirt which brought them luck? We will never know, but it was a pleasure to welcome them to campus and I hope they will be back next season. I am glad to report that the University of Bath has also enjoyed a successful year. Our students are most likely to recommend us to their friends (THE Student Survey 2016), our profile continues to grow – spurred on by our world-leading research recognised by the Research Excellence Framework – and we head into our 50th year as the highest placed university of our age in Europe (QS international ranking). Our alumni are, of course, key players in this team effort. Fiftieth fever is only just beginning to take hold on campus, but our alumni overseas began the celebrations early with successful events in Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore in April. It was a privilege to meet so many people with such fond memories of Bath and high hopes for our future. Together, we will mark our University’s milestone in style. Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL FAcSS President and Vice-Chancellor

Happy Birthday Bath The University kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations in April with alumni overseas. Gavin Maggs, our Director of Development and Alumni Relations, joined the Vice-Chancellor in a whistle stop tour of Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore, where we welcomed nearly 300 alumni and friends to events celebrating the University, past and present. The Dubai event saw us launch a new alumni network for the United Arab Emirates, led by His Excellency Khalil Foulathi (BSc Economics 1975, Honorary LLD 2011). Thanks also to Sir CK Chow (Honorary DEng 2001) and Scott Wightman CMG, British High Commissioner to Singapore, for helping to make these events a huge success.

October 2016 Anniversary Day A special event in Bath Abbey to celebrate 50 years since the granting of the University’s Royal Charter by Her Majesty the Queen.

06 May 2017 50th Festival Bring your family and friends to campus for the day, for science demos, sports challenges, quizzes, talks and hands-on workshops. Then stay up late for our biggest alumni party ever. If you have changed contact details recently, please let us know by emailing alumni@bath., to make sure you don’t miss out on invitations.




The number of scholars who have been given the chance to achieve their best at Bath. Just eight years ago, donated scholarships were in single figures.



Breaking new ground in South Africa

Propelling research

Bath has embarked on a ground-breaking new partnership with the South African Government – a first for a UK university – to train the country’s future education leaders.

The University has long been at the forefront of research to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, as well as developing expertise in electric vehicles and future fuels.

Senior professionals in South African Higher Education can now study for a Doctorate in Business Administration (Higher Education Management), led by academics in our School of Management. The course, which will train professionals from each of South Africa’s

27 public universities, launched in January to the first cohort at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth. Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University is proud and delighted to celebrate this unique partnership with all the universities of South Africa. It speaks strongly to our international values and philosophy: partnership for the long-term for social and intellectual benefit.”

Sum total The Edge is the new hub of creative life on campus. Here you can learn an instrument, take a photography, drama or dance class, improve your life-drawing or DJ skills, or enjoy a performance, film or exhibition.

Our cutting-edge work and engagement with industry over nearly five decades was recognised formally in November when we were named a new ‘spoke’ of the UK’s Automotive Propulsion Centre network. The news follows the unveiling of our £2.4 million EPSRCfunded Centre for Low Emission Vehicle Research, which measures vehicle emissions whilst taking into account how different drivers behave. The Centre, which aims to bridge the gap between the lab and the real world, includes a Dynamometer, or ‘rolling road’, and a fully programmable robotic driver.

In its first year, the Edge has seen:

01 366 725 10,326 20,436

David Dimbleby (filming BBC Question Time) Musicians booking courses and tuition Dancers attending courses and workshops People buying tickets for performances Coffees ordered in the café

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£66m Research

The target for our Look Further fundraising campaign, named in recognition of Bathonian, William Herschel. With your help we can ensure that more of the brightest minds and the best ideas are realised here at Bath.


Buzzwords What our researchers are talking about.


Bath has helped to develop the world’s tiniest engine. It’s thought it could form the basis of robots small enough to enter living cells.

Pee power

Our researchers have developed a fuel cell that uses urine to generate electricity.

DNA photofits

Bath is part of an international team that has developed ‘DNA photofits’ to identify superbugs like MRSA more quickly and track their spread.

Perfectionism burnout Our researchers have revealed that perfectionism is driving many employees to burnout and points to ways in which habits might be changed.


A University spin-out company has won approval to sell a device that detects chlamydia in less than 30 minutes using DNA probes and electrochemical tags.


Eating breakfast helps obese people be more active and reduce food intake later in the day, according to our research. Find out more about our research at research

Royal visitors Our Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, is a regular visitor to the University, but this year we welcomed other members of the family as well. In December, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, as Patron of Action on Addiction, visited the charity’s Centre for Addiction Treatment Studies to help celebrate 10 years of partnership with us. The Addiction Counselling degree, run jointly by the University and Action on Addiction, enables students to become counsellors in addictions treatment. Action on Addiction is the only charity-owned and run centre of its kind in the UK, with over 200 students graduating since it opened. In January, HRH Prince Harry met athletic hopefuls at the Sports Training Village, as we hosted the UK trials for the Invictus Games. Prince Harry is Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, a charity which runs a multi-sport event, open to all wounded or injured serving personnel and veterans. The focus of the Games aligns closely with our research. Our computer scientists are using state-of-the-art motion capture technologies that could improve prosthetic limbs and our Department for Health runs a rehabilitation programme for military amputees which, thanks to a gift from friend of the University, Sue Whorrod, also looks at the benefits of physical activity across a range of disabilities.






Evolution on campus

From Downing Street to Claverton Down

If you come back to campus this year you will see two imposing new buildings bookending the Parade. Next to the West Car Park, 10 West – designed by 1999 Architecture alumnus Charles Jordan – is the new home of the University’s Institute for Policy Research and the Department of Psychology. Across from the bus terminus is 4 East South, providing teaching and research space for the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, as well as a state-of-the-art computer

data centre. Great view from the top floor too! Plans are also evolving at the southern tip of campus. The Milner Centre for Evolution – our unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education – will have a new building from 2017, next to 4 South. The Centre is named after graduate Dr Jonathan Milner, who last year made a £5 million gift to our Look Further campaign – the largest ever donation received by the University.

Former head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit, Nick Pearce, has joined the University as Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute for Policy Research. Nick’s extensive policy experience and public profile will enable the Institute to enhance its impact and forge deeper links between academic research and policy-makers. Nick’s appointment comes at a time when the Institute is also offering a pioneering Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice, designed to enable experienced professionals to develop their policy analysis expertise without having to take a career break.


In a nutshell What’s that cat doing in BA2? Scientists at Bath and Edinburgh have been finding out where piebald patterns come from.

How the cat got its patches. It sounds like something by Rudyard Kipling. It’s better than that. They’ve discovered how the patterns are formed in the womb. The darkly pigmented cells multiply slowly so they don’t cover the whole of the body. Hence the white tummy. Indeed. There’s no complicated cell-to-cell communication to send the cells in a particular direction. The cells move and multiply randomly during early development rather than follow instructions.

This sounds like maths, not developmental biology. It’s both, working together. Dr Kit Yates is a mathematical biologist leading the research. He says piebald patterns can be caused by a faulty version of a gene. Previously it was thought that the defective gene slowed cells down but instead they’ve shown that it actually reduces the rate at which they multiply. The same mathematical model could now be used to investigate other types of cell during early development. Does that mean we could apply this to humans? Yes, it could shed light on medical conditions that occur early in development, such as holes in the heart, which are caused by cells not moving to the right place as an embryo develops.

So it’s not just an excuse to print a cute picture of a cat? Of course not. This isn’t the internet, you know.


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The percentage of our research which has been recognised as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by the Research Excellence Framework.


What if… we could make an alternative to palm oil? It’s already the world’s most widely produced oil crop, with around 60 million tonnes each year used for biofuels and in food and cosmetics. Palm oil is big business in South East Asia but it’s widely believed that plantations are devastating tropical rainforests, causing water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and heavy smog. Finding a sustainable alternative could slow the global demand for palm oil and lessen the environmental damage it’s said to cause. Our scientists and engineers have been awarded £4.4million by the UK Government to develop the first ever direct replacement for palm oil. Lead researcher, Dr Chris Chuck, came to the University thanks to a five-year research fellowship in our Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, donated by alumnus Roger Whorrod OBE. Chris says: “We have already been able to grow a yeast which can create oil with almost identical properties to palm oil. The grant will allow us to take these experiments from the lab to an industrial scale.

