Graphene Industry Showcase comes to Manchester


This week Graphene@Manchester hosted a jam-packed two-day (10-11 December) event showcasing the hottest topics in the field of graphene.

The event saw over 100 delegates take to Manchester for a chance to find out how they can benefit from working with the one-atom-thick material.

Featuring talks from BAC, inov-8 and Lifesaver, delegates were able to witness first hand the practical applications of graphene and 2D materials.

The showcase also featured an exhibition of some of the newest products and prototypes using the revolutionary material such as water filtration devices and hydrogels used for crop production to suitcases and doormats as well as the BAC Mono R- the first production car to use graphene-enhanced carbon fibre in each body panel.

Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in practical hands on workshops in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) focusing on subjects such as energy, printed electronics, health and safety and standards and characterisation.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester said: “We are now seeing rapid developments and an increasing change of pace over the last year, dramatically changing the graphene landscape. More products are entering the market using graphene and we’re starting to see real-world benefits living up to the early excitement of just a few years ago.

With the National Graphene Institute and GEIC, our infrastructure is designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.”

Tuesday evening also offered a rare chance to hear from Nobel laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim, on his creative approach to scientific research, from levitating frogs to the fascinating phenomena of what happens to discarded graphite after graphene has been made.

The GEIC focuses on industry-led application development in partnership with academics. It will fill a critical gap in the graphene and 2D materials ecosystem by providing facilities which focus on pilot production, characterisation, together with application development in composites, energy, solution formulations and coatings, electronics and membranes.

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A student from The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing has been awarded a literature prize for his unfinished post-Brexit novel.

Thomas Lee was handed the PFD prize for Best Fiction on 9 December at the Literature Live: Annual Caroline Chisolm Reading, presented by Sara Collins.

The Matter of Britain is a story not far removed from the reality of today, exploring climate change and toxic masculinity, transporting the legend of King Arthur into a dystopian environment.

“I was very grateful to Peters Fraser and Dunlop for thinking that a story with dragons and magic in it was deserving of their prestigious award,” Thomas said.

Read more about Thomas in the Manchester Anthology.

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The Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) and Mills & Reeve LLP hosted a joint seminar on Pensions and Divorce. Marking the launch of The Pension Advisory Group's long-awaited 'A guide to the treatment of pensions on divorce'.

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On Thursday 5 December, MICRA and Mills & Reeve LLP hosted a joint seminar on Pensions and Divorce. Marking the launch this year of The Pension Advisory Group’s long-awaited A Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce which identified a number of key issues, including:

  • pensions are considered in far too few cases;
  • they are little understood;
  • valuations are often needed but not obtained and when valuations are obtained they are too complex;
  • there is a wide variation in how pensions are approached;
  • the parties and the court often lack sufficient information to make a fair assessment and settlements are made without enough thought being given to pensions.

This thought-provoking seminar brought together, from different corners of the policy and practice process, the leading protagonists and thinkers in this debate to consider different disciplinary, social and industry perspectives on this incredibly thorny issue.

The widespread deficiency in knowledge is not only a hindrance to the client but also leaves professionals vulnerable to potential claims being brought against them.

It is vital that practitioners understand what to look out for when handling pensions and are able to identify when they should seek specialist pensions advice, so they are better placed to serve their clients with fair settlements and mitigate the potential claim of alleged negligence.


  • Philip Way, Partner, Mills & Reeve: Seminar Chairman
  • Rhys Taylor, Barrister, The 36 Group and 30 Park Place: What you need to know - the Pension Advisory Group Report
  • Christopher Brooks, AGE UK: The realities of pensions on divorce
  • Kate Routledge, Actuary, & Paul Cobley, Independent Financial Adviser: Pensions on divorce: the financial adviser perspective
  • Debbie Price, Professor of Social Gerontology, University of Manchester: Pensions on divorce: the wider context
  • Grant Lazarus, Barrister, 7 Harrington St Chambers: Negligence actions in pensions on divorce cases
  • Jane Portas, PwC, Insuring Women’s Futures: The pensions on divorce working group
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A new scientific study led by researchers at The University of Manchester has re-examined a series of fossil skulls from the UK, providing new insights into two species of extinct marine reptiles.

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A new scientific study led by researchers at The University of Manchester has re-examined a series of fossil skulls from the UK, providing new insights into two species of extinct marine reptiles.

Dr Dean Lomax, a palaeontologist at The University of Manchester, worked with colleagues from the University of Leicester and the State University of New York to investigate fossilised 3D skulls of 190 million-year-old ichthyosaurs from the Early Jurassic.

Whilst researching the fossil collections of the New Walk Museum, Leicester, England, the team studied an almost complete skull of an ichthyosaur with all of the bones of the skull roof preserved, in exceptional detail.

The find provided new information about the anatomy of the skull in a species known as Protoichthyosaurus.

Previously, many Protoichthyosaurus fossils had thought to be the same as a closely related, but contemporary species called Ichthyosaurus. However, in 2017, Lomax and his team found that the two species differed greatly in the number of fingers on each limb, which has been the key characteristic used to tell them apart.

Protoichthyosaurus has three 'primary' fingers, whereas Ichthyosaurus always has four 'primary' fingers,” explains Dr Lomax. However, this was not always sufficient to tell the species apart, as many fossils are only partial fragments of the original animal, so confusion remained.

