Discover 2022

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Research with global impact The people, discoveries and stories behind our research



Contents Welcome .....................................................................03 The art of simulation based learning ....................04 Bringing mindfulness centre stage .......................06 Life-saving lullabies..................................................08 Suicide prevention training for community pharmacy teams ..................................12 Creating a global framework for the public relations profession...............................14 Getting back on track...............................................16 Early career researchers...........................................18 Revolutionary partnership ......................................22 Meet our researchers................................................24 Our research centres and institutes ......................28 New research from the University of Huddersfield Press ............................30

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Welcome The breadth and depth of research undertaken at the University of Huddersfield is something I, my colleagues, our partners, and collaborators are very proud to be a part of. From influencing health policy, to preventing rail accidents, our research covers an extensive range of topics that have impact across the globe, answering questions on society, industry, science, and much more, along the way. We’re also proud that our research-led teaching prepares our students for a career in industry or academia, they are taught by world-leading academics, developing vital problem-solving skills that are in huge demand by employers across the world. Our Discover Magazine is a showcase of some of our best, and emerging, research, and its international resonance. I hope upon reading this magazine you see why we are so proud to work for an institution with such far reaching impact.”

Andrew D Ball Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation & Knowledge Exchange)

@WeLoveResearch #hudresearch | 03

The art of simulation based learning Enabling learners to practice a challenging new skill utilising simulation has one obvious advantage: it’s safe for all involved. When we see footage of pilots learning or honing their skills in flight simulators, our natural reaction is that it just makes sense. Simulation Based Learning (SBL) is now widely used in the education and training of healthcare students and registered professionals. Advances in technology have developed human patient simulators and task trainers, while virtual reality sessions are also increasingly common. Students are provided with realistic scenarios that require them to think under pressure – as they will have to during their careers. After a conventional lecture in the anatomy and physiology of the lungs, for example, student nurses can assess and manage a simulated patient pre-programmed to display characteristic symptoms of specific respiratory problems.

Maximising the potential Until relatively recently, however, the effectiveness of SBL varied – not least because many educators lacked confidence in using the equipment involved or did not prepare students adequately. Two senior lecturers in nursing at the University of Huddersfield have developed an international framework for the use of SBL in healthcare, which has provided guidelines for educators to use in educating student nurses and other health professionals using SBL strategies. This has provided educators with the knowledge and confidence to use SBL to its full potential. Drs Andrew Bland and Stephen Prescott, both senior lecturers in the University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery, can trace the idea for the 04 | DISCOVER 2022

framework back to a conference coffee break chat with European counterparts. Dr Bland says: “Those conversations underlined for us that, while SBL strategies and associated technology was being developed at a rapid pace, educators weren’t really being taught how to use it or how to apply it in ways most beneficial for students.” With colleagues from Denmark and Finland, the collaboration secured funding from an EU programme to research how best to teach and assess using simulation. They carried out a literature search and drew on their own research and teaching to identify the skills, competencies, and aptitudes that an educator using simulation needs. This led to the creation of the Nurse Educator Simulation-Based Learning Framework (NESTLED). This was piloted in Finland, Denmark and Estonia – in collaboration with colleagues from the conference where the idea was born.

Linking learning to practice The framework helps educators prepare students for working with particular SBL strategies, for example working in small groups to develop teamworking and communication in the modern healthcare workplace. Dr Bland, whose PhD explored the role of simulation in undergraduate nurse education, explains: “Over the previous decade, SBL really started to accelerate in nursing and healthcare education and assessment. It is now used in undergraduate and post-registration nurse

education and in training courses for qualified clinicians. Universities invest in SBL resources but educators themselves were not necessarily confident in using some of this kit. If simulation is used inappropriately or without adequate preparation it can be quite detrimental. Imagine you’re a firstyear nursing student and you’ve never seen one of these human patient simulators: they talk, they blink, they’ve got pulses and even their skin is increasingly realistic. As an educator you need to understand the impact of seeing that for the first time.”

An evolving resource NESTLED-based training is now being used in the United Kingdom and six other European countries. It has moved out of universities and into healthcare settings, including the NHS, where it has had an impact on patient safety and improving efficiency. Laerdal Medical®, a company that manufactures simulator technology has refined the framework content, ‘operationalising it’ by developing specific learning modules. Dr Prescott said:

“The NESTLED framework is not just focused on student nurses: it has far wider applications. It can also be used to work with an entire clinical team – for example, how trauma unit clinicians react to an emergency call – and to help improve efficiency across patient services.” Completing a virtuous circle, Drs Prescott and Bland have picked up the enhanced framework to shape their own teaching. A ‘high fidelity suite’ has been incorporated into the design of the University’s new health and research innovation campus, due for completion in 2024, to house the most advanced, incredibly lifelike, human patient-simulators. | 05

Bringing mindfulness centre stage

Mindfulness practices have been scientifically shown to develop qualities of attention and awareness that are crucial for artists, but performance practitioners have struggled to apply mindfulness in their work due to limited guidance and analysis in the field. The need for mindfulness Theatre practitioners have used awareness and attention training for artists for many years. These qualities overlap with ‘mindfulness’ - a practice which is derived from meditation traditions and supported by extensive recent science. Despite the evident applicability of mindfulness within the arts, there was no guidance for artists in using this for their work.