“The grant will allow us to take these experiments from the lab to an industrial scale.”

“We’re working with the University of York who are depolymerizing farm waste feedstock to create the sugars on which we need to grow the yeast. Here at Bath we’re further developing the yeast and examining how it behaves in bioreactors. “Currently we can produce a few grams of oil in about a week. Over the next four years we’re aiming to produce about half a tonne of oil over three to five days. If the pilot stage works we want to fully commercialise the process. “As yet, no yeasts of this type have been grown on an industrial scale so it’s impossible to predict how much an oil produced in this way would cost. We estimate that with the technology we’ve developed so far, the cost would be about one and a half times more than palm oil itself. However with the technology that we aim to develop with the grant, with our partners, we hope to get that down to parity with palm oil.” Palm oil could be part of your weekly shop. You can find it in: Ice cream Biscuits

Lipstick Shampoo





How are your knees?


What will you discover? We know you enjoy hearing about our research, so we’re giving you the chance to learn about some of our amazing discoveries face to face. Last year we launched our Look Further campaign. One year on, more than 100 alumni and friends joined researchers at the Wellcome Collection in London, to explore our pioneering work on healthy ageing.

Caterpillars, horses and cows Guests at our sell out Discovery event got a chance to meet the sugar-loving Manduca sexta or ‘six-fold glutton’ caterpillar. Dr Jean van den Elsen explained how his team is using caterpillars to monitor the effect of high glucose on protein damage in the body, which can in turn tell them more about diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Professor Richie Gill shared his insights into osteoarthritis, which almost half of us will experience in our knees at some point. His work examines horses and cows, as there are links between an animal’s lifestyle and how its knees work. It’s research which could offer a new means to understand osteoarthritis and classify knee joint failures – literally helping us to stop going weak at the knees.

Knees in numbers

Dr Polly McGuigan explored how muscles lose size and strength following inactivity, an effect which is magnified in people over 65. She showed how something as simple as being unable to get out of the house during a fortnight of bad weather, can lead to a significant loss of independence for older people.

And, as our population ages and obesity increases, this figure is expected to rise by

Finally, Dr Toby Jenkins shared how the science behind UV glowing bandages, which alert doctors to signs of infection in burns patients, is now being used in helping to prevent bladder infections.

in the next

Discover more


We hope to see you at more events in our Discovery series soon. Look out for your invitation by email.


people in the UK have knee replacement operations each year.

600% 10 YEARS

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NASA/ESA/STSCI/S.Beckwith, HUDF Team/ Science Photo Library


9 Opposite: Hubble Ultra Deep Field galaxies, 2004. The deepest view ever taken of the universe. Below: Professor Carole Mundell.


I have looked further into space than ever human being did before me,” wrote William Herschel in 1780. From his garden in New King Street, Bath, Herschel had scanned the night sky using a telescope he had built himself and saw Uranus. It was a discovery which effectively doubled the size of the then known Universe, and secured his adopted city a place in the history books. Twenty-first-century astronomy moves faster than in the days of the ‘gentlemen astronomers’. As ever more powerful telescopes come on line, discoveries are being made every day; yet to be successful in the field still requires Herschelian curiosity, ingenuity and a can do approach. Enter Bath’s newest stargazer-in-residence, Professor Carole Mundell.

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Carole, Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy, joined the University of Bath one year ago as Head of Astrophysics, to lead our new Physics with Astrophysics undergraduate course and build a new research group. I caught up with her as the history books were being rewritten once again. News had just broken that scientists in the US had made the first direct detection of a gravitational wave – a space time ripple so powerful it was sensed on earth a billion years later. It’s a breakthrough which opens up a whole new field of astrophysics, and promises the possibility of the ultimate prize: to look back in time as far as the Big Bang itself. Carole and her colleagues had known about the possible success of the gravitational waves experiment for six months, but final confirmation was heavily embargoed until its announcement in a global press conference in February. How did she feel when she found out? “We had assumed that it would be a very difficult signal to find in noisy data, but it was so clean and beautiful. And momentous, because it was the final piece in the jigsaw, which Albert Einstein had predicted from his equations of general relativity 100 years ago.” Proving that Einstein was right is one thing but it’s the cause of the seismic ripples that, arguably, most animates Carole. “I’m interested in black holes of all sizes and scales, their origin and


“It’s a privilege being able to make a living doing something you love.” influence on the environment around them, and ultimately how we can use them to probe broader laws of physics,” she explains. So why is this particular event so significant? “We know there are black holes that are a few times the mass of our own Sun, which have formed from giant stars whose centres collapse at the ends of their lives. We also know there are supermassive black holes, millions of times the mass of our Sun, which lie at the hearts of all massive galaxies, including the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. However, finding two so-called intermediate mass black holes – each around 30 times the mass of our Sun – and close enough together to merge,

was a huge surprise. What would produce that kind of black hole? Was it produced in the early universe and has it survived to almost today, or is there some new way that stars form that we don’t yet understand?”

In the realm of extreme physics The term ‘black hole’ is scientific short hand for a dense region of space inside which the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light. Matter circulating near, but not inside the black hole, will heat up, shine brightly and may even be kicked back out into interstellar space if magnetic fields are there to drive the matter outwards, away from the hungry black hole. Carole has spent her career studying black holes and their environments, winning prestigious fellowships and awards. “The physics of these systems are still poorly understood but we’ve found many examples using groundand space-based telescopes,” she explained. “The most powerful kind are called gamma ray bursts and they challenge both our theories and technologies.” Gamma ray bursts were discovered by accident in the 1960s, when military satellites orbiting Earth mistook them for evidence of rogue states breaking the nuclear test ban treaty. Now confirmed as cosmic rather than terrestrial in origin, these bursts are compelling because they represent what Carole terms ‘the realm of extreme physics’.



1 Carole, aged seven, wearing her favourite ‘Maths party dress’. 2 At the 30-metre radio telescope on Pico Veleta, Spain. 3 3 Observing at the William Herschel Telescope, La Palma, Canary Islands.

“Ultimately the universe is a very good place to test the laws of physics because we have some of the highest energy processes and the greatest distances over which to test things,” she explains. “Because these bursts are associated with strong gravitation and magnetic fields, they’re in the kinds of places in the universe where we hope to discover and test new laws of physics.” By analysing gamma ray bursts using telescopes around the world and in space, observational astrophysicists like Carole gain information about the physical processes that produced them. But their field is at a tipping point. Currently around two bursts are recorded a week, but new facilities under development are set to revolutionise their work by surveying vast swathes of the sky in real time. Carole’s team are at the vanguard of this new kind of science but the possibility of receiving notification of up to a million new events every night is daunting. This ‘big data’ challenge is one which Carole predicts will require interdisciplinary innovation, bringing together astrophysicists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

crystals, testing for acids or alkalines, doing chromotography using blotting paper and ink. We were learning about the scientific method without realising it.” Carole’s high-school teachers further encouraged her talent for physics. She puzzled over the deeper physics underlying basic high school physics. After a lesson on energy, she was concerned she was failing to understand something important. She asked her teacher ‘But what is energy?’ “He reassured me not to worry about it for my exam, but to think about going to university, where I might learn why this was such a difficult question to answer!” she laughs.

Widening the path

She duly won a place at Glasgow University to read Physics, but her first year Astronomy module wasn’t an instant hit. “Astronomy was a culture shock; it seemed a much more approximate subject than physics and there were no women lecturers in the astronomy group,” she says. “I was pretty sure I was going to drop the subject at the end of my first year, but then I saw Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell speak at the student physics society. I was captivated. The thrill of discovery and the real world of cuttingedge astrophysics research – suddenly, I could see this was a real choice for me.”

