News and Events
New PhD Digital Stories
One of PGRNet's main projects this year is on sharing the voice of our PhD students, and we are doing that through digital storytelling. Throughout the year, we will publish new digital stories where PhD students from across the University will share their PhD experience and the research they are doing. Anastasia Nikologianni (right) talks about her research in landscape architecture and the fascinating work she has done across Europe.
CEBE Research Journal issue 2
The Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment have released the second issue of their research journal. It is an online, open-access journal which gives research staff and students the opportunity to publish their work. It follows the first issue which was released in 2014.
Articles in the new issue include 'Ethics and the University' by Professor Peter Larkham and 'Urban agriculture, planning and health: exploring the links' by Veronica Barry.
Case study selected as REF impact exemplar
A Birmingham City University case study submitted to REF 2014 has been chosen as one of the top 20 for research impact in computer science.
Professor Cham Athwal (right) and his team in the Digital Media Technology research group have been developing innovative vehicle crash testing technology since the mid-1990s, and the importance of the work has been recognised in a new report by the UK Computing Research Committee detailing the best twenty examples of the impact of computer science research.
The technology developed enables faster and more intuitive analysis of vehicle crash test data, and has proved to be very popular in the industry. The system was developed in collaboration with the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) and was soon incorporated into an international standard for vehicle crash testing.
Jimmy Robinson, a research associate on the project, completed a research degree under Cham’s supervision, before going on to create his own company to develop and sell the system.
Director of Research, Professor Keith Osman said: “This case study reinforces how critical to impact an integrated research & enterprise strategy is, with innovation representing the bridge between new knowledge creation through research and application, and impact generation by enterprise”.
New facility for postgraduate research students
A new, dedicated facility for research students has been opened at City North Campus.
The PGR (Postgraduate Research) Hub, based on the third floor of Baker Building, provides a number of resources for research students and their supervisors including room for flexible working, seminars and meetings, as well as a social space.
Research students from every part of the University will be able to make use of a variety of new equipment including desks, 25 PCs; 24 laptop docking stations with mice and keyboards, lockers, kitchen facilities and two separate rooms for meetings. In addition, there is a furnished seminar room for use as a teaching space.
The PGR Hub has been created as part of the University's work to ensure that research students have access to improved resources until new research facilities become available at City Centre Campus and City South Campus from summer 2017.
Jane Farrow, Research Support Manager, commented: "We want to make sure that our postgraduate students have easy access to facilities that will really help them in their studies. The PGR Hub also provides a central location for lectures and seminars which will help to bring together research students from across the University."
University conference a success in Jordan
The University co-hosted an international conference in April in Jordan, and was a success in attracting academics from around the world.
The ‘First International Conference on the Transformation of the Urban Character of Arab Cities since the Late Last Century’, organised and co-hosted by Birmingham City University and the German Jordanian University (GJU), took place in Jordan from 22 April to 24 April 2015 at the German Jordanian University main campus, and was supported by the Mayor of Amman, Akel Beltagi.
The conference discussed various topics and subjects such as:
- Modernity and tradition: Approaches and practices in urban design; comparative analysis of contemporary and traditional approaches.
- Capitalism and modernism: the changing character of urban spaces.
- The social dimension of urban design: responsive and inclusive public spaces.
- Urban identity and social sustainability of the city
- The political and sociocultural dimensions of regeneration projects.
The GJU President, Prof. Natheer Abu Obeid, emphasised that this International Conference was held in the context of the social and cultural transformation, globalisation and the revolution of information technology, pointing out that education, training and human development are major activities that need healthy competitive environments.
Prof Mohsen Aboutorabi, Professor of Architecture at the University, said: “This conference is aiming to develop a new narrative to form a new utopian thinking that can change the global sameness paradigm to colourful landscape of variety of cities, through underscoring the urgent political priority of constructing cities that correspond to human social needs, rather than to the capitalist imperative.”
Despite the political unrest in the region, the conference succeeded in gathering professionals and academics from all other the world. Dr. Bushra Zalloom, (conference coordinator and University representative in Jordan) mentioned that there were around forty scientific papers at the conference from the USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, UAE, UK, and Jordan. The conference included eight valuable sessions and welcomed keynote speakers Dr. Farouk Yaghmour from Jordan, Prof. Christoph Zoepel from Germany, Prof. Ali Madanipour from UK, Prof. Ruth Carter from the USA. The third day was a scientific tour to discover the legacy of Amman, Jordan.
