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MAGAZINE University of Kent AU/WI 2019/20 Cover story: Catching up with Kent alumna, Kami

The University of Kent Estates department led a project to replace the chimney on the Canterbury campus main boiler house in 2019. The previous steel chimney had reached the end of its service life. The new chimney’s flues are made of stainless steel, handmade by engineers in Birmingham. The skeleton of the structure, holding it in place, is made of steel. The chimney services four large gas-fired boilers, which provide roughly half of the campus’ heating and hot water requirements.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

CONTENTS 4 8 10 14 20 24 26 28

University news Campaign launch Feature: Inclusive Theatre Feature: The Science of Vestibular Stimulation Feature: Welcome to Gulbenkian Satff profile: Sam Ranger Recipe: Steamed Bao Buns Alumni feature: Kami Asamani (cover story)


Turtle embryos can choose their own sex, but why? 36 Student profile: Eloise Jack 40 Alumni profile: Dr Shahd Alshammari 42 In focus: Medway Arrivals Weekend Rear cover Kennedy Building

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Like what we’ve done with the place? We’d love to hear your feedback on the magazine. Simply email us on or you can contact us by phone on +44 (0)1227 824346. This magazine is also available online at

Editorial Board Editor: Christopher Wenham Designer: Lesley Farr Principal photography: Matt Wilson Editorial team: Tim Farrow-House, Gary Hughes.

Illustrations by Go Vicinity Creative

Special thanks to: Rhys Higgins, Adam Watkins, Sam Ranger, Mark Ashmore, Ngaio Lanfray, Kasia Senyszyn, Nick Clark & Alistair Smith (The Stage), Rob Parker, Professor David Wilkinson, Mr and Mrs McCabe, Anna Pollard, Dave Yard, Jess Thomas, Dr Peter Ellis, Dan Harding, Dan Lloyd, Eloise Jack, Julia Baxter, Dr Shahd Alshammari and Kami Asamani (cover story).


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

UNIVERSITY NEWS Lights, cameras, reactions A new study suggests that while animal imagery can drive greater concern for nature, we need to think carefully about the types of images we use and the messages we are sending. The study, led by conservationists at Kent, including Alumni Postgraduate Research Scholar, Laura ThomasWalters, also explored how the human emotional and cognitive response to images of animals varies across cultures, geographies and demographic groups. Inspired by the adage ‘a picture is worth a 1000 words’, researchers from the universities of Kent and Oxford and the National Geographic Society conducted a review of 37 published studies looking at how people respond to images of animals. From this, they learned that images of animals can have positive effects on our attitudes to them, altering our emotional responses and willingness to protect them.

Small and far away? Conventional wisdom tells us that large objects appear smaller as they get farther from us, but this fundamental law of classical physics is reversed when we observe the distant universe. Professor Michael D. Smith of the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, part of the School of Physical Sciences, and student Justin Donohoe collaborated on the research. They simulated the development of the biggest objects in the universe to help explain how galaxies and other cosmic bodies were formed. By looking at the distant universe, it is possible to observe it in a past state, when it was still at a formative stage.

Taming the European Leviathan One of the largest grants ever awarded by a funding body in the Humanities has been secured by a History Professor based at the University of Kent. The €10 million award from the European Research Council is going to Professor Ulf Schmidt and three academic colleagues in Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary in a project studying what Europeans have shared in common, historically, politically and scientifically, despite the divisions caused by the Cold War.

At that time, galaxies were growing and supermassive black holes were violently expelling enormous amounts of gas and energy. This matter accumulated into pairs of reservoirs, which formed the biggest objects in the universe, so-called giant radio galaxies. These giant radio galaxies stretch across a large part of the universe. Even moving at the speed of light, it would take several million years to cross one.

IN BRIEF Brain-machine interfaces

Art-ificial intelligence

An Anglo-US collaboration involving Dr Jim Ang has announced that, by combining new classes of nanomembrane electrodes with flexible scalp electronics and a deep learning algorithm, disabled people could wirelessly control mobility aids (such as electronic wheelchairs) or interact with a computer without the need for bulky equipment.

Dr Rocio von Jungenfeld, Lecturer in Digital Media in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts has won the BCS AI Award at The Lumen Prize awards. Presented for excellence in the use of artificial intelligence to produce an outstanding piece of art, Rocio’s project – Lichtsuchende – was a collaboration with Dave Murray-Rust (University of Edinburgh).


Meeting Jim

A documentary about legendary 1960s literary character Jim Haynes by an alumna of the University’s Paris School of Arts and Culture has received a BBC screening. The film entitled Meeting Jim by Turkish filmmaker Ece Ger, who graduated with an MA in Film in 2015, was shown on BBC Scotland on 17 August.

Understanding the Peterloo massacre University of Kent historian Dr Ben Marsh co-authored a vivid and historically accurate visual account of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre for schools to mark the 200th anniversary of the event.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Kent students shaping technology James Jarvis, Raphaël Vigée, Filip Grębowski and Brychan Bennett-Odlum have been named in Business Insider’s UK Tech 100 for their development of their own open-source web based player for Apple Music. The students came to Business Insider’s attention when it was announced earlier this year that they had attracted the attention of Apple with their new music service, Musish. Having realised that Apple does not offer a web player for its music service in the same way that the likes of Spotify does, the students, all of whom were participating in the Cisco International Internship Program in California during the Year in Industry part of their computer science degree, developed their own open-source web based player for Apple Music.

Climate change emergency

Tunnelled vision

The University of Kent has backed Canterbury City Council’s recent commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030, while also updating on the University’s own work to develop a comprehensive plan that responds to the climate and ecological crisis.

Women are given feedback that puts them on the wrong path to leadership, according to new research involving Kent Business School. The study, published in The Leadership Quarterly journal, examined how male and female leaders are advised to develop.

The University is fully committed to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which includes objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and regenerate ecology. Since June 2018, the University’s FutureProof programme has been working to embed these within its operations and teaching, with the focus now moving to a phase of intense planning and action to address the climate and ecological emergency.

Drawing on a sample of over 1000 respondents, the researchers found ways in which the content of feedback for men and women leaders differed despite men and women being rated equally on their overall performance. The findings, based on a unique methodological approach using qualitative data, show that male leaders were advised to think about the ‘bigger picture’ and become visionary in their roles, whereas women were advised to focus on specific technical expertise and to deliver, rather than develop vision.

IN BRIEF November 2019 honorary graduates

Medway Council scholarship

Conductor Harry Christophers, Head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) Ann Furedi, Choreographer Anthony van Laast, and artist and stage designer Es Devlin received honorary degrees from the University in November.

Medway students with aspirations to become a doctor have been given an extra boost with the announcement of a scholarship which will cover the course fees for a Medway student for the full five years of the Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Medicine course at the Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS).


One Hour Degree

Kent Hospitality has released new menus across their Canterbury and Medway outlets, increasing their vegan options available. Their efforts have been recognised by PETA, who have included the University of Kent on their list of 20 Most Vegan-Friendly Universities.