In the new study, the researchers have identified a further difference between Protoichthyosaurus and its close cousin, based on the skull at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. They found that the two ichthyosaurs vary in the shape of the skull, and particularly how the individual skull bones fit together.

Dr Mark Evans of the University of Leicester’s Centre for Palaeobiology Research said: “This skull was discovered in the nineteenth century at the village of Barrow-upon-Soar in Leicestershire. The Early Jurassic rocks from this area were extensively quarried to make cement, and many fossils were discovered in the process. The fossils from Barrow are frequently preserved in three dimensions, as was the case with the skull we studied; unfortunately all the old quarries have now disappeared and been built on.”

Dr Lomax said: “Despite hundreds of skulls of Early Jurassic ichthyosaurs being known, many of them are often poorly preserved, damaged or crushed, or simply are not exposed in the right view. As such, finding a specimen that shows how all of the skull bones fit together adds considerably to our understanding of ichthyosaur skull anatomy.”

He continued: “In addition, with the identification of this new skull, we compared it with as many other good skulls of Ichthyosaurus as possible, most of which were first found over 150 years ago; our findings support that the two species are distinct in the skull as well as in other parts of the skeleton.”

Dr Lomax is a renowned ichthyosaur expert, having started his career by identifying a new species of Ichthyosaurus at the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, which was misidentified as a plaster cast. He is a visiting scientist The University of Manchester, where he completed both his MPhil and PhD. Recently, he gave a TEDx Talk about his unorthodox journey into academia and palaeontology.

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Both the 2020 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition and Mathsbombe are now open for registration.

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Registration is now open for both the 2020 Alan Turing Cryptography Competition and Mathsbombe!

Alan Turing Cryptography Competition

Now in its ninth year, the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition is open to secondary school children up to Year 11 (England and Wales), S4 (Scotland) and Year 12 (Northern Ireland). Run by the Department of Mathematics , it is a great way for children to develop their mathematical and problem-solving skills while at the same time having fun. The competition will begin in January 2020.

And the best bit? There are lots of opportunities to win great prizes sponsored by flight search company Skyscanner. The company was set up by two former computer scientists from The University of Manchester - two people who directly benefited from Alan Turing's contributions to Manchester and computing.

The competition follows the story of two young cipher sleuths, Mike and Ellie, as they get caught up in a cryptographic adventure 'The Tale of the Bouncing Bombe'. New chapters of the story will be released every one to two weeks, each with a cryptographic code to solve. There are six chapters in total (plus an epilogue). Points can be earned by cracking each code and submitting the answers. The team that solves each chapter the fastest will win a prize, and there will also be a number of spot prizes chosen at random from all correct entries.

At the end of the competition, the University will host the Alan Turing Cryptography Day at the end of April 2020. You will be able to register for this event from Saturday, 1 February 2020. We anticipate plenty of code-breaking action, from a live cryptography challenge to a prize ceremony for the competition winners. It's not to be missed!

Puzzles will be quirky and fun, and will cover the full spectrum of mathematics; they will not be directly related to the A-level syllabus and will be unlike problems in the UKMT, for example. Instead, students will need to use their problem-solving skills and think outside the box - valuable skills for students going on to study STEM subjects at university.

The competition is supported by the Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Trust.

For more details, including how to register, visit the competition's website.

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An entrepreneurial academic from The University of Manchester has produced a prototype graphene-enhanced product that could help the UK recycle tonnes of unwanted tyres - a waste product that is sometimes shipped overseas for disposal.

It is claimed that Western countries like the UK export waste tyres to developing nations like India where they are destroyed by burning - and so impacting on the local environment.

Dr Vivek Koncherry has launched a company called SpaceBlue Ltd that aims to recycle waste tyres by converting them into attractive and extremely hardwearing floor mats which have been enhanced with tiny amounts of graphene.

The hexagon-shaped SpaceMat? can interlock to cover any desired floor area. They can be used at the entrances of homes, offices, public and industrial buildings, as well as wider applications such as anti-fatigue or anti-slip coverings in areas like workplaces, gyms, playgrounds and swimming pools.

Prototype mats will be revealed at a Graphene Industry Showcase to be hosted on December 10 and 11 at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC ). This two-day event aims to put a spotlight on innovations associated with graphene and two-dimensional materials and will therefore feature a wide range of pioneering products.

“The innovation ecosystem at Manchester has been really supportive to someone like me who has a new business idea they want to take to market,” explained Dr Koncherry, who is an expert in materials applications and new manufacturing techniques.

“It all began when I first read newspaper reports that several thousand tonnes of waste UK tyres are being shipped abroad each year for disposal. I thought that needs to change and I became determined to find a much more sustainable way of using this end-of-life product.

“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product,” explained Dr Koncherry.

“SpaceMat? is made of up to 80 per cent recycled rubber plus 20 per cent of graphene-enhanced natural rubber. Floor mats undergo compression and a fundamental study had shown that by adding graphene into the rubber it can double the compression strength - and this in turn increases durability.”

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, added: “Vivek’s vision to support a more sustainable society by creating a better performing product through the use of graphene is really exciting and has already generated interest.

“Moreover, we’re looking forward to collaborating with SpaceBlue via our ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme which will further support the development of the mats.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) the ‘ Bridging the Gap’ initiative has been developed to proactively engage with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester and allow them to explore and apply graphene and other advanced two-dimensional materials in a wide range of applications and markets.

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Blue Mythologies, the latest book by Professor of Visual Arts at The University of Manchester’s Department of Art History Carol Mavor, has been celebrated as ‘richly eclectic’ by the Guardian’s PD Smith.