Mindfulness A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. - Oxford English Dictionary Developing approaches Recognising this, researchers at the University of Huddersfield, including Dr Deb Middleton, Professor Franc Chamberlain and Professor Monty Adkins, developed a range of approaches to integrate mindfulness practice in performance training and artistic processes. Looking at how contemporary figures such as Nicolás Núñez and historical figures such as 06 | DISCOVER 2022

Dr Deb Middleton

Stanislavsky used mindfulness, they identified that some historical and contemporary theatre practices have their roots in Buddhist meditation.

MAP Aware of the rich potential for further work at the intersection of mindfulness and performance, the researchers convened a symposium on Psychophysical Performance as Mindfulness Practice in 2013. Subsequently, the University of Huddersfield’s Mindfulness and Performance Project (MAP) was launched in 2015 to establish key practices and discussions in this area, and the International Symposium on Performance and Mindfulness was assembled in 2016. The MAP Project was the first comprehensive scholarly investigation into mindfulness and performance in the world. Dr Middleton and Professor Chamberlain were able to engage with theatre practitioners from eleven countries and to work closely with leading international practitioners. This led Dr Middleton to identify an emerging new field of practice, ‘mindfulnessbased performance’. By tracing the Buddhist origin of the practices, she established performance training as a viable alternative to standard mindfulness approaches. Dr Middleton and Professor Adkins also applied the MAP research to the development of mindfulnessbased writing, composition and performancemaking. This led to further research projects exploring the application of mindfulness-based practice in contemplative performance works in a range of contexts – including a 50-minute radiophonic work commissioned and produced by Czech Radio Vltava in 2018.

Feedback from professionals working in the theatre has been positive, Dr Middleton says:

“Theatre practitioners have told us that the research has enabled them to work in new ways and it’s informed and supported their work in lots of different communities.” Far reaching performances The team has developed and created an extensive body of rich practices, artworks and critical understanding to support performance practitioners in bringing mindfulness practices into their work. This research has been shared with artists through a range of MAP activities, including

the symposia in 2013 and 2016, and international artists’ practice exchanges in Mexico and the UK in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Between 2013 and July 2020 Dr Middleton and Professor Adkins also applied their research in creative performance projects which reached public audiences and artistic communities in Europe, USA, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Brazil through live and broadcast contemplative arts performances, workshops and presentations. This range of activities has had impact in relation to two areas of performance practice: performance training and artistic process, with the latter extending to contemplative performance practices being adopted in new non-arts-based sectors. Dr Middleton, Professor Chamberlain and Visiting Post Doc Researcher Daniel Plá (from the University of Santa Maria, Brazil) also founded the Journal of Performance and Mindfulness.

Click here to find out more! | 07

Life-saving lullabies

Around 750 women died from preventable causes during pregnancy in Zambia in 2018. The following year the country’s President declared a public health emergency because recent gains in reducing mortality had stalled. A complex range of economic and social issues explain these tragic statistics. These include high rates of illiteracy, variations in services between rural and urban areas and the availability of clinics. Historically, untrained local women often acted as a midwife/traditional birth attendant (TBA), but their practices did not always meet accepted clinical standards.

A need for change In the 1970s, efforts to upskill TBAs ignored intimate cultural, community and social factors. The cultural and social aspects of these roles have since been incorporated into Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs). For example, St John Zambia developed the ‘Mama na Mwana’ (mother and baby) project, to train volunteers in community based maternal and child healthcare, support, and advice. St John Zambia partnered with researchers from the University of Huddersfield to develop a method of improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality. They sought to develop a sustainable and affordable solution that could be scaled up. The UK team was made up of Dr Jim Reid (Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies) and medical historian Professor Barry Doyle from the University of Huddersfield, working alongside David Swann, Professor of Design at Sheffield Hallam University.

Dr Jim Reid School of Education and Professional Development

However, the researchers’ assumptions were proven correct as they were costly and culturally inappropriate. Dr Reid said: “When presented with the idea of baby boxes, the mothers liked the contents, but were appalled at the idea of putting a baby in one to sleep, likening them to coffins.” The solution lay in everyday Zambian culture. During fieldwork, for example, the researchers discovered that 70% of young women said they sang to their children.

Creating lullabies The researchers discovered the ‘Lullaby Project’ at Carnegie Hall in New York, which put mothers and musicians together to make music. When played to their children, the music helped with bonding, development and maternal wellbeing. To adapt it for the Zambian context, an alternative to expensive recording studios and musicians was needed. Researchers also had to incorporate messaging around antenatal care, breastfeeding and other healthcare tips.