The University has launched a firstof-its-kind online simulation to help new students make the transition to university life. The simulation takes the form of a narrative based adventure game that replicates all the key elements of gaining a Kent degree condensed into as little as one hour.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

UNIVERSITY NEWS New Biosciences PhDs The School of Biosciences has been awarded a multi-million pound investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, a part of UK Research and Innovation) to provide new PhD studentships as part of a South Coast Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SoCoBio DTP). The flagship programme will generate a pipeline of highly skilled researchers by creating a supportive and interdisciplinary environment where students learn to innovate and add value to society. Professor Colin Robinson, Head of School, Biosciences, University of Kent is quoted as saying: “The University of Kent is excited to be part of the SoCoBio Team that has been awarded this prestigious BBSRC DTP. We look forward to ensuring that the students enrolled in this programme will benefit from the excellent academic and industrial expertise that exists across the consortium. This DTP represents a valuable investment in the future of scientific excellence in the UK.”

First degree-level Economics apprentices arrive On Monday 9 September the University welcomed 90 learners from the UK’s first degree-level economics apprenticeship programme to its Canterbury campus. A partnership between the University and the Government Economic Service (GES), the Professional Economist Degree Apprenticeship will create new routes to careers in the Civil Service and a wide range of other employers for young people who would prefer to study for a degree whilst working at the heart of government, the regulatory sector and in commerce. Kent’s School of Economics, in conjunction with its Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships, will deliver the programme.

Kent Business Summit 2020 to focus on sustainable economic growth The Kent Business Summit 2020 will take place on Friday 10 January in the Sibson Building. Currently in its third year this extremely popular and not-to-be-missed event will bring together Kent business leaders, local government decision-makers and academic experts to discuss regional challenges and promote Kent as a sustainable, innovative, forward-thinking and outward-looking county. Now regarded as the County’s flagship event in cross-sector collaboration, this year’s Summit will focus once again on four priority areas for the county: transport infrastructure; placemaking for Kent; productivity; and skills development. For more information, please visit:

IN BRIEF A new national archive

An award in hand…

Train of thought

AHRC appointment

We are indebted to Dame Stephanie Shirley who has become the founding donor of the new UK Philanthropy Archive based at the University of Kent Templeman Library. The Archive will become a pre-eminent source of primary data on the lived experience of philanthropists.

Dr Janine Robinson from the Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology (DICE) in the School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) has been awarded the RSPB’s (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Conservation Science Award for Outstanding PhD 2019, winning from a pool of nominations from across UK universities.

A student has launched a new iPhone app designed to help make train travel more accessible for blind and visually impaired travellers by alerting them when their train station is approaching to ensure they don’t miss their stop.

Kent Law School Professor Diamond Ashiagbor has been appointed to the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Advisory Board for a three-year term. The AHRC funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Kennedy Building opens The School of Economics moved into its new home on 1 July 2019. The Kennedy Building is located in the north-western part of the Canterbury Campus, in close proxmity to Kent Business School and the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, creating an area of strength in ‘financial and business’ subjects. The building provides a stronger visual focus, identity and community for the School. Kennedy houses improved facilities for students and staff, such as social spaces, meeting rooms and an IT suite. Two floors of one wing include shared teaching space and the rest of the building is dedicated for the School’s use. You can also see a close-up of the Kennedy Building on the rear cover of the magazine!

Transforming the Gulbenkian foyer space

Treatment for sexual & domestic violence offenders does work A first-of-its-kind study has found that specialised psychological programmes for sexual and domestic violence offenders have led to major reductions in reoffending but best results are achieved with consistent input from a qualified psychologist.

With the support of £100,100 funding from the Arts Council, Gulbenkian will transform its central foyer space so that it better connects the wide range of people who visit and use the venue. The work, which includes installation of new lighting and furniture, will support Gulbenkian’s ambition to offer more diverse cultural programmes and enhance its potential to generate income. Sustainability and inclusivity will sit at the heart of the project.

In memoriam Sir David Akers-Jones During his long career, Sir David Akers-Jones served in many important posts in the Government of Hong Kong. He was the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong from 1985 to 1987, and was also Acting Governor of Hong Kong. Sir David started his studies at Kent in 1966, the year following the University’s inauguration. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Sir David received

Amongst its recommendations, the study suggests that policy makers and offender programme providers might optimise programmes outcomes by providing qualified psychologists who are consistently present in hands-on treatment.

an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from the University in 1987, and continued to play a very active role in the Hong Kong Alumni Association. Sir David’s support of the University was both longstanding and far-reaching and included the foundation of the Sir David Akers-Jones Hong Kong and China Fund in 2010, designed to support students wishing to study at one of Kent’s partner institutions, or to undertake a work placement in Hong Kong or mainland China. We feel immensely proud to have had the opportunity to benefit from Sir David’s broad experience, wisdom and generosity over the last

six decades and we remain committed to continuing to support the important work in internationalisation between the UK, China and Hong which Sir David was so invested in.

By Anthony Manning Dean for Internationalisation Since the last issue of the magazine went to print, the University has learned of the deaths of alumni, honorary graduates and former staff. The In Memoriam page is available and updated at


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A pioneering group of individuals and organisations established our University in Canterbury in the 1960s. It took a community to bring the early vision to reality – from the architects and construction team turning a muddy field into the landscape we know today, to the first University Council defining our academic programmes and structures, and setting the tone for our character. Everyone involved was equal to the task, including Government, local businesses and individuals who gave both their time and money in support. Our first students – the ‘First 500’ – too were pioneers, choosing a new University where they could shape the student experience. Every year, on our Foundation Day, we celebrate what they created for those of us who have followed. The University is empowered by the people who work and study here, and the communities who support us – our alumni, donors and friends. Since our foundation, students have benefited from a transformative experience in a diverse and supportive environment and our academics and researchers have made a difference to people’s lives. We have grown to an institution of over 20,000 passionate students and staff, proud of our international outlook and distinct European identity showcased by our centres in Athens, Brussels, Paris and Rome, and partnerships worldwide. After graduation, our students take their experience of Kent with them and define their place in the world. Today, we have the same spirit, determination and ambition shown by our Founders. We live in a time when truth and knowledge are themselves being challenged and it is for Universities to lead – countering with facts and expertise and opportunity; valuing excellence, supporting potential, celebrating equality and inclusivity. We are here to make a difference. We are proud of what we do: especially proud that we do it together with our wonderful supporters. At this year’s annual celebrations of our Foundation,


I set out how we want to do more, together with you. I am proud to share how we want to work with you to transform lives through the education opportunities we offer, the research discoveries we make and the role and contribution we have within our communities and wider world. The articles in this issue of the magazine demonstrate each of these themes: the opportunity provided for Kasia Senyszyn to study for a PhD which will change how we approach inclusive theatre (pp 10-13); Professor David Wilkinson’s research group which is investigating the potential therapeutic benefits of neurostimulation in treating Parkinson’s disease (pp 14-18); and the Gulbenkian, a cornerstone of our community and local arts and culture (pp 20-23). To current supporters, I say a heartfelt thank you. The stories on are just the beginning of what you have enabled here and we look forward to sharing many more. And to you, if you think you can add your support, we ask that you get in touch so together we can change someone’s world today. Professor Karen Cox Vice-Chancellor and President

