The GWR FELLOWSHIP SCHEME
In 2007 Great Western Research approved 20 fully-funded Research Fellowships in the South West of England in its original five research themes.
The 20 HEFCE funded Great Western Research (GWR) post-doctoral Fellows have now completed their fellowships, and most have transferred to full time academic appointments at their host institutions.
During the term of their Fellowships the GWR Fellows have published over 130 research papers, books and book chapters describing their research. Fellows currently have over 20 papers under review, including one paper in Nature. Their research results have been communicated in over 160 conference papers, posters and talks, many of which were presented at high profile international meetings. Fellows have been invited to speak at Universities all over Europe and further afield, presenting their work in dozens of seminars and workshops. The Fellows have built up their own research groups and attracted over £6.5 M of research funding into the South West to this end. Fellows have been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and have been involved in the supervision of approximately 40 PhD students, 10 MSc students , and dozens of research project students, together with several postdoctoral researchers. Several fellows have won prestigious recognition for their research, including a 1M euro innovation award from E.ON, the award of the ImechE George Stephenson Prize, the prize for the Best Scientific paper at the 3rd international green Energy conference in Sweden, invited participation in the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition, presentations at the House of Commons, etc.
The GWR Fellows are continuing to generate new funding, and to publish their results in journals and conference presentations in their follow on academic posts.
To find out more about individual Fellows research projects click on the title below, or contact the Lead academic indicated.
|Project Title||Lead academic||Host HEI|
|Numerical weather prediction: multi-scale methods and data assimilation||Prof. C. J. Budd||Bath|
|Observational constraints on climate-carbon cycle feedbacks through more rigorous mathematical approaches||Prof. Peter M. Cox||Exeter|
|Modelling and nonlinear dynamics of optical nanodevices: nanolasers and photonic nanocircuits||Dr Sebastian Wieczorek||Exeter|
|Project Title||Lead academic||Host HEI|
|Retargeting Animated Human Characters||Prof. Jian J Zhang||Bournemouth|
|Performing the Archive: the future of the past||Dr Simon Jones||Bristol|
|Locating the Producers: Towards a Definition of Best Practice in Commissioning the Visual Arts||Claire Doherty||UWE|
|Project Title||Lead academic||Host HEI|
|Advanced Fabrication of Multifunctional Ceramics||C.R.Bowen||Bath|
|Wide-band gap nanomaterials for optoelectronic devices: A focus on diamond and ZnO||Prof. M.N.R. Ashfold||Bristol|
|Novel nano-magnetic and nano-optical materials||Prof. Walther Schwarzacher||Bristol|
|Advanced Surface-Emitting Semiconductor Lasers with improved Static and Dynamic Properties||Dr. Judy Rorison||Bristol|
|High band gap AlGaN/GaN field-effect structures and chemically interactive materials for sensor applications||Dr. Martin Kuball||Bristol|
|Project Title||Lead academic||Host HEI|
|The neural basis of economic decision making||Dr Gemma Calvert||Bath|
|The role of working memory in encoding into long-term memory||Klaus Oberauer||Bristol|
|Promoting Sustainable Behaviour: Toward an Integrated Social Psychological Approach
||Prof. Tom Postmes||Exeter|
|The Impairment of Memory in Epilepsy: the TIME project||Prof. Adam Zeman||Exeter|
|Project Title||Lead academic||Host HEI|
|BIOENERGY FUTURES - The Prospects for the South West of England||Prof. Geoffrey Hammond||Bath|
|Sustainability of coastal flood defence policy under climate change, sea level rise and socio-economic change||Prof. Paul Bates||Bristol|
|Fish populations and climate change||Dr Julian C Partridge||Bristol|
|Sustainability policy, social capital and land use||Prof. Stephen Wilks||Exeter|
Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a vital tool in modern environmental modelling. As improved computers become available a major challenge is to realisethe potential of NWP at higher resolutions and to improve the representation of the multiscale behaviour present in the atmosphere. A key aspect of NWP is data assimilation, where the solutions of the computer model, which predicts the evolutionof the atmosphere, are compared to, and updated by, observations of the atmospheric state. To do this effectively requires additional knowledge about the expected error sin the model and numerical predictions as well as the errors in the observations. Estimating such model errors for multiscale meteorological systems is a major challenge. Most important atmospheric features for weather forecasts are largescale, and thus quite well resolved by current models. However, some important features, such as hazardous convective storms, are smaller scale and are predicted much less accurately. In addition, there are many other less important smallerscale features which are poorly predicted and the resulting errors may dominate the total error. In this case it is important that the data assimilation extracts information on the important features only. This project will address these problems and the fellow will work on extending existing data assimilation methods to better account for Multiscale effects and reduce existing errors. The project will combine, and extend, the expertise at Bath in numerical analysis, data assimilation, inverse problems and multiscale modelling and at Exeter in atmospheric modelling and NWP, with the work of the Met Office to create a Centre of Excellence and support the Met Office's aim to be a world leading regional centre for NWP.
MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) integrate miniaturised mechanical elements, sensors, actuators and electronics on a common silicon substrate. There are many potential applications, but the focus here is their future application in structural health monitoring systems. The vision is that a large number of MEMS devices can be installed on a safetycritical structure, such as an aircraft wing, in order to measure mechanical vibration. The devices will then use signal processing and distributed intelligence to assess the structure's integrity. For robustness, it is desirable that the MEMS communicate wirelessly and power themselves autonomously. The thrust of this proposal is thus to establish design principles for MEMS power generation systems which scavenge electrical energy from mechanical vibrations in the environment. The central problem is one of impedance matching, where for optimal efficiency, the frequency of ambient vibrations (tens of Hz) must be multiplied to match the resonant frequency (perhaps KHz) of the MEMS power generation system. The aim is thus to design nonlinear mechanical architectures which are capable of frequency conversion. Mellor and his group in Electrical Engineering have proposed designs which involve the excitation of thin magnetic membranes, and the first goal is to optimise these prototypes by developing and analysing detailed models for how electromagnetic fields interact with the motion of the membrane. The project will then consider more general architectures, which exploit nonlinear effects such as combination resonance, softening magnetic forces, gyroscopic effects, and nonsmooth effects such as impact and friction.
Climate change over the next few centuries depends on the extent to which anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions increase, and on a myriad of feedback processes that link the physical, chemical and biological components of the Earth system. Climatecarbon cycle feedbacks have recently emerged as a key uncertainty in projections of 21st century climate change, with the potential to significantly accelerate global warming (Cox et al. 2000, Cox et al., 2004). However, the range of model simulated climatecarbon cycle feedbacks spans an order of magnitude which translates into an extra 20200 ppmv of carbon dioxide by the year 2100, under a specified CO2 emissions scenario (Friedlingstein et al., 2006). This fellowship will apply two promising mathematical approaches to constrain uncertainties in climatecarbon cycle feedbacks, and thereby contribute to improved guidance on issues concerning climate stabilisation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The fellowship will capitalise on the SouthWest’s unique combination of expertise in land carbon cycle modelling, carbon cycle data assimilation and statistical analysis. The major outcomes of the fellowship will include more rigorous observational constraints on climatecarbon feedbacks, which will be communicated to the industrial partner (Met Office) and policymakers (e.g. Defra) through verbal and written briefings. It will also develop new techniques for modeldata fusion, build bridges between mathematics and environmental science, and strengthen the SouthWest’s expertise in this emerging area by leading to a new lectureship in climate system analysis in the School of Computing Science, Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Exeter.
Optical devices incorporating semiconductor elements find applications in information storage and transmission, sensing, and even in health care. There is presently a strong desire for the further miniaturisation of optical systems, mainly driven by the wish to realise optical circuits and embedded applications. However, before such optical nanodevices can be used in practice their fundamental properties need to be understood.
Owing to their nanoscale, optical nanodevices have properties, especially strong optical nonlinearities, that are distinctively different from those found in conventional larger optical devices used today. The main mathematical challenge is to be able to cope with large systems of equations with additional constraints, such as the highdimensional differential equation models with algebraic constraints and delay terms that arise in the study of optical nanodevices.
