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2020 University of Huddersfield Queensgate Huddersfield West Yorkshire HD1 3DH UK Tel. 01484 422288 Email. @WeLoveResearch #hudresearch


Research with a global impact

HEA Global Teaching Excellence Award 2017


the people, discoveries and stories behind our research

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global DISCOVER Research with a



Contents  Research with a global impact 04 Challenging anti-Gypsy racism

Professor Liz Towns-Andrews, awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2013

22  Researchers shed new light on the origins of modern humans

06 Reporting violent extremism 08 Community forest management and enterprise development in Ethiopia

24 Changing attitudes towards patients who self-harm

Fighting wildlife crime in Malaysia. See page 12

26 Do cigarette packet health warnings work?

12 Fighting wildlife crime in Malaysia 14 Tackling hair loss during chemotherapy

The University of Huddersfield’s researchers are committed to solving the problems and answering the questions posed by industry, science and society as a whole.

28 Changing the landscape of farming in Malawi

16 Sustainable urban mobility in Greece and beyond

32 Empowering mothers and health workers to reduce mortality in Zambia

18 Creating a greener future for Phoenix cycles

34 New research from the University of Huddersfield Press

20 Improving UK railways

Our magazine, Discover, tells the stories behind our research and highlights the impact this work has on the world we all live in. Join the discussions around our research: @WeLoveResearch #hudresearch PROFESSOR LIZ TOWNS-ANDREWS DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND ENTERPRISE 3M PROFESSOR OF INNOVATION

Dr Jodie Matthews challenges anti-Gypsy racism. Article here? See page 04 See page ?

 To find out more about our research and to keep up to date with the latest research news, 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: @weloveresearch #hudresearch

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Challenging anti-Gypsy racism

Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives

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Anti-Gypsy racism towards Romani, Roma and Traveller people in Britain is widespread and pernicious – the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that half of people in Britain had unfavourable views of these communities. Historical cultural stereotypes of Romani people are still active in the twenty-first century, and those stereotypes take on new power in different political and cultural contexts.

Dr Matthews’ research into the construction of Romani stereotypes and the need to replace such stereotypes with accurate and positive representation of this community underpinned the curatorial decisions she made when co-curating an exhibition, Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives, at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery in Leeds (2018). By working with the special collections staff, members of the Romani community and a charity, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE), Dr Matthews was able to ensure that, via workshops and dialogue, the items selected for the exhibition reflected Romani and Traveller experience. The absence of Romani travelling culture in museums was filled by the Rights and Romance exhibition. As part of the exhibition, audio recordings were made by young Romani people and made available via a website or app

for visitors. The collaboration enabled members of the Romani community to emphasise how much an audio recording would make the exhibition more accessible to Romani audiences. The exhibition was visited by over 5,000 people. Preserving heritage Since the exhibition, Dr Matthews has been able to use her research as evidence to support some of the individuals involved in the project to set up a new charity that collects, preserves and shares Gypsy and Traveller heritage and increases the public understanding and awareness of the heritage and culture of Gypsy and Traveller people. This research has enabled Dr Matthews to work with cultural producers to increase positive and sensitive representations of Romani people in galleries, on television, in the media, on stage, on radio and online to increase cultural understanding about Romani culture and history in Britain.

Dismantling stereotypes Dr Jodie Matthews, Reader in English Literature, has carried out extensive research on these stereotypes. Over a decade she has researched the representation of Romani people and deconstructed these stereotypes in order to investigate their discursive power. Her research demonstrates that racist stereotypes are neither ‘common sense’ nor true, and can be undermined or disproved. Representation has real life effects on ethnic minorities, for instance, the upsurge in anti-Gypsy bullying after Big Fat Gypsy Weddings aired on television, and reliance on stereotypical portrayals of Romani people is known to have a negative impact on Romani communities. By adopting a transhistorical approach to representations of Romani people, Dr Matthews’ research revealed a number of findings: the same powerful images are reused over centuries, compounding stereotypes; non-Romani people, especially those with discursive power and cultural capital, are responsible for repeating and revising those stereotypes; and Romani people are often excluded from mainstream narratives of Britishness.

Dr Jodie Matthews

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Reporting violent extremism When they work with new colleagues at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Illinois in Chicago and Ryerson University in Toronto, Professors Thomas and Grossman will adopt the same methodology that they used for their Australian and UK studies – although with much larger sample sizes – and will hold an intensive introductory workshop for all the research teams, to take place in Chicago.

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Professor Paul Thomas

Community reporting

Family and friends of potential terrorists and perpetrators of atrocities such as school shootings could provide crucial information to the authorities in the fight against violent extremism. However, encouraging them to report their concerns to the authorities is a complex issue with barriers often preventing community reporting. Government agencies in the USA and Canada want to find out how they can forestall extremist violence and have called on the aid of Professor Paul Thomas who has researched the issue and provided policy guidelines in the UK.