The conference highlighted that stakeholders should find practical solutions to prevent the city identity, rather than only focusing on the urban problems in the region. It also highlights the importance of the co-operation between Universities, public and private sectors to establish strategies that could be implemented gradually on ground. Moreover, the Arab region should benefit from the developed countries experiences in the field and try to create their own way in preventing their identity.
During the concluding session, Dr. Mohammed Yaghan, the Dean of School of Architecture and Built environment at GJU, said: "This conference has come to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and will help in developing the field."
New chapter published on landscape architecture
Senior academic and MArch course director Mike Dring has co-authored a book chapter entitled 'Landscapes of Variance: Working the Gap between Design and Nature' as part of the recently published 'Revising Green Infrastructure: Concepts Between Nature and Design', available from leading academic publisher Taylor and Francis.
Originally conceived as part of the 'Land Art Generator Initiative' competition submission in 2012, and later presented at 'Designing Nature as Infrastructure' conference at the Technical University of Munich the same year, the chapter explores the gaps between design and interventions in the landscape, in doing so opening up the latent potential of a site, in this case the Fresh Kills landfill site in New York. The chapter examines the work of artists and designers through their engagement with site, most recently through its reinvention as a public park.
Mike also exhibited work at the Royal Academy Summer Show in 2013, illustrations for which also appear in the book.
The essay sees the culmination of an extended period of academic and practice based research across disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, art and public policy, and has reached multiple audiences.
Groundbreaking cancer diagnosis research featured on Radio 4
Pioneering research into cancer diagnosis, led by the University's School of Digital Media Technology (DMT), was featured on Radio 4's PM programme in early March.
Dr Ryan Stables of DMT has collaborated with the University of Central Lancashire and GEANT, (a pan-European research and education network) on a preliminary study which converted stem cell data into sounds rather than visual data such as graphs, similar to the function of a metal detector.
Ryan says, "It allows you to identify the characteristics of cancer in real-time, which we hope could have life-changing implications for patients through the development of better diagnostic tools."
At the moment, waiting times for cancer tests are at a six year high. The testing itself is often invasive and can involve taking a biopsy, sending it to a lab and awaiting results, which can take up to six weeks. Current methods of stem cell analysis involve computational pattern analysis, which is very time consuming. By classifying data into audio signals instead, it is easier to differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells and the process is much quicker.
This non-invasive system is still in the early stages of development; the preliminary study was launched at the 20th International Conference on Audio Display.
Could your research be award winning?
As part of this year's Extra Mile Awards, the University has launched a new award to recognise the work of our research community.
The Extra Mile Awards, which are run in partnership with the Students’ Union, are your opportunity to nominate a student or member of staff to receive an award from the University. This year’s awards have a number of new categories recognising exceptional work by staff and students.
The Researcher of the Year award will be presented to the member of staff who is judged to have made the biggest contribution to research over the academic year.
The winner and runner-up of the award will be personally recognised by the Vice-Chancellor and Students' Union President at an awards ceremony in May.
If you know a member of staff who is making an impact in the research community then why not put them forward for the award?
Every nomination made will also be entered into a prize draw to win a new iPad and a pair of tickets to the awards ceremony.
REF 2014 results show the real world impact of our research
For our submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, we doubled the number of staff producing internationally recognised research and significantly increased the impact our work is having on society and the economy.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF) results revealed that 90 per cent of the University's submission was judged to have delivered 'outstanding' or 'very considerable' impact externally.
The six-yearly assessment of research performance also saw the University achieve an increase in the four-star or three-star research on which public funding is partly based, from 40 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent in 2014.
Birmingham City University's research has impacted on a range of business developments and public policy. Examples include work that enables the migration of music on obsolete platforms to modern devices, and research that has influenced death penalty policy and practice around the world.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Cliff Allan said: "Moving forward, our new research and enterprise strategies will enable us to do more and better research, ensuring new knowledge aligns increasingly with the needs of society and the economy.
"Our 2014 REF submission is far more ambitious than ever before, forming part of our aim of repositioning the University as a broader based institution with research increasingly integral to our work."