“Astronomy for me was not a childhood hobby,” Carole admits, “but my parents were very supportive of my learning. My father, a biomedical scientist, encouraged my brother and me to do simple experiments such as growing salt

Carole is a strong advocate for diversity in science and is keen to inspire others in the way that Jocelyn Bell Burnell inspired her. “Physics has traditionally been male dominated, with the popular stereotype of a physics professor being a white man

with a beard! People like Jocelyn cleared a tiny, narrow path for women like me to come through. We need to continue this so that physics is open to all, irrespective of gender and ethnicity.” This year, ahead of hundreds of candidates, Carole was named Woman of the Year at the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement in fields traditionally dominated by men. “Winning was completely unexpected. The Everywoman team kept the names of all the award winners secret until the moment they were announced on the night. It was a great honour to be named Woman of the Year amongst so many remarkable women leaders in their fields.

It is fantastic that the impact of fundamental science done by me and my team has been recognised but also that my contribution to my wider community is seen as important,” she says. “These kinds of awards are vital to break down the traditional stereotypes and one hopes that, some day, the fields of science and technology will have parity so that there will be no need for them, but we are not there yet.” Carole welcomed the increased media coverage of space events such as Major Tim Peake’s launch to the International Space Station last December. “Astrophysics and space catch the human imagination and attract the brightest pupils to study physical sciences and engineering,” she says. But it is more than beautiful images. “There are days when you need to work on your error analysis, or figure out why a technique or piece of technology isn’t working. You have to be patient, dogged and stubborn.” A few weeks after we meet, schoolchildren, their parents and the Mayor of Bath pack out University Hall to watch Carole speak at Bath Taps into Science, the University’s long-running science festival. She whizzes through her research, from a brief history of cosmic endeavour from Copernicus to Einstein, to what a gravitational wave sounds like, to why the black hole portrayed in Hollywood blockbuster Interstellar should have failed its screen test. The children in the audience are mesmerised, and bombard her with questions. Why is our galaxy flat? What would happen if you fell into a black hole? If the universe is expanding, where is it expanding into? I sense that if our time in the lecture hall was infinite, the questions would expand to fill it. “It is a privilege being able to make a living doing something you love,” Carole admits. And it’s clear that her enthusiasm has rubbed off on her audience – some of whom could be candidates for studying Astrophysics here at the University in years to come. When William Herschel built his telescope it was unthinkable that he would discover a whole new planet through it. Whatever discovery the world is on the verge of next, there’s a good chance that Carole and students at Bath will be at the forefront.


Weiqun Zhang/Stan Woosley/Science Photo Library

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GOING PLACES You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to work in the space industry. Dr Jon Scott graduated from the University of Bath in 2002 with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science. Now he trains astronauts at the European Space Agency to handle the effects of space flight on the body. “Human spaceflight is one of mankind’s greatest technical achievements and a unique mix of physics, physiology and engineering, as well as being a great example of international collaboration,” says Jon. “With a decent-sized chunk of good luck, all my stars aligned at just the right time to get one of the very few jobs in space medicine in Europe.” Space medicine is a branch of medicine that deals specifically with the effects of the space environment. It’s an old joke that gravity wreaks havoc on your body here on earth, but the absence of the effects of gravity in space presents its own challenges. The effects of radiation must also be monitored closely, as this increases dramatically outside of the Earth’s natural protection. Additionally, space medicine focuses on the psychological as well as physiological aspects of living in an artificial environment, and the issues which come from being confined with just a small group of people. “In my role at the ESA, I lead a team helping to prepare astronauts with the most up-to-date scientific information about the effects of spaceflight on health, as well as the latest technologies to help protect them from some of these effects,” Jon explains. “I monitor astronaut fitness and health during training and on the International Space Station, as well as developing post-mission rehabilitation programmes to return astronauts to their pre-mission physical condition.”

ESA–S. Corvaja/Science Photo Library

Advances in space medicine will be critical for future manned missions, including to Mars. Scientists, including researchers at the University of Bath, are still working to better understand how potent all these effects will be for individuals who spend longer than six months in space. 4 Gamma ray burst formation. Supercomputer simulation of a relativistic jet 10 seconds after its creation.

5 International Space Station Expedition 46 crew launching, 15 December 2015.

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I really enjoyed it,” insists PhD student Jemma Rowlandson, when I ask if she was nervous presenting her research at the final of our Three Minute Thesis competition.* “I was, a couple of hours beforehand. I always am. But you just have to accept that you’ve done everything you can to prepare and get into the right mind to present.” Good advice. But as anyone who has ever spoken in public knows, not as easy as it sounds. According to a recent YouGov survey, Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, is the third most common phobia in the UK (heights is first, followed by snakes). Just the thought of it is enough to make more than half of us break out in a cold sweat. For others, it’s all in a day’s work. How do they do it? Jemma’s secret is Taylor Swift. “I’m a big fan,” she says. “I listened to her as I walked to the Bath Brew House pub (the venue for the competition). It helped me relax.” I’ve seen Jemma’s presentation. She comes across as enthusiastic, likeable and confident. Taylor Swift clearly did the job. Does that mean we should all rush out and buy her latest album the next time we give a presentation? Dr Rachel Arnold, a lecturer in sport and performance psychology in our Department for Health, thinks parallels can be drawn with the world of sport. “To prepare for an event or situation, some athletes use something called ‘centering’: concentrating on the centre of the body and distributing the weight evenly. Progressive muscular relaxation (tensing and relaxing particular muscle groups in your body in a systematic way) can also help.”

The key to these techniques is focus, or what she calls ‘selective awareness’. If we can ignore the things we can’t control, relax and concentrate on the task at hand, we’re more likely to perform at our best. Sportsmen and women work hard at this selectivity, developing pre-performance routines, cue words or triggers to concentrate their thoughts. “By verbalising important cues for situations, or by using a trigger or a certain action, you can remind yourself of the need to focus,” says Dr Arnold. An example of this is rugby player Jonny Wilkinson’s hand clasping ritual before a kick. Jemma listening to Taylor Swift could work as a trigger too. Before I give Taylor all the credit, it’s clear that a good performance needs a confident performer. I ask Jemma if she considers herself a confident person. “I am now,” she replies. “But I wasn’t always.” Jemma started public speaking when she was asked to present her research every week during a placement year at Merck Chemicals. This experience motivated her to take every opportunity to improve her presentation skills while studying for a Chemical Engineering PhD here at Bath. “Motivation is crucial for optimal performance,” explains Dr Arnold. “High achievers are typically very motivated people with a strong need for achievement.” However, it’s not all down to ambition. The need to satisfy the three psychological factors of autonomy, competence and relatedness is also important. It seems that in order to perform at our best we need to feel that what we’re doing is our choice, that we have the skills to do it and that we feel supported by ‘important others’ in that choice.

“Glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, is the third most common phobia in the UK.”

“Creating multisensory images of successful performances can also help,” she adds. “Picturing ourselves executing a skill or succeeding with a very vivid and controllable image puts us in a more confident state of mind.”

While this is all good rational advice, how can we be rational when our nerves get the better of us? “Once I got on the stage, the anxiety went,” Jemma says. But can anxiety really just vanish? “The impact of anxiety depends very much on how we interpret the symptoms,” explains Dr Arnold. It seems that if we believe that we have the resources to meet the challenge, we interpret anxiety Jemma clearly benefitted from this sense positively, as being hyper focussed or of relatedness during the competition. being ‘switched on’, rather than “It was great to hear my Chemical negatively, as feeling out of control. Engineering and Centre for Sustainable Jemma’s anxiety didn’t go away, Chemical Technologies colleagues Dr Arnold believes she was just supporting me.” A friendly face in the able to interpret it as “facilitative crowd can make a big difference, but to her performance”. how do we maintain that confidence Motivation, the support of others and when we’re in the spotlight alone? the positive interpretation of anxiety may Dr Arnold suggests “reminding ourselves help us get on stage, but once we’re up about what we have achieved in the there, how do we make sure we get our past, or what others similar to us have message across? How did Jemma go achieved” to bolster our confidence. about engaging a busy Bath pub on the Another option is something called subject of ‘sustainable activated carbons verbal persuasion: replaying words of from renewable feedstocks for water encouragement in our head. treatment application’?