Professor Thomas has researched a wide range of community issues, including the Prevent programme that is designed to halt extremism. He has aided UK policymakers with his project Community Reporting Thresholds, funded by the UK’s Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST). This resulted in the production of a report which made a series of recommendations that have influenced policymakers and counter-terrorism specialists, with whom he continues to collaborate. The CREST-funded research was carried out in tandem with Professor Michele Grossman of Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. When the National Institute of Justice in the USA and Public Safety Canada both announced that they wished to fund investigations into methods of countering violent extremism, Professors Thomas and Grossman – who is also a Visiting Professor at Huddersfield – made successful applications, based on their research into community reporting thresholds. International collaboration In order to pass on their expertise they are working closely with universities in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto to look at the barriers faced by people in Canada and North America when reporting a loved one of suspected violent extremism.

Field workers will then conduct a series of in-depth interviews with members of the public who live in communities where there has been some history of radicalisation and violent extremism. A range of scenarios will be put to the interviewees regarding concerns about an ‘intimate’ becoming involved in terrorist planning, in order to discover if, when and how they will report their concerns. “We know from the recent inquest on the London Bridge attack that very few friends and relatives do share concerns and often when they do, it is very late in the day,” said Professor Thomas. “So we need to know much more about what will help and guide people to identify concerns about intimates and what will help them to report and share concerns. What are the blocks, the conduits or enablers? Internationally, we don’t know enough about that.” After the UK study, the key findings were that members of communities are “primarily motivated by care and concern for their intimate in considering reporting”. The two-year North American studies will reflect increasing concern about the rise of the Far Right and in the USA there will also be a scenario that deals with non-political mass violence, such as school shootings. When all the fieldwork has been completed, Professor Thomas will then be involved in the analysis of the data and the drawing up of conclusions and recommendations.

Spotlight HudCRES – Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society The Centre’s research activities have a collaborative approach and are organised through the overarching ‘Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society’ (HudCRES) and its three research groups: Policy; Professional Identities and Pedagogies. HudCRES holds regular public lectures and seminars, as do the research groups, with research engagement with policy-makers and practitioners in the region being a vital part of its Research Impact strategy.

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Community forest management and enterprise development in Ethiopia Degradation of tropical rain forests is causing devastating losses of biodiversity and stored carbon. It is also destroying the livelihoods of forest-using communities. Forest loss is driven by many factors including a lack of clear rights for local people, poor management arrangements and limited economic opportunities which fail to make forests an economically competitive land use. For more information on the research in this article email:

Professor Adrian Wood

Honey harvested the traditional way in the forest canopy

Research Partnership for Community Forest Management From the late 1990s an inter-disciplinary research team led by Adrian Wood, Professor of Sustainability at the University of Huddersfield, has been conducting action research in southwest Ethiopia. This approach involves developing, testing and monitoring innovations based on long-term studies. In the south-west part of Ethiopia, a country which has lost 75% of its forest in recent decades, is found one of the country’s two remaining blocks of Afro-montane rainforest. This forest is unique because of the presence of wild coffee and a range of tree fruits and spices, while it also produces high quality honey and beeswax. This research is carried out in collaboration with Ethiopian partners, a local NGO (nongovernmental organisation) EWNRA (The Ethio

Wetlands and Natural Resources Association), established by an earlier Huddersfield Project, the government of Ethiopia’s Southern Region and the Federal Biodiversity Institute. The findings of these studies have shown that clear rights for local communities are needed, along with supportive government policy, as well as forest-based enterprises and local institutions to manage the forest and related trade. Forest Rights and Policy Development Based on these findings the team helped the regional government develop a new forest law in 2012. This was the first truly participatory policy development process in the country, using a range of consultations across the region’s nineteen million people. The law allowed the introduction of a highly devolved form of community forest management, giving communities rights to their forests and allowing them to utilise sustainably the diverse forest products. Ethiopia team members outside the office in Mizan, SW Ethiopia

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Forest Enterprise Research on various forest products (honey, coffee, spices) and community-run marketing enterprises (cooperatives and micro-enterprises) has been undertaken. This shows that 75% of households in the study area rely on forest products for domestic use as well as cash income. The value of forest products is being improved through analysis of the whole value chain, from production to international marketing. In the communities, training is being given on increasing production, improving product quality and preparing products for marketing. Links have been established with fair trade organisations in several European countries, including the Body Shop whose honey is sourced from these forests, while spices, honey and beeswax are traded to the Middle East, America and Japan. Empowered communities conserving forest and biodiversity As a result of this action research, the communities in the forested highlands of south-west Ethiopia now manage over 400,000 hectares of forests, the largest contiguous forest block managed by communities in the country. They have almost halted forest loss and maintained biodiversity, while developments along the value chain for forest products have led to improved and more secure livelihoods. This activity also supports Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) policy and its carbon reduction commitments. Chillies and forest mahogany seeds for sale

