Solving single-use plastic waste with a dynamic duo

Science plays a vital part in all our lives. But what if Science were to suddenly be seen as, not a solver of climate change but as one of the significant polluters of planet Earth? Single-use plastic is the dilemma that faces every student and scientist working in labs today.

Even a small lab can get through vast stocks of single-use plastics. Gloves, pipettes, tubes, Petri dishes and vials are disposed of because they are contaminated and considered unrecyclable.

In 2018 lab technician Lisa McMillan and Technical Assistant Jo Brown decided they had to try to make the SAS labs’ plastic recyclable.

Like many groundbreaking ideas, Lisa and Jo’s research and development started in their own time; they began to formulate their approach on days off and after work.

At the start of 2019, they were ready to present to the University’s Staff Sustainability Network Group.

From this initial in-house presentation, Lisa and Jo moved on to share their work with colleagues from other universities across the UK. They started by presenting At the HeATED Regional Network Event held in Belfast. Some of the universities present included St Andrew’s, QUB, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Ulster.

Many more presentations and networking events are continuing to provide momentum for Lisa and Jo’s work. Their influence continues to grow, and in 2021 another impressive array of UK universities and institutes were present to hear about Lisa and Jo’s protocol at the EAUC Zoomscot share. The interest in their method had begun to widen to include the labs of Kings College London, the Institute for Cancer Research and the National Oceanography Centre. And the duo has also recently contributed an article on their work to Microbiologist magazine.

Back at their homes in Scotland, Lisa and Jo continue to fine-tune their protocol and work on new ideas. Every day in the labs of Napier University, they put into practice their first-ever safe recycling method.

Since they introduced the system in the SAS labs, they have sent an impressive 1500KG of single-use plastic that would otherwise have been sent to landfills to be recycled instead. If you have trouble visualising exactly how much plastic 1500Kkg represents, just think of 40 large external dumpsters.

Every year, a new cohort of students join Napier University. Every year, those students become increasingly aware and angry about the damage that plastics are doing to the planet. But one thing Napier students can be reassured about is that somewhere in the labs of the University a dedicated Lisa and Jo will continue to build upon their success and work towards creating more methods to make single-use plastics recyclable and ultimately to work towards reducing Science’s impact on the environment.

Contact

l.mcmillan@napier.ac.uk

j.brown5@napier.ac.uk

Pitch perfect. Falkirk’s visit to Sport Exercise Science Labs

In line with the Edinburgh Napier’s commitment to students gaining valuable first-hand experience, two postgraduate Sports & Exercise Sciences students were recently scheduled to work with Falkirk FC’s squad, to produce a pre-season assessment.

The Club’s players assembled at the state-of-the-art laboratories at Sighthill in June, to take part in a series of tests designed to record everything from their percentage body fat to their counter movement jump height.

The session was run by Laboratory Technician, Russell Wilson, and two Sport Performance Enhancement MSc students, Kieran McManus and Jack Brennan. They soon had the squad working hard:

  • Using the School’s new SECA portable body composition analysers to measure variables such as overall body fat percentage, resting energy expenditure, sectional skeletal muscle mass measurements and visceral adipose tissue.
  • Performing counter movement jumps and squat analysis using Kistler force plates. These provide information on jump height, relative maximal power and time spent in each phase of the jump/squat.
  • The club’s physio also requested hamstring force measurements, to establish pre-season baseline hamstring strength.

Falkirk players in ENU Sports labs

The following day, Kieran and Jack attended Falkirk’s stadium to assist with some additional testing. There, the students ran the players through some speed and agility drills, including straight sprint speed testing and the 5-0-5 agility test, using Witty timing gates to provide accurate velocity information.

Graeme Henderson, Head of Performance at Falkirk FC, was delighted with the sessions, which were also attended by Falkirk’s head coach, Paul Sheerin, and the club’s head physiotherapist, Rachel Gillen.

