News and Events

Follow our blog for the latest research news from around the University

Health Professor honoured with Vietnamese Ministry of Health Award

News - Joy Notter in VietnamCongratulations to Prof Joy Notter, who has been awarded the 'Campaign Medal for Services to Health' for her work on improving the quality of nurse training at college and university level in Vietnam.

Joy has been working on the project since 2005 and has made a significant impact on nurse training in Vietnam; she has been asked by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health to develop a new project to help improve the quality of primary care through the strengthening of nurse education and training. 

On receiving her award Joy said: "It is an honour and a privilege to receive such recognition from the Vietnamese government and people, I never dreamt that this would happen to me."

Find out more about research in the Faculty of Health


Jewellery experts recruited to recreate national treasures

staffordshire hoard brooch Researchers from the School of Jewellery have been called on to help recreate the treasures of the Staffordshire Hoard.

The team from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) have been using 3D scanning and printing technology to recreate some of the hoard's most precious items for future generations to study and enjoy.

The Staffordshire Hoard is one of the world's largest collections of Anglo-Saxon gold and was originally found in a field near the village of Hammerwich in Staffordshire. The complete hoard consists of over 3,500 items at an estimated value of £3.2 million and is jointly owned by The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Laser scanning equipment is used by the team to digitally capture data at an incredible level of accuracy. Each scan is accurate to a scale 5 microns, or 0.005 millimetres.

The replicas are intended to be indiscernible from the originals when viewed through a display case and will be used in the new exhibit at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (due to open later this year), when the original pieces are either on display elsewhere, being conserved or studied.

Look out for exclusive interviews and a fascinating insight into the work in our Research Stories soon.

Read more on the Staffordshire Hoard blog.


TEE launch new research journal

TEE - Centre for Cyber SecurityThe research team in the Faculty of Technology, Engineering and Environment (TEE) have launched a new research journal – the Journal of TEE.

The journal features contributions from research staff and students engaging in cross-disciplinary work across the Faculty, and covers subjects such as sustainable procurement in the construction industry, canal locks and mobile business intelligence.

In his guest editorial, Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research Mark Reed says: “The beginning of the journal coincides with the beginning of new research strategies for the University and Faculty, which aim to consolidate research in areas of research excellence that are relevant to challenges faced by UK and global society. More than ever before, it is becoming necessary to work across disciplinary boundaries to address such complex and dynamic challenges.”

Read the Journal of TEE here.

The Journal of TEE will be published annually. 


University research helping people to invest in nature

walkers Researchers from Birmingham City University have been examining Visitor Giving schemes, which take donations from people visiting the countryside to fund environmental and community projects that give something back to the local area.

The research team at Birmingham School of the Built Environment have been exploring whether such schemes might be able to quantify specific environmental benefits that visitors can sponsor, boosting visitor donations and creating better environmental outcomes.

Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the research is one of ten pilot studies exploring how to apply the concept of payments for ecosystem services.

A key outcome of the research is the development of a set of smartphone apps for walkers and cyclists, which provide them with location-based information about the benefits provided to society from the landscapes they're travelling through.

Mark Reed, Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Birmingham City University, said: “The theory behind the smartphone apps is that by learning about the environment whilst being immersed in it, visitors are more likely to appreciate the value of the natural environment, and be more willing to donate to support the continued provision of these benefits.”

The apps, which can be downloaded for free at the iTunes app store, have been developed in conjunction with the University collaborating on research with Nurture Lakeland, Project Maya Community Interest Company, URS consulting, Visit England, Campaign for National Parks and the English National Park Authorities Association.

For more information, contact Mark Reed.


Researchers calculate the perfect scrum

Researchers at Birmingham City University could hold the key to the future success for England's Six Nations Rugby team. Academic Stephen Wanless and colleagues at the Faculty of Health have developed a 'Vibrating Suit', designed to give wearers feedback about movement, correct posture, and calculate the optimum position for elite athletes in a variety of sports. The researchers believe it can aid rugby players who take part in the scrum – a crucial part of Rugby Union - after being recently tested on a group of university student rugby players.

Watch the video above to see the suit in action and find out more about research in the Faculty of Health.