“With Leerdammer cheese,” she laughs. “Analogies can help the audience engage with your subject. My research looks at the use of activated carbon to remove toxins from water, and activated carbon is full of holes, like Leerdammer cheese.” While I doubt her analogy will make it into her viva examination, humour is clearly important to Jemma, and it seems she’s not alone in seeing it as a useful communication tool.

Dimo Dimov, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in our School of Management, sees a parallel with Ioannis Costas Batlle is a PhD researcher pitching an idea for investment. “Before in our Department of Education with an you approach an investor, you have to interest in exploring how comedy can understand your market: what is the enhance the dissemination of research. pain and the problem you are solving? “With pressure on academics to show Look at the macro picture, not just the the impact of their research (one-fifth micro detail. You should also consider of the overall Research Excellence your competition: what makes you Framework score used to assess the unique? It’s important to pique quality of university research is now people’s curiosity.” based on impact), a growing number However, there’s no point having are starting to realise the potential of the right story but the wrong crowd. using comedy,” he explains. Professor Dimov explains that one of the Evidence of this can be seen in the biggest mistakes budding entrepreneurs increasing popularity of comedy make is not carrying out due diligence. club-style events such as Science “Make sure you meet the explicit goal Showoff and Bright Club, where of an investor in terms of sector, stages researchers share their work with a and development. Will you be a good wider audience and improve their public match?” Without a clear understanding speaking skills. Academic cabaret is of your audience you could come not only found in pubs and clubs, it’s across as speaking a different language. making its way into our universities too. Jemma agrees. “My worst presentation Comedian and founder of Bright Club, was when I pitched at the wrong level. Dr Steve Cross, even worked with the It was an event for the general public University of Nottingham, with the help but I was far too academic.” of an Arts and Humanities Research So, you’ve got a good story, some Council grant, to promote their research. clever jokes and you understand your audience, but there are some things you can’t prepare for. “Along with an understanding of the market and your competition,” explains Professor Dimov, “an investor needs to know if you are the kind of person they can work with.” In short, will they like you? Some people decide this before you’ve even opened your mouth.

“The impact of anxiety depends very much on how we interpret the symptoms.” Dr Rachel Arnold

Joking aside, Jemma thinks the key to holding an audience is a good story. I ask her how she came up with hers. “I looked at the bigger picture to make a complex idea accessible. I thought about its potential application. I’m interested in the details, but I know not everyone is.”

“An investor from a financial background might be less likely to invest in a high tech or early-stage business, as they may not identify with it. You could be more successful pitching your idea to someone from a similar entrepreneurial background,” says Professor Dimov. This is an example of what he calls ‘similarity bias’. It’s an important, if uncomfortable, truth about human chemistry: people prefer people who are like them.

While we may not be able to make people like us, we can develop some traits considered likeable. Professor Dimov thinks we should focus on enthusiasm. “No-one is going to be enthusiastic about your idea unless you are,” he says. Trustworthiness is also something people respond to positively. “Be honest about your concerns. There can be a loss of trust if doubts are not shared,” he adds. And Jemma suggests good oldfashioned hard work. “You should just really know your subject well.” But before we all start profiling our audiences, writing our one-liners and practising our enthusiastic face, the most important preparation for our time in the spotlight is, as Dr Arnold puts it, to “create realistic expectations for yourself”. We might not win a gold medal or a million pound investment and we might not be the next Brian Cox or Stephen Fry, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and, like the proverbial spider (arachnophobia is fourth, if you’re interested), try again. And if all else fails, we can just put on some Taylor Swift. As for Jemma, well, she won Bath’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and she’s now preparing to do it all again at the national finals in September. Good luck Jemma. * A competition in which PhD students have to explain their research in three minutes to a non-specialist audience. Three Minute Thesis launched at the University of Queensland in 2008 and now takes place in over 350 universities worldwide.

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r Roy Maconachie knows a thing or two about using images to tell a compelling story. A professional documentary photographer by background, Roy has been practising the art of capturing moments on film and screen for over two decades, with a particular focus on Africa. Now a human geographer specialising in issues related to resource management and food production in West Africa, a lot of Roy’s work draws on his camera skills to highlight and raise awareness of complex challenges in development that are affecting local people living in rural, often marginalised, communities. His latest research project turns the camera on cocoa production in Ghana, and in doing so highlights the entrenched challenges faced by its largely female workforce.

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Researching through film “Many of us have had different lives before academia. For me, as a documentary photographer I worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa. Doing this I became more and more concerned with development issues and more and more interested in the idea of using the camera as a way of relaying voice and telling stories. As an academic I never want to put the camera down,” Roy tells me when we meet to discuss his latest film.

The film, co-produced with Elizabeth Fortin at Bristol University, shines a light on the untold story of how female farmers interact with, and are impacted by, Fairtrade. Estimates suggest that women in these areas carry out up to 70 per cent of all agricultural work, but little research to date has explored their stories and how Fairtrade could be adjusted to improve their position.

Reaping the true rewards of labour

By doing so it charts how informal but deep-rooted traditions in Ghana, the “I was due to go to Sierra Leone in world’s second largest cocoa producer, August 2015 to continue work I’d started are making life particularly challenging the year previously on the impact of for women and challenging for Fairtrade Ebola on the country’s informal economy to work effectively too. It depicts life in linked to small scale mining. But by that a highly patriarchal society, one where point Sierra Leone, and in particular the women work the land on top of remote areas I needed to travel to, were household chores and childcare, but really off limits. This afforded me the all too often miss out on the economic chance to change plans and start work benefits that come from production – on another project focusing on the something Roy was eager to profile. impact of Fairtrade certification for “I think for many people, the sunny female farmers in Ghana.” image of Fairtrade is one of smiling We meet as Roy’s film, Gender and female farmers, happy and content, Fairtrade, has just had top billing at an seemingly, tending to the land. It’s event on campus to celebrate Fairtrade absolutely true that there are many Fortnight and fresh from its screening farmers benefitting from Fairtrade, at the Africa Fairtrade Convention in including women, but it’s not the reality Nairobi. The film, which recounts the for all and the image is much less clear, stories of two groups of female cocoa certainly for those in marginalised producers working in the Ashanti and communities. I wanted this film to Brong-Ahafo regions in the west of Ghana, address some of the deep-seated is attracting international attention. Previous page A member of the farmers’ cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo, at a video camera training session for women cocoa farmers at Offinso, near Kumasi, Ghana, 2016. 1 Western Mali, during a motorcycle trip between UK and Nigeria, 2001. Roy spent a year carrying out fieldwork for his PhD at his final destination, Kano, northern Nigeria. 2 Women cocoa farmers from the Asunafo North Municipal Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union, Ghana, walking home from their farms in the late afternoon. The lack of transportation, and the long journeys that women must undertake on foot between the household and farm, was reported as a major constraint by many women. 3 Near Kayima, Kono District, in Sierra Leone, 2005, where Roy carried out research, living with farmers and learning to plant rice. Three months spent standing in swamps led to a diagnosis of bilharzia when he returned home to the UK.

challenges which make inequality so profound in Ghana,” he explains. Two of these challenges are land ownership and access to markets, as women from Asunafo North Farmers’ Co-operative, who feature in the film, explain passionately. “The challenge we face as women is that we do not have our own land to farm on. We have to marry a man with land and work with him for a long time before he allocates a little to us,” explains Gladys Awuah Afriyie. “When we harvest cocoa, the women gather it all and take it to the place where it is cracked. We help crack it with our machetes then we carry it onto the drying mat. We stand in the sun. We do not even have hats,” adds Abena Dumi. “When the proceeds come, they (the men) do not want to give us any of the money even though we helped them harvest it. If 10 bags are ready to be weighed he says he will go and weigh them himself. When he returns he only accounts for two bags.” The issues highlighted by the film are ones people working for Fairtrade in Africa are aware of, but change will take time. As Kwame Banson, Member and Partnership Manager for Fairtrade Africa, says, “Fairtrade can only attempt to address this issue from within.