The book covers the history of art, photography, literature and personal experiences of the colour blue in a collection of essays described as “rich with insights” into this paradoxical colour, which is loaded with meaning throughout the arts and sciences.

Published by Reaktion, Blue Mythologies is available to buy at the Guardian Bookshop.

To read the review, click here.

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The University of Manchester alumnus and Manchester Urban Institute (MUI) Advisory Group member Jamie Peck is awarded the 2020 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Distinguished Scholarship Award.

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We are delighted to hear that Manchester alumnus Jamie Peck has been awarded the 2020 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Award by the American Association of Geographers.

Jamie was an undergraduate and postgraduate in the Department of Geography during the 1980s and, after a brief spell in Australia, returned to Manchester as a Lecturer in 1990.

He left Manchester as a full Professor in 2000 for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before moving to the University of British Columbia ten years later.

Jamie has been a past Hallsworth Visitor Professor at Manchester and continues to be involved in our urban research through his position on the MUI's International Academic Advisory Board.

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The first class of the Global Development Institute (GDI) Merit Scholars graduate as part of the winter 2019 graduating class. The students were chosen from over 2,700 applicants and joined the GDI in September 2018 from Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.

The GDI Merit Awards covered the student’s tuition fees, living expenses, flights to the UK, and visas. The awards are open to students from Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe and are split across the GDI’s research specialisms. The second set of GDI merit scholars joined in September 2019 and will graduate in December 2020. The third GDI Merit Awards will be open for applications in the New Year.

Studying at the GDI

Now the students have completed their courses, we asked them to share their reflections on studying with us and what they plan on doing next.

Esther Iminzah Ndagala, Kenya
Studied: International Development: Politics, Governance and Development Policy

"Rather than being sad or regretting that my Manchester stay is already over, my heart is contented. Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, I can't be more grateful for the opportunity that GDI granted me. Whatever the future holds might still be blurry, but I am hopeful still."

Justin Tusoe, Ghana
Studied: Development Economics and Policy

"My experience at GDI has been amazing. Unlike other universities, the Development Economics at GDI is a blend of economics and public policy which is very essential for every Development Economist. Also, the programme has exposed me to why poverty and other economic challenges persist in many developing countries despite their abundant resources."

Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng, Ghana
Studied: International Development: Globalisation, Trade and Industry

"First, don't approach your studies as if you are in competition with anyone. Take your education as a learning process and learn from the process. Challenge your lecturers and your course mates with taught provoking and unconventional questions on development to help you all learn. Secondly, do not take what you are taught in wholesale. Make sure you understand what you are taught in context because I would argue that development doesn't have a prescribed formula. Try to also place what you are taught in class in the context of your country or organisation and ask questions from that context to gain the needed context-based understanding."

What next?


"I'm going back to Kenya to pick up where I left off in my career and with the belief that I will be able to seek after better opportunities as I continue to send job applications across organisations as this was an opportunity to better myself at a personal, academic and professional level. More importantly, be a GDI Merit ambassador."


"My first preference is to obtain a PhD within the next five years. However, I am also looking out for opportunities to work as an Economist at the Bank of Ghana or the African Development Bank."


"I am currently working full-time as the General Secretary of The University of Manchester Students Union till June 30th 2020. In the short-term, I look forward to working with firms which operate within the agricultural value chains (especially Cocoa-chocolate value chain) or Small Medium Enterprise (SME) development for local artisans in developing countries. In the long-term am looking forward to consulting for local artisans in the area of integrating them into the global value chain of the sector they operate in."

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For the last three years, colleagues from The University of Manchester, University of Leeds and University of Oxford have been working together on a project researching the commentary tradition of the poetic works of the Italian Renaissance figure Francesco Petrarca (1304-74) or Petrarch.

Petrarch is most well known as a poet but he was also a prolific scholar, and is often cited as the “father of humanism”. He was an extremely influential figure at the beginning of the Renaissance, and his works were instrumental in the formation of the modern Italian language.

The project focussed on material produced in Italy between 1350 and 1650 that examined or provided a commentary on Petrarch’s works, cataloguing more than 400 individual manuscripts and 300 early printed books. They illustrate the incredible impact of Petrarch’s poetry during his life and for hundreds of years afterwards.

Dr Guyda Armstrong and Julianne Simpson led on the project’s online digital library. This library encompasses approximately 84 works housed in The John Rylands Library and 14 further editions from the Special Collections of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

The digital library, which is available to anyone via Manchester Digital Collections, presents not only images of digitised books and other items but interpretation providing the viewer with interesting insights.

It is hoped that the project will open up new directions for research around one of Italy’s best-known medieval poets.

The digitised works can be viewed online now, via Manchester Digital Collections.

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A new study reveals Italian-speaking children pick up some language rules faster than English-speakers.

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A new study reveals Italian-speaking children pick up some language rules faster than English-speakers.

Learning a language is more than just knowing the words - it’s knowing the rules too. A new paper from researchers at The University of Manchester has investigated the speed at which Italian-speaking infants are able to pick up rules around singular and plural forms of words. They found that infants had learnt this distinction by 12 months.

The study is published in the journal Developmental Psychology

In contrast, previous research on this subject has found that English-speaking infants begin to understand singular/plural distinction at around 20 months.