“The data will prove invaluable over the course of the season,” said Graeme. “It gives us an ability to provide a comparison throughout the season in relation to the physical levels we expect of our squad. It also helps with return to play protocols, should any player unfortunately suffer from injury, as we can compare to the baseline scores we now have.

“Throughout the process, the support we received from Edinburgh Napier has been excellent and highlights their ability to assist elite level athletes. The Master’s students provided insight in interpreting data, further underlining the world class level of academic learning provided at Edinburgh Napier.”

These interactions underline the University’s commitment to strengthening its existing relationship with the Scottish FA, who accredited a new undergraduate degree in Football Coaching, launched in 2019.

Marine coastal organisms benefit from oxygen fluctuations

Fluctuations of oxygen levels in marine coastal ecosystems are important to determine the response to climate change  of marine fauna.

That is the finding of a paper published in June for The Royal Society, based on research involving Professor Karen Diele and Dr Marco Fusi, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. Both have been working with Dr Jenny Booth , who is the paper’s lead author, and Professor Christopher McQuaid of Rhodes University, South Africa. The experiments that led to the findings have been conducted in the aquarium facilities of the St Abbs Marine Station, on the south East coast of Scotland, in collaboration with Marine Station researcher  Erica Chapman.

Coastal animals exist in habitats that are characterized by daily and seasonally fluctuation of environmental parameter:: for example, oxygen cycles vary between day and night and summer or winter.

Marine species evolve in this fluctuating environments and they have developed strategies to exploit cycling environmental change.

The team’s research – entitled Diel oxygen fluctuation drives the thermal response and metabolic performance of coastal marine ectotherms published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B,  shows that both velvet crabs and blue mussels normally exploit fluctuating daily oxygen supersaturation to cope with nightly oxygen undersaturation and overall to improve their thermal resistance.

The experiments that led to the findings have been conducted in the aquarium facilities of the St Abbs Marine Station (c) Jenny Booth

But as the environment alters at an increasingly fast pace, due to anthropogenic activity, the impact on natural feedback mechanisms is affecting the ability of these species to adapt to future thermal stress. The adverse impact is likely to be true for most coastal ectotherms, or animals that depend on external sources of body heat, as they rely on the same feedback mechanisms.

“The increasing metabolic demand of animals under warming are sustained by producing periodic oxygen supersaturation through coastal primary producers,” explains Marco Fusi. These are plants, algae and some bacteria that can photosynthesize.

“We demonstrate that the provision and resultant variability of oxygen by primary production are important drivers of the thermal responses of coastal animals, and the intensified response we see is foreseen to become increasingly important under future climate change,” adds Karen Diele.

This thermal response of both plants and animals results from the complex interaction of several factors, beyond temperature alone. “While primary producers will have their own specific responses to ocean warming and acidification, it is likely that coastal habitats such as seagrasses, kelp forests, mangroves and coral reefs will be important as refugia, where oxygen variation can drive the metabolic performance of animals in a changing world,” adds Marco.

“As primary producers, they are likely to have an increasingly important effect under climate warming; both on permanent residents and transient animals that use these habitats as nursery sites.

The disappearance of diverse communities of macroalgae in coastal waters is therefore a threat to biodiversity, not only through habitat loss, but also through reduced oxygen variability and the effects of this on animal thermal responses.”

The full paper can be read here

Building back better – the role of students

In the 4th year of our BSc Physical Activity & Health, our students are given the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have acquired in their previous years – including the Gym Instructor, Personal Trainer and health coaching training – in a relevant workplace; for example, gyms, exercise referral schemes, or NHS supporting roles.

This placement lasts for one semester and is supported not only as part of their BSc programme, but by all of our employer partners that we link with through CIMSPA, our Chartered Institute.

We’re therefore keen to discuss how final year students studying for a BSc in Physical Activity & Health could contribute to supporting your organisation this autumn.