Developing a message The research team visited the Zambian capital, Lusaka, for an arts-based workshop with volunteers and clinical staff, to review the appropriateness of providing pregnant women with baby boxes. These can act as a crib with items to help the baby and mother. 08 | DISCOVER 2022

Thanks to Ufulu Films Studios and St John Zambia for all the images of this project. | 09

Dr Reid says:

The ‘Life-saving lullabies’ project meant that healthcare was provided more consistently, as mothers had a better understanding of what the clinic could do for them. The project achieved its purpose of helping women access antenatal and birthing care. The project also helped the SMAG volunteers recognise their own skills and increased their credibility with St. John Zambia and the community. Previously they were seen as basic assistants in clinical settings. This project gave them a voice, showing the value of their work and expertise.

“It was important that the SMAG volunteers developed the songs themselves so that local women would relate to the lyrics. We asked the volunteers to explain what they wanted the women coming to the clinic to know. From this the volunteers started to A carbon neutral project sing and we looked at each other With Covid-19 leaving UK researchers and went ‘that’s it’!” unable to travel, more responsibility fell The women created songs on the role of the clinic and topics such as breastfeeding and sexual health. The SMAG volunteers then performed these songs to women as they came into clinic. Singing is deeply engrained in the lives of Lusaka residents and across much of Africa through day-to-day activities and in church. The songs therefore felt familiar and got the message across. They became an educational tool in an area without resources to print information and with high rates of illiteracy.

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on the Zambian partners. Dr Reid believes this helped rather than hindered the project. The volunteers quickly developed songs about Covid-19, with content around wearing masks, sanitation and isolation. The travel disruption allowed the project to become carbon neutral. Dr Swann discussed the project’s sustainability at the Resilience Hub of COP26. Dr Reid is working with St. John to expand the project across Zambia and beyond.

Thanks to Ufulu Films Studios and St John Zambia for all the images of this project. | 11

Dr Hayley Gorton

Suicide prevention training for community pharmacy teams

The importance of pharmacies as frontline healthcare providers has been evident during the pandemic – including stepping up to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Policymakers increasingly value the skills of the modern pharmacist and their accessibility for local communities. Dr Hayley Gorton, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at the University of Huddersfield, has identified another potential key role for community pharmacists and their teams – suicide prevention. She says: “When I attended the annual conference of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in 2015 I realised that I was the only pharmacist amongst the 700 or more people there. I asked myself what I would do if someone came into my pharmacy who was possibly in crisis and who I thought might be contemplating suicide.” Dr Gorton began to explore the issue with colleagues in pharmacy circles and realised there were gaps in knowledge. She recalls: “It was clear that this was an area where community pharmacists and their teams had a role to play, and I felt it was important to take this further.”

Building the evidence This insight spurred Dr Gorton into a research project in which she led interviews with pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy counter staff. 12 | DISCOVER 2022

She says:

“It was really important to talk to those other staff because they are often the first people that a customer would see. And, indeed, many of them reported interactions with people who were thinking about suicide. Reflecting on those experiences, they felt that training could equip them with the skills to be a useful gatekeeper and to have valuable conversations with those people.” Seven years on from that conference epiphany and following research into practice in the UK and North America, many of Dr Gorton’s insights and research findings are now reflected in official thinking and in the work of community pharmacies.

Influencing policy

Research into practice

In January 2022, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recognised the potential role of community pharmacists in this area for the first time when it cited Dr Gorton’s research in its draft guidance on self-harm. Her paper was the only pharmacy-related research cited in the draft guidance, suggesting it has had a significant impact. Meanwhile, the latest NHS England contract for community pharmacies includes a requirement that all patient-facing pharmacy staff undertake suicide awareness training – a key recommendation in Dr Gorton’s paper. “I can’t say whether or not our research directly influenced this decision, but it was one of our key recommendations.”

On her return from her Fellowship, Dr Gorton immediately began to put her new knowledge to practical effect. She explains: “I worked with the training body for registered pharmacy professionals in England, the Centre for Pharmacy Post-Graduate Education. We did an ‘on the sofa’ type interview video to raise suicide awareness, with an accompanying research study.” Huddersfield pharmacy students are also benefitting from Dr Gorton’s leading role in the field as she has included suicide prevention in her module to final year undergraduates. Dr Gorton is now talking to academic and clinical counterparts across the UK about incorporating mental health first aid training into the pharmacy curriculum. It looks certain that pharmacists will have a future role in efforts to reduce suicide numbers, thanks in part to Dr Gorton’s work.

Maintaining the international dimension Having been a driving force behind formation of the IASP’s special interest group about suicide prevention in primary care, Dr Gorton is working with colleagues to connect the different types of expertise within the sector and identify new research opportunities. She says: “It’s very surprising how little research has been done in this area, even with GPs, but there is obviously more than there is in pharmacy. One of my goals is to understand which of the other professions working in primary care – such as allied health professionals or practice nurses – is involved in suicide prevention.” In her international role as co-chair of the IASP group, Dr Gorton draws on contacts made while studying policies and practices around pharmacy and suicide prevention in North America in 2018, when she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. She travelled to meet academics and clinicians researching the impact of small pharmacy teams in suicide prevention. “Although we were probably ahead in the UK some aspects of community pharmacy practice, it was something they were considering in other countries. In Washington State, for example, they had just made it a legal requirement for pharmacists to have suicide prevention training.” | 13