The reason for this might be that the rules for pluralising words in Italian make more sense than those in English. For instance, changing “the yellow giraffe” to “the yellow giraffes” in Italian requires changes in three spots (“la giraffa gialla” becomes “le giraffe gialle”). While this might seem more complex than English, consider goose/geese versus moose or sheep!

In addition, the greater number of changes required between singular and plural in Italian may help reinforce the rule, improving how quickly it is learned.

“We know that all languages have words and that word learning seems to happen in the same way across the world.” Said Dr Alissa Ferry, one of the researchers involved in the study.

She continued; “But all languages have different rules about how words are put together and when children start to figure out those rules does seem to vary depending on the language.”

To investigate the speed at which infants pick up the Italian rules, the researchers had children aged either 12-, 18- or 24-months play a game. They were shown two pictures on a computer screen with either one or two people in each picture and then heard the word for singular (for example, la bambina, the girl) or plural (le bambine, the girls).

How long the infants spent looking at the correct picture was used to gage their understanding of language rules.

The results showed that, by 12 months, the Italian infants could correctly distinguish between girl or girls, depending on which form they heard. This means they were able to pick up the rules around eight months earlier than their English-speaking counterparts.

“We know that all languages have different rules, and these findings show that those rules can shape when the infants start to figure them out,” Said Dr Ferry, adding; “Rules that are harder to find, like the English plural system, take a bit longer to figure out that rules that are easy to find, like the Italian plural system.”

“Twelve to 24-month-olds can understand the meaning of morphological regularities in their language” is published in Developmental Psychology

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University of Manchester Music PhD student Hongshuo Fan has received the 2019 Giga Hertz Production Award for his piece , in the field of live electronics and video.

Hongshuo was handed the accolade by Detlef Heusinger at an awards ceremony on 23 November at ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

“The jury was delighted to recognise Chinese sound artist and multimedia composer Hongshuo Fan who is currently making his PhD at the NOVARS research centre at the University of Manchester, for his work ’Handwriting・WuXing’,” said the official release from Giga Hetz. “In this interactive multimedia performance piece, the elegant calligraphic gestures of a performer drive rich and dynamic sound and image, which unfold in a sophisticated structure over the piece.”

Machine learning is used to realise the work, which takes on a subtle background role facilitating the recognition of calligraphic gestures representing the five elements in the Chinese philosophy of WuXing. The result is a compelling multi-sensory exploration of the philosophy in which these elements are understood as dynamic states of change at play within many human and natural phenomena.



Stephen Walker’s project 'Putting the Body of Manchester on Display' has received funding from the JRRI Digital Humanities grant to run from September 2019 to July 2020.

The project uses GIS mapping alongside the University of Manchester’s Map Collections to examine Manchester’s historic city centre from 1730 to the present day.

Throughout history, the human body has influenced systems of belief, which have in turn found numerous means of cultural expression, including through architecture.

The hypotheses for this project is that these architecture-body interconnections have affected the architecture and urban fabric of Manchester; that examples can be identified using historical maps of the city and other information (including images and newspapers, supported by secondary sources); and that changes in attitudes towards the human body can be traced and visualized across time using Digital Humanities techniques.

There are two, interconnected objectives for this project, one academic and one technical.

These relate to two broad research questions: how has the (human) body has been controlled and ‘displayed’ by and in the city, its growth and fabric? How can Digital Humanities techniques, in turn, display these issues as they have developed over time, and open the topic up to new insights and analysis?

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Dr Deljana Iossifova has been awarded funding under the Royal Society’s Challenge-led Grants Scheme to lead research on Sustainable Sanitation in India and Brazil (TOSSIB, £499,993 FEC).

The project runs from 2019 to 2022.

TOSSIB (Towards Sustainable Sanitation in India and Brazil) studies sustainability outcomes across different sanitation systems, geographical contexts (India, Brazil) and temporal scales using multiple analytical approaches and state-of-the-art modelling.

Scenario building will support decision-makers in uncovering plausible futures.

The project will enhance our understanding of complex human-environment interactions and sustainability outcomes. It hopes to enable change in addressing multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • reducing inequalities in promoting sustainable sanitation for low-income areas (SDG10, SDG12);
  • supporting the development of sanitation infrastructures that are culturally appropriate, more inclusive, economically viable and less wasteful (SDG6, SDG11);
  • helping to reduce common health risks associated with the lack of sanitation (SDG3);
  • progressing the improvement of living standards for the poor (SDG11).

The project focus is on the watershed region containing Greater Mumbai (India) and on the Rio das Velhas Watershed (Brazil), which is home to Belo Horizonte.

Beyond densely populated urban centres, these watershed regions contain formal and informal communities of different sizes, villages, as well as swaths of sparsely populated agricultural land, forests and mangroves.

The municipalities and communities in these regions face fundamental sanitation challenges (such as the universal collection and treatment of sewage).

They offer unique opportunities to study the entanglement of co-evolving urban, peri-urban and rural systems at varying stages of infrastructural development.

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MARG's Dr Deljana Iossifova has been awarded funding under the international scheme Towards a Sustainable Earth (UKRI, NSFC and JST) for the project ‘ A Systems Approach to Sustainable Sanitation Challenges in Urbanising China ’ (SASSI, £519,880 FEC).

The project runs from 2019 to 2021.

SASSI (A Systems Approach to Sustainable Sanitation Challenges in Urbanising China) aims to enhance our understanding of complex human-environment interactions and their sustainability outcomes.