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


IT’S TIME FOR ACTION, NOT EXCUSES,ON INCLUSIVE THEATRE By Kasia Senyszyn PhD in Drama by Research Alumni Postgraduate Research Scholar

Where to start on accessible theatre and taking an accessible show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? As the artistic director of an inclusive theatre company, first of all, I should point out that I hate the word ‘accessible’. It has come to mean ‘for disabled people’, which is exactly the opposite of what was intended. Accessible should mean ‘for everyone’. I also hate that the term forces people to identify as either disabled or non-disabled. A friend recently told me she didn’t attend a show that she wanted to see because she could only go on the night they had a sign language interpreter. She thought it was only for D/deaf people and she would be taking up a needed seat. This was in a 1,200-seat theatre.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


Tagging things as ‘accessible’ in a programme also implies only that work is accessible to everyone, which is often not the case. For example, dance is often accessible for D/deaf people. A poetry reading is often accessible for visually impaired people. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to tag something as ‘accessible’ because everything would be. For now, I suppose, we need it. But in reality, it’s just about being more explicit about what our work includes. Only three short years ago, Jess Thom wrote in The Stage that less than 1% of Edinburgh Fringe performances were captioned or audiodescribed. With more than 11 million people in the UK with hearing or sight loss and only 25% of theatres scheduling accessible (also known as ‘assisted’) performances, we must do more to open our doors and be more welcoming. After all, according to government figures published in 2016, disabled people in the UK have a £249 billion annual spending power. That’s a lot of potential missed opportunities. Imagine if just a fraction of that were invested in the arts because more people could actually go.


As part of my PhD research into making theatre more accessible, I have been speaking to venues and theatre companies about opening themselves up to a wider audience. The two excuses I hear most are: “We don’t have the money to be accessible” and “We don’t have the time to make adjustments”. I don’t buy it. I took Talk by Mark Wilson to the Edinburgh Fringe this year and every performance was captioned for D/deaf audiences and we embedded audio description into the script. All we paid for, access-wise, is the projector hire, so other companies taking shows up to the fringe can do it too. 2

What the theatre companies really mean is that they don’t have the expertise. It’s true that if you don’t have the knowledge, then you need to have the money to buy it in or the time to learn it yourself. But since when were we afraid of investing time into our theatre? Besides, a lot of ‘access strategies’ are really just marketing tools in disguise. A touch tour is not much different to a backstage tour. A captioned trailer is exactly what you would use to promote your show on Facebook to capture the attention of the scrollers.




University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

There are real things that theatre companies can do, even those on a budget like many at the fringe. A projector and PowerPoint can be used to do captions in your show. YouTube can add automatic captions to videos (though check it first because it sometimes comes up with some weird versions of what was said). An audio brochure or programme can be done with you recording the written material yourself on SoundCloud. An iPhone can film the route from the car park to the venue, or to make character videos so visually impaired people can hear the actors’ voices and get a picture of their costumes and physique.

A mistake I see more often than not is that theatremakers only think about making the show accessible. Audiences have three touch points that need to be considered: the information, the show and the space. How do audiences find out about the what, when and how of the performance, about booking tickets and getting into the venue? Where do they park? Do they need to sit in particular seats to see captions? Simple things like capitalising each word in a hashtag or using the alt-text function for images can help visually impaired people using screen-reading software understand social media posts.

Graeae’s Cosmic Scallies used the set-design box as a tactile model so visually impaired people could get a sense of the set. It’s really not that difficult. You just need the time to think about and do it. It can be tricky to be accessible for everyone, true, especially when a company might have no control over things such as the venue or the festival’s marketing.

Trying to make everyone have the same experience is futile. It may seem like an admirable quest, but the truth is, every single audience member will have a different experience. That’s what we love about theatre, isn’t it? It changes every night and we all take something unique away from the experience.

Considering adjustments for D/deaf or hard of hearing people by making things more visual, for instance, might limit the experience of blind or visually impaired people. Edinburgh Fringe venues are often not very accessible to people with limited mobility, and so although Talk was accessible to people with hearing and sight loss, the same can’t be said for everyone, unfortunately. The key here is to be explicit about access information so that people can make their own minds up about what will and will not work for them.

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Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, during the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 2 Photo from the Parrot Theatre Company performance of Mark Wilson’s ‘Talk’ at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 3,4,5 Promotional photos of the Parrot Theatre Company’s production of ‘Talk’.

The fringe has become better at this, and it promotes accessible productions separately, which is great for exposure. It has also helped to talk to the people we’re trying to reach – inviting feedback at a locally produced preview, for example. As the saying goes: “Nothing about us without us”, so asking audiences what their barriers and concerns are has been very important to us. I’ve also been lucky enough to get advice from companies I admire and that have been doing it well for years, such as Fingersmiths, Graeae and Ramps on the Moon. People generally want to help and there’s no point reinventing the wheel.

So it isn’t equality we should be shooting for; it’s equity. Equity is about fairness. It’s about everyone having the same opportunity to access something, rather than everyone having the same thing. Not everyone needs or wants the same thing anyway. The point is to try. Try, fail, improve – but stop making excuses. They won’t wash anymore.

This article was first published by The Stage. Republished here courtesy of The Stage and Kasia Senyszyn. You can read it online:


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |



University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Alessandro Volta was born in Como in northern Italy in 1745, a descendant of two noble families, the Voltas and the Inzaghis. Growing up he disliked formal education, preferring to study nature through observation, experiment and veracious reading. Volta rebelled against his family’s wishes for him to join a religious order or become a lawyer. Instead, he pursued a career in the sciences, and in 1778, he was appointed Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Pavia. Volta invented the ‘Voltaic Pile’ in 1799; the invention was formally announced to the Royal Society of London in 1800. This early battery was made of discs of zinc and silver, separated by paper or cloth soaked in salt water or sodium hydroxide.

He’s Electric As described by Fitzpatrick and Day (2004), in an experiment with his invention Volta connected electrodes from the battery to his ears… as a result, he experienced a number of sensations: an explosion in his head, the sound of boiling matter and he felt as if he was spinning. This final sensation, spinning, likely resulted from stimulation of the ‘balance’ organs, also known as the vestibular organs. These organs help tell us which way is up, whether we are moving and if so in what direction and at what speed. In land mammals, the vestibular organs are buried deep within the skull and, perhaps to acknowledge their importance, are protected by the temporal bone which is one of the strongest in the body.


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The vestibular organs do not only affect our balance. The memory problems reported by astronauts in zero-gravity are partly attributed to the vestibular organs which are chronically under-activated by the absence of gravity. Diseases of the vestibular organs also affect memory as well as sleep, decision-making, body ownership, the sense of self and mood which together can give rise to a level of neuro-disability that has been described as functionally devastating. Many different areas of the brain involved in life-sustaining functions and higher-level behaviour receive messages from the vestibular system which give it great potential as a therapeutic pathway.

Brain wave Leading a pioneering research group based in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent, Professor David Wilkinson has pioneered non-invasive methods of stimulating the dense projections of the vestibular system to unlock and harness their therapeutic potential.