“There’s a dissociation between our food and where it comes from”




Fairtrade’s approach must be to understand the microdynamics of the communities involved.” This is something Roy accepts and it’s the dilemma of any development intervention cultivated elsewhere and then brought into a different context. “You have to be sensitive to the way things work, even if they are perceived to be unfair or unjust. But by raising awareness of the issues through the film, and giving voice to the people affected, we can start that process of change.” Roy wants to see more holistic and flexible policy mechanisms that better reflect the day-to-day situation of women cocoa producers put in place, something he is confident Fairtrade will support. He’s already had important policy discussions with its executives in Africa, Europe and the US.


A passion for Africa Researching complex development issues, like Fairtrade, and unpicking the extent to which ethical choices made by Westerners are really making tangible differences in people’s lives, has to start with an understanding at the local level, says Roy. He recounts numerous trips to West Africa, staying with families in remote areas, affording him the opportunity to get to know people, their personal struggles and to use this insight to critically assess the impact of issues of scale – be they national or international factors.

This trend in ‘putting the last first’ and directly involving people in research about the issues they face is increasingly common across development, but Roy’s work is unique in using the camera to put the people in charge of the For consumers in the West, Roy thinks messages to come out of the research. we need to think more about the food I ask him about the practicalities of this choices we make. “There’s a dissociation kind of work. “You obviously can’t make between our food and where it comes people participate, but this kind of from. This is about buying locally where project is hopefully empowering and possible and where not, continuing to by giving over the camera it enabled the buy Fairtrade whilst being aware of the women to frame the things they wanted, issues facing local producers in those in the way they wanted,” he says. developing countries.” Roy’s passion for Africa stretches back to his first trip to the continent in 1991 where, as an inexperienced backpacker and first-time visitor, he navigated

overland from north to south taking in former countries such as Zaire. “This was a time before mobile phones, way before the internet and when infrastructure in Africa was much worse than it is today. There were lots of unknowns and it was the first thing that got me hooked,” he recalls fondly. In the 25 years since, he’s completed two more overland trips north to south and as a PhD student even travelled from the UK to Nigeria by motorbike. Whilst much development has taken place in that time, inequality within communities he thinks has worsened too. The challenges of growing inequality, within societies and through development, is a key research focus for our own Centre for Development Studies, which last year celebrated its 40th anniversary. Nowadays Roy balances his research in Africa with the demands of a young family back at home in Bath. In the future, he and his wife – a fellow academic – would love to take their three small children with them on research field trips. “They are aware of what I do but I’d love them to see it first-hand.” Watch the film at

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To say Eilidh Prise is motivated is like saying Usain Bolt’s ‘a bit nippy’ or Lionel Messi ‘enjoys a kick about’. But to balance the training demands of fencing, swimming, show-jumping, shooting and running, with studying full-time for a BSc in Mathematics, this rising star of modern pentathlon needs to be. meet Eilidh a few weeks after a convincing win at the Ladies’ British Universities & Colleges Sport Modern Pentathlon Championships (she came top in four of her five events and finished almost 1,000 points clear of her nearest opponent to take gold), and ask where her motivation comes from. “I just need to push myself,” she laughs. “I have to be doing something demanding.” Modern pentathlon was designed to be demanding. Conceived by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, to test competitors in the skills needed for late 19th century warfare, it simulates the experience of an imagined cavalry soldier lost behind enemy lines: fighting with a sword, swimming 200 metres and riding a horse, before a shootout and a two mile run. The biggest challenge of modern pentathlon is the lack of transferable skills. Being good at one event doesn’t mean success in another. There are no short-cuts; just hard work. But that’s why Eilidh likes it. “There are so many skill aspects,” she says. “No matter how tired your body is, there’s always some training to do.” But with all this training, surely study must get in the way? It seems the opposite is true for Eilidh. “I have respect for professional athletes who do nothing else other than their sport,” she says. “I would go mad if I didn’t have my degree.” To some, maths and modern pentathlon may seem an unusual match. And with popular culture offering us very few examples of the sporty mathematician, or the academic athlete, it’s hardly any wonder. But Eilidh sees similarities between the two.

“I have a training block for maths just the same as I have for sport,” she says. “You have to exercise your brain just as much as your body.” The demanding natures of both her subject and her sport mean they also offer something she calls ‘second order fun’. Eilidh explains: “No one likes to be in pain, but when you go out for a long run you feel good after. That’s second order fun. It’s the same for maths. It’s hard, but when you find the answer, it’s great. You wouldn’t have that second order fun if it was easy.” Her enthusiasm is so infectious I find myself nodding along. There’s a career in motivational speaking for Eilidh if she wants it.

“You have to exercise your brain just as much as your body.” Motivation and second order fun are clearly paying off. As well as her most recent gold, she won gold at the 2013 European Youth Championships, and gold in the Women’s Relay at the Union International de Pentathlon Moderne Junior World Championships in Mexico last year. She’s also doing well in her mathematics course. “I particularly like analysis in maths; the starting point to calculus, integration and differentiation,” she explains. “And next year I get to choose my modules.”

Her achievements aside, the most remarkable thing about Eilidh is that she doesn’t know how remarkable she is. She’s studying at one of the best universities for mathematics in the country and competing at the highest level in a particularly challenging sport, and yet she’s self-effacing and down-toearth. In many ways, no different than any other 20-year-old student. “I do miss home,” she says. “My first year was pretty tough. Some people like halls, but it was difficult for me to live with people I didn’t know.” Settling into university is a struggle for most of us, but with so little spare time, making friends must have been harder for Eilidh. I ask her how she managed it. “I had to make a conscious effort. I’m with the modern pentathlon team a lot, which is great, but I also make time for my maths friends. They’re both very dedicated people in different ways. They both help me get the best out of myself.” (Before you worry, Eilidh is now very happy in a shared house in Bath.)


Far left: Eilidh Prise. Left: Training in Rainbow Woods, Widcombe, Bath Previous pages: Boston Tea Party, Bath; Running the Bath Skyline

As well as friends, family is important to Eilidh and she goes home to Aberdeen whenever she gets the chance. Sport was obviously an important part of her childhood. “My mum is a P.E. teacher, so she has always encouraged me to do every sport under the sun,” she says. “And my dad does Ironman triathlon.” Eilidh’s middle sister, Kerry (BEng Chemical Engineering 2013) also competed in modern pentathlon whilst studying here at Bath, and her eldest sister, Siobhan, does Ironman triathlon. “We’re half modern pentathlon, half Ironman,” she jokes. Also back home in Scotland is her horse, Jasper. Eilidh has always loved horses and has been riding since she was, in her words, ‘teeny, teeny tiny’. I ask if Jasper enjoys competing in modern pentathlon. “You don’t ride your own horse,” she explains. “You get given a horse when you compete; you have to pick a name out of a hat. Once you’ve chosen your horse, you have just 20 minutes and five warm up rides to get to know them.” Just when you thought the sport couldn’t get harder. “I always use my own gun though,” she laughs. Eilidh took part in tetrathlon (everything apart from the fencing) at The Pony Club when she was young, and modern pentathlon seemed like the next logical step. But it was only when she competed in the British Schools Modern Biathlon Championships here on campus when she was 11 that she decided to take her sport seriously. “From that moment I knew I was going to come here to train and study maths,” she explains. “If you want to compete at modern pentathlon seriously, this is the best place to come.” We won’t argue with that.

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MODERN PENTATHLON COLLECTION The Collection is the archives of the national governing body, Pentathlon GB (formerly the Modern Pentathlon Association of Great Britain). It is made up of correspondence, committee minutes, regulations, press material, photographs and newsletters, as well as a number of national and international event programmes and material relating to the international governing body, Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon.

The University of Bath is not only home to Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre, but Samantha Murray (silver medalist in the Olympics and 2014 world champion) and Mhairi Spence (2012 world champion) are both alumnae, and our library holds the Modern Pentathlon Collection. We even transformed our athletics in-field area into a show-jumping arena to host last year’s European Modern Pentathlon Championships.

The Collection also includes biographical material about key figures in the sport, including Jim Fox. Fox was British Champion 10 times and featured in four Olympiads, winning gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics team event.

best possible chance of doing this.” Before Tokyo, Eilidh has Dr Tom Hudson, our Director of the Junior European Championship Sport between 1971 and 1992, also in Poland in June and the Junior World represented Great Britain in modern Championship in Cairo in September. pentathlon at the 1956 Olympic Games. She’s also hoping to make her senior As well as helping to make us one of debut. But she’s cautious. “If you look the best sporting universities in the too far ahead you start to put too much country, he was a pioneer in establishing pressure on yourself,” she explains. sporting scholarships here at Bath. “My aim is to stay injury free.”