SASSI will define and advance a systems approach for sanitation which situates basic human functions within wider human ecosystems of critical social, economic and environmental resources and social institutions, cycles and order.

The project studies sustainability outcomes across different sanitation systems, environments and temporal scales using various analytical approaches and state-of-the-art modelling.

SASSI addresses cross-cutting issues in sustainable development.

It focuses on Shanghai (China) as a prime example of urban transformation, drawing on quantitative and qualitative data to understand the development of infrastructure over time and explore how possible context-specific policyor design-focused interventions may contribute to sustainable development in the future.

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A new study has shown that the UK is one of the main countries threatening biodiversity loss overseas through its demand for renewable energy.

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A new study has shown that the UK is one of the main countries threatening biodiversity loss overseas through its demand for renewable energy.

The research The University of Southampton and UCL in the UK, and UC Davis in the USA. It sought to understand how decisions that we are currently making about decarbonisation will impact biodiversity.

While the study found that the shift towards renewable electricity that is needed to combat climate change is likely to reduce the overall impact of energy creation on biodiversity, the overseas impact makes it difficult to understand how ‘green’ our electric really is.

The researchers, led by Southampton’s Dr Robert Holland, are calling for countries to introduce strong regulations to ensure that energy transitions are done in such a way as to protect biodiversity, and to consider both the local and global impacts of steps taken to combat global warming.

They analysed the impact of fossil and renewable power sectors on nearly 4000 threatened birds, mammals and amphibians. For each species they traced the threats these species faced from the electric sector along global supply chains. This included the obvious bits of infrastructure that we see around us such as wind turbines or power stations. But the researchers also examined the impacts on biodiversity of all materials and components that go into building our electricity infrastructure.

They found that the UK, Japan, China, the United States and India are the top five countries where the demand for electric power shifts much of its impact on biodiversity to other countries, as threats are displaced along international supply chains. This contrasts with other regions where far more of the biodiversity impacts are going to meet overseas demand for electric - for example, a quarter of the biodiversity threat in Latin America is driven by demand for electric in Europe and North America.

In the case of countries such as Colombia and Indonesia, the threats embodied in exports to meet global demand for electric are greater than the threats associated with their own electric demands. The researchers advise that future energy policy must consider these unequal international impacts to identify the best routes to decarbonisation.

The researchers studied the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List which represent the most comprehensive resource on threats to species globally. They then combined this with a model of the global economy that describes trade between all countries to determine where the impacts on biodiversity associated with the electric sector occurred.

Solar and wind power were found to have the least impact on biodiversity globally, with coal having the highest impact. As the size of the solar and wind sectors increases over the coming decades, driven by our need to decarbonise society, the impact that these renewable sources will have on biodiversity will also likely increase.

At the moment it is impossible to predict the implications of such an energy transformation. As such, governments must work to properly understand all the options that they have for decarbonisation - it is unlikely that there is an easy fix. For example while deserts such as the Sahara are often seen as perfect places for large scale solar arrays the biodiversity in this area is extremely fragile and could be lost if adequate care is not taken.

“Much of our thinking around the climate change focuses on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and does not consider the wider environmental implication of our choices,” said Dr Holland. “What this study shows is that there are ways to address climate change while at the same time delivering benefits for global biodiversity. Given that recent studies have highlighted the loss of species globally, identifying such win-wins is essential for government to act to address the two most pressing challenges of our time”.

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The evolution of medical practice through innovation and the development of new materials is explored in a pop-up exhibition produced by students from the University of Manchester’s MA Art Gallery & Museum Studies course.

Instrumental Change features objects kindly loaned by the Manchester Museum of Medicine and Health in a series of six connected displays investigating the development and transformation of medical practice through materiality.

From medicinal pottery to prized objects of whalebone, the evolution of metals and alloys, and the lives saved by the invention of plastic and disposable objects, the exhibition examines the broader themes of transformation, sustainability and functionality and its implication for and beyond medical practice.

Instrumental Change will take place at Manchester Central Library , Wednesday 11 December from 10am - 4pm.

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The Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) has launched the Winter 2019 edition of its newsletter, which is now available to download here.

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A single dose of radiotherapy is as “effective” as five doses for end-of-life cancer patients suffering with painful spinal canal compression, finds a large study conducted by UCL, including The University of Manchester

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A single dose of radiotherapy is as “effective” as five doses for end-of-life cancer patients suffering with painful spinal canal compression, finds a large study conducted by UCL, including The University of Manchester.

Spinal canal compression is a common complication in cancer patients when the cancer has spread to their spine. Radiotherapy is used to control pain and alleviate symptoms. Around three to five in 100 people (3-5%) with cancer develop spinal canal compression, which equates to around 4,000 people in the UK each year.

As part of the SCORAD randomised clinical trial, published in JAMA, researchers wanted to find out if giving just one dose (single-fraction) of radiotherapy could be used instead of five doses (multi-fraction) which requires several hospital visits.

The lead trial investigator, Professor Peter Hoskin (University of Manchester, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (NHS)), said: “ In the UK, NICE guidelines do not currently stipulate a standard treatment regimen, though most patients with spinal canal compression or other metastatic bone disease are given several fractions.

“We believe our findings, which show equal clinical effectiveness for single-dose radiotherapy, provide strong evidence for NICE guidelines, and those in other countries, to be changed to stipulate a one-dose one-visit approach, reducing unnecessary discomfort for end of life cancer patients without compromising efficacy.”