This project will develop new mathematical theory and associated advanced numerical methods that will be of use across a wide range of problems in physical sciences and, in particular, will allow one to analyse the dynamical behaviour of optical nanodevices. Specifically, we will find and follow particular steady state and periodic solutions and assemble the information into twoparameter stability diagrams or `road maps' of the system behaviour. This analysis will explore new interesting nonlinear phenomena in nanophotonics and help engineers to understand and control the desired mode of operation in optical nanodevices.
Realistic human character animation for films and games usually requires a lot of manual effort, often with tweaking and trialanderror. To make matters worse, multiple characters are often necessary and this could easily consume a large proportion of the production budget. In this project, we propose to develop a new technique, which advances the current technology of human character animation on two aspects. The first is to improve the realism by a novel anatomybased approach; and the second is to allow a wellanimated character to be reused for different characters efficiently without compromising the realism. The current anatomybased technique requires the animator to layer individual muscles on a skeleton before the character is skinned up. This is counterintuitive and as a result, despite its ability to afford detailed visual fidelity, it has not been adopted by the animation industry. Our proposed method will overcome this problem by allowing the animator to start from a modelled character and we will automatically structure the underneath anatomy. This involves solving a mathematically underspecified problem. To achieve this aim, we will develop a musclebased generic human character. We will also develop fast physicsbased methods to deform the individual muscles. The skin surface will envelope the underlying anatomy and will therefore deform realistically. In order to animate a novel character, we will develop a set of techniques to retarget the generic model (including the skeleton and muscles) to the given character, so that any new characters can be animated at the same level of realism.
"Performing the Archive: the future of the past" will be a three year research project based in the University of Bristol Theatre Collection/ Live Art Archives and the liveart archives of Arnolfini Gallery (Bristol), partnered with Exeter University Department of Drama. The primary focus is to develop the interrelationship and interactivity between the archives and the communities of practitioners and scholars: to extend how academics and artists use documents of performance to inflect and inspire their own particular concerns. Research in performance and liveart practices faces the fundamental methodological problem of documentation. In many cases the live event can only be the subject of scholarly or creative investigation through some kind of document. When ‘liveness’ is the crucial characteristic under investigation, accessing the events through such documentation becomes problematic. By collaborating with practitioners and producers of innovative performance, the fellowship will aim to identify best practice through compiling case studies in effective documentation. Although archives of contemporary experimental work have been collected over the past twenty years, a second aim of the fellowship will be to develop appropriate methodologies and taxonomies for engaging with these. This will necessarily involve new digitally based and user generated patterns of knowledge formation. Finally, the fellowship will investigate how the Bristol based archives can be made available as a resource for both creative industry and scholarly exploitation: how the rich knowledge exchange between practitioners and scholars in this field can be enhanced through greater engagement with the conceptual and material nature of the archive. Specifically, exploring the theme of “revival” or “reconstruction”, the fellowship will work towards an international festival and conference based on new commissions which repurpose the archives.
The commissioning of placebased contemporary art works is dominating the visual arts sector nationally and internationally. Most largescale biennial exhibitions, gallery programmes and regeneration initiatives across the world now involve the commissioning of new artworks in response to specified contexts. Yet, whilst recent strategic documents in cultural policy and arts funding emphasise the vital importance of the curatorproducer in the delivery of such projects, there has never been a comparative study of the working processes of commissioners across different sectors. We urgently need such a study to provide a benchmark for visual arts commissioning internationally, to inform the burgeoning number of postgraduate training courses in curating and to inform working processes across rural and urban, private and public contexts.
The SouthWest region is uniquely positioned to lead this research with the combination of postgraduate curatorial training at Dartington and courses in development at Falmouth and UWE, a diversity of commissioning programmes and a network of initiatives dedicated to the development of cultural leadership and skills training.
‘Locating the Producers’ combines an ambitious comparative study of curatorial methods across five professional sectors with a programme of internationally focused public events. We will create a sustainable SouthWest based research alliance in visual arts commissioning research of international significance. By combining the expertise, resources and professional networks of the three partners, this project will make an essential contribution to the postgraduate and professional training of curatorproducers internationally and to a new definition of best practice in commissioning across art sectors.