Senior Researcher Stephen Wanless explains: "The device was originally designed for use in a healthcare setting but we soon realised the suit's potential in giving UK athletes a competitive advantage.

"The sensors include a vibrating motor, like that found on a mobile phone, and these can be set to vibrate to indicate when someone moves outside a desirable range, all designed to give feedback in real time that enables wearers to adjust their movements in performance.

"Biomechanical principles are very important when playing rugby. We can use the vibrating suit to track spinal cord position when a player is about to go into a scrum. If you move more than 30 degrees forward it lets you know you've gone over the optimum position and allows you to correct you position accordingly.

"When the scrum-half is putting the ball into a scrum and posture is incorrect it may lead to an illegal move which a player will receive a yellow card for. For a front row rugby player in a scrum posture is important for getting the momentum to be able to contest the scrum and be able to win back the ball.

"The vibrations of the suit will alert the player to change their posture and to adopt a much better position when playing".

Birmingham City University rugby player Georgia Shortland took part in the research, and can see the benefits to rugby players in using the Vibrating Suit in practice. She said: "When you are about to pass the ball into the scrum, rugby players tend to be more pre-occupied with the players around them, and the position of the ball, rather than their own posture. This suit really helps you focus on attention to detail to get the position right to pass the ball correctly. It also made me aware of my own posture which is very important in the game."

Stephen Wanless added: "We've utilised the vibrating suit in other sports including rhythmic gymnastics, dressage and volleyball so it clearly has the potential to help all our elite athletes to achieve more sporting success for Britain in the future."

Find out more about this project on the Faculty of Health research pages


Listen Imagine Compose report launched

Dr Martin Fautley of the School of Education has launched a report with findings from the Listen Imagine Compose project.

Birmingham City University was the lead academic partner in the project, which also involved Sound and Music and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG). Listen Imagine Compose ran between 2011-2013 and investigated how composing is taught and learned in schools.

Find out more about the project and download the report in our Research Stories section. 


Shadowy World of Britain’s Discount Hitmen Revealed in New Study

Donal McIntrye david wilson news main Liz Yardley

A team of leading criminologists from Birmingham City University has published the first ever study of British hitmen, which revealed that in some cases, victims were murdered for as little as £200.

Published in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice - Professor David Wilson, Dr Elizabeth Yardley, Donal MacIntyre and Liam Brolan, identified four main types of contract killer; the novice, the dilettante, the journeyman and the master.

“Hitmen are familiar figures in films and video games, carrying out ‘hits’ in underworld bars or from roof tops with expensive sniper rifles,” said Professor David Wilson. “The reality could not be more different, British hitmen are more likely to murder their victim while they walk the dog in suburban neighbourhoods.”

The team analysed newspaper articles from an electronic archive of national and local papers from across Britain, using the reports to piece together a list of cases which could be defined as contract killings. The final list comprised of 27 contract killings, committed by 36 hitmen, active on the British mainland from 1974 to 2013... For more information visit the news section of our website.


Researching life in Birmingham seminar

On Tuesday 14 January researchers from across the University gathered to share research they have done in, or about, Birmingham. The purpose of the small seminar was to discuss possible crossover between disciplines and begin to develop a shared knowledge base. This is the beginning of an ongoing project to raise visibility of such research, and open up further avenues for cross-disciplinary work.

The presentations illustrate the diversity of the research taking place; all are available to download below (in PDF).

Peter Larkham (Technology, Enginnering & Environment (TEE)) - The post-war rebuilding of Birmingham

Steve McCabe (Business School) - Exploring the traditions of immigrant workers in Birmingham

Beck Collins (TEE) - Renewable energy projects

Paula McGee (Health) - Irish mental health in Birmingham

Fatemeh Rabiee-Khan (Health) - Redressing health inequality

Richard Hatcher (Education, Law & Social Sciences) - The new Birmingham Education Partnership

Annette Naudin (Performance, Media & English) - Birmingham as a creative city: a milieu for learning

There was also a verbal presentation from Martin Glynn, who recently completed his doctorate with BCU. His presentation was titled 'Reflecting the city using urban ethnography'.

Look out for more news items and features as the project progresses.

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