Co-author Professor Allan Hackshaw (CRUK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre, UCL Cancer Institute) said: “Terminally ill cancer patients with spinal canal compression suffer significant problems such as being unable to walk, and pain. Radiotherapy is an effective treatment for these patients.

“At the moment, with no recommended radiotherapy schedule for these patients, many are given several doses of radiation treatment, and each dose requires a separate visit to the hospital. Patients and their carers have to make multiple journeys, which can be uncomfortable to patients, inconvenient and expensive.

“This is the first large study to assess whether giving a single dose of radiation in one visit is as clinically effective as multiple doses. Our trial showed that one dose was just as good as several doses for a range of patient outcomes.”

In total, 686 patients with metastatic cancer and spinal canal compression were recruited from 42 UK and five Australian radiotherapy centres. Half were randomly assigned to be given just one radiotherapy dose, and the other half were given five doses which involved visits to the hospital on five consecutive days.

Primary result

Effectiveness was assessed by whether patients were able to walk, with or without aids such as walking sticks. This was done at about one, four, eight and 12 weeks after starting radiotherapy.

At week eight, 342 patients were still alive, and among these, 69% who had been given one dose were able to walk compared with 73% who had five doses; results that are considered close enough clinically. At week four, the corresponding percentages of patients who could walk were 67% (one dose) and 68% (five doses); and at week 12 the results were 72% (one dose) and 68% (five doses).

Many other patient outcomes were also similar between patients who had been given either one or five radiotherapy doses. At 12 weeks, 50% of patients were still alive in the group who had been given one dose, close to 55% among patients who had five doses. Having additional cancer treatments, supportive care therapies, quality of life and pain were all similar between having one or five doses.

Radiation therapy is associated with side effects. Fewer patients who had one dose experienced adverse skin reactions (12% given one dose compared with 19% who had five doses); and fewer patients also suffered fatigue (49% given one dose compared with 55% who had five doses). But a group of patients who had radiation treatment specifically to the lower part of their spinal cord (called the cauda equina), were more likely to have bladder problems, and one radiotherapy dose might not be enough treatment for these particular patients.

Study limitations

About half of patients who took part in the trial died before eight weeks, which is when the main measure of efficacy was assessed. Having a lower number of patients than expected meant that one statistical criterion was not strictly met for determining whether a single radiotherapy dose was as effective as having five doses, when comparing the percentage of patients who could walk. Although this was mentioned in the published article (as per JAMA requirements), the conclusion makes clear that the one statistical criterion needs to be interpreted carefully, because it has no meaningful impact on the clinical findings.

The conclusion that one dose of radiotherapy should be used instead of five doses for most patients with spinal canal compression, is supported by all of the other statistical criteria and multiple patient outcomes.

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Professor Ding is named a 2020 IEEE Fellow and features in the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers List 2019.

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Zhiguo Ding , a Professor in Communications in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering , is celebrating a double accolade, having been named a 2020 Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and featuring in the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers List 2019 .

Professor Ding has been recognised by the IEEE 'for contributions to non-orthogonal multiple access and energy harvesting communication'. The IEEE is the world's leading professional body for electronic engineering and electrical engineering, with more than 400,000 members in over 160 countries around the world.

IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership, and is recognised by the technical community as both a prestigious honour and an important career achievement.

Professor Ding has also been cited in the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers List 2019, which identifies scientists who have produced high-impact research articles ranking in the top 1% by citations for their fields - a prestigious recognition for demonstrating significant research influence among peers.

He was recognised in two ESI categories simultaneously - engineering and computer science - and was one of just 185 researchers from the 6,216 Highly Cited Researchers drawn from various fields and nearly 60 nations, to do so.

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Between 6 December 2019 and 12 January 2020, no Library items will be subject to being recalled by other Library users.

If you urgently require a book during this period, and all copies of that item are out on loan, please speak to a member of staff.

You can speak to staff in person at any of our Library sites , via the yellow Library Chat tab on all pages on the Library website, or you can check our contact details page.

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The team at The University of Manchester have produced a two-dimensional hexagonal boron nitride ink which have been used to fabricate flexible thin-film transistors in collaboration with Duke University in North Carolina.

Published in ACS Nano , the team were able to develop insulating dielectric ink that is suitable for the print-in-place fabrication process, developed at Duke University for materials such as silver nanowires and semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Extending this process to include the hexagonal boron nitride ink led to the production of functional transistor devices, using both one and two-dimensional materials.

The use of printing technologies for flexible electronics has rapidly increased in prominence due to its simplicity, low cost and compatibility with a broad range of materials and substrates.

Currently there are a wide variety of printable functional inks, often made from organic-based materials or metal oxides, however, problems such as low carrier mobility, poor air stability, and the requirement for high processing temperatures are often encountered, limiting their application, the choice of printing method and the substrate which can be printed on.

Traditionally, there has been a particular lack of printable insulating materials that are functional without the use of high processing temperatures. Previous work carried out by the team at Duke had used silicon-based insulating materials, which are typically non-printable, rigid and brittle, thereby limiting the usage of devices in flexible electronic applications.

Using the insulating hexagonal boron nitride ink, the team were able to fully fabricate the thin-film transistors with carbon nanotube channel regions via direct-write aerosol jet printing onto flexible paper and plastic substrates in a print-in-place process, with the temperature always below 80°C. This processing temperature is one of the lowest ever reported for printed carbon nanotube-based thin-film transistors, yet the devices still show good electrical performance. The print-in-place aspect also removes the time and cost associated with the typical processing and treatment steps that are required to be performed outside of the printer.