Drying out chillies

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Fighting wildlife crime in Malaysia Criminals in Malaysia are endangering the region’s extraordinarily diverse wildlife. Wildlife crime is affecting the states of Sabah and Sarawak in particular, with numbers of prized wildlife such as turtles, pangolins, sun bears and clouded leopards dwindling in part due to the illegal international wildlife trade. The rich biodiversity of the region attracts individuals and groups looking to profit from it in an unsustainable manner, raising concerns about the illegal trade in wildlife in the region. Punishments for poachers and illegal wildlife traders do not reflect the severity of their crimes.

Mount Kinabalu and surroundings, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The mountain has UNESCO world heritage status and the area is known for its botanical and biological diversity.

A call for sentencing guidelines Green criminologist Dr Melanie Flynn was invited by the Malaysian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to advise the judiciary of Sabah and Sarawak on introducing sentencing guidelines for wildlife crime in 2017. This request followed Dr Flynn’s research on wildlife crime with the WWF in the UK, which resulted in strong evidence to support WWF-UK’s case for introducing sentencing guidelines in the UK. Dr Flynn visited Malaysia to deliver a series of presentations and workshops with people involved in the fight against wildlife crime. The region’s judiciary then agreed to set up a committee that would draft guidelines.

Dr Melanie Flynn

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Tackling wildlife criminals Dr Flynn acknowledges the wide-ranging impact of wildlife crimes, beyond the financial impact, “wildlife offences are often dealt with as a type of financial crime – the value of a species on the market – but the harms that are caused through wildlife crime are much more significant.” “There is a wider environmental impact, a loss of biodiversity, harm to the animals and implications for a local community when it loses indigenous plants and animals. Some of those harms are mentioned in the sentencing guidelines, so they really will help judges to make decisions.” The new guidelines have since been launched and Dr Flynn’s expertise has played a significant part in the breakthrough. These new guidelines will help judges in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak deal more effectively with wildlife criminals. The

guidelines apply to wildlife offences dealt with under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 and are the first sentencing guidelines ever used in the State. Sentences will be based on an assessment of culpability of the offender, harm caused by the offence, and aggravating and mitigating factors. In particular, harm will be categorised as High, Medium or Low, considering a number of factors proposed by Dr Flynn in her original report. These include the degree of injury or death caused to the animal(s); any specific cruelty involved; costs of restoration, clean-up or rehabilitation; and the degree of impact on the environment, biodiversity or species in question. Dr Henry Chan, Conservation Director for WWFMalaysia said he hoped that the guidelines would help “create a stronger deterrent to keep poachers away from wildlife, be it in our forests or in our seas”.

A worldwide issue In addition to her work with Malaysia Dr Flynn is also involved with the high-profile campaign to ban trophy hunting. She was invited to attend a Parliamentary reception convened by environmentalist MP Zac Goldsmith and she has blogged on the subject. She has also visited Ethiopia, where she is collaborating with colleagues in the University’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities Research Centre, who are helping to maintain the tropical forests in the south-west of the country. She is investigating offences such as illegal logging and land encroachment.

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Tackling hair loss during chemotherapy For more information on the research in this article email:

Zero hair loss vision Multi-disciplinary research “It is the world’s first multi-disciplinary research centre focussed on scalp cooling and will take our research to another level,” said Centre CoDirector Dr Nikolaos Georgopoulos. He is a cancer expert at the University’s Department of Biological Sciences who has worked with PAXMAN since 2011 and helped provide a scientific explanation for the effectiveness of the cooling caps that the firm designs, produces and markets globally. When worn during chemotherapy, the devices cool the scalp which reduces the risk of hair loss and they already have approximately 50 per cent success rate, and “the cooler the better”, said Dr Georgopoulos. This means that the caps – made from lightweight silicone – have to be as snug a fit as possible, and PAXMAN has worked with the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Ertu Unver, whose areas of expertise include 3D printing and product design, to improve the design of the cap.