This proposal aims to develop novel multifunctional ceramics at a range of scales in the areas of biomaterials, sensors and actuators. The work proposed is a collaboration between the regional universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and falls within the ‘Biomaterials’, ‘Sensors and Actuators’, and ‘Nanoparticles and nanocomposites’ areas of the GWR Materials Theme. The aim of the work is to develop processing methods to manufacture heterogeneous and composite materials with tailored structures across a range of scales (nm to mm) for enhanced biological activity or enhanced sensor sensitivity. Fabrication methods include anodisation of metals for nanotube generation, foam replication, 1dimensional structures and rapid prototyping.
Diamond and zinc oxide are both wideband gap materials exhibiting physical and chemical properties that make them particularly attractive for applications in optoelectronic devices. Intentionallyintroduced impurities, called dopants, can render these materials semiconducting, determining whether the current is carried by electrons or holes and, ultimately, how information is processed by, for example, an optoelectronic device. However, due to the nature of these two materials, achieving efficient bipolar (nand ptype) doping to form pn junction devices remains a challenge. Advanced theoretical modelling techniques in Exeter along with characterisation tools at Bristol will be used to optimise the growth of highquality doped materials. Both materials can be synthesized in the form of single crystal nanoparticles. These, potentially, can exhibit properties not attainable with the respective bulk materials. Recent and current Bristolbased research has demonstrated growth of intrinsic diamond and zinc oxide nanoparticles, with low impurity content and a low density of structural defects. At Exeter, doping issues in wideband materials, including diamond, have been explored for a number of years, with conspicuous success. This application seeks support to explore use of these materials, together with pulsed activation (radio frequency or electron beam irradiation) and/or pulsed laser deposition techniques, to form semiconducting diamond and zinc oxide nanopowders and thereby demonstrate an alternative solution to the bipolar doping problem. Fabrication of nanoparticle composites containing doped diamond and rareearth doped zinc oxide, and exploration of their optoelectronic properties, will be an ancillary goal of the programme.
Nanotechnology has made it possible to create new materials containing artificial structures with dimensions in the range of a few nanometres (one nanometre is one thousand millionth of a metre). Their properties can be very different from unstructured materials with the same composition. One of the most important classes of nanostructured material consists of regular arrays of particles with diameters in the nanometrerange. These arrays can have surprising and useful magnetic and/or optical properties, though so far progress has mostly been restricted to 2dimensional arrays. The aim of this project is to generate truly 3dimensional arrays containing many times more nanoparticles than has been achieved before using new methods based on electrochemistry and protein crystallization. These novel materials will lead to new science, including a better understanding of magnetism on the nanoscale, and a deeper knowledge of how matter and light interact. They will also enable new technologies, for example improved sensor devices and advances in optical signal processing.
The main aim of this proposal is to develop the next generation of vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) to address the shortfalls of presentday VCSELs, namely that they are typically available for operation only in a very restricted wavelength range (dictated by telecoms applications) and that they are unsuitable for achieving simultaneously high output power and singlemode operation. VCSELs have been developed about twenty years ago now, with the intention to realise singlemode lasers with circular beam crosssection. Soon after the first devices were made it was understood that lateral mode control, thermal stability and polarisation control had to be attained to achieve true singlemode operation. Although such aspects have been investigated by modifying the device structure, it has not been possible yet to achieve highbrightness operation using conventional VCSELs. With the recent advances in technology to develop photonic crystal structures (PCS) the potential for addressing the above shortfalls of such useful lasers is becoming a reality. In this project a novel technology is proposed in addition to focussed ion beam etching, for incorporating twodimensional PCS in the VCSEL. This novel methodology has been developed at Bristol to reduce unwanted effects of PCS etched on the surface of the device (including, for example, reduced device efficiency and optical output power). Importantly, in addition to structural modification of the device the novel aspect of incorporating elctrooptic active materials (InGaAsN/GaAs quantumwells and InAs/GaAs quantumdots) in the VCSEL will be thoroughly investigated from both the theoretical and the experimental point of view. This will open up applications in sensing, spectroscopy and medical diagnostics.