It was left with the University of Bath in 2009 with the assistance of Mr Andy Archibald, a member of Great Britain’s 1976 Olympics gold medal-winning team. If you would like to visit the Collection please contact the University Archivist.

British women have an outstanding track record in modern pentathlon, winning medals at every Olympic Games since they joined the men on the Olympic programme in 2000 – and all of them trained here at the University. I’m sure Eilidh will soon take her place on the podium. To date, the University has welcomed almost 100 sports scholars, supported by alumni and friends. Eilidh is supported by alumnus Bill Whiteley. I ask her what her scholarship means to her. “I have to travel a lot with my sport, which can be expensive. The scholarship takes that weight off my shoulders,” she explains. “Ultimately, I want to make the Olympic selection and compete at Tokyo 2020, and it has given me the

“I have to travel a lot with my sport, which can be expensive. The scholarship takes that weight off my shoulders.”

After spending time with Eilidh it’s hard not to be impressed. But I’m also a little concerned: does she ever just relax? “Yes,” she laughs. “I go to the Boston Tea Party in Bath: I take my computer or read a book; just take a couple of hours off. I’ve learnt since coming to University that it’s okay to rest.” Phew. We hope that the next time she takes a well-earned break, she’ll use the time to reflect, and feel proud of what she has achieved. We certainly are.












Guardian journalist James Randerson meets Professor Laurence Hurst

Graduate volunteer Sonya Chowdhury

TV presenter Maggie Philbin

Cheesy chips

Songs for the dancefloor

In June 1977 the Graduation Ball took place in the Assembly Rooms and at the Roman Baths. Attended by 400 students, it was a great success and behaviour was reported in the local papers to have been ‘exemplary’.

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We would be very interested in hearing from anyone who was there – please email

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MEET THE TEACHER Which teacher made an impact on you at University? Fifteen years after he graduated, we invited Guardian journalist James Randerson back to campus to meet his former supervisor, Professor Laurence Hurst.



J While I had a soft spot for Bath, it wasn’t about location, it was about doing the most interesting thing with the best possible person. I applied for a PhD with Nigel Franks here at Bath to do something about behavioural ecology in ants.

An expert on the evolution of genes and genomes, Laurence is Director of the University’s Milner Centre for Evolution. He won the University’s inaugural Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Prize in 2010 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.

L It’s quite hard to find really good

students. Certain CVs stand out, and yours was one of those so, I thought, why not see if you’re interested? J I was about an hour late for my interview. It was a very hot day and the train broke down just outside of Bath. It sat there for about half an hour, with Bath tantalisingly close, and the timing of my interview gradually slipping away. When I finally arrived you were very calm about the whole thing. In fact you didn’t even mention it. But we had a very stimulating chat, and I thought, if this is what a PhD is going to be like, I’m in.

“A good PhD is not supervisor and student, it’s much more collaborative.”

J Another PhD student and I sat in a kind of antechamber, where there was no natural light and there wasn’t enough space for one person, let alone two, but because it was immediately adjoining your office there was no barrier. You were very open about saying whenever you want to come in just interrupt me and have a chat. I don’t know whether that ever got irritating? L Not at all, I think it’s the best way to do science. Sometimes my students are reticent about approaching me, so now I keep my coffee in their office, not my own. It gives me an excuse to pop in and see them. J You said you’ve got a clutch of PhD students now, but back then you had just two of us. L I have had lots of fantastically good PhD students, but I have always tried to keep a smallish group. I want to be on top of all the science, so I need to be invested in it – I can’t see how you can do that with a very big group. For me, the joy of science is in talking through and solving problems.

J Because almost everything I did in the PhD was theoretical, I could make a lot of progress. The really stimulating thing was having an idea in the morning and testing it out that afternoon. And some ideas would crash and burn, but that was fine because I’d move on to the next one.

I have quite a short attention span, so it was ideal because I could get the endorphin hit of results quickly. After three months we had a paper. I’d finished the analysis, it came up with a result and you said ‘Let’s write it up’, and Proc R. J Some of my contemporaries had Soc B published it. I remember that to make an appointment with their being an amazing moment. Most of my supervisors two weeks in advance. contemporaries were not writing papers They might only get half an hour of until their third year, or even after they their time and they’d have to unload had finished, so it gave me a huge everything all in one go, so they felt a little confidence boost that I could get adrift, I think. It wasn’t like that for me at results that someone cared about. all. We were constantly having snippets of conversation here and there which meant that ideas could move on quickly.


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James (PhD Biology 2001) is Assistant National News Editor at the Guardian. In 2001 he was shortlisted for the Ede & Ravenscroft prize for the University’s best postgraduate research student.

I was in my room in Cambridge when you called. I was taken aback. As I recall, you said, ‘I’ve seen your application to Nigel and I think you really want to be doing something more theoretical. Why don’t you come and work for me on the evolution of the sexes and intra-genomic conflict?’

L I think a good PhD is not ‘supervisor and student’, it’s much more collaborative, with ideas pinging each way.

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L What we work on is unusually privileged, in that sense. I think it’s very important for PhD students to get published as soon as is feasibly possible so they realise they can make the transition from being an undergraduate to publishing science. It’s such an ego boost to see your name in print.

L I still encourage my students to write for Bath Impact. Quite a lot of them are interested in science journalism, so it’s a super way to start.

J I play the trombone and met people connected with the music society – are they still called BUSMS? We formed a band called The Huge, doing funk soul and disco covers. We played in here The paper in Proc B is still cited heavily. (Claverton Rooms) and in the Parade It involved you sitting in a Cambridge Bar, and during Freshers’ Week in 2000. university library, as I recall, with the The main act that week was Idlewild, dustiest literature you can imagine, and we outsold them massively. trying to work out the size of various volvoxes (freshwater green algae).

J When it came to my viva I had had seven papers published, so I knew it was going to be OK. L Your external examiner was fantastic, John Maynard Smith. One of the most famous evolutionary biologists on the planet. J Inevitably, I was terrified. But it was a huge privilege to sit down in a room with John Maynard Smith, and for him to have read my body of work and want to talk to me about it, it was just an amazing experience.

I looked at my thesis relatively recently. My seven-year-old daughter was asking me about science, and what I did, so I got out my thesis to show her. She said there weren’t enough pictures. L I have the same problem. My daughters ask me what I do and as soon as I start to explain, they say ‘Boring!’

L A PhD is a time to discover whether you like research but it also opens so many doors that might otherwise not be opened to you. J The PhD never got into a rut, because I had opportunities to make it quite varied. I spent a month at a lab in Poitiers, and a few months in Uganda doing fieldwork, testing some of the theories we had developed.

You also allowed me a lot of freedom to do other things, so I did some writing for BBC Wildlife magazine, and for Bath Impact and Sponge.

“It’s hard to imagine a version of me that doesn’t have a Bath PhD.” James

J I was at New Scientist for five years, and then was science correspondent at the Guardian, so having a picture in my mind of how academics think and what they do was really useful. Scientists can be a little bit wary of journalists, understandably, so when I speak to a scientist, having those two letters before my name and three letters after, really helps.

L It’s important that we have well trained people as journalists, or as policy makers, and so on, because these are the most important avenues for debate. Otherwise as academics we risk being stuck in our ivory towers, struggling to get the message across. J Some might say my PhD was a bit of a distraction. But that’s completely wrong. It’s hard to imagine a version of me that doesn’t have a Bath PhD. It was a really, really important period in my life that has shaped who I am and what I do. L It’s an opportunity for the students to learn how to do science and how to enjoy it but, at the same time, a breathing space to find out where their passions and interests lie. J It wasn’t just about the PhD, it was about all of the opportunities that went with it. I’ve been back to Uganda a number of times subsequently with work. My French is a lot better than it would otherwise have been because of my time in Poitiers. Having time to develop my writing, and having the access to papers that I could write about for BBC Wildlife was also really important.