The Scalp Cooling Research Centre will work towards a 100 per cent elimination of hair loss during chemotherapy and one of the keys to this will be the cultivation of hair follicles in the lab, to be carried out by Biological Sciences Senior Lecturer Dr Iain Haslam. This will enable detailed research into the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. Under development and soon to be patented is the use of a natural product which, when used in tandem with scalp cooling, has the potential to increase the success rate to 80 per cent or even end hair loss completely for some chemotherapy drugs. One of the tasks of the research centre will be to develop the best way to deliver this agent to the scalp hair follicles. One possibility is a specially-formulated lotion that could be used just before and during treatment. In addition to Dr Georgopoulos, Dr Unver and Dr Haslam, the Centre will also appoint dedicated post-doctoral researchers. PhD students will also be added to the team, so that there will be up to 12 members. The Centre – financially backed by PAXMAN, the University of Huddersfield and the European Union – is scheduled to operate for five years in the first instance and it is hoped that clinical trials of the new product will begin before that initial period finishes. Crucial backing for the Centre comes from PAXMAN’s CEO, Richard Paxman. “It will take our existing R&D projects to a whole new level and we will become the only hair losspreventing scalp cooling provider firmly based on biological research,” he said. “We are taking an important step towards achieving our long-term vision of zero hair loss.”

Researchers at the University of Huddersfield aim to minimise, or eliminate completely, the hair loss that is one of the most distressing side-effects of cancer treatment. They aim to achieve this by combining scalp cooling – already shown to be effective in half of all cases – with a specially formulated lotion that could be applied to the scalp. Research at the new £1 million Scalp Cooling Research Centre established at the University, with the backing of Huddersfield firm PAXMAN – global leaders in the technology – will aid the quest for zero hair loss, with its team of experts in biology and design technology.

Dr Nikolaos Georgopoulos

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Dr Alexandros Nikitas

Sustainable urban mobility in Greece and beyond As more and more people use cars as their primary form of transport, the detrimental impact on the environment is a growing problem. Road congestion, air pollution, noise nuisance, traffic accidents and health-related problems are all issues faced by towns and cities around the world because of this. Finding a sustainable alternative Despite its recent global growth from four schemes in 2001 to 1,950 schemes in early 2019, bike-sharing was still an under-studied area, however, Senior Lecturer in Transport, Dr Alexandros Nikitas, has carried out extensive research on bike-sharing in Drama, Greece, Gothenburg, Sweden and worldwide. The research undertaken surveyed over 1% of Drama’s population (60,000) to examine road users’ attitudes towards cycling and more specifically bike-sharing. Drama is a small Greek city resembling many others in terms of size, geography, transport culture and socioeconomic characteristics, and has no history of shared use mobility interventions.

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Establishing a new mobility ethos Increased cycling rates in the context of a small urban environment like Drama leads to measurable road traffic reduction, improved air quality, noise reduction and health and wellbeing benefits. Bike-sharing can help generate new jobs and create a new layer of social inclusion.

The lack of cycling infrastructure and road safety concerns were identified as key usage barriers for bike-sharing, but guided policy efforts, as described in Dr Nikitas’ published Evidence-Based Survival Toolkit for PolicyMakers and Mobility Providers, could outweigh them.

Inspiring Change This research has inspired authorities in the city of Drama, Greece, to acknowledge the high public support for bike-sharing and possibly include the implementation of the first ever local bike-sharing scheme in their next Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), which is an EU-funded initiative. Another pillar of the work is the introduction of Walking School Buses (WSBs) in a joint effort with Drama’s Primary School Education Directorate. This is the first official implementation of such a programme in Greece. This research has captured the attention of other Greek cities and Dr Nikitas is working with the National Technical University of Athens and the Directorate of Urban Planning and Built Environment of the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy to find ways in which the research can be replicated in an effort to normalise bike-sharing, WSBs and sustainable mobility initiatives in Greece and beyond. Dr Nikitas’ studies have been cited by The Financial Times and BBC Radio among many media outlets, increasing awareness and inspiring a less car-centric travel behaviour.

Most respondents recognised that cycling in general and bike-sharing, in particular, have pro-environmental, cost-effective and healthimproving qualities and the potential to promote a human-centric identity for the city. The research showed that people supported a bike-sharing investment even where the frequency of their current cycle use and intended future use is low. Specifically, 87.1% of the respondents thought that a local scheme should be implemented in Drama. Similar acceptability rates were identified in Gothenburg but only one quarter of the respondents ever used the local bike-sharing scheme.

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Creating a greener future for

Phoenix cycles When they are out on the road, bicycles are the greenest machines on the planet. Now, a University of Huddersfield professor’s expertise is helping to ensure that their manufacture by one of the world’s largest cycle firms is as environmentally-friendly as possible, by helping make the switch to smart factories.

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Research collaboration

A greener proposition

Since 2012, Professor Zhijie Xu, who is Professor of Visual Computing, has formed a research collaboration with the Chinese technology company VisionDragon – a sector leader in machine vision and automation, developing systems for vision-based solutions, which can be used on automated production lines to guide robots and detect errors.