Current research The key therapeutic targets of Professor Wilkinson’s research group are currently: Stroke, including the allied disorders of hemispatial neglect (which leads sufferers to ignore one side of space) and aphasia (language impairment); Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury (including minimally conscious state and vegetative state); and migraine headache. The migraine treatment has now been cleared for clinical use by the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) while Parkinson’s is not too far behind, having recently received FDA breakthrough status. Studies assessing the potential therapeutic benefits of vestibular stimulation in Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD have also commenced, while insomnia, depression and anxiety are in the pipeline.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

This capacity to take a treatment from concept development to proof of principle to clinical trial and thereon regulatory clearance requires a multi-disciplinary team with both basic science and translational skills. As a consequence, much of Professor Wilkinson’s time is taken up with supporting and expanding the team than delivering the stimulation himself. His group has trialled two different methods of vestibular stimulation to treat these conditions. The first, caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS), involves gentle warming and cooling of the vestibular organs via the introduction of thermal currents to the external ear canal via a headset produced by Professor Wilkinson’s long-term commercial collaborator Scion Neurostim, LLC. The headset is suitable for self-administration at home which saves users from having to come to the university or clinic for treatment.

Key research partners Neuro-Rehabilitation Service, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust – Dr Mohamed Sakel Neuropsychiatry Service, Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust – Dr Mayur Bodani Scion Neurostim LCC, USA (CVS device manufacturer)

The second method, galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS), involves the delivery of undetectable electrical currents (far smaller than Volta’s!) to the bony protrusions behind the ears which overlie the vestibular nerve and organs. The electrical currents are transmitted via self-adhesive, disposable carbon rubber electrodes. Professor Wilkinson has shown that currents as low as 0.3mA are sufficient to activate the underlying nerve.

Parkinson’s disease Parkinson’s affects approximately 1.3% of people under 45 years, rising to over 4% in those over 85 years. Dopamine replacement therapy is currently the standard drug treatment but its effect tends to decline over time and motor complications can arise. Non-motor symptoms, including amnesia, fatigue, incontinence, sleeplessness, and dizziness are common and especially difficult to treat, often proving to be the most debilitating. In an initial study with just a single individual who had been living with Parkinson’s for some years, Professor Wilkinson showed that two months of twice-daily stimulation (20 minutes per session) led to life-changing improvements. The individual became much more active, now able to get up easily from his chair, leave the house to go for walks and wander to the pub, and play cards again with his wife. These benefits stemmed from increased mobility, memory, sleep and reduced depression and anxiety. Amazingly, at follow-up five months later these benefits were still evident. His research group subsequently set out to confirm these results in a prospective, doubleblind, randomised, placebo treatment-controlled study comprising 46 participants. As in the singe case-study, participants in receipt of treatment showed dramatic improvements in both their motor and non-motor symptoms, reporting compelling changes in their quality of life and functional independence. Importantly, no serious adverse events were associated with device use, and there was high participant satisfaction. Again, the impressive outcomes were still apparent weeks after the treatment. This long-term improvement is largely unknown within the field of neurological medicine; in the case of Parkinson’s disease most of the motor symptoms return just hours after conventional drug treatment is stopped. Such impressive outcomes prompted the charity Parkinson’s UK to broadcast, “The results from this small scale study are very exciting. While more research is needed to better understand how delivering this kind of non-invasive stimulation to the nerve in the ear works, it holds a lot of promise to relieve troublesome symptoms that many with Parkinson’s experience”.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


Case study – “She’s always been a fighter, all her life” Roseanne McCabe took part in the Parkinson’s trial. She lives in Broadstairs with her husband, Pat, and their dog, Pickle. 31 years ago, Roseanne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease: “As the Parkinson’s progressed, I found it difficult to go to the shops or to the beach on my own.” After hearing about the experimental study at the University of Kent, she signed up. She had received apomorphine treatment for four and a half years, followed by Deep Brain Stimulation for 15 years. Pat had seen improvements in Roseanne as a result of different treatments over the years: “Deep Brain Stimulation had helped to treat some aspects of Parkinson’s, but you never just take what’s in front of you. If an opportunity is put in front of you (like Professor Wilkinson’s experimental treatment), then you’ve just got to take it.”


Roseanne used the device twice a day, finding it straightforward to use. Pat saw new improvements in her condition after just a few weeks: “Her balance improved. She became able to get herself up from wheelchair and take herself to the bathroom. She could now walk on my arm from the car to the restaurant, rather than being in the wheelchair.” Such improvements had a real impact on her everyday well-being. Roseanne added: “I slept well, not waking up during the night like I had been before the study – sometimes three times per night. It was good sleeping right through the night.” “I would definitely recommend people trying the treatment if it’s available to them.”

Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s include: • Rigidity, slowed movement, freezing • Tremor • Forward tilt of trunk • Shuffling gait with short steps Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s include: • Sleeplessness/fatigue • Hallucinations and perceptual problems • Low Mood and apathy • Difficulty remembering • Urinary incontinence • Gastrointestinal dysfunction • Sexual dysfunction

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

How can you help? To obtain clearance for clinical use, Professor Wilkinson now needs to re-confirm that the dramatic treatment outcomes seen in his local Parkinson’s studies can be reproduced in an even larger and geographically diverse sample. He also needs to understand more about how the treatment works; initial study suggests that vestibular stimulation may improve brain health in a similar manner to vigorous exercise. To explore these questions as well as advance treatment for other troublesome conditions, we need to raise £1.6m. Professor Wilkinson believes that the best approach is to set up the World’s first Vestibular Neurostimulation Service here at the University of Kent. He states that, “It would give wider, easier public access to our experimental therapies and also provide a means of educating and training the next generation of scientists and doctors in this groundbreaking approach to treating neuro-disability.” We need to raise £165,000 to set up the stimulation service; for this we need your support. To donate to this potentially life-changing research, please see the leaflet posted with the magazine, or visit to donate online. A donation would, among other costs, help pay for the stimulation devices and would enable him to appoint a Research Nurse to run the service. By establishing the Vestibular Neurostimulation Service, we can take the next step towards obtaining clinical approval for the treatment, while offering a potentially life-changing therapy for patients and their families. Our priorities are Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke, with research on other diseases and conditions to follow. If you would like to find out more about this research and the latest priority areas he is focusing on, visit: or email us on if you would like to discuss how you can support the research.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


Welcome to GULBENKIAN Gulbenkian is the University of Kent’s Arts Centre offering innovative, engaging and high quality arts activity for the public, staff and students. It provides a key role in delivering the University commitment to public engagement and has a particular focus on the creative empowerment of children and young people. Gulbenkian’s Story: Radical Roots & Dangerous Ideas


to experiment, discover and create. Time that is squeezed from busy daily life, artistic space that is in short supply here in Kent, precious opportunities to speak up and change the world.

Gulbenkian celebrated its 50th anniversary in summer 2019, forged in a time when conventions were being questioned and traditions being challenged. In 1969, The Vietnam War raged, Woodstock raved, man landed on the moon, the Paris student rebellion was fresh in the mind. Young people felt they could change the world, the University of Kent was a hotbed of radical action, using creative thinking to find answers to society’s problems.

Gulbenkian is a powder keg, where young people, artists, academics and communities meet and exchange ideas. As these new ideas explode, we see confidence grow, careers form, talent get uncovered, work get created and the future unfurl.