The Student Experience 

Our current expectation is that placements will be virtual, with agreement for onsite activity being discussed as the placements approach, depending on Government guidance and organisation policy.

Students need:

  • Up to 80 hours of activity in the period from September to November 2021
  • A placement supervisor within the organisation to act as their point of contact
  • Regular weekly progress meetings as a minimum
  • A clearly defined remit or project brief for their role
  • Support to review their personal development during the placement.

Placement providers gain:

  • Access to a diverse, energetic, creative, ambitious and talented labour market
  • Engagement in the local community
  • Alignment of talent to meet their future organisational needs
  • Contribution to secure and sustained employment, and staff development.

On placement, students will see the hypothetical and real case studies they have studied throughout their programme come to life. They may work with GP referrals of real people and, through their reflective client reports, will gain experiential learning related to exercise behaviour, testing and prescription. Many case studies will have a clinical basis, and students can apply their knowledge of how complications such as obesity, depression, heart disease or cancer may affect their clients and how to best support them.

It’s a win-win situation!

To enquire about hosting a placement student this autumn, please speak to Kimberley Ritchie.

Direct Dial: 0131 455 2458

Email: sasplacements@napier.ac.uk

Behaviour change and motivation in physical activity & health

In 2020, 54% of adults in Scotland were not achieving the minimum levels of physical activity, based on our government guidelines.

Sadly, this leaves people more vulnerable to a wide range of chronic conditions, denying them the many benefits and protective effects of physical activity, such as: coronary heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, mental health problems and social isolation.

Living more active lives also provides cost savings for our NHS, increased productivity in the workplace, and reductions in congestion and reduced air pollution through active travel.

Who wouldn’t want these benefits?

Regular physical activity is unarguably an easy route to a healthy life … if only all of us were reliably motivated to do what we know we should do … more often!

In our programmes, we recognise the complexity of human behaviour and place great emphasis on supporting our students to understand contemporary theoretical models of behaviour change and human motivation, and importantly, how to apply this knowledge through a range of techniques and approaches that motivate adherence to exercise.

For example, we teach and assess our students in a counselling approach (Motivational Interviewing) to ensure they can have conversations that compassionately support the motivation, confidence and autonomy that people need to meet complex health goals.

We also place a spotlight on understanding and addressing these issues in underserved populations in our country.

Learn more about our BSc Physical Activity and Health program.

Inspiring the nation to get more active

Together with CIMSPA and our employer partners, the School of Applied Sciences is developing a vibrant, UK-wide sport and physical activity sector (this includes a focused development board in Scotland), with the highest standards of service delivery now reflected in six professional standard endorsements for Edinburgh Napier’s BSc Physical Activity & Health.

What our BSc Physical Activity & Health is endorsed for:

  • CIMSPA professional standard – gym instructor
  • CIMSPA professional standard – personal trainer
  • CIMSPA professional standard – working with people with long-term conditions
  • CIMSPA professional standard – health navigator
  • CIMSPA professional standard – safeguarding and protecting children
  • CIMSPA professional standard – safeguarding adults and adults at risk

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, committed to supporting, developing and enabling professionals and organisations to succeed and, as a result, inspire our nation to become more active.

What does this mean our students can do … and what about their employability? 

  • As well as a science degree that focuses on physical activity and health, students are provided with all the knowledge, skills and behaviours to meet minimum deployment standards in the health and fitness industry.
  • The professional standards have been developed in conjunction with employers and technical experts in order to match the demands of the role within the workplace.
  • As such, our CIMSPA endorsement for the professional standards detailed above, means that our program contains all the required learning and development requirements for competency in a role in the health and fitness industry.

World Food Safety Day focus on Tanzania with IDS

Over 60% of human diseases and 75% of newly emerging diseases are estimated to be transmitted from animals to man, known as zoonoses, writes Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier, who will host the session on 7 June.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has firmly placed the term zoonosis in the public mindset the majority of known zoonoses are endemic diseases. These infections have negative impacts upon the health, wellbeing and in many cases livelihoods of people throughout the world on a daily basis.

