Research review of the year - part 4

Our final part of the review features stories on transforming youth justice, the impact of Japanese culture, climate science, and a festival celebrating Gothic culture.

Statue of giant robot

Japan in the Digital Age explored the impact of Japanese culture on society.


Celebrating the Gothic/New model for youth justice/Building smart cities

The weather was getting colder, and the nights longer, but researchers at Manchester Met were sparkling with activity in October.

Researchers launched a new model for working with young people in the justice system across Greater Manchester. The Participatory Youth Framework has been created by Manchester Met’s Greater Manchester youth Justice Partnership launched. The project is unique since it was built in collaboration with young people and their lived experiences within the youth justice system.

The month saw the launch of a number of projects as part of the University’s involvement with Cityverve – a project which aims to showcase Manchester as a blueprint for smarter cities worldwide. Among these were the Manchester Plinth, which interacts with the Buzzin app to reveal items from the University’s vast Special Collections. Academics in the School of Architecture analysed public transport data to find the quickest and most carbon-friendly ways to travel around the city. This will lead to an app, which plots the greenest travel route in Manchester. They have also been working to produce a crowd-sourced events calendar in Moss Side. The calendar is part of the wider Manchester Age Friendly Neighbourhood project, and aims to increase social contact.

October was also a month of festivals at Manchester Met. Japan in the Digital Age, organised by Dr Esperanza Miyake brought 2.5 dimensional theatre, anime pilgrimages, and the effects of technology on business and tradition.

The University was involved in a number of events for the Manchester Science Festival. These included Going Underground – where microbiologists, engineers and nurses discussed how science has developed since the Second World War in Stockport’s air raid tunnels.

Researchers measured the pulse and strength of the city through experiments, to determine the health of the public and explore how healthy muscles keep you young. And poetic scientist and Senior Lecturer Sam Illingworth paired with some of Manchester’s finest spoken word artists to explore science through poetry.

In time for Halloween, the University hosted its fifth annual Gothic Festival. Gothic style and fashion were celebrated in the four-day event, which featured an outdoor fashion show held in the city centre devoted to goths and steampunks. Events also included a film screening of Neon Demon, discussions on the cultural function of contemporary Gothic style, and a new exhibition from Manchester Gothic Art Group. The event was picked out by the Guardian was one of the month’s cultural highlights.


Keep calm and carry on? Festival of social science

In a year where Brexit, terror attacks, and the state of the economy might have preyed on the minds of many, the maxim ‘keep calm and carry on’ might have provided some comfort. But what are the origins of the popular British phrase?

A new book by Bex Lewis, Senior Lecturer, explores how the original poster was designed months before the Second World War had officially begun. The book explains how the poster was designed to bolster morale, and ensure the public could bear the sacrifice and burden expected of them. The book was featured in a number of media outlets, such as CNN.

In further festival news, Manchester Met joined up with the University of Manchester and the University of Salford for the ESRC Festival of Social Science. More than 45 events were held during the week, including film festivals, walking tours, fashion shows, experiments with virtual reality, and interactive workshops. As part of the event, a one-day interdisciplinary conference explored the challenges and complexities facing men in the 21st century.

Researchers made headlines for the impact their work is having on the environment and climate change. Professor Liangxiu Han led the development of a new app that uses a simple photograph of a leaf to provide near instant automatic diagnosis of diseased crops. The app could prove a major breakthrough for farmers and producers alike.

An extensive national US assessment into climate science was launched – with research underpinned by science expertise partnered with the University. Visiting professor Prof David Fahey played a key role in the latest US statement on climate science. The report, which is policy neutral, shows that human greenhouse gas production is the most likely cause of global warming.

Digital technology is increasingly being used in healthcare, and Dr Carly Jim has added her own contribution through a video that offers information about a rare genetic disorder. Neurofibromatosis Type 1, known as NF1, is a genetic condition that causes lumps to grow on the nerves and is normally diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. Around 25,000 people in the UK live with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and there is no cure. Dr Jim has developed a video designed to correct misconceptions about the disorder and explain the condition. She believes the video takes a “massive step” towards educating people about the condition.


Corpses in All Saints Park/Supporting teachers/New opportunities for research funding

In December, a two-day research symposium looked at the many ways we interact with the material remains of the dead in contemporary society. Encountering Corpses included a moving sound and art installation naming some of the 16,000 bodies buried in All Saints when it was a Victorian cemetery. An online exhibition also explored the history of the park as a burial ground.

University research featured prominently in a report into the probation service’s response to the rapid growth of drug use. The report found that a lack of training and knowledge meant that probation officers are not adequately assessing risks to children and others from offenders addicted to new psychoactive substances.

Professor Harry Torrance contributed to a new report on how assessment can better support great teaching. The survey of over 1,000 teachers in England, found that most classroom teachers lack confidence assessing their pupils. It also called for better accountability measures, more support for teachers, and greater understanding of assessment across the education sector.

Scientists from Manchester Met got first-hand experience of how policy is made, as they shadowed parliamentarians for a week in Westminster. Dr Marloes Peeters and Dr James Pritchett took part in a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society. The scheme pairs scientists with politicians and civil servants, so that they can learn about each other’s worlds, and explore how research findings can inform policy-making.

And finally, the office of the Research and Knowledge Exchange launched a new portfolio of opportunities worth over £0.5 million in total. The three distinct schemes aim to encourage high-quality research, impact and innovation. Professor Richard Greene, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office, said: “High quality research is the best way to enhance our reputation, and ensure that the future for research and innovation at Manchester Met University is both bright and sustainable.

“This new portfolio of schemes will play a significant role in helping us to achieve these ambitions.”

Back to part 3 of our research review of the year

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