Creating a global framework for the public relations profession

Dr Gabriel Sadi Huddersfield Business School

While the public relations profession is a global one, for many years there was no recognised framework for benchmarking the capabilities of practitioners worldwide. The Global Alliance (GA), the United Nations-recognised confederation of public relations professional bodies worldwide, sought to remedy this. A changing profession Public relations, as a profession, is going through considerable change. The number of professionals working beyond the Western countries where the practice was historically concentrated is increasing. The sector therefore needed global benchmarking capability to ensure common understanding of the scope of the profession. This would mean professionals could work to, and further develop, their potential. It would also provide common standards for delivering high-quality public relations services to corporate organisations, the public sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and nation states. Previous research produced a framework based on ‘competencies’ - lists of knowledge, skills, attributes and behaviours. This proved unwieldly, complex, and difficult to use. With its Westerncentric approach, it also failed to account for the cultural and operational differences in the profession between nations and continents.

The research Professor Anne Gregory and Dr Johanna Fawkes, from Huddersfield Business School, directed a research project at the request of the GA from 2016 to 2019. The project team included 12 academic researchers drawn from nine countries 14 | DISCOVER 2022

on six continents, including Dr Gabriel Sadi, who was responsible for the Latin American region in the project and joined our Business School in 2020. Dr Gabriel Sadi explains:

“The GA sought a global framework that offered practical value to the profession while reflecting cultural diversity and meeting rigorous academic standards. We fully supported those aspirations and the need to develop a tool that would allow benchmarking of capability across countries while accommodating and acknowledging local diversity in practice.” The researchers used a three-stage data gathering process: a Delphi study, an online survey and focus group discussions and interviews. The team produced individual frameworks for each of the

nine countries involved in the original research. After studying these frameworks, the team broke them down and constructed an agreed Global Capability Framework (GCF) which researchers from all the countries involved and the Global Alliance supported.

The Framework Unlike the previous framework, the GCF takes a ‘capabilities’ approach setting parameters for what the profession is, what it can be at its best, and what it requires of its professionals. The Framework allows organisations, teams, and individuals to assess their capabilities, identify strengths and weaknesses and plan professional development to improve current and future performance.

Global impact The GA officially adopted the Framework at its biennial World Public Relations Forum in Oslo in April 2018, with the chair of the GA describing it as ‘a game-changer for the profession.’

The impact of the GCF has extended beyond the original countries involved in the research. The GA, which represents 79 public relations professional bodies with 280,000 members around the world, has displayed the Framework prominently on its website landing page. The world’s largest PR professional association – the Public Relations Society of America – is among many member organisations to adopt it. Other countries, such as Colombia, Ecuador, UAE, and Malaysia, have either developed, or are developing, frameworks of their own using the methodology designed by the Huddersfield team and their partners. In addition, academics and universities in many countries – including Australia, Sweden, South Africa and the UK - are using it to inform their curricula. | 15

Getting back on track Rail freight wagons appear sturdy, but uneven distribution of their cargo can literally result in them coming off the rails. Previous research established that this is a prime risk factor for derailments. The industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), called for an industry-wide response. A research project commissioned by key players in the rail freight sector formed one part of that response. Dr Phil Shackleton and his team at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) were already partners in three EU-funded projects studying freight suspension systems during this time and took on the new research project.

A happy synchronicity Dr Shackleton explains: “The outputs from the EUfunded projects gave us a better understanding of freight suspension behaviour and the factors that influence it. They helped us develop a modelling approach to investigate and measure variation in risk performance.” The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) funded his team to specifically study the derailment risk caused by “imbalanced loading” on the freight wagons most commonly used on the UK railway. From 2017, the team spent two years running 6,000 computer simulations of load distribution and track conditions. The team applied metrics they had devised previously to existing data and technology, allowing them to assess the risk factors from uneven loads for different types of freight wagon, train or wagon contents.

Targeted solutions As a result, they advised the industry on a range of mitigations. These included a warning that capacity in wagons built for a specific purpose – such as carrying coal – should be reduced when they were re-purposed for other freight, 16 | DISCOVER 2022

Dr Phil Shackleton School of Computing and Engineering

particularly aggregates. The coal wagons left redundant by the closure of coal-powered power stations were shortened in light of the University team’s work, a measure that meant they were better-equipped to cope with their new cargo. That innovation alone is thought to have saved around £175m by allowing for the safe repurposing of coal wagons. The Chair of the Cross-Industry Freight Derailment Prevention Group has said the work has extended the life of around 2500 redundant coal wagons. Repurposing each wagon costs £50,000 – well under half the £120,000 cost of a new aggregates wagon.

Dr Shackleton’s team emphasised the importance of even loading of wagons. In response, the freight operating companies developed a range of innovations – including drawing a line down the centre of some wagons to guide those loading them. The industry also revised loading guidelines for shipping containers on intermodal wagons. This rapid response by industry to the research findings produced swift results: the number of reported ‘monthly longitudinal imbalances’ – a key factor in derailments – fell from 70 to just three. Crucially, the ORR removed freight derailments from its list of top five risks in 2020.