This paper is amongst the first reports on aerosol printing of 2D materials. Advantages of using aerosol jet printing compared to inkjet printing are the ability to print inks with a wide range of viscosity and surface tensions, in addition to the ability to print on complex surfaces.

Professor Cinzia Casiraghi who led the team at Manchester said: “We had previously used our hexagonal boron nitride inks to inkjet print a graphene based transistor on paper. However, high performance transistors require a semiconducting channel, so we were pleased to see that our hexagonal boron nitride inks also perform very well in printed carbon nanotubes transistors made with the aerosol printer, showing the versatility of the hexagonal boron nitride inks in printed transistors.”

Dr Aaron Franklin from Duke University said: “Nobody thought the aerosolized ink, especially for boron nitride, would deliver the properties needed to make functional electronics without being baked for at least an hour and a half. But not only did we get it to work, we showed that baking it for two hours after printing doesn’t improve its performance. It was as good as it could get just using our fully print-in-place process.”

The team from Duke University hope to use these inks to devise a fully print-in-place technique for electronics that is gentle enough to work on delicate surfaces including human skin.

The isolation of graphene at Manchester sparked a revolution in materials science and led to the classification of a host of other similar atomically thin materials such as hexagonal boron nitride, also known as ‘white graphene’.

But far more important is the way that these various types of 2D materials can be used as building blocks to create ‘designer materials’ or heterostructures with truly novel features on demand.

Advanced materials is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

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A research team from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, and UCL evaluating a service delivered by pharmacists since 2011 have calculated it will save the English NHS around £651 million.

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A research team from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, and UCL evaluating a service delivered by pharmacists since 2011 have calculated it will save the English NHS around £651 million.

They also show it will allow patients to enjoy around 278,700 more quality adjusted life years, a long term measure of disease burden used by health economists.

Since the inception of the New Medicine Service (NMS), the team say community pharmacists in over 12,000 pharmacies have delivered 5.7 million consultations between 2011 and 2018.

NMS works with patients who are prescribed medicines for asthma and COPD, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or are taking anticoagulant therapies such as warfarin.

The NMS, in which pharmacists follow up patients with a telephone call after 7 to 14 days, and then again 2-3 weeks later, aims to support people taking a new medicine prescribed by their doctor.

The NMS came about after the discovery by psychologists working with the research team that the decision to adhere to a medicine is often made in the first 2 weeks of it being prescribed.

The team developed the ideas behind the NMS in the late 1990s, and were influential in the decision by the Department of Health to start the scheme.

The team of pharmacists, GPs, patients, policymakers, health economists and health services researchers, ran a trial of the NMS, with 504 people in 46 pharmacies.

Their paper in 2016 showed that 11% more patients adhered to their medication regimen after 10 weeks when they used the NMS.

The present study, published in BMJ Quality and Safety , also followed up the same patients after 26 weeks, and showed that an extra 9% still stick their regimen, when they used the NMS.

However, because 66 people dropped out of the study after 10 weeks, the figures were not statistically significant. The cost to the NHS of paying community pharmacists to deliver NMS (£25) was absorbed by small reductions in other NHS contact-related costs.

The economic evaluation concluded that in the long-term, this improvement in adherence would still lead to reduced overall costs to the NHS and improved long-term health for patients.

Lead researcher from The University of Manchester Professor Rachel Elliott said: “The New Medicine Service has proved to be a simple, deliverable intervention which helps patients and saves the NHS money.

“The NMS workload had been absorbed into busy community pharmacists’ daily routines alongside existing responsibilities with no extra resources or evidence of reduction in other responsibilities.

“It’s not always easy for doctors to determine if their patients are sticking to their drugs regimen.

“As health care professionals, we sometimes underestimate the problems patients face around their medicines. Patients often decide to stop taking their pills when they see no difference in their symptoms, experience side effects, have found information from other sources such as the internet, or can’t afford prescription charges.

Professor Elliott added: “The results of this longer-term follow-up suggests NMS helps people when the medicine is started, and some effect lasts for quite a long time. However, reviewing medicines-taking, for example every six months, is probably needed to continue the support patients need around taking medicines.

“And we think clinical pharmacists, now often based in primary care doctor’s practices may be able to integrate NMS, and follow-up support, into their role.

“In addition to that, there are other medicines which we know patients are less likely to adhere to: for example, from talking to patient groups we know that mental health medicines, eyedrops and statins could also be candidates for the NMS.”

Dr Boyd, Co-project lead from the University of Nottingham said “The way patients access healthcare is changing. This work highlights the valuable contribution pharmacists make in protecting valuable NHS budget and improving outcomes for patients.”

‘New Medicine Service’: supporting adherence in people starting a new medication for a long-term condition: 26-week follow-up of a pragmatic randomised controlled trial is publishd in BMJ Qlaity and Safety




Legendary BBC broadcaster Mark Radcliffe unveiled an engraved park bench in the grounds of the University of Manchester where he studied in the late 1970s to laucnh ‘Re-Write Cancer’ fundraising campaign.

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Legendary broadcaster Mark Radcliffe unveiled an engraved park bench in the grounds of The University of Manchester where he studied in the late 1970s to launch the ‘Re-Write Cancer’ fundraising campaign.