Now, the Chinese company’s automated factories, using industrial robotics, consume much less energy, making them a greener proposition.

The technology came to the attention of Shanghai-based Phoenix Bicycles. It has been in business for over a century and now exports its machines to more than 50 countries. Professor Zhijie Xu

“Phoenix is the leader in its sector for introducing new technology,” said Professor Xu, who has been based at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Computing and Engineering since 1999. “Computer vision systems are vital in order to guide robot arms on the production lines and to spot defects in components such as wheels. They can do this much more reliably, quickly and accurately than human operators,” said Professor Xu. In his collaboration with VisionDragon, he used algorithms, mathematical models and embedded visual components to develop systems that could then be incorporated into the Phoenix factories.

The firm has been impressed by the results. The managing director of Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Ltd, Dr Chaoyang Wang, has stated: “Professor Xu’s smart visual systems greatly aided the effort in transforming labour-intensive, old-style factories into more efficient, greener and safer working environments”. Dr Wang was one of the key figures in Chinese technology research and industry who attended a smart technology forum held in the south eastern Chinese city of Shenzen, where VisionDragon is based. The founder and Managing Director of VisionDragon, Dr Shaohua Ding, is also a prominent figure in the Higher Education sector in China and has published a series of computer vision curriculums and training courses for universities and colleges. Professor Zhijie Xu gave a keynote presentation at the event and during his latest visit to his native China – his first degree was from Xi’an University of Science and Technology – he also conducted research seminars at Shandong Agriculture University and at Chengdu University of Information Technology, working with Professor Yuanping Xu who is an alumnus of the University of Huddersfield.

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Improving UK railways The UK railway system has a number of issues affecting its level of service to customers. Despite being an early adopter of electrification it has suffered from low levels of investment in system renewal. The large number of Victorian tunnels in the UK with limited levels of clearance also pose problems for pantograph-catenary use.

Working with industry

Electrification – leading to improved services and massive reductions in carbon emissions – is the future for railways, but there is a vital need for research that will improve the technology, especially the pantographs. Pantographs are a framework that collects current from overhead catenary wires and when they fail, schedules are disrupted and there can be safety risks.

The new full-scale test rig at the Institute will be available for research and testing by scientists, engineers and companies from around the world. Currently under construction by Italian conglomerate Simpro, the rig will be installed and operational in the IRR in 2020.

World-class pantograph testing rig The University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) is to be the site for a world-class, £3.5 million pantograph testing rig. This vital research will enable the institute to improve pantograph and catenary technologies and retrieve better current collection. This will enable the team to support the rail industry, helping it to solve its problems.

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João Pombo, who is Professor of Railway Technology at the Institute will supervise the design and installation of the pantograph test rig and he will be joined in the work by Senior Research Fellow Dr Pedro Antunes. The two scientists have taken part in a succession of research projects dealing with pantograph-catenary interaction. The IRR is leading on an ongoing investigation, titled ‘Dynamic Behaviour and Quality of the Current Collection’. Part of the EU’s Shift2Rail programme, it has received funding of 700,000 euros and involves universities, institutions and firms from the UK, Italy and Portugal.

Pantographs brought for testing will sit on a moving table that mimics the behaviour of a train and will interact with a virtual catenary, modelled by an advanced computer software. The rig will be open for industry to come with a new pantograph or new catenary to be tested. The behaviour and performance of pantographs on high speed lines – such as the UK’s forthcoming HS2 – is one key area of research. However, the problems are not just associated with high speed trains and improvements on conventional speed trains will bring great benefits.

One of its goals is to develop new methods – involving reliable computer simulation – that would simplify the acceptance of new pantograph and catenary designs. “The current standards are based on data from the 1980s and 1990s and they are rather strict, preventing the development of new technology,” states Professor Pombo. Professor Pombo and Dr Antunes are also exploring ways to reduce wear or damage to pantographs and catenary systems, thereby decreasing the life-cycle costs and avoiding disruptions to rail traffic, such as the serious delays to trains from Paddington in late 2018, when a train brought down some overhead wires. Professor João Pombo and Dr Pedro Antunes

Illustration of the new pantograph test rig

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Researchers shed new light on the

origins of modern humans Researchers from the University of Huddersfield, with colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the University of Minho in Braga, recently used a genetic approach to tackle one of the most intractable questions of all – how and when we became truly human. Homo sapiens first arose in Africa more than 300,000 years ago, but did the earliest such people resemble people living today in their mental capacities? Archaeologists believe that people very like us were living in small communities in an Ice Age refuge on the South African coast at least 100,000 years ago. Between around 70,000 and 100,000 years ago, these people left plentiful evidence that they were thinking and behaving like modern humans – evidence of symbolism, such as the use of pigments (probably for body painting), drawings and engravings, shell beads and tiny arrowheads. But if these achievements somehow made these people special, suggesting a direct line to the people of today, the genetics of their modern descendants in southern Africa doesn’t seem to bear this out. Our genomes imply that almost all modern non-Africans from around the world – and indeed most Africans, too – are derived from a small group of people living not in South Africa but in East Africa, around 60,000–70,000 years ago.