Lasting impact and official recognition Freight derailments have halved in a period when the volume of cargo being carried by rail has risen by around 25%. The work has also significantly reduced the risk of what the regulator had referred to as the perfect storm: the nightmare scenario of a passenger train crashing into a derailed train from an adjacent track. That risk was real given that most derailments occur where lines change track.

The work has also shaped the design of new suspension systems for wagons and training for frontline staff on what a balanced load actually looks like in different wagons and for different types of cargo. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, said:

“Phil Shackleton’s work provided the incontrovertible evidence, a measurement system and thresholds to allow the freight industry to act on this matter. This has had a great positive impact. It has been an exemplar of how academia can work hand in hand with industry stakeholders to solve a complex problem.” | 17

Early career researchers

Helping future healthcare through AI To some of us, terms such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can still seem unsettlingly sci-fi, not least when applied to healthcare. It’s an anxiety that Dr Tianhua Chen understands – despite being a Senior Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence and Programme Lead for the University’s MSc in Artificial Intelligence. He also undertakes extensive collaborative research in AI and healthcare, while sitting on the editorial board of the prestigious Artificial Intelligence in Medicine journal. Fusing AI with healthcare excites Dr Chen – not least “because it’s a matter of human life eventually”. However, he is also an enthusiast for developing ‘Explainable AI’ – recognising the need to make the technology more transparent for patients. Born in China, Dr Chen arrived at Huddersfield as a Research Fellow after completing both his MSc and PhD in Computational Intelligence at Aberystwyth University in 2017.

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Dr Tianhua Chen

He quickly engaged with colleagues on a major on-going project, funded by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to study AI’s potential in diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. While the final diagnosis is made by a clinician, Dr Chen says the AI approach is saving valuable clinical time and reducing waiting times. This focus on the use of AI to understand human health was also evident in recent research into the pandemic’s impact on university students’ mental health. However, having completed PhD on fuzzy systems (an interpretable AI technique that mimics human reasoning), one of his proudest achievements was leading research in that field selected for the ‘spotlight’ slot in a top journal, which he is applying to support clinical decision making.

Welcoming ghosts into the classroom Positive stories about communities hit by de-industrialisation are notable by their rarity. They are Dr Kat Simpson often presented as deprived, barren or defunct places with little hope or potential. But Dr Kat Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Education and Community Studies at the University of Huddersfield, has – to some extent – broken the mould with her research into education in ‘Lillydown’, a former coalmining village in South Yorkshire. Dr Simpson’s work emphasises the ways in which Lillydown’s industrial past continues to haunt the processes of education and social life broadly. She does not brush over the lingering corrosive effects of deindustrialisation. But Dr Simpson’s research also reveals how coming to know the fullness of a social haunting – the loss, injury, and ‘goodness’ – can, at least sometimes, help refashion education in positive ways. It shows, for example, how the community spirit and traditional ‘pit humour’, that often characterised mining communities, can still be used to help forge and maintain authentic and encouraging relationships between staff and pupils. Dr Simpson’s research also illustrates how the school has, to some degree, taken over from its miners’ institutes and working men’s clubs to provide a social and cultural hub for the village. Her research shows how the school, in various ways, is rooted in historical rhythms and ways of being that cultivate a positive relationship with education for pupils who may otherwise be alienated by formal processes of schooling and traditional forms of authority. The school is embracing ghostly matters of the past, even though such matters are often unknown. Dr Simpson calls for a conscious reckoning with both the injuries and goodness of the past in order to harness the potential of young people in places like Lillydown.



Social haunting, education, and the working class | 19


Early career researchers

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A creative look at Larkin Yorkshire-born Dr James Underwood is developing an international reputation in the study of the county’s two great twentieth-century poets: Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin. A Senior Lecturer in the University’s Centre for International Contemporary Poetry, in 2021 Dr Underwood published the first book-length study of Larkin’s early work, which former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion recently reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. It is based on an innovative counter-narrative to the widely held academic belief that Larkin’s early work represented a ‘false start’ before the poet found his voice by abandoning a focus on Yeats in favour of Hardy. Dr Underwood’s book, Early Larkin, suggests that the works he published under the pseudonym of an invented lesbian writer, Brunette Coleman, in the early 1940s, stimulated an ‘interest in everything outside himself’ – a path that led to the great poetry of his later life. Dr Underwood’s wider research spans twentiethand twenty-first-century British, Irish and American poetry. He joined the University of Huddersfield in 2016 as Research Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Literature and a year later the British Academy recognised his potential with a Rising Star Engagement Award. This provided funding for a project that allowed academics working in literary studies to engage with members of the public with a passion for literature. Dr Underwood’s commitment to Hughes and Larkin extends to various roles including membership of the Ted Hughes Network (a centre of excellence for Hughes-related research, teaching and public engagement), a directorship of the Elmet Trust (a charity that preserves Hughes’s birthplace and promotes his work), and chairing the Philip Larkin Society’s Publications Advisory Board.