It provided the launch pad for so many things. If you would like to get back in touch with your former lecturer, tutor or supervisor, email – start your message with ‘Meet the teacher’.



LEADING QUESTIONS Sonya Chowdhury (BSc Sociology & Social Work 1998) is the CEO of Action for M.E., the UK’s leading charity for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and their carers. Born and bred in Bath, Sonya lives in the city with her husband and two sons. She recently volunteered her time and expertise at one of our ‘Get Connected’ events for students and recent graduates. Who do you most admire? My mum. She was an amazing, resilient woman who worked so incredibly hard to enable me to become who I am today.

What made you do what you do today? I don’t think I necessarily had any sense of specifically doing what I am doing today. I knew that I wanted to work with people and although it sounds clichéd, to make a real difference.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank? I would love to have some time with my mum to properly thank her for all she gave me and being such an inspiration to me and to many children that she taught (she was a Bath Uni student too!).

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do it too? Get a broad range of experience; volunteering is a great way to do this. For example, if you want to gain insight and develop skills from a management or leadership perspective, you could consider applying for a trustee role with a charity that will support and develop you in that role.

What made you volunteer for Get Connected? I was honoured to be asked and wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt it was a great way to give something back but also spark more interest in What’s your favourite the voluntary sector as I have place in Bath? found it so rewarding. Tucking Mill – I have fond What was the best thing memories of family walks there. to come out of the What’s your experience? favourite joke? I met some great people I am seriously rubbish at jokes and it opened doors for my and because I like to think I own development and the know my shortcomings, I will charity’s through connecting spare your lovely readers the with another alumnus, Cary pain of me trying to be funny! Adams, who was on the panel

and whom I have found a real inspiration to me personally. What’s your advice for anyone thinking about giving their time to the University? It is really important to get a good balance of exchange – you can get a lot out of giving your time but sometimes you have to find what it is that you want and create or take the opportunities to achieve this. How do you relax? It depends what mood I’m in! I do fitness classes most days which help me to switch off mentally (although obviously not physically!); I socialise quite a lot; reading; or just lazing on the sofa with a nice G&T.

888 Alumni Experts help students and graduates through Bath Connection e-networking. MORE THAN

300 students and graduates attended Get Connected networking events in 2015-16.

If you would like to find out more about our Get Connected events or how you can help students and graduates as a volunteer, contact us at 01225 383984

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What do you remember from your time at University? Hard work, great people and lots of fun playing as part of the badminton team squad!

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ASK AN HONORARY GRADUATE Inspirational science and technology TV presenter Maggie Philbin (Honorary DSc 2015) is now inspiring a new generation as founder of TeenTech. She answers your questions on everything from haptics to imposter syndrome.

Your background was not originally in science and technology. What motivated you to start presenting in these fields? The first programme I worked on was a live Saturday morning show which a Science and Features producer happened to be watching with his kids. He tells me that he watched me do an item on cotton mills and thought – she can explain tech. On that basis he invited me to do a new Science programme called The Show Me Show. I loved it – I’d always been interested in Science at school but didn’t get on with the way Chemistry was taught so switched to arts subjects at A Level. The Tomorrow’s World producers saw me and offered me the job on Tomorrow’s World. I felt like I had come home. I feel so incredibly fortunate; it is a huge privilege to report on science and tech. I’ve had access to so many people and places and I learn so much. Question from Jemma Rowlandson, PhD student from our Department of Chemical Engineering and winner of Bath’s Three Minute Thesis competition.

How much have programmes like Tomorrow’s World and Bang Goes the Theory changed the way young people think about science and technology? I know many people credit Tomorrow’s World with inspiring them to consider careers in science and tech, which is always so lovely to hear.

At the time, I never thought about the impact we were making as role models, but it’s clear that the show was a factor in many people’s career decision-making. However it’s important to remember that although TV can be good at provoking curiosity or providing a moment of inspiration, a lot of other factors shape the way we feel about science and tech. I think young people need access to opportunities that allow them to create and develop their own ideas and see how they too could belong in these industries. And that takes a massive effort by everyone. Question from Sarah Kilgallon (MLES Spanish & ab initio Italian 2011).

I remember an episode of Tomorrow’s World which seemed to demonstrate that we had no need for hair care products, having conducted an experiment with a woman with long hair with the support of trichologists over six months. What hasn’t changed in the world that you are most surprised about, based on your own memories of studies, science and reports? Some ideas I demonstrated were quite quick to come to market but others did take many years – sometimes needing another piece of technology to really make them viable. I don’t remember the trichologist (that might have been before or after my time) but I do remember

Howard demonstrating an invention which was a robotic hair cutter. The results were a bit questionable. For me it’s quite interesting to see technology which I demonstrated in its infancy – such as virtual reality – really start to come into its own. I did the very first demonstration on TV in the early eighties and it’s only over the last five years that we’ve started to see real leaps and bounds in this area. I’ve been surprised by the length of time it’s taken telemedicine to develop as there are so many obvious benefits and savings. I would also have expected more successful interventions for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis which affect so many people. Question from Seamus Cullen (BSc Psychology with Sociology 1996).

“The Tomorrow’s World producers saw me and offered me the job. I felt like I had come home.”

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What responsibility do you think Personally, I don’t think we allow girls the media has in highlighting the (or boys for that matter) enough space potential rewards of a STEM career? to ‘fail’ – and real life is all about finding solutions, learning from the ones which I think the media has a huge don’t work out and then moving on to responsibility – especially as it is a fast find the one which does work. moving industry itself and one which really needs more STEM graduates. The I completely understand the ‘imposter BBC did a great campaign this year with syndrome’. I am always waiting for the ‘Make It Digital’ and by providing every tap on the shoulder. Year 7 student with a ‘microbit’ to drive Questions from Anna Parkin, PhD student interest in computing. Alongside the from our Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. direct work of inspiring young people, I think media could be better at using the many articulate and engaging women who work in STEM industries to provide informed comment. We still see too many middle aged white men in suits. Evidence suggests that women are more susceptible to ‘imposter syndrome’ – the inescapable feeling that a person is not as competent as their peers. How do you think this problem can be tackled in STEM subjects? Giving young people opportunities to flex their muscles, with projects where they can work with supportive role models in industry, can be helpful. Often real personal strengths go unrecognised by conventional education. I know that there are lots of studies scrutinising the different approaches taken by parents and teachers towards boys and girls. Interestingly my daughter moved from an all girls’ schools to a mixed sixth form at a boys’ school and she loved the way the teachers taught in the second school. Her take was that, at her first school there had been a lot of ‘spoon feeding’, whereas the second school really encouraged discussion and questioning.

“I completely understand the ‘imposter syndrome’. I am always waiting for the tap on the shoulder.”

What do you think the next big disruptive technology will be? A couple of years ago I would have said virtual reality but this is now on the brink of becoming mainstream. I think it will be haptics* which will add a really interesting dimension to our online world. I’ve seen some interesting demonstrations and think there is massive potential.

What future do you envision for TeenTech and how can one get involved? When we began TeenTech we focused tightly on Years 8 and 9 because I felt that was a last chance saloon for students, in terms of helping them make better decisions around subject choices and career pathways. We’ve expanded to provide a coherent series of programmes from Year 5 to Year 13, and are working in Ireland alongside the UK. TeenTech is a highly collaborative organisation and we can only do what we do because of all the very brilliant people who support and help us. We welcome volunteers who can help us in a number of ways: • Be an ambassador at one of our event days. • Provide feedback and support for young people taking part in the TeenTech Awards and the TeenTech City of Tomorrow. • Help us develop support resources for our projects. Have a look at and, if you like the look of what we’re doing, email and we’ll take it from there! Question from Jahnavi Jha, PhD student from our Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. * Haptics is the science of applying touch sensation and control to interaction with computer applications.

Question from Kirsten Buckley (MBA 2015).