50 years on, Gulbenkian remains an organisation with a radical vision. We believe that young people’s voices must be heard and we are committed to providing time, space and opportunities for them

We spoke to students, staff, alumni and the local community who have made the Gulbenkian their own over the past 50 years. You can read their thoughts and memories overleaf.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Name a seat Celebrate your connection with Gulbenkian by having your name, or the name of a loved one, on one of our new theatre seats. Donate ÂŁ250 and your name will appear on the back of a chair for 5 years. All donations help in funding bursary places and opportunities for young people. To make a donation please contact Tickets & Information on 01227 769075 or visit:


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


Aaron Thompson Kent Union President 2018/19

“As a first year student I was part of the Kent Dance Society and being able to dance on the Gulbenkian stage with my friends and for my friends was a great experience. Every year since then I’ve had a relationship with Gulbenkian and I’ve seen it as my home for the arts.

When I was the President of Kent Dance in my third year, the Gulbenkian sponsored us. When I became the Vice-President (Activities) at Kent Union I sat on their Advisory Board, fed in early ideas for the student offering as well as the appointment of the new Director. As the President of Kent Union, I continued to support the aims of Gulbenkian and the Arts and Culture Strategy more widely. The Gulbenkian gives back and supports students in so many ways and I’m hugely proud to be part of its story.”

Neelam Saredia Poet

“My first spoken word performance was at Gulbenkian around six years ago! It was a shaky and quiet one, but since then I’ve grown in confidence, strength and voice - now I’m an established poet and perform all across Kent. I have performed at Gulbenkian several times since then, and each one feels like connecting with old roots. I have a lot of love for that stage, which welcomes people of all different ages, backgrounds, cultures & abilities.

I also used to be Creative Learning Assistant here and seeing the incredible support & opportunities Gulbenkian gives to children and young people is phenomenal. It was brilliant to be part of an organisation that genuinely changes lives.”


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Simon Nicol Guitarist and Lead Singer – Fairport Convention

“Fairport Convention is even older than the Gulbenkian Theatre, by two years. Coming to Canterbury in the early days meant we took in the Odeon in the Friars (before it was renamed The Marlowe, where we were to become regulars during the 80’s and ‘90s) and played on the University Campus at Rutherford and Keynes. On one occasion we were supported by a new young band called Genesis. I wonder what happened to them?

So my first real experience on what has become one of my very favourite stages was probably when The Albion Christmas Band began our annual seasonal performances here for Debs Earl (Folk in the Barn) who over time became my partner. Fairport Convention are also now firmly established on the ‘regulars’ list, and I’m delighted about that too. There isn’t a bad spot on the stage, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Which makes the place extra special.”

Laura Murray Principal, Limelight Stage School

“I discovered the Gulbenkian ten years ago after the venue I used to hire for my dance show could not accommodate my booking. I have never looked back since -– I am treated like one of the family every year and my pupils receive a professional show experience in the theatre even though they are only at amateur level, creating memories for life.

The ambience and the facilities surrounding the theatre are amazing - such a cultural experience for all ages in beautiful surroundings. Just perfect.”


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |



Street Kitchen was first opened on our Canterbury campus in 2017. Located in Jarman plaza it is the go-to place for feel-good food on the go. With a new menu every week, serving flavoursome food at affordable prices, it caters for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters. For the editors of this magazine, Street Kitchen is a blessing – an antidote to the mundanity of sandwiches every day! Sam Ranger is the chef who heads up the Street Kitchen team.


Sam grew up in Whitstable, and attended Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury. He moved away from Kent, before going travelling for a year – south-east Asia, New Zealand, South America: “Food played a massive part when I was travelling. My girlfriend was writing a travel journal while we were away – I was just writing a food diary!” After returning to Kent, Sam was working in the Bishop’s Finger pub in Canterbury, near the Westgate Towers. The head chef left, and Sam was offered some shifts in the kitchen. He thought this meant helping out, and was therefore surprised to be running the kitchen. “It was quite a small kitchen with a relatively simple menu. I was into my food, but this was being thrown into the deep end. It was a case of, ‘You are the chef now’. You learn quickly that way, because you have to.”

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Sam’s next step was to Café du Soleil in Canterbury, in a chef de partie role. He worked his way up from there to Head Chef: “I really enjoyed it. The standard of food there is really good.” This was followed by a break and travelling: “Four of five years in hospitality is more than enough for anyone!” “While my girlfriend and I were away, we re-evaluated and decided we want to start a family. The University is more suited to this. The work-life balance – 35 hours compared to 75 hours a week – is much better. It means I can spend time with my girlfriend and son.” Sam joined the University, initially working in Sibson Café, before working at some of the other outlets on campus. Street Kitchen began in 2017, first as a concept, then as a van…

The concept means free rein for the chef, writing a menu with fresh, fast-to-prepare food each week. While working in the kitchen at Dolche Vita, Sam was approached by his manager to see if he was interested in becoming the Street Kitchen chef.

Unsurprisingly, food is a big part of life for Sam and his family. At home he has started a project to build a tandoor in his garden, after seeing a video online on how to build one using large terracotta plant pots. His father, meanwhile, has bought a dedicated pizza oven.

“It’s the perfect job for me at Kent. You don’t get bored of the food; firstly, it changes every week, and secondly if I do get bored of it, it’s my fault because I picked it. If I go for dinner somewhere and try something amazing, and think other people would like it, I can put it on the menu.”

After the rush of Welcome Week 2019, we caught up with Sam. He prepared one of his favourite Street Kitchen recipes for us: steamed bao buns with char sui pork. You can find the recipe overleaf.

The inspiration for Sam’s menus comes from his own experiences with food, whether that’s going on holiday and trying something new that students, staff or visitors to the Canterbury campus might also not have tried before, but also closer to home – new and different local restaurants. A visit to Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle, a street food market, was particularly inspiring – 40 vendors and a micro-brewery on site, serving food from around the world.

Street Kitchen is open on our Canterbury campus, Monday to Friday 11.00-15.00. You can sign up to a newsletter to see each week’s menu at: where-to-eat/street-kitchen.html


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


with Char Sui Pork Belly and Pickled Carrot and Mooli • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

700g Pork Belly (rindless)* 5 Garlic Cloves 60ml Root Ginger 1 Small Red Chilli 60ml Hoi Sin Sauce 105ml Caster Sugar 60ml Ketchup 45ml Dark Soy 90ml Rice Vinegar 1 Mooli (Daikon Radish) 2 Large Carrots Coriander White Sesame Seeds Hirata Buns

* You could substitute the pork with a strip of firm tofu – fried until crispy and then dressed in the same way as the pork.


Combine 45ml of rice vinegar with 45ml of caster sugar and heat gently until combined. Remove from heat and let cool. Peel the mooli and carrot and chop into “matchsticks” around an inch long and as thin as possible. Pack this into a kilner jar and pour over the sweet vinegar. Refrigerate for 24hrs. Peel and grate ginger and finely chop garlic and chilli. Add with soy, hoi sin, ketchup and remaining rice vinegar and sugar. Heat gently and simmer for 15mins. Blend with a hand blender.

