May 6, 2016, by Lindsay Brooke

Accolades for academics who are changing our lives for the better

From smart wheels for aircraft to biological bandages to prevent blindness academics from The University of Nottingham were recognised last night for their achievements in helping to solve some of the world’s pressing problems.

The University’s Knowledge Exchange and Impact Awards recognised the new ideas and technologies being developed in collaboration with industry and commerce and the work done in communicating science across all media platforms. 

Christine Moffatt, Professor of Clinical Nursing Research CBE, won the Vice-Chancellor’s lifetime achievement award. Professor Moffatt, who is also a nurse consultant at the NHS Lymphoedema Service, has been involved in wound healing research and practice for 25 years and lymphedema for 10 years. Awarded a CBE in 2006, Professor Moffatt was also made a life fellow of the Royal College of Nursing the same year. Two years later she received a Nursing Times Diamond 20 Award as one of the 20 most influential nurses in the last 60 years.

Professor Karen Cox, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at The University of Nottingham, said: “The breadth of the work undertaken by our researchers, and the impact of their work is truly astounding. Many of the projects highlighted at the awards are already making a significant difference to industry and society. From new software installed at Heathrow, which is minimising the time that aircraft queue for take-off, saving up to £13m per year in fuel, to the development of a price-cap on payday loans which is now protecting 4.3m vulnerable people across the UK.”

The categories were:

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Knowledge Exchange – Professor Christine Moffatt who has engaged multiple commercial partners to develop and drive awareness of compression therapy systems. She has worked closely with leading healthcare companies including Smith and Nephew and 3M on systems that provide the cornerstone of treatment for leg ulcers and chronic swelling.

Media Awards:

News and Current Affairs – Professor Jonathan Ball for using the media to inform public understanding of viruses. Jonathan is an exponent of using the media to ensure the wider public has a full but balanced understanding of the risks of virus outbreaks such as Ebola and Zika as well as an appreciation of why these viruses happen. He is quoted extensively in the print and broadcast media and is a regular contributor to interviews on both radio and television.

Digital Media Award – the team behind the Periodic Table of Videos, Computerphile and Sixty Symbols. This award winning team took yet another accolade last night for their use of digital media to explain and present advanced topics in science and computing to their huge global audience. This video sensation led by filmmaker Brady Haran has clocked up a staggering 1.9m subscribers and over 100m views.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact Awards: International:

University of Nottingham Ningbo China – the Executive Education team from the University of Nottingham Business School Ningbo for their China Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) International Talent Development Programme. This programme is systematically developing the top talent in the CRRC who have the potential to become the company’s leaders of tomorrow.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus – Dr Nafis Alam who has led the development of Islamic finance as a new business discipline at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. The project brought in CEOs from local and international Islamic banks, think tanks and also from the World Bank. He is also responsible for establishing the Centre for Islamic Business and Finance Research.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact Awards: UK

Faculty of Arts – Dr Sarah Atkins is an expert in linguistics who has addressed a topical debate in medical education on how to assess the notoriously tricky area of professional communication. Communication with patients is key to good practice in healthcare, heavily emphasized in the training and assessment of junior doctors. Her research findings have been translated into a range of accessible learning materials which have been taken up by medical practitioners.

Faculty of Engineering – Professor Chris Gerada and team for their ‘Smart Wheel for Aircraft Taxiing’. Currently taxiing aircraft use their jet engines to reposition on the ground. This is inefficient, burns fuel, produces emissions and creates noise. The team has developed electrical machine technology to create a ‘smart wheel’ for aircraft taxiing for single-aisle aeroplanes. This negates the need for engine use and brings many environmental and operational benefits.

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences – Omnigen, which is an innovative sight saving therapy. Dr Andrew Hopkinson and Professor Harminder Dua together with their research team have developed Omnigen which is a new cost effective biological bandage to prevent blindness. It is based on a discovery made by Dr Hopkinson during his PhD. He has spent 14 years developing the technology which uses amniotic membrane sourced from the sac surrounding the developing foetus, usually discarded at birth.

Faculty of Science – Dr Jason Atkin, Dr Geert De Maere and Mr John Crook, are the team behind an algorithm which predicts aircraft takeoff times before they leave the gates which means controllers can significantly reduce delays and aircraft sitting in queues with their engines running. The Nottingham Algorithms at Heathrow project has reduced fuel burn and emissions, increased the number of aircraft meeting their take-off slots, improved departure rates and increased airspace capacity.

Faculty of Social Sciences – Professor Simon Mosey, Dr Hannah Noke and Tracey Hassell Jones for their Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) which provides a unique learning experience for thousands of early career researchers. Working with expert mentors they develop new business ideas using breakthrough science to address societal challenges. Over the last 20 years over 5,000 researchers have taken part in this ‘family’ of competitions contributing to their skillsets, developing their outlook and career prospects.

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