Dr James Underwood

Early Larkin | 21

Revolutionary partnership A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a career opportunity available to UK graduates to help them become the business leaders of tomorrow. A KTP enables a UK business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project and create transformational change in industry. A two-year KTP between the University of Huddersfield and one of the world’s leading reinsurance companies could revolutionise the way the UK insurance industry manages early-stage sickness absence and has been labelled by UK Government as being ‘a market innovation’. Dr Serena Bartys, from the University’s Centre for Applied Research in Health, is the Lead Academic Supervisor of the 24-month project, supervising a KTP Associate working with reinsurance company Swiss Re. The project could ultimately save the UK economy millions of pounds by reducing work loss due to ill-health. The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, working to make the world more resilient. The aim of the

Dr Serena Bartys, Lead Academic Supervisor

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Swiss Re Group is to enable society to thrive and progress, creating new opportunities and solutions for its clients. Dr Serena Bartys says: “Leading this KTP has been hugely exciting because our research has the potential to directly influence industry, both here in the UK and globally. It has been a valuable exercise in empathy and co-creation to ensure our research connects with the people who need it – the associate, the company and their clients” The KTP Associate, Dr Abasiama Etuknwa, will use world-leading research conducted at the University, as well as Swiss Re’s industry knowledge on income protection insurance, to develop and implement an insurance-led, evidence-based return-to-work plan, that will also include input from employers.

I pursued a PhD in hopes that my research could provide practical benefits in the real world. That is what the KTP offered me – a platform to bridge that gap between the learning world and the business world in terms of operationalising research in a way that benefits both parties.” KTP Associate, Dr Abasiama Etuknwa | 23

Meet our researchers

Building a pathway to sustainable travel futures Having helped shape sustainable transport policy, most notably in his native Greece, Dr Alexandros Nikitas is not resting on his laurels. The Deputy Director of Huddersfield Business School’s Behavioural Research Centre has founded the UK’s first Future Mobility Lab (FML). This interdisciplinary lab will promote the study of sustainable and socially inclusive mobility and connected, shared and alternatively fuelled transport. It is part of the University’s new Sustainable Living Research Centre. It’s a typically innovative move from Dr Nikitas, a Reader in Smart Transport who arrived at Huddersfield in 2015. He combines intensive and influential research with practical engagement with the real world. He was included in Stanford University’s 2020 list of the 2 per cent of scientists with the most citations in academic papers. That desire to see research translated into action saw him serving as a councillor in his home city of Drama for three years from 2011. Athens and Drama are among 12 Greek cities using his active travel research as a compass for their EU-funded Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. He also works with the Greek government on sustainable transport interventions. Dr Nikitas suggests: ‘The next big challenge we need to be thinking about is climate change. COVID-19 in some ways gave us a blueprint for change – highlighting the importance of developing and promoting sustainable transport.’ In July 2022 he assumes the Chair of the Universities’ Transport Study Group’s Executive Committee – the premier academic forum for transport research and teaching spanning UK and Irish universities. ‘This leadership role’, Dr Nikitas, says, “will offer excellent visibility to the Business School and wider University transport initiatives – making us a top24 | DISCOVER 2022

Dr Alexandros Nikitas

tier transport research hub globally.” As well as publishing more than 90 journal and conference papers, Dr Nikitas has worked with UK councils and city regions and major industrial powerhouses such as Volvo Buses. This applied research portfolio of work includes a pioneering micro-mobility/shared transport project with Kirklees Council. Dr Nikitas is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Transport & Health and an Editorial Board member for another two leading academic journals.

Exploring identity and landscape in photography

Dr Yan Wang

Originally trained in Clinical Medicine in Fudan Preston University, Shanghai, China, and working as an anaesthetist before moving to England in 2005, Dr Yan Wang Preston took the opportunity of being away from familial pressures to retrain, studying photography at college and university, leading to a PhD awarded in 2018. Dr Preston is now a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and a practising artist, looking at landscape and identity; how a landscape picture can express a sense of belonging and a sense of place. Her major projects include: ‘Mother River’ (2010-2014), for which she photographed the entire 6,211km Yangtze River in China at precise 100km intervals on a large-format film camera; and ‘Forest’ (2010-2017), for which she investigated the politics of reforestation and ecology recovery in new Chinese cities. Preston considers the Mother River project, completed for her PhD, to be her breakthrough into fine art photography, “It allowed me to use that time to develop my practice by doing a very ambitious and challenging project, but also to develop my knowledge, particularly in landscape photography. From this I built a very solid foundation to continue working as a fine art photographer, and it was the beginning to

seeing how academic research looks in an artistic context.” Dr Preston’s work has won major international awards such as the Shiseido Photographer Prize at the Three Shadows Photography Annual Award in Beijing, China (2016), the First Prize, Professional Commission, Syngenta Photography Award (2017), Hundred Heroines, the Royal Photographic Society (2018), and the First Prize, Professional Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards (2019). Despite these many accolades, Dr Preston has a wider view of the highlight of her career: “It could be the opening of my solo exhibitions, or when I won the Professional Landscape Award from Sony. But the truthful answer is that the highlight is when I finally stood at the river mouth of the Yangtze River, having made the journey across the whole of China, to learn about my homeland and myself, that is the highlight of not just my career but my whole life.” | 25