Marinate the pork belly overnight in ¾ of the blended mixture. Cook at 160c for 3-4 hours covered with foil until the meat is tender but does not fall apart. Once the meat is cool cut into strips 2 inch/1inch/1/2 inch. Add a little oil to a very hot pan and cook on both sides until “charred” and heated through thoroughly. Steam buns as per instructions. Fill each bun with a strip of pork, a little of the remaining marinade, some pickled carrot and mooli, finely chopped coriander and a few sesame seeds.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Share your photos on social media with #unikentfood or send them to us: 27

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


“Kent offered all the things that mattered to me in one place and opened up the world.” By Kami Asamani (née Peters) Eliot, 2001-2006: BA Politics and International Relations and LLM International Law with International Relations Kent Whilst studying Chaucer for my GCSEs at school, my English Literature teacher took us on a trip to Canterbury which included a talk on campus. I loved the fresh air on campus and beautiful view. I visited a couple of other universities during A-levels but Kent had already made a lasting impression. During the first day in Eliot college halls we had a welcome talk and the speaker told us to talk to the person next to us, so I turned to a tall, animated girl and we became friends on the spot. The next day, I saw her with a group of other girls outside Eliot. I had accidentally dropped my phone credit scratch card in the bin instead of the wrapper. One of them took it out the bin for me and we are still friends today. I also met my soul sister at Kent – I’m really grateful to Kent for this as although she also lives in the UK, I don’t know how we would have met otherwise!


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


I met the rest of my friends from the Politics and International Relations course, the New Life Church that met on campus at the time and the Afro-Caribbean (or Afrocab) society. One day I met a guy in a cap and t-shirt at an Afrocab event and we became the best of friends. I call him my BFAM – ‘brother from another mother’. He also stayed at Kent for a Master’s and is now really successful in life and career. We were at each other’s weddings and I am proudly Godmother to his son. Kent offered all the things that mattered to me in one place and opened up the world. I loved Canterbury, the cheerful vibe at what we then called UKC, I met my best friends there and enjoyed my studies. Attending New Life Church also gave me a meaningful connection to a local community beyond university students.

After my Master’s at Kent, I worked as a temp in the Efficiency team at the Department for Transport for a year. One day I saw an ad in the newspaper: ‘TEACH IN JAPAN’. It seemed as though there were sunbeams coming out of the article. I applied and got the job, and had a blast during a year in Japan as an English Instructor and Assistant Language Teacher. When I got back, I got a temporary position at the British Council in the International Assignments team, taking care of the HR needs of senior staff posted to East Asia. Nine months later, I got my first promotion and permanent contract. I’m still there today and have absolutely loved the last decade of my career working on international education, social development and creative programmes. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

Career I love finding out about the natural and cultural history, food and practices of people all over the world. Whilst in primary school, my mum gave me a book that shows pictures of children from around the world. I remember being amazed at how each character looked completely different. It was a whole new world, each time you turn the page. As a teenager, I was part of Lewisham Young Women’s Resource Project in Lewisham borough and was selected for the exchange project ‘gesha’, which means ‘bridge’ in Hebrew. The project took me to Israel with a group of young women from surrounding schools. We hosted talks around youth issues and visited major heritage and historical sites in Israel. This was my first major taste of cultural exchange. Internationalism to me is a reminder that there is no one way of doing or understanding anything. People live and survive in completely different environments and contexts all over the world. This interest has driven my studies, work and travels. Before studying at Kent, I hoped to have an international element to my career and I had a dream of working in the public sector for a large and recognised international institution, with people and society across the world at the centre. Yes, I have been incredibly blessed to be able to follow this.


After seven years delivering on a range of international education programmes at the British Council, I wasn’t quite clear on what I needed as a final cherry on my CV cake. I was keen to do more with my skills and felt hugely inspired by the international opportunities and careers of the people all around me. I had worked overseas on short trips to Germany, India, and Portugal and wanted to work overseas for a longer stint – especially on the continent of Africa. I was offered a role in Ethiopia and in 2015 went to work there on an international development programme that supports civil society. I am currently Head of Business Management for Arts Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). It is my first regional role and I absolutely love it. Our team works in 19 countries in West, Southern and East Africa and the UK to create opportunities and connections for young creatives. I work within the Arts SSA leadership team to clarify our targets, monitor our progress towards them and shape the governance of our work. This includes setting up structures to monitor business performance such as introducing a quarterly business review as well as seeking out support to advance skills and knowledge across the team whilst streamlining our processes so our brilliant team can do what they best – support the creation of new art to new audiences.

I try to see UNESCO World Heritage and other cultural sites as much as possible. I have seen Elmina castle in Ghana, Betty’s Hope and Devils Bridge in Antigua, Meiji and Fushimi Inari shrines in Japan, the Coliseum in Rome, Azure window in Gozo, spice farms in Zanzibar and perhaps the most breath-taking – Lalibela churches in Ethiopia.

Staying connected I mostly use WhatsApp now to communicate with my Kent friends in London, Birmingham, Japan, Sudan, Bermuda, Nigeria, Ghana and one still in Canterbury! Lots of them also work and travel internationally, so we can keep in touch all over the world. One friend recently sent me stunning pictures from the Sydney Opera House light show whilst on a work trip, and another sent photos of his wedding in India. Whilst working in Ethiopia, I was in a very quiet mall, at the end of an almost empty corridor and bumped in to a friend from the Master’s course. We were so shocked, that we started screaming and jumping as neither of us even knew the other was in Addis Ababa. The ladies that work in the shops came out because they thought there was a fight! Having been part of the Afrocab society, I met lots of cool students from Nigeria and Ghana in my time at Kent. A few years after graduation, one of my friends said I should visit. He was serious and so I hopped on a plane and they showed me such a good time – I fell in love with Lagos! Weirdly we bumped into lots of other people who also went to Kent whilst in Lagos, just casually in ice cream parlours and the mall! I attended the Kent in London alumni event in the summer of 2019 and it was so much fun. I ended up next to the oldest alumnus in the room and his stories of working in Nigeria and travelling were hilarious and super inspiring. It was a great night and reminded me what Kent really means to me and the role it has played in my life.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


TURTLE EMBRYOS CAN CHOOSE THEIR OWN SEX, SHOWS NEW RESEARCH – but why? By Dr Peter Ellis Lecturer in Molecular Biology and Reproduction

The animal world has many weird and wonderful ways of having sex. Some animals, such as snails, are hermaphrodites – able to make both eggs and sperm simultaneously. Some, such as wrasses and parrotfish, initially hatch as male but transition to female in later life as they get older. Still others, including some lizard species, have dispensed with males entirely, and the females reproduce by parthenogenesis – laying fully fertile eggs without the need for sperm. But what of the majority of animal species – the ones that are born either male or female, and then stay that way throughout their life history? Surely that has to be a simpler story? Apparently not. Even in these comparatively straightforward cases, there are still complex trade-offs that govern how, when and why animals develop as male or female.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

“The goal of all life is not just to reproduce, but to ensure continued reproduction for generations to come: to maximise the future reproductive success of one’s offspring.” 33

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |



Hitherto it has been believed that this choice is determined either by the genes passed down from the parents, as in mammals with X and Y chromosomes; or by environmental factors, as in turtles where sex determination depends on the incubation temperature of the egg. But new research shows that it is more complex still. Contrary to prediction, embryonic turtles can control their own development and choose for themselves whether to become a boy or a girl.