On World Food Safety Day (7th June) from 12pm-12.45 we are delighted to introduce speakers from the Institute of Development Studies (https://www.ids.ac.uk/) based near Brighton to talk about some of their work on food safety in Tanzania.

‘Rendering visible the hidden dynamics of meat safety amongst inspectors’ & slaughter workers’ in Northern Tanzania.’

The external speakers come from the Institute of Development Studies, which aims to deliver world-class research, learning and teaching that transforms the knowledge, action and leadership needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Linda Waldman, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies

Linda Waldman is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies, and a research Fellow in the Health and Nutrition Cluster. As a social anthropologist, her research has focused on gender, civil society, ethnicity and identity in relation to poverty, pollution and health. She has published research on indigenous hunter-gatherer identities, farm workers and adolescence, environmental policy processes and sustainability, asbestos and social housing, digital health and accountability with research experience in Africa, India and the UK. Her most current research focuses on environmental health, zoonotic disease, and gender with a particular focus on bringing social science to bear on medical and policy processes.

Tabitha Hrynick is a Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies where she has previously worked for the Hazards Associated with Zoonotic enteric pathogens in Emerging Livestock – or HAZEL – project studying risk perceptions of meat safety and meat safety management in Tanzania. She currently works for the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) on disease epidemics and humanitarian crises, with a current focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19 vaccine confidence. Other areas of focus have included the governance of epidemics, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Tabitha is particularly interested in how political, social and cultural contexts shape health.

We are also delighted to have Dr Justine Alphonce Assenga join us from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in Tanzania to join in the discussion on some of the issues which will be discussed during the seminar.

Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University

To join us at 12pm-12.45 on 7 June please email n.wheelhouse@napier.ac.uk

School joins new UK Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network

A new national training centre in Scotland is to help drive development of opportunities emerging in vaccine manufacturing, as well as cell and gene therapy.

It is one of new three UK training centres that together form The Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

All partners in the Network will now work collaboratively to address a skills gap first identified two years ago. In 2019, The Skills Demand Survey conducted by the UK government’s Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult found rising concern among vaccine manufacturers and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) companies about their ability to recruit and retain skilled talent in the UK.

In fact, 83% of companies were concerned about their ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities, because skills anticipated to be essential were – at that time – missing.

Created as a direct response, ATSTN is being backed by £4.7m from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK (IUK). Activity across all the UK partners will be coordinated by the CGT Catapult.

In Scotland, the Network’s delivery is being led by RoslinCT –  a cell and gene therapy/ATMP Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) – via the RoslinCT Training Academy and The School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. Other delivery partners are North Ayrshire College, IBioIC, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance and Scottish Enterprise.

“The ATSTN is a truly collaborative initiative, developed by industry in partnership with academia, and the expertise from all three centres will create a wealth of learning resources,” said Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “Development and delivery of our own courses for the National Training Centre is testament to the work we have been doing here at Edinburgh Napier over the last decade; delivering graduates who are work-ready and have the expertise and skills to enable the therapies of the future, including new vaccines.”

Professor Gary Hutchison.

The Training Centre now aims to have its first ‘blended-learning’ courses available for delivery in Scotland by the end of 2021. Face-to-face content will be delivered at RoslinCT’s Edinburgh campus at their newly built state of the art facility.,

“We are delighted to lead the Scottish training centre,” said Janet Downie, Chief Executive at RoslinCT. “With the tremendous growth opportunities in both ATMP and vaccine manufacturing, we are all looking forward to working with The National Horizons Centre and the University of Birmingham  to deliver this UK-wide training service.”

With their complementary capabilities and vast wealth of experience across GMP/GxP, manufacturing and bioprocessing, all three centres will deliver a range of specialist courses to upskill industry professionals. Further information can be obtained by contacting Nathan Barnett, Project Co-ordinator, Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

ENDS

Are you thinking about a career in forensic psychology?