Bio and chemical sensor technology is an important aspect for improving the quality of human life. Electronic sensors enable simple operation and can, therefore, be used in many areas, from monitoring air and food quality at home to detecting toxic gases and explosives in public areas. The proposed project aims to explore a novel class of organicmetalsemiconductor material systems for a broad range of sensing applications. High band gap GaNbased fieldeffect transistor structures will be combined with chemically interactive receptor materials to provide a basis for bio/chemical sensors. This activity will bring together semiconductor and device research in Bristol and sensing expertise at the University of Bath. Properties and functionality of the designed sensor systems will be explored using a unique combination of non-invasive optical Raman spectroscopy and electrical characterizations. The proposed research will contribute both to the understanding of the fundamental properties of complex material systems and to the development of sensor technology, thus providing not only internationally competitive scientific research in the SouthWest, but also benefit for its industry, such as DSTL Porton and Renishaw plc.
The way in which people make decisions about money is poorly understood. Choices made by individuals seem to run contrary to longterm economic selfinterest and can defy attempts by external parties to modify them. One explanation for the apparent "irrationality" in economic decision making is the existence of conflict between considered planning in the long term and the motivation to obtain immediate rewards in the short term. In social situations, emotional factors may also contribute to decisions over and above the desire to maximize monetary return. The development of modern functional brain imaging techniques have now revealed that long term goalplanning, responses to financial reward and activations of emotional responses are carried out in distinct brain areas. Understanding how these neural systems function and interact during economic decision making will allow us to generate physiological explanations for “irrational” economic behaviour. The specific goals of this project will be to identify neural signals in the human brain which correlate with monetary rewards and losses; to investigate how these brain systems interact with regions implicated in cognitive control to influence financial decisions; and to correlate individual variability in decision making strategies with changes in activity within these regions. As well as advancing our fundamental understanding of the brain and human behaviour, we also suggest that such research could have long term economic benefits for business and society. Directly measuring activity in brain reward systems offers the potential to measure objectively the subjective value that people attribute to goods, services and the arbitrary choices they make during everyday life.
There is increasing recognition in the field of memory that working memory and longterm memory are separate but tightly interconnected systems. The project focuses on the effect of processes in working memory for the longterm retention of information. It addresses the question whether holding information in working memory automatically implies laying down a longterm memory trace, and what produces the beneficial effect of “elaborative rehearsal”. The project will also speak to the longstanding question of whether, and how, working memory and longterm memory should be regarded as different systems.
The project focuses on the question how to transfer abstract understanding of the importance of environmental issues into concrete sustainable behaviours. In more specific terms, we aim to investigate what are the processes through which people come to accept environmentalism as an important personal and social value and whether and how this promotes proenvironmental actions. The proposal is to study this question by integrating a range of related theoretical perspectives that have hitherto been studied independently of each other. The benefit of this theoretical integration is that it should considerably enhance the understanding of the process of behaviour change and how to bring it about. Using a variety of methods, the project examines the relationship between identity, value centrality and the specificity of proenvironmental intentions and their impact on environmental behaviour. Studies include a qualitative study plus survey to study the content and consequences of an “environmentalist” identity, several experiments designed to test elements of a proposed theoretical model, and an integrative longitudinal field study testing the influences of these factors in practice. The expected outcomes include theoretical developments, practical implications for policymaking and communication, publications of the results in high impact journals and the development of a centre of excellence in this domain in the SouthWest.
Epilepsy can manifest itself in episodes of transient amnesia. These can occur in isolation, or in association with other, more familiar, features of epilepsy. Patients with ‘transient epileptic amnesia’ (TEA) also commonly develop persistent memory difficulties between attacks: these include accelerated forgetting, the excessively rapid loss of recently acquired information, and autobiographical amnesia for salient life events that may precede the seizure onset by decades. These are relatively novel, controversial, psychological phenomena. We have previously (20036) studied the clinical and neuropsychological features of this disorder in 50 patients recruited nationally and 24 matched control subjects.
