Archive for August 25, 2016

Salford historian awarded Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Chinese university

Professor Alaric Searle and Nankai's Dean of the Faculty of History, Professor Jiang Pei

Professor Alaric Searle and Nankai’s Dean of the Faculty of History, Professor Jiang Pei

The School of Arts and Media strengthens its Chinese partnerships once again with the news that Professor Alaric Searle, Chair in Modern European History, has been awarded a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Nankai University.

The Professorship will last for three years and Professor Searle will visit Nankai for two months each year. During these stays, he will deliver short courses and workshops for students, as well as collaborating on research projects with his colleagues in the Faculty of History. During his Professorship, Alaric will help the Faculty strengthen its coverage of European, German and British history for Nankai students. The award was made at an official ceremony at Nankai in July. read more


University announces new research partnership with AECOM

new research partnership between the University and global consultancy firm AECOM, which aims to boost understanding of the environmental impact of major infrastructure projects, has been announced.

The organisations will jointly bid for and fund research on topics directly related to major infrastructure projects, such as the £1.86bn Mersey Gateway scheme. The research areas will be chosen to provide benefits, and to help reduce adverse impacts and improve outcomes for the natural environment on future projects.

The UK has an ambitious infrastructure plan, so developing industry’s knowledge of this key area will be increasingly important for future programmes.

Peter Skinner, Chief Executive – Environment & Ground Engineering, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, AECOM, said: “Shaping research so that it is applicable to specific projects provides students with opportunities to make a tangible difference to both academia and industry through their learning.

“Greater collaboration between universities and the private sector will make an important contribution to mitigating the impact of infrastructure on the environment and protecting the natural world. AECOM is proud to be working with the University of Salford on this initiative to increase understanding of the environmental and ecological aspects of infrastructure projects.”

Professor Nigel Mellors, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University said: “This partnership will provide a unique opportunity for both parties. It fits into our aim of focusing our research at real life challenges and to deliver real life impact for society. It will also give our students the chance to get involved in a live project and help them develop key skills for industry.”

Professor Peter McDermott said: “This will be a great source of potential research projects for us and should see some exciting results. These are likely to be of benefit to the wider infrastructure industry. Working on these projects will also help to make our students more employable. Industry partnerships are at the core of our new vision; AECOM is an international ma


OPTIMAX Summer School

By Rob Thompson, University College London

Now in its fourth year of running is the well-regarded three-week summer school, OPTIMAX. It comprises of team-based research to investigate real world research questions within medical imaging, giving students from all over the world the chance to try their hand at research with hands-on expert support throughout. The students and tutors come with completely varying professional backgrounds, including Computer Science, Physics, Medicine, Radiography, Occupational Therapy and Engineering.

This year we have 59 participants, coming from Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, The UK, The Netherlands, Vietnam and Sweden. This year, OPTIMAX is being held in the University of Salford, but it has also been in Lisbon and Groningen. Below are the thoughts of some of this year’s participants on their time at the summer school.


The Impact Environment: REFlections on the Stern Review (Part 1)

Stern

By Dr Chris Hewson, Impact Coordinator

Upon its release last Thursday, the Twittersphere became the locus for a series of overlapping debates on Lord Nicholas Stern’s Review of the REF (see:#SternReview) [i]. This was heartening, chiming with my previous post ‘We need to talk about research impact (again)’ on the need for ‘robust discussions’; a refrain I will seek to expand upon in future pieces [ii]. The report presents a considered and balanced perspective, seeking to develop the well-regarded aspects of REF2014, whilst addressing the three blights of disciplinary siloing, resource burden, and permissible yet unprincipled ‘gaming’. In what follows, I consider the wider canvas upon which the report paints, interspersing this with observations on the structure of the proposed REF2010 ‘impact environment’. In a follow up post, I’ll build on these points, considering how the report seeks to reconfigure impact case study submission, and how this may have knock-on effects with respect to how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) manage, promote, and report knowledge exchange. read more


OPTIMAX 2016

The OPTIMAX 3 week residential research summer school started in 2013 at the University of Salford with Erasmus IP funding. Five countries participated and these were its founder members (Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, UK and the Netherlands). In 2016 OPTIMAX returned to the University of Salford, after being hosted in Lisbon and Groningen in 2014 and 2015. This year we have 60 participants from 12 countries – South Africa, Iraq, UK, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland, Brazil, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Outputs from successive OPTIMAX summer schools have been immense, and include over 40 international conference presentations, 11 articles and 1 editorial in peer reviewed journals and two books. The latter are published as open source within USIR:

This year we anticipate that another book will be published as open source, with the chapters being reports of the research which is conducted in the summer school. As always we intend to submit the abstracts to the European Congress of Radiology, to be held in Vienna, March 2017.


Academic elected to prominent international committee

An academic from the School of Computing, Science and Engineering, Stefan Pletschacher, has been elected to a prominent committee overseeing the main format used by the world’s most important libraries to represent and make available their digitised holdings.

Stefan, a member of the PRImA (Pattern Recognition & Image Analysis) Lab, has been elected by his peers to the Editorial Board of ALTO. ALTO (Analysed Layout and Text Object) is a type of file used by libraries and software companies worldwide as the representation format for digitised content. As such, it plays a key role in the ongoing efforts to make mankind’s printed heritage available online. It is maintained by The Library of Congress and overseen by the international editorial board.

The Editorial Board is responsible for standardising the implementation of ALTO so that it is generic enough to cover a variety of real world uses and practical application by software developers, while at the same time avoiding ambiguity and misinterpretation when taking into account differences in writing systems and languages worldwide.

Stefan is the only UK-based member of the international committee, which also includes members in Singapore, Finland, Germany and the United States. Aside from his work as a Research Fellow and Lecturer here at Salford Stefan has also been a freelance software developer and consultant, playing key roles in large-scale international projects as well as overseeing the development of numerous open source and commercial software projects.

Speaking after his appointment, Stefan said: “It’s an honour to be chosen to sit on this prestigious committee, and for the University of Salford to be working with major international institutions and represented at the heart of the vital efforts to digitise global print heritage for fu


Salford researcher set to return to Edinburgh Fringe Festival stage

A science communication researcher at the University of Salford is set to take part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month.

Dr Gary Kerr, who works within the School of Environment and Life Sciences, will take to the stage to claim that cancer screening, on some occasions, does more harm than good.

His debate is part of the ‘Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas’ show at the Fringe Festival, which sees leading academics put forward controversial ideas to audiences over 24 days.  The cabaret is compered by Susan Morrison, one of Scotland’s leading comedians.

Gary said:  “The general consensus is that cancer screening does more good than harm. However research shows that sometimes cancer screening can be quite problematic.

“There are some harms involved, and perhaps these harms and risks are not well articulated and are kept in the small print. The medical profession don’t really talk about the risks when they invite people for screening tests. For example, there is a problem with over-diagnosis in screening programmes and that some people are diagnosed with “disease” that is never going to cause them any problems”.

Dr Kerr first took part in the ‘Cabaret of Dangerous ideas’ show two years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe, where he took to the stage to question whether or not designer babies were a slippery slope for society.

As with his previous show, Dr Kerr plans to ask audience members about their thoughts on the subject in question prior to him discussing an alternative viewpoint.

After his performance, he will then invite the audience to share their ideas and opinions on the subject. He is interested in this innovate type of science communication event format that pairs academics with comedians and challenges the audiences views on a wide range of con