Why sex ratio matters The goal of all life is not just to reproduce, but to ensure continued reproduction for generations to come: to maximise the future reproductive success of one’s offspring. A simple prediction is that this causes sex ratios to converge on a stable 1:1 mix of males and females. This is the so-called “Fisherian” sex ratio. Simply put, if there are more females than males in the population, then genes which favour the production of more male offspring will be favoured by evolution – and vice versa – since it will be easier for offspring of the rarer sex to find mates. This means that natural selection should in principle ensure that offspring sex ratios remain equal or near-equal.



But biology is never quite that simple. Another important factor is the physical and social status of the resulting offspring. While males and females will on average have exactly the same number of offspring, female reproductive capacity is more predictable than male reproductive capacity. For example, a single bull elephant seal can control a harem of up to 100 cows and sire 100 calves in a year, while the other 99 males produce no offspring at all. Meanwhile, the majority of the cows on the beach sire a single calf each. From the standpoint of maximising the number of descendants, this means that having daughters is like investing in gilts – the return on investment is not much to shout about, but it’s guaranteed. Having sons, on the other hand, is like playing the lottery – most of the time there’s no return, but a small percentage will win the jackpot.

Mother knows best? This is where the games begin. If the parents can predict the outcome of this lottery – if they can gauge their future offspring’s likely reproductive success – then they have an incentive to try and skew their offspring sex ratio away from 1:1.

For example, if the mother is in poor physical condition, it’s very likely that her offspring will be smaller, less fit, generally runtier and unlikely to compete successfully for mates. Under those circumstances, it makes sense for her to “play it safe” and bear more daughters, since that virtually guarantees at least a few grandchildren. But, if the mother is in the prime of health, her offspring are likely to in turn be stronger and therefore more attractive to potential mates, and so she can “shoot for the moon” by bearing more male offspring. Sex skewing can be achieved in a number of different ways – by varying which chromosomes are passed on in species with chromosomal sex determination, or by varying incubation temperature in species with temperature-dependent sex determination, or even by selective reabsorption of embryos of the “unwanted” sex in species such as mammals that develop internally. This prediction, first made by Bob Trivers and Dan Willard in 1973, has since been shown to hold true in at least some animal species, including insects, birds and mammals. In some cases, it is the father’s physical condition that makes the difference, with healthier fathers bearing more sons.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |




Freshwater turtles (Mauremys reevesii), a species in which sex is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated. A laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). Kookaburra usually hatch a male chick first, then a female one. An elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris). A single bull elephant seal can control a harem of up to 100 cows and sire 100 calves in a year, while the other 99 males produce no offspring at all.


But robust evidence for adaptive sex ratio skewing remains to be established for most species due to a variety of other confounding factors such as seasonality in offspring sex ratios that make it very challenging to measure such effects reliably.

Go your own way Scientists have long presumed that the embryo is merely a passive participant in this process: that any decision-making comes entirely from the parental side. But the new paper by a team from the Institute of Zoology in the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows, for the first time, that the embryo has some measure of control over its destiny. Each embryo, it seems, can have its own “interests� and make its own decision over which sex to be. Working in freshwater turtles (Mauremys reevesii), a species in which sex is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated, they confirmed that incubation at cool temperatures triggers male development, while incubation at warmer temperatures triggers female development. Next, they showed that each individual egg does not have a single fixed temperature but can have hot spots and cool spots.

Finally, in a range of experiments designed to mimic different environmental conditions, they found that embryos preferentially chose to locate themselves at the warmer end of the egg when incubated in cool conditions, and at the cooler end when incubated in warm conditions. This tended to normalise sex ratios back towards the Fisherian 1:1 ratio. Injecting eggs with a drug that blocked the embryo’s temperature sensors interrupted this process and led to increasingly skewed sex ratios. A lot still remains to be seen, in particular the extent to which the embryos are choosing their sex, rather than choosing a preferred temperature for other reasons unrelated to sex determination. It would be helpful, for example, to investigate whether the embryo behaviour accords with the Trivers-Willard theory that increasing embryo robustness should lead to increased numbers of male offspring. For example, whether smaller, slower-developing embryos (or embryos from mothers in poor condition) preferentially choose a female fate, and more robust embryos preferentially choose a male fate.

Kent is a proud partner of The Conversation, an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community: This article was first published on The Conversation, and is published here under Creative Commons AttributionNoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You can read the latest work in a huge range of subjects from our academics and researchers on the website: university-of-kent-1248

But what is certain is that how, when and why animals develop as male or female is much more complex than we ever imagined.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


PIPES AND PIPETTES Eloise Jack BSc Biochemistry with a Sandwich Year Music Performance Scholar I was encouraged to explore music from an early age and initially started playing the piano when I was six, as well as singing in a local choir. On changing schools, a year later, I was lucky enough to receive cello lessons, which got me interested in strings and I took up the violin soon after. There is a family connection here too, because my great, great grandfather made violins and I feel very privileged to own a violin that he made. My family live in Salisbury, which offers fantastic opportunities for young musicians and as well as taking lessons, I was able to pursue my musical interests by joining Salisbury Area Young Musicians (SAYM). This organisation is run by dedicated volunteers and music teachers and holds weekly rehearsals offering the opportunity for young musicians of all abilities to play alongside others. Over the years I progressed and developed, participating in regular public performances with the orchestras and choirs, which included singing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In addition to playing at SAYM, I also played the violin in my school orchestra, and sang in the school’s chamber and concert choirs.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


My passion for bagpiping began when I was 12. On a family trip to Scotland to visit my grandparents, they took me to see the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. Pipe bands play a significant role in this event and when the massed bands paraded in front of Edinburgh Castle it was an amazing feeling. It was a musical experience far removed from what I did with SAYM and I rather fancied having a go for myself.



Eloise and her brother, Hamish, performing at a wedding. Amiens, France – commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.

On returning home and watching the repeat on television, I commented that I would like to learn to play the bagpipes, and in September 2012 my brother and I started lessons on the chanter. As soon as we had reached a level of basic proficiency, we were introduced to the bagpipes and joined the Southern Jacobites Pipe Band. The Southern Jacobites are an active band and my first performance with them was in December 2013, at the Salisbury Christmas market. Since then, I have regularly taken part in band performances at carnivals, supporting parades and at private events. I have also been privileged enough to play with them at some unique events. In September 2014, the band performed with massed military musicians at the Tidworth Military Musical Pageant. In 2016 we supported the Treorchy Male Voice Choir and in 2017 we played alongside the National Symphonic Orchestra at the Great British Prom at Bowood House. Each performance was very different and gave me an opportunity to play tunes alongside other instruments that weren’t just pipes and drums.


That said, it is the traditional aspects of pipe music that has provided perhaps my most memorable experiences. The ‘Big Bang and Blow’ is an event that takes place in London, in support of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Pipers and drummers from all over the country converge on London and perform together at various locations throughout the day. I have participated in this event twice, the second time travelling up after lectures here at the University. In a similar vein, but on a larger scale, in 2018 I travelled to Amiens in France to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.