In a twist to the ‘in memoriam’ benches that are a familiar site in beauty spots across the country, Mark’s bench attests to his recovery from cancer and salutes the scientists, doctors and nurses who are making game-changing progress in tackling the disease. The inscription reads: “Mark Radcliffe loved sitting here….and still does thanks to advances in cancer research.”

The ‘Re-Write Cancer’ campaign is a £20m joint fundraising appeal from Cancer Research UK, The Christie Charitable Fund and The University of Manchester. The campaign aims to help meet the cost of a new £150m cancer research facility. The new building will bring together the largest concentration of scientists, doctors and nurses in Europe to collaborate and accelerate progress for cancer patients.

The world-class facility - due to open in 2022 - will be twice the size of the Paterson building which was extensively damaged by fire in 2017. Adjoining The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, it has been purposefully designed to foster collaboration and speed up progress on behalf of cancer patients in the North West and across the world.

Uniting three powerhouses of innovation - Cancer Research UK, The Christie and The University of Manchester - the flagship project will enable Manchester to lead the world in recruiting patients to clinical trials within a decade, resulting in more patients receiving new cancer treatments leading to improved outcomes and survival rates. Clinical trials are vital to find out if new treatments are safe and better than current treatments.

Mark said: “It’s an absolute honour to be involved in the Re-Write Cancer campaign. I loved my years studying at The University of Manchester, so it’s the perfect site for the bench.

“Facing a cancer diagnosis was extremely tough - it completely turned my life upside down and made me re-evaluate what really matters to me. But thousands of people are in the same boat every year and I was fortunate to receive excellent care at The Christie.”

Mark, who now lives in Knutsford, was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. The 61-year-old had a cancerous tumour removed from his tongue. The cancer had also spread to lymph nodes in his neck. Yet following successful treatment, he returned to the airwaves in February of this year.

He added: “Plans for the new research building sound exciting and it’s amazing that such a world-leading facility will be built on my doorstep in the North West. Research into cancer is the key to changing lives now and in the future. Without it I simply wouldn’t be standing - or sitting - here today.”

Construction will take place in the same location as the Paterson building which was home to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and other research teams from The University of Manchester. Although much vital research work was salvaged by courageous firefighters, more than 300 scientists and support staff were displaced and are temporarily relocated 13 miles away at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

The new purpose-built biomedical facility will house several hundred members of staff and attract collaborators from far and wide. Its adjoining of The Christie will enable cells and samples from cancer patients to be taken to the research lab in a matter of minutes - facilitating world leading research which will lead to new cancer treatments.

Manchester is a place of world-firsts in cancer research, including the first clinical use of Tamoxifen for breast cancer and the first single harvest blood stem-cell transplant.

Cancer cases in Greater Manchester are significantly higher than anywhere else in the UK - every day 18 people die from the disease in Greater Manchester. This amounts to 6500 people a year - making the death toll around 10 per cent higher than the UK average.

The ‘Re-Write Cancer’ campaign will deliver the remaining funding commitment of £20m needed for the new building, which is expected to open in early 2022.

Benches like Mark’s will also be installed in Oldham and Prestwich in tribute to breast cancer survivors Sharon Quennell and Shamilla Mirza.

President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “As an institution and research community we were all deeply saddened by the fire of 2017, but the scope and vision outlined for the new project is very exciting. It is matched only by our ambition to enhance Manchester’s reputation as a world-leading centre for cancer research.

“With our partners, Cancer Research UK and The Christie, we genuinely believe this facility will be at the epicentre of some of the world’s most important cancer-related innovations in diagnosis, treatments and clinical trials.

“Having such an esteemed alumnus as Mark, who has been so personally impacted by cancer, launch the fundraising campaign in such a unique way only adds to our excitement."

Cancer Research UK chief executive, Michelle Mitchell said: “As a fellow former student of The University of Manchester and coming from the North West, I’m thrilled at plans for the new research facility. We’re in a ‘golden age’ of cancer research, with survival rates having doubled over the past 40 years. This has largely been driven by improvements in treatments and early diagnosis, but we still have a long way to go in the fight against the disease. By 2030, the building will be at the heart of our ambition to lead the world in clinical trial recruitment - supporting the development of new and kinder cancer therapies.”

Roger Spencer, chief executive at The Christie, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for The Christie and its partners. We have an opportunity to create a truly unique research facility integrated within the hospital with scientists, researchers and consultants all working together in one place, developing and shaping treatment and research from basic scientific discoveries through to patient care. It will ensure our patients receive access to the very latest personalised and innovative cancer treatments alongside world-class clinical and scientific expertise.”

Cancer Research UK, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester have worked together for more than a decade under the umbrella partnership of Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC).

Cancer is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. We have several world leading experts in this area that are happy to talk to the media #ResearchBeacons

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A doctoral student at The University of Manchester’s Department of Music has been given an award for an outstanding paper on music composition at this year’s international conference on Intelligent Data Engineering and Automated Learning (IDEAL).

The University of Manchester-hosted event gave Chris Rhodes the accolade for Best Student Paper.

‘ New interfaces for classifying performance gestures in music ’, published by Springer, explores how instrumental performance/composition can be digitally augmented by using wearable sensors (ie. biometric data) and machine learning.

The research was funded by Chris’s sponsor, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - and conducted at The University in a partnership between the Department of Music and the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS). It was co-authored by Chris’s primary supervisor Prof. Ricardo Climent (Music) and his second PhD supervisor Dr Richard Allmendinger (AMBS).


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