Small-scale migration

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Professor Martin Richards

Map showing early African archaeological sites with evidence for symbolic material and microlithic stone tools. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center image by Reto Stöckli).

The Huddersfield-Minho team of geneticists, led by Professor Martin Richards at Huddersfield and Dr Pedro Soares in Braga, along with the eminent Cambridge archaeologist Professor Sir Paul Mellars, has studied the maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA from Africans in unprecedented detail, and identified a clear signal of a small-scale migration from South Africa to East Africa that took place at just that time, around 65,000 years ago, and might resolve the conundrum. The migration signal makes sense in terms of climate. Within the last few hundred years, there was only a single brief period, 60,000–70,000 years ago, during which the continent as a whole experienced sufficient moisture to open up a corridor between the south and the east. And intriguingly, it was around this time that some of the signs of symbolism and technological complexity seen earlier in South Africa start to appear in the east. This opens up the possibility that a migration of a small group of people from South Africa towards the east around 65,000 years ago transmitted aspects of their sophisticated culture to people in East Africa. Those East African people were biologically little different from the South Africans – they were all modern Homo sapiens, their brains were just as advanced and they were undoubtedly cognitively ready to receive the benefits of the new ideas and upgrade – rather like a modern isolated stone-age culture meeting and embracing western civilization today. One result of the encounter was the greatest diaspora of Homo sapiens ever known – both throughout Africa and out of Africa, to settle much of Eurasia and Australia, within the space of a few thousand years.

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Changing attitudes towards patients who self-harm One in 25 patients attending Accident and Emergency departments for self-harm will die by suicide within five years. Professor Karen Ousey is one of the lead authors on the major international study ‘Emergency department nurses’ attitudes towards patients who self-harm’. Professor Karen Ousey

Self-harm is a major public health challenge, but nursing staff often struggle to fully understand the reasons behind it, according to the findings of an international research project carried out by experts at the University of Huddersfield and an overseas partner. The recommendation is that emergency department staff should receive focused education so that they learn more about the psychology behind self-harm, which is often a precursor to suicide. Professor Karen Ousey, who directs the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention, had first-hand experience of patients who had lacerated themselves in a variety of ways, during her nursing career. “There is a wound care side to it and a need to help people manage their wounds so they don’t get an infection afterwards. But probably more important is the psychological dimension – how can we care effectively for people who self-harm?” said Professor Ousey. International research project Professor Ousey was joined in the research by her University of Huddersfield colleagues Dr Joanna Blackburn and Dr John Stephenson, plus Dr Gillian Rayner at the University of Central Lancashire and Professor Karen-Leigh Edward at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. They have now published the article ‘Emergency department nurses’ attitudes towards patients who self-harm’ in the International Journal of Mental Health. The authors carried out an exhaustive review and analysis of evidence from around the world. The article describes their sources and methodology. Among the findings are that nursing staff across several countries, including the UK, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Brazil and Taiwan, hold negative attitudes towards people who self-harm. Nursing staff’s emotional responses included frustration, anger and hostility.

Self-harming and suicide risk “Research both nationally and internationally suggests that emergency care nurses find treating patients who self-harm emotionally challenging. Ambivalence, powerlessness and helplessness are commonly manifested in the development of negative attitudinal beliefs towards these patients,” write the authors, who also state that there is a “compelling relationship” between self-harm and suicide. The article states that: “A fundamental factor in the development and maintenance of negative attitudes was a lack of training and education, whilst positive attitudes were attributable to being knowledgeable about self-harm”. The conclusion is that self-harm education for emergency department staff should include explanations and causes of self-harm and suicide, plus range, forms and functions of self-harm and staff responses to it. Education should also include ongoing clinical supervision where staff can explore their attitudes and beliefs in a nonthreatening environment.

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Professor Ousey confirmed that there will be further collaborative research on the topic, leading to greater educational support for healthcare professionals.

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Do cigarette packet health warnings work?

