August 22, 2013, by Zoë Goodwin
News from the week in brief
There has been a lot going on at the University this week. Funding for pioneering research is at an all-time high with academics securing over £170m worth of grants in the last year. A report from Nottingham’s School of Geography has shown that more than 40% of bank and building society branches have been closed in the period 1989 to 2012. A new way of inhibiting the toxicity and virulence of the notorious superbug, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been discovered. Nottingham scientists have also discovered what causes the blue eggs produced by some breeds to turn this unusual colour. Physicists have been looking at a new antiferromagnetic spintronic material to satisfy the world’s desire for ever more processing power, at ever diminishing energy cost, in even tinier devices. A major new arts and mental health exhibition will be showcasing the therapeutic use of art in British psychiatric institutions from as early as the 19th century, at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre. Researchers have identified neuroimaging markers in the brain which could help predict whether people with psychosis respond to antipsychotic medications or not. An international study has shown that conservation biologists work very hard, producing substantial amounts of work in the evenings and at weekends. Finally Nottingham South MP, Lillian Greenwood attended the School of Psychologist’s Summer Scientist Week.
What a busy time we have had in the Press Office…for more about these stories, keep reading. If that’s not enough, click the links for the full press release.
Despite the tougher climate affecting grant awards, academics at the University have secured record funding this last year, a 25% increase on last year’s total. Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research said: “These latest figures are excellent news and are a true reflection of the outstanding and world-changing research that is taking place at the University. Nottingham’s strong performance is a result of our continuing sustained and integrated focus on quality and research excellence.”
Some of Britain’s poorest communities have been hit the hardest by the nearly 7,500 bank and building society closures in the period of 1989 to 2012. The least affluent third of the population has borne the brunt of two thirds of closures since 1995 – these areas include Britain’s least affluent inner city areas, multicultural metropolitan areas and traditional manufacturing areas. Dr Shaun French, of the University’s School of geography said: “This is causing a highly uneven geography of financial provision across the country and we are seeing less facilities in areas with high levels of unemployment…This uneven spread of branches now needs to be addressed by the Government in order to prevent a further divide.”
To read about this study in detail, click here.
The fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs has taken a step forward thanks to a new discovery by scientist at the University. A multi-disciplinary team at the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences has uncovered a new way of inhibiting the toxicity and virulence of the notorious superbug, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria is resistant to many conventional antibiotics. The new discovery concerns the bacteria cells’ ability to ‘talk’ to each other by producing and sensing small chemical signal molecules. This is called ‘quorum sensing’ (QS).
To learn more about QS, click here.
The blue egg is set to be the latest foodie fashion. Some say they are prettier, tastier and cleaner-breaking than the traditional brown one. Now, thanks to scientists from Nottingham we know what causes them to turn this unusual colour. A four-year research study carried out by a team from the School of Biology has identified the genetic mutation which first produced the blue egg in native South American chicken. Their results could inform future research into agricultural breeding techniques if demand for the blue egg continues to grow.
To find out how they did this and the significance of this finding, click here.
A team of Nottingham physicists have been looking at a new antiferromagnetic spintronic material as a way to provide for the next generation of high-speed, high-efficiency electronic devices. Spintronics offers the possibility of lower power consumption which enables higher density computation and storage. And since antiferromagnets have no associated magnetic field, antiferromagnetic spintronics means individual devices do not interact with one another and in theory they can therefore be packed together even more densely.
To learn more about the technicalities of spintronics, click here.
Art in the Asylum: creativity and the evolution of psychiatry will be exhibited at Nottingham’s Djanogly Art Gallery from Saturday September 7 to Sunday November 3 and will look at the key role British psychiatric institutions played in using art as part of the humane treatment of people with mental health problems. Dr Victoria Tischler, Associate Professor in the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology and co-curator of the exhibition said: “By highlighting the key institutions and influential figures in the history of British mental healthcare, the exhibition traces the historical shift from invasive treatments of mental disorders to a more humane regime in which creativity played a significant role.”
To read about the other highlights of the exhibition, click here.
Neuroimaging markers have been identified in the brain by Nottingham researchers which could help predict whether people with psychosis respond to antipsychotic medications or not. In approximately half of young people experiencing their first episode of a psychosis, the symptoms do not improve considerably with the initial medication prescribed, increasing the risk of subsequent episodes and worse outcomes. Identifying individuals at greatest risk of not responding to existing medications could help in the search for improved medications, and may eventually help clinicians personalise treatment plans.
To find out about their methodology, click here.
The commonly held belief that scientists work too hard has been confirmed in an international study which found that conservation biologists work very hard – producing a substantial amount of work late at night and over weekends. Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz of UNMC, a member of the research team, said: “The motivation of the study had clear personal roots. I went to Bali to attend a friend’s wedding and found myself spending most of the short holiday reviewing manuscripts in front of the beach, instead of swimming and reading a novel.”
To learn which nation’s scientists work the hardest, click here.
And last of all from this week’s news, Nottingham South MP, Lillian Greenwood has been invited to attend Summer Scientist Week, organised by the School of Psychology. This fun, free event brings together researchers, students and the local community and encourages children to become scientists for the day. Lillian Greenwood said: “Summer Scientist Week is a fantastic opportunity for children from across the city to learn about science in a fun and interactive environment. I’m delighted that the School of Psychology has invited me along to meet everyone involved and I look forward to seeing how the children attending are inspired by the projects on offer.”
To find out more about what goes on during Summer Scientist Week, click here.