The potential role of ‘bioenergy’ (biofuels, biomass or energy crops) in the economy of the South West of England will be examined drawing on the complementary expertise and interests at the Universities of Bath and Exeter and the Royal Agricultural College (RAC), Cirencester. Energy crops and agricultural residues are ‘carbon neutral’ in terms of their production, and are therefore often considered to be a good candidate for next generation of renewable energy technologies. However, fossil fuels are used during their production (embodied in fertilisers), and during cultivation, transportation and processing. A regional sustainability assessment will therefore evaluate biomass production and use in the South West in terms of resource availability and enduse, net energy gained, environmental impact, and the consequences for the rural economy. This will involve the study of different types of biomass crop and residue production, conversion processes, and end use on a lifecycle (‘cradle to grave’; strictly ‘cradle to gate’) basis. A research framework will be provided by four qualitative scenarios of the energy mix out to 2020; from which the potential role of biomass can be illustrated. The tradeoff between the use of agricultural land and forestry for the production of bioenergy resources and food will be examined in an attempt to determine their ‘best use’. Biomass can be utilised for either electricity generation, heating, or as a transportation biofuel. The present study will include a study of the energy and environmental costs and benefits of the different final enduses for the bioenergy resources.
Coastal flooding is a major problem worldwide and a significant issue for the UK in general and the SW in particular. Climate change, rising sea levels, socioeconomic change and defence degradation over time will all act to significantly increase flood risk over the next century. Mitigating and adapting to these threats will require multibillion pound investment in flood defences and the application of rigorous spatial planning measures. In the first nationalscale assessment of such risks Evans et al. (2004) showed that under particular climate change and socioeconomic scenarios the annual cost of flooding in England and Wales will rise from £1Bn now to £25Bn by 2080 when up to 3.5M people will be at risk. Against this background, a critical question is whether current flood defence policies are sustainable, and if not what should be done instead. This proposal seeks to provide a rigorous answer to this question for detailed, regional scale planning by combining advanced physical modelling techniques pioneered at the University of Bristol with innovative methods of sustainability analysis developed at the University of Bath. We will combine these methods to analyse the impact of environmental and socioeconomic change on flood risk for sections of coast up to 100km in length and determine whether current flood defence policies are sustainable in the future. The work will make fundamental contributions to the science of sustainable flood risk analysis and provide critical advice to local and regional government bodies with responsibility in the area.
Whilst little can be done to mitigate the accumulated effects of past and present carbon emissions, much can be done to face the consequences of the resulting climate change. Sustainable development of fisheries will require an understanding of the way fish adapt to climate change and the identification and management of interactions of these processes with other impacts. The proposed fellowship will address the combined impacts of fishing pressure and climate change on fish populations. The fellowship will focus on the population biology of selected fish species, particularly those of commercial or conservation importance which are climatically sensitive. The approach adopted will be a combination of advanced statistical analysis of longterm data sets coupled with molecularbased population genetics and remote tracking of fish. Together these methods will clarify the integrity of fish stocks and, crucially,their effective population sizes and interconnectivity.
The research will examine sustainable land use issues in the South West through the lenses of ‘social capital’ and ‘governance’. The ‘social’ element of sustainability has been neglected and yet the delivery of sustainability targets clearly requires social involvement and engagement. In particular, the social and governance conditions required to improve the sustainability of systems of land management need to be far better understood. Commentators and policy makers remain poorly informed about how such social contributions may be changing in response to agricultural restructuring, shifts in policy and practice and new forms of economic activity in the countryside. The proposed research is designed to explore the social dimension of sustainability in the specific context of the land based sector in the South West (including the farming, forestry, nature conservation, equine, recreation and energy sectors) but with wider implications for regional and local governance, the sustainable communities agenda, and the emerging interest in wellbeing. The research will explore: the impacts of social change in agriculture and how sustainability is conceptualised in rural networks and representative organizations. It will examine, in particular the implementation of the regional Sustainable Farming & Food Strategy in a way that will link together our understanding of political representation, rural policy networks and social capital. One of the key outputs of the research will be the identification of suitable indicators for use in the measurement of the social capital and good governance.