This year, the University awarded honorary degrees to: Alumnus and Chief Executive of the Union for International Cancer Control Dr Cary Adams; management expert Professor Jean Bartunek; social scientist Professor Jonathan Bradshaw CBE; director of the Yew Chung Education Foundation Dr Betty Chan Po-King; statistician and co-creator of

the Duckworth-Lewis method Dr Frank Duckworth MBE; physicist Professor John Dudley; education pioneer HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan; alumnus and mathematician Professor Martin Hyland; pharmacist and Vice President of AstraZeneca Dr Chris Jones; entrepreneur,

inventor and CEO of Trunki Rob Law MBE; alumna, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Heptares Dr Fiona Marshall; FA Cup-winning football manager Lawrie McMenemy; engineer, innovator and entrepreneur Gilbert Passin; radio and television presenter Maggie Philbin; alumna and

In the last issue of BA2, we mistakenly listed Cliff Richards (BSc Engineering 1966) as deceased. We would like to apologise to Cliff, his family and friends for our error.

immunologist Professor Fiona Powrie FRS; cosmologist and astrophysicist Lord Rees of Ludlow; businessman and CEO of GKN Nigel Stein; broadcaster and journalist Justin Webb; Harvard University chemist Professor George Whitesides.


BATH’S BEST CHEESY CHIPS Julie Goffredo (BA MLES German & Italian 2016)

The ‘night out’ is a fixture of university life. Whether frequent and mid-week during those first months as a fresher, or a rare occasion during final year when you don’t have a deadline, some things don’t change. That perfect, predictable pattern beginning with pre-drinks and ending with a late night (or in Bath’s case, not so late) stop at the hallowed takeaway.

Here you could become engrossed in conversation with a stranger, debating politics, life and everything in between. You might bump into a *whispers* Bath Spa student and wonder if it was OK to talk to them. Or if, like me, you study languages, you would become suddenly and inexplicably fluent, babbling excitedly to unsuspecting Italians queuing next to you who just want to get their chips and leave. Queueing for cheesy chips was a chance to put the events of the night into perspective – maybe even fill in some of the blanks. Increasingly, towards the end of my degree, it became a time to reflect on my own life. Will I find a job? Was £9,000 a year worth it? Should I give it all up, go travel the world and become a nun?... or something.

It was a refuelling point before making the long, hilly trek back to Oldfield Park (in heels) and, in case of rain (always likely in Bath), offered some shelter. It was a place of refuge, from an over-crowded club, a club you didn’t get into or just a night which fizzled out. All it took was someone to utter those two words – “Al Falafel’s?” – and we were there.

Sometimes you would know them, sometimes not, but you would offer help regardless, because 2am in a takeaway seemed to bring out the Good Samaritan in you. And helping someone get home (when they finally remembered where they lived) reassured you that if you ever ended up alone in Al Falafel’s, you too would end up safe and sound.

And that’s why cheesy chips It was also a safe haven for those was always a good idea. lost souls who somehow ended up separated from everybody they came out with. What was your Bath late night takeaway of choice?

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For me, this was Al Falafel’s on Monmouth Street, conveniently located on the way home from any club in Bath. Even if you had promised yourself it would just be toast at home tonight, the pull of cheesy chips at £1.50 (garlic mayo optional) was too hard to resist. Bargains like these are few and far between in Bath, but while the city was occasionally unkind, Al Falafel’s always welcomed us with open, if slightly exasperated, arms.

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Jeff Beck

Every time. Always an opportunity to belt out the words and wave arms as the DJ dropped the volume during the chorus. Positive and upbeat, yet still poking fun at the overly optimistic. “Going down a bumpy hillside, in your hippy hat” – it could have been written for Widcombe, Bathwick, or North Road. It may not be everyone’s choice, “But I won’t make a fuss, though it’s obvious”.

that great singles (and album tracks) could get lots of airtime while they sank without a trace on the national charts. This was a huge hit on URB but was barely heard anywhere else.

I probably hammered that song more than any other on my time at URB.

In Waves


I was one of three DJs on URB to host Distortion (the most listened to specialist music show). In Waves Dave Mayo, URB Breakfast Show brought us together in a What happened to Vitamin Z? 2001 and 2002-03. mosh pit delight! I introduced One of the founding members, my two co-DJs to each other Geoff Barradale, went on to one night when we heard Jet manage the Arctic Monkeys. this song and now they Dave Bowstead, the Alternative I was notoriously difficult to get are engaged. Rock Show, and the Phantom onto any dancefloor, preferring Flashers 1986-87. It became a soundtrack to to talk by the bar while our many nights at Po Na Na. everybody else contorted The distinctive opening riff their bodies bizarrely to terrible and sheer power always Basement Jaxx music – hey, if it wasn’t rock, got us moving. Now I wish This never failed to get me I wasn’t interested... However, Rob Bamforth, the Rocky them the very best as they Amoeba Show 1979-81. onto the dancefloor. It came this particular rock track battle through the waves to out a few months before I seemed to make it onto every their big day and beyond. started at University and it playlist. Australian group We have come a long way since we published Jenny Csecs, Distortion 2014-15. Vitamin Z was the start of a long love Jet were one of my favourite our first alumni magazine in 1993 (when alumni affair with The Jaxx. It has a groups during Uni (sadly Thanks to all our former Being a DJ on URB in the numbered a mere 28,000, tovibes more bitcompared of French house disbanded in 2012). I won’t go URB members who sent mid-1980s was great. There in their song choices. going on, but there’s a great so far as to suggest it got me than 100,000 today). was so much great music disco riff provided by the slap dancing, but it certainly got Next issue: your Uni aroundyear and we weren’t This the University of Bath so so we me moving and shouting romance song. Send guitar and turns fantastic50, vocals constrained playlists and opportunity to relaunch BA2. your playlist suggestions felt it wasby the perfect full of energy and passion! along at the top of my voice! to charts in the same way as We would love to hear what you think of it – please Steve Ash, the Rock Show 2005-09. other broadcasters. It meant That song always brings back great memories of University and especially URB.

Are You Gonna Be My Girl

Red Alert Welcome to your new BA2. What do you think? Burning Flame


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02 View from 4 West Vice-Chancellor’s welcome.

The lake only exists so that firefighters can use it as a source of water. The original detailed plan of the proposed Claverton Down campus, showing a lake south of the main buildings, was rejected by the University Grants Committee on the grounds that no money was available for the of such a ‘decorative’Stage feature. After discussions with the City of fright Sum total What if… provisionExtragalactic Fairtrade Bath Fire Prevention Officer, the plan was redrawn showing an area of static unwrapped Blasting off into Does your time A year at the Edge. We could make water ‘required for fire-fighting purposes’ and no further difficulty arose. the realm of big in the spotlight an alternative to Many people bangs and black leave you feeling palm oil? choose to from University publication The Formative Years. holes with our like a rabbit in buy Fairtrade in Which campus myths prevailed when you wereorder at University? first Professor the headlights? to support Email of Extragalactic local farmers Astronomy. in developing countries. But what lies behind the logo and who really benefits?









“Fourteen Materials Science 1976 graduates and their partners came together for a weekend in May – reuniting many of us for the first time in 40 years. Former students travelled from America, Holland and France as well as from all corners of the UK. “With the help of the Alumni Relations team, we received a great welcome from the University, a place to be proud of. Professor Chris Bowen gave us a really interesting tour of the Mechanical Engineering and Physics departments, which now incorporate Materials Science, and we were impressed with the facilities and opportunities offered to today’s students. It was also great to meet up with two of our former lecturers and personal tutors, Dr David Packham and Dr Vic Scott, and their wives. “There was a lot of laughter as we relived incidents from 40 years ago and it was particularly good to catch up on what everyone has been doing in the intervening years. We all agreed that it was a very special weekend – wonderful to reconnect after all this time, revisit old friendships and find it almost as if no time had passed.” Ingrid Saggers

Ingrid Saggers (front right, both photos)

If you’re coming back to Bath with old friends, why not recreate a Snap back in time of your own? Send your then and now photos to


LOVE A DUCK Come back to campus for our anniversary celebrations and take a Bath duck home with you. Find out more about our memorabilia, and all things 50th, at

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The University of Bath is 50 years young this year and we’re celebrating with alumni on 6 May 2017. Join us – it’ll be the biggest party campus has ever seen.