Meet our researchers

Lively minds – a movement to enhance early years

Dr Liane

A child’s early experiences, their physical and emotional Azevedo development have been shown to determine how well they do in school and in life. Much of Dr Liane Azevedo’s more recent work has been looking at what factors impact school readiness, such as their motor development and sedentary behaviours, which could be impacted by the growth of digital technologies and multiple lockdowns over recent years. Dr Azevedo arrived at Public Health via the scenic route, starting off as a triathlete in her native Brazil, she was a South American champion in 1991. Her interest in health and physical activity was established early on, eventually leading her to Cape Town where she studied for her PhD in Biomechanics. The focus and scope of her work has expanded as it has progressed, initially studying running injuries in a lab, through controlled testing – work that impacted a niche group of the population. She moved into Public Health which, she explains is much messier, when looking at a whole population there are multiple factors to consider, and more complex interventions are required. However, the scale of the impact of her work feels much greater, with the research and guidance she’s involved in informing policy and contributing to long term changes in attitudes and behaviour. Dr Azevedo’s has worked on several systematic reviews providing evidence to practice and policy and clear guidance for diet, physical and behavioural interventions for obesity in children. Her recent work is highly collaborative, working with policy makers, local nurseries, teachers and parents to investigate to use of mobile devices and their impact on child development. ‘I can already see parents are confused’, says Dr Azevedo, “although they believe it is important to prepare children for the digital age and offer learning 26 | DISCOVER 2022

opportunities, they are concerned that children displace active play in favour of use of these technologies. On the other hand, experienced teachers have said that children’s communication skills and self-regulation has been impacted by the increase in technology use. I can see more work needs to be done to help parents and carers with guidance around use of digital devices for younger children.” She has also established research collaborations globally through her projects, she is involved in the SUNRISE Project, an international study of physical activity bringing together researchers from low, medium and high-income countries. She is keen to understand the impact of COVID and digital technologies on young children’s development in Brazil and contribute to guidance for improvements.

Informing the safety of medicine and Covid-19 treatments

Dr Shahzad

After years mixing teaching and research, Dr Shahzad Hasan Hasan was pleased to arrive at the University of Huddersfield in September 2017 as a research fellow in pharmacy practice. Little did he know that three years later he would be on television commenting on the medicine consumption of the most controversial American president of modern times. “Back in 2020 there wasn’t really any effective and safe treatment for Covid-19. Between March and May 2020 President Trump was promoting Hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting Covid and that it might be a cure. We decided we had a responsibility to do the research given the safety concerns. We knew we had the skills to produce evidence in the form of research articles. “My expertise is looking at the safety of medicines. I and my research group synthesise the evidence and publish that in the form of research papers and guidelines for clinicians. I published a paper on Hydroxychloroquine at the end of March 2020 saying it should only be used under close monitoring in hospital because of the risk of associated cardiac problems.” That work led to an international range of broadcasters and journalists beating a path to his door. He also worked on TV programmes in Pakistan about Covid-related drug safety. Dr Hasan was promoted to Senior Research Fellow in 2019. In his four years at the University, he has been its most prolific author, with more than 100 papers published on COVID-19 alone. As he notes himself, the pandemic has driven that prodigious output – both because of more time “sitting at home during lockdowns” and the demand for expert advice on the safety of potential Covid-19 treatments. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology and The British Medical Journal Best Practice are among those to publish and cite his work.

Such research – and his teaching – draws on his early years working as a hospital pharmacist in Karachi before he went into teaching, quickly combining that with research. His career path is a global one with stints in Malaysia, Australia and Glasgow. In December 2021 he secured the award for the best research article around health economics from the International Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research. | 27

Our research centres and institutes Our research centres and institutes have been created to address global challenges facing society today and in the future.

Centre for Precision Technologies

Find out more!

The University’s Centre for Precision Technologies (CPT) is widely recognised as both a UK and world-leading centre for advanced manufacturing metrology, demonstrated through large-scale research projects, large-scale funding, extensive industrial engagement, and both broad and farreaching impact nationally and internationally. Manufacturing metrology can be described as advanced measurement in manufacturing and it is critical infrastructure for manufacturing growth and productivity and underpins smart manufacturing across all sectors. The Centre’s research outputs provide cuttingedge theories and technologies, provide industry with innovative solutions (hardware and software). The team also takes an active role in identifying UK research priorities through academic and industrial communities.

28 | DISCOVER 2022

Northern Productivity Hub

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Located in the Huddersfield Business School, the Northern Productivity Hub comprises of researchers who have interests relating to the productivity of private and public institutions, the impact of the economy and regulations. The aim of the Hub is to generate and disseminate high-quality research that has potential to inform and shape academic debates and influence policy and practice. Within the Hub there are four research themes, • Supply chains • Digital transformation • Applied finance and economics • Human capital. The Hub facilitates collaboration between researchers from different disciplines and aims to promote innovation, fresh insights and contribute to a robust evidence base.

None in Three

Find out more!


Find out more!