It had been shown that before these new regulations, smokers tended to divert their attention away from text-based warnings, concentrating on the distinctive branding. Would the redesigned packs alter smokers’ attention to health warnings? Eye-tracking technology A team from the Department of Psychology at the University – lecturers Dr Chris Retzler, Dr Jenny Retzler and PhD researcher Nazanin Shiraj – devised a method to appraise the success of the new packs in persuading smokers to assimilate the health warnings. Their findings appear in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence* journal and they show that the new design regulations are having the intended effect. Forty-seven adult smokers – aged between 19 and 58 – were recruited to take part in the research. They were selected to include both heavy and light smokers. They were each shown images of pre-regulation and post-regulation cigarette packs on a computer, while an eye-tracker recorded which parts of the packs they were looking at.

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“Eye movement analysis revealed that for pre-regulation packs, smokers fixated more on the branding than the warnings,” state the researchers. “This pattern was reversed for the post-regulation packs, suggesting that the recent regulations have been effective in reducing attention to brands and increasing attention to warnings.” This means that the warnings are now “the most salient part of the post-regulation cigarette packs”.

Do warnings on cigarette packets actually work? Smokers once used to turn a blind eye to health warnings on cigarette packets, but now researchers at the University of Huddersfield have used eye-tracking technology to prove that new-style packs have shifted the focus so that the message about the dangers of smoking is getting through more effectively.

It had been shown in earlier studies that heavier smokers tended to ignore the health warnings on pre-regulation packs.

“They’d smoked for so many years that they just wanted to ignore the outcome,” said Dr Chris Retzler. “But we didn’t find any effect of that with the new packs. We looked at whether attention to either the branding or the health warning varied as a function of how much they smoked, and there was no relation, which is good news for these changes.”

Policy change implications It is not yet known if greater heed paid to health warnings will result in more people quitting smoking, but these results have important implications for policy change in countries without such regulations. “They brought in some similar changes to the packs in Australia, prior to our changes in the UK, and they have seen a moderate decrease in the amount that people smoke. But the numbers of people smoking are going down anyway, so to try and separate out the reasons for that is very difficult,” said Dr Retzler, whose research projects have included the use of neuroscience to study addiction. He is currently working with a charity on developing new interventions to persuade people to stop smoking. *The article “Eye movement data reveal increased attention to combined health warnings on cigarette packs”, by Chris Retzler, Nazanin Shiraj and Jenny Retzler appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Dr Chris Retzler

Regulations introduced in the UK in 2016 insist that health warnings – consisting of text and pictures – must occupy 65 per cent of the front and back of cigarette and tobacco packaging. The names of the manufacturer and the brand must also now be printed in a low key, standardised style, against a drab brown background.

Dr Jenny Retzler

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Changing the landscape

of farming in


Approximately 800 million people deal with food shortages that affect their overall life expectancy and health on a day to day basis, particularly in low-income countries such as Malawi. Approximately 90% of Malawi’s population live on less than $2 a day, with 80% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture for which the predominant crop is maize. The use of traditional farming methods has resulted in declining crop yields due to a variety of factors, including poor soil quality, soil erosion and the effects of climate change.

Crop beds located on sloping land.

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Farmers from Kandambo village with their maize crop using the Tiyeni Deep Bed system.

Historically fertiliser has been too expensive for the majority of Malawi’s population, and there is poor access to manure. Additionally, there is insufficient land to devote large areas to soil restoration, a situation further exacerbated by the increasing population. The lack of arable land has led to deforestation, which has in turn increased soil erosion. The combination of heavy rainfall events and steep slopes has resulted in an estimated 29 tons of soil per hectare per year lost due to erosion. This erosion is further exacerbated by the floods and droughts that Malawi is susceptible to, with the events increasing in frequency due to climate change. Deep-bed farming system The Tiyeni deep-bed farming system is one method to improve food security in Malawi. This system is designed to be economically and environmentally sustainable, and creates beds that improve water infiltration and root development thereby minimising erosion and the effects of drought periods and floods. However, there is currently no data on the cycling of nutrients or organic matter that occurs within these beds, and as a result the lifespan of the beds is unknown.

For more information on the research in this article email:

Dr Emma Ransom-Jones, Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Microbiology/Molecular Biology, visited Malawi in 2019 to investigate further. The fieldwork visit included meeting members of Tiyeni (an NGO) and local farmers. Soil moisture and pH levels were collected from both traditional and deep bed plots from eight farms, with the deep beds ranging in age from two to five years. Soil samples were subjected to DNA extraction and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to identify the members of the microbial community present in the soils, the changes over time, and the potential implications for future management of the deep beds.

Supporting farming communities The data collected will provide a comprehensive overview of the Tiyeni deep-bed system in comparison to the traditional ridge method, and provide important insights for the future management of these beds. The potential beneficiaries of this project are subsistence farmers in Malawi, their families and dependants. In addition, farmers in other countries affected by droughts such as Ethiopia and Kenya may also benefit from the implementation of the deep bed farming system.