University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Pipe Bands from all over Europe attended the weekend, but I was one of many who attended as an individual and joined an international band, ‘The Lone Pipers’, which is formed of pipers and drummers from all around the world. This was a completely new experience for me, as there was no common language spoken and the only way to communicate was through the power of music. To be able to visit the grave of a relative killed at the Battle of the Somme before performing, as well as visiting the graves of many others, gave the performance a more meaningful feeling. Playing alongside all the other bands in front of Amiens Cathedral is a memory I will never forget. As well as performing as part of a band, I regularly perform both as a duet with my brother Hamish and as a soloist at weddings, parties, Burns’ Suppers and village fetes. Perhaps my most prestigious engagement as a soloist was playing at Devizes Castle for the 50th birthday of the vice-president of HSBC America, which was attended by guests from as far afield as Australia. As well as playing traditional tunes, in my spare time I like to experiment playing styles of music that are not normally associated with the bagpipes. My inspiration for this came after seeing the ‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, a bagpipe rock band that plays contemporary pop and rock tunes, blending together pipes, drums, percussion and electric guitars. I have performed a rendition of ‘We Will Rock You’ at an Explorer Scout music festival and I am now learning some tunes by Queen. I practice my bagpipes in the Colyer-Fergusson band room at least once a week, and practice daily on my practice chanter at home. Each week I create a schedule round my lectures so that I can fit in music practice alongside my academic studies and volunteering as a scout leader. Last year I was part of a local band down in Folkestone. I still keep in contact with my band back at home and attend practice when I can. When I am on my placement year next year I hope to re-join the band full time. Since joining the University of Kent as a Bioscientist undergraduate student, I have performed outside the Gulbenkian for Burns’ Night and I joined the Glenduart Pipes and Drums, a competition pipe-band based in

Folkestone. This was another new experience, as this band plays in a different style to the marching performances that I am used to doing with the Southern Jacobites. I decided to study Biochemistry at the University of Kent as I really liked the campusuniversity feel, and Kent offered the opportunity to complete a year in industry. This will help me further develop my practical skills and give me a better idea of the careers a degree in biochemistry can lead to. The degree at Kent also allows me to take a module in pharmacology, which is one of the key areas I wanted to study. I really enjoy the practical element of my degree as it gives me the chance to develop my laboratory skills, and learn new techniques and practice my report-writing skills. The module I most enjoy is Human Physiology and Disease. This involves looking at the different diseases associated with the tissues and the blood. I find it fascinating to learn about the different metabolic processes associated with the different organs, and how small changes in the amino acid sequences of proteins can lead to some dramatic consequences. I am currently in the process of applying for my year in industry and hope to complete my placement in a histology/pathology lab in a hospital local to my hometown. The lecturers in the School of Biosciences are always willing to help and answer any questions that I may have about areas related to what they are teaching, as well as offering additional support/information via Moodle on content taught in lectures. They also link some of the lectures to research projects that have taken place in the School. The School also has a fantastic careers advisor who has been very helpful in supporting me while I have been applying for placements. I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Music Scholarship, as it has allowed me to purchase a new bag for my bagpipes and covered the travel and membership to practise with the Glenduart Pipes and Drum Band last year. I hope to continue to showcase my performance as a soloist whilst here at the University of Kent, but also in the future play alongside some of the other musicians who are here at the University.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


QA &

A teacher of literature at the Gulf University for Science and Technology, Dr Alshammari has published widely, including research in peer-reviewed journals and creative writing. Her works have been featured in numerous venues, including the Emirates Literature Festival and the Malta Book Festival. Dr Alshammari’s interest in women and disability studies places her at the forefront of young early-career researchers in the Gulf region. Dr Alshammari won the Social Impact Award at this year’s British Council Study UK Alumni Awards in Kuwait. These prestigious international awards celebrate UK higher education and the achievements of alumni from UK universities all over the world.


WITH DR SHAHD ALSHAMMARI Woolf, 2011-2014: PhD in English

What do you do? I teach literature and women’s studies as Assistant Professor of English Literature. I’m also a writer.

What led you down this path? The love of words. The representation of life, the human condition, the desire to find a compass for it all. I believed that I would only find meaning to life through words, through literature. Studying literature for me gave me the tools to survive the world. I knew I wanted to transfer that love for words to others and I knew teaching would give me that opportunity. What or who inspires you? Everything that spells ‘perseverance’ and dedication. I’m inspired by people who keep going. Those who survive. The ones who know that they need to survive and tell their stories. Most of my favorite authors inspire me, but only because of their dedication to the craft.

What do you work towards in your free time? I enjoy life – the silent moments. I don’t work for an outcome, for success, I work for contentment. Satisfaction. So in my free time, I can journal, I can self-reflect, I can read, I play with my dog, I spend time with friends and family. These moments are what make up life for me. What’s the proudest achievement in your working life? Being called ‘Dr Alshammari’ and having that actually happen for me. I never thought I would have that. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 18 and doctors gave me a really horrible outcome and prognosis. I got my PHD and I only did it because I wanted to – for the love of words. Not because I was challenging anyone, not because I was ‘fighting’ the illness, none of that. It was really about passion.

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

What is your favourite memory of Kent? Meeting both of my PHD supervisors changed my life. I was so lucky. I was supervised by Professor Donna Landry (School of English) and she later introduced me to my second supervisor, Dr Stella Bolaki who I adore. She was my inspiration, my support system, and she introduced me to a whole new world of Disability Studies. She gave meaning to my struggle with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and helped me find my path in academia and creative writing. What do you wish you knew while you were a student, that you know now? That it’s not about how soon you graduate, how well you do, that it would be okay in the end. That these memories would be part of my journey and I would look back and think I was so lucky! I am grateful that I even had the privilege of studying. Not everyone does and I think we often forget that.

We’d like to express our congratulations for your success at the Alumni Awards in Kuwait this year – what advice would you give to students and recent alumni looking to make an impact in their own fields? Localise anything you learn. Make it relevant to the community and to new generations. Everything looks great in theory. Make it real. Bring it to reality. I wrote a collection of stories on disability and love. It’s the first of its kind, it’s called Notes on the Flesh (2017). The book was the outcome of my academic and personal labour. Everything I ever read has become part of my life’s compass.

‘What’s the most trivial hill you’re willing to die on?’ What is the one thing you believe that you will never concede, no matter how much people argue with you? When people say “No, this is hopeless and I am just being realistic”. No such thing as a realist. You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. I truly believe that we shape a lot of our realities. How we interpret our lives, our obstacles, our journeys – it all becomes a way of reading. How we read our lives depends on our mindset. I don’t think that’s idealistic at all. I think we haven’t even begun to unlock the power of the mind, our cells’ ability to reprogramme our thought patterns, and make sense of who we are and what happens to us.


University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |


Day one of Arrivals Weekend at Medway – Saturday 14 September 2019

University of Kent Magazine | AU/WI 2019 |

Profile for University of Kent

Kent Magazine AU/WI 19/20