Established for the global prevention of gender-based violence, and named to reflect the number of women and girls who are subject to physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, the None in Three centre uses research to develop and evaluate computer games to change attitudes and behaviours relating to gender-based violence. None in Three is notable for using research to intervention and prevention globally, with off shoots in India, Jamaica, Uganda, the UK and Brazil. The specially recruited in-country researchers have conducted hundreds of interviews with survivors and perpetrators of violence. The data has been analysed and reports on the findings now in development will include policy recommendations from Ni3. The research team has developed a policy hub to inform and guide strategy, their ultimate goal, to reinforce social and behavioural change. The findings are also enabling development of the computer games, ensuring they are tailored to the lived experiences of survivors in the relevant countries and cultures.

Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society (HudCRES) is focused on exploring the nature and impact of education and the development of applied social research to create change and achieve impact. The research outputs aim to inform and improve social and educational policy and practice at a local, national and international level. HudCRES breadth is wide and varied, including a major national initiative aimed at helping spot early signs of radicalisation or possible involvement in terrorism, which is directly acting upon years of research.

“Gender-based violence is all too common,but it is not inevitable. Our work is focused on preventing violence by connecting with those most amendable to change, the young.”

The Centre’s work also includes delivery of the first national-level analysis of early intervention programmes in England for young people who are considered vulnerable to becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

“Helping friends and family identify loved ones who are getting involved in the planning of terrorism and terror activity has been a real blind spot in national counter-terrorism policy. Our research has helped address this,” Professor Paul Thomas

Professor Adele Jones | 29

New research from the University of Huddersfield Press

Find out about new titles, plus events and giveaways, by following the University of Huddersfield Press blog or on Facebook and Twitter. @HudUniPress @HudUniPress

The University of Huddersfield Press was established in 2007 and has grown to become a primarily open access publisher of high-quality research. The authors and editorial boards bring international research expertise and a strong orientation to practice and real-world application to their publications. The Press is keen to support emerging researchers and foster research communities by providing a platform for developing academic areas. By publishing innovative research as open access its aim is to improve access to scholarly work for the benefit of all. The Political Economy of the Hospital in History

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Read it for free!

The modern hospital is at once the site of healing, the locus of medical learning and a cornerstone of the welfare state. Its technological and infrastructural costs have transformed health services into one of today’s fastest growing sectors, absorbing substantial proportions of national income in both developed and emerging economies. The aim of this book is to examine this growth in different countries, with a main focus on the twentieth century, and also with a backward glance to earlier shaping forces.

Fields: Journal of Huddersfield Student Research Find out more!

Journal of

Huddersfield studentresearch 30 | DISCOVER 2022

Our peer reviewed open access journal developed as part of the University of Huddersfield Teaching and Learning strategy to support and showcase the best of our student work in terms of research across all the six Schools that make up the University of Huddersfield.

From Mummers to Madness: A Social History of Popular Music in England, c.1770s to c.1970s by David Taylor From the author of Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies, this book considers developments in the production and consumption of popular music in England over a period of some two hundred years, which saw dramatic changes in the socio-economic, demographic and cultural life of the country. Popular music, it is argued, was not simply a response to the wider developments that were taking place but contributed to the ongoing process of adaptation and change. Read it for free!

Gear Acquisition Syndrome: Consumption of Instruments and Technology in Popular Music by Jan-Peter Herbst & Jonas Menze Gear Acquisition Syndrome, also known as GAS, is commonly understood as the musicians’ unrelenting urge to buy and own instruments and equipment as an anticipated catalyst of creative energy and bringer of happiness. For many musicians, it involves the unavoidable compulsion to spend money one does not have on gear perhaps not even needed. The urge is directed by the belief that acquiring another instrument will make one a better player. This book pioneers research into the complex phenomenon named GAS from a variety of disciplines, including popular music studies and music technology, cultural and leisure studies, consumption research, sociology, psychology and psychiatry.

Read it for free!

Railways & Music by Julia Winterson

Read it for free!

As featured in BBC Music magazine, this publication discusses how the railway has inspired countless pieces of music from the pastoral serenity of the Flanders and Swann song ‘Slow train’ to the shrieking horror of holocaust trains in Steve Reich’s Different Trains. This is the first book to give a comprehensive coverage of music connected with the railways. Railways and trains are so deeply ingrained in the popular imagination that they feature in hundreds, possibly thousands, of popular songs. In North America, early railroad songs told of hoboes, heroes, villains, and train wrecks and the sounds of the railroad were heard in boogie-woogie, blues, gospel, jazz, and rock music. In total, this book describes over 50 pieces of classical music and covers more than 250 popular songs. [Cover image © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Images] | 31

Still want more? We hope our Discover Magazine has shown you the breadth of our research offering at the University of Huddersfield, but if you’d like to find out more about our research, and keep up to date with the latest research news, please visit To find out more about the researchers featured in Discover visit the University of Huddersfield Research Portal You can also get involved with discussions around our research by joining our online community on Twitter:




University of Huddersfield Queensgate Huddersfield West Yorkshire HD1 3DH United Kingdom Tel. +44 (0) 1484 422288

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