Preparation of pits for mixing fertiliser.

Maize harvest from a farm in Jalanthowa, Malawi.

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Empowering mothers and health workers to reduce mortality Infant and maternal mortality and morbidity are of significant concern in Zambia. In May 2019, President Lungu declared maternal and prenatal deaths a Public Health emergency with 10 to 15 women per week losing their lives in pregnancy. Furthermore, it is clear that Zambia has one of the highest infant mortality rates (IMR) in the world. Developing partnerships in Zambia Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have established partnerships with local government, NGOs and local academics in Zambia to address the issue of increasing infant and maternal mortality. Professor of History Barry Doyle and Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies Dr James Reid from the University of Huddersfield and Professor David Swann from Sheffield Hallam University have supported NGO partnerships and other community structures. Usually led by a small cohort of trained midwives and health visitors, they are able to explore and develop a novel pre/post-natal service (Maternal and Child Health – MCH) delivery model and zero-cost interventions to support mothers, including adolescent mothers and babies.

Professor Barry Doyle

Dr James Reid

During their visit they met UNICEF staff, including the Regional Director for Health, the Regional Child Health Specialist and the Regional HIV/Adolescent Health Specialist, who highlighted particular concerns around prematurity among adolescent mothers and their higher mortality rate compared to other mothers. They established a link between UNICEF and St. John, Zambia, who provide volunteer MCH in eight clinics across the country. By visiting a number of clinics they were able to deliver workshops with MCH professionals. In these workshops an established problem solving approach was used involving four phases: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver to identify the challenges associated with pre/postnatal new born care from the different stakeholders’ perspectives.

Positive impact on infant and maternal mortality The workshops included the initial development of ideas for a zero/low cost intervention called Chitenge for Change that used the ubiquitous wrap worn by women in subSaharan Africa as a medium for conveying health messages. Discussions using the chitenge enabled the team to define the need for, and potential of, a frugal design innovation to meet basic requirements at the lowest possible cost. Developing ideas for a frugal intervention with the minimal use of resources aims to achieve a positive impact on infant and maternal mortality through sustainable means. This sustainable approach aims to avoid the difficulty often faced by ideas which involve high costs and therefore limit scalability. Further research and development work is planned to empower mothers and health workers to define, co-design, develop and deliver a testable zero cost approach to support MCH and to build the partnership with St. John Zambia, as a regional expert therefore building capacity and developing a volunteer network in Zambia and beyond.

For more information on the research in this article email: or

Prototype ‘chitenge’, designed as part of the project. (Credit Louis Block and Pati Dlugsoz.)

Health care workers and St. John volunteers at the workshop

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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: and on Facebook and Twitter @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.

Publications Journal of Creative Music Systems Now in its 5th issue, JCMS has just been accepted to Scopus and the Directory of Open Access Journals. It is great to see this innovative and highly used research being cited and indexed by world-wide researchers and organisations.

New journal – the Journal of Play in Adulthood The first articles for the Journal of Play in Adulthood, edited by Andrew Walsh, have been published, and are being widely read by researchers and practitioners across a range of disciplines. The journal aims to provide a multidisciplinary open access forum dedicated to the discussion of play and playfulness in adults. It seeks to explore the barriers to the use of play with adults, and potential solutions to increasing the role of play in lifelong education, the workplace and wider society. Read the journal online: https://www.

Crime, Security and Society journal welcomes new articles Crime, Security and Society is an academic journal, edited by Anna Williams and housed within the Secure Societies Institute. It seeks a wide and diverse audience of academics and practitioners who strive to better understand and reduce both current and future crime and security threats experienced by many societies. It encourages collaborative thinking from disciplines as seemingly distinct as: computer science, precision engineering, forensic biology, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and organic chemistry. Submit your work online:

Music Beyond Airports – appraising ambient music

Soaring usage Our books and journal articles are being used by an increasing number of researchers and practitioners worldwide. As of September 2019 our books have been downloaded this year over 8,000 times, and our articles over 35,000 times.

This collection of essays, compiled by Monty Adkins and John Corner, has been assembled and developed from papers given at the Ambient@40 International Conference held in February 2018 at the University of Huddersfield. The original premise of the conference was not merely to celebrate Eno’s work and the landmark release of Music for Airports in 1978, but to consider the development of the genre, how it has permeated our wider musical culture, and what the role of such music is today given the societal changes that have occurred since the release of that album. Just six weeks after its release the book was downloaded almost 8,000 times, and has been described as innovative and insightful by the research community.

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Discover - the University of Huddersfield's research magazine  

Research with a global impact - the people, discoveries and stories behind our research.

Discover - the University of Huddersfield's research magazine  

Research with a global impact - the people, discoveries and stories behind our research.