A day in the life of a prison service forensic psychologist can include both challenges and successes, as well as plenty of opportunities to develop your professional skills and knowledge.

In the morning, you may be interviewing somebody who has been convicted of serious violent offences, in order to assess whether or not they are suitable to take part in an offending behaviour intervention. In the afternoon, you may be delivering training to prison staff on the fact that the way in which somebody presents in a prison setting does not always reveal the type or level of risk that they might pose in the community. And then there is intervention delivery, conducting accredited risk assessments, developing risk formulations, contributing your forensic psychology knowledge to multi-disciplinary risk management meetings, and presenting your psychological risk assessment report in a Parole Board oral hearing.

Forensic psychology also plays a key role in informing the investigative aspects of the criminal justice system. Research by forensic psychologists has enabled the evolution of facial recognition technologies, investigative interviewing strategies, witness credibility assessments, the detection of deception, techniques for interviewing vulnerable witnesses, providing helpful and accurate evidence as a professional witness or expert witness, learning from wrongful conviction cases, and understanding why some people offend while others from a similar background do not.

In the UK, forensic psychologists are mostly employed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and by the Scottish Prison Service. You may work with adults, young offenders, or children, who may have a range of presentations and offending histories. You might also work in secure mental health settings, helping to unpick the sometimes complex interactions between mental health issues and harmful or anti-social behaviours.

The Programme Leader for Edinburgh Napier University’s MSc Applied Forensic Psychology, Marc Kozlowski, says “This programme has been designed to provide students with a chance to try out some of the practical skills that will be required of them as a practitioner, alongside learning to conduct and critique forensic psychology research, which is the bedrock of forensic psychology practice. Students will have opportunities to hear from, and engage in discussions with, experienced criminal justice professionals from a variety of agencies and professions. The idea behind the programme is that students will arrive in the workplace already aware of some aspects of what to expect.”

Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Applied Forensic Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which means that successful completion of the programme constitutes Stage One of your journey towards becoming a chartered psychologist. Once you have achieved Stage One, you are able to apply for jobs as a trainee forensic psychologist. The staff by whom you will be taught and guided on this programme, include published academic staff, as well as two experienced chartered forensic psychology practitioners.

“I’ve found the programme very interesting and engaging,” says Rosie Flanagan, one of the class of 2020. “I think it has been invaluable in setting me up for a career in forensic psychology. I’ve particularly enjoyed the practical modules, such as Assessments and Treatments, and Practical Forensic Psychology, although the more theoretical content has also been interesting. I really enjoyed an experienced Criminal Justice Social Worker’s guest lecture on managing high risk offenders in the community. Hearing her experiences and insights was very engaging.”

Another student, Katie McIntyre, says “For me, one of the highlights has been the variation in assessments. With a range of both practical and written assessments the course has been very engaging. Assessments have included SARA risk assessments, interview techniques, reflective diaries, and expert witness reports. These have allowed me to learn and practise skills which are essential within the role as a forensic psychologist.”

To qualify for this full-time one year Master’s, applicants must have achieved a minimum 2:2 on a BPS-accredited undergraduate degree, such as Edinburgh Napier’s BA or BSc Psychology, which provides them with the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society.

Due to the competitive nature of the Master’s programme, we advise submitting an application as early as possible – you don’t need to wait to receive confirmation of your final undergraduate degree result – but before 31st July at the latest.

You may also be interested in our broader, non-accredited MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology.

 

 

Second meeting of the Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing

I was honoured to be asked by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to chair a new advisory group which will provide Scottish Ministers with recommendations that will ensure that policing partners are able to embrace appropriate new technologies, while also ensuring they are introduced in the correct manner.

The first meeting of the group in December was focussed on establishing ourselves and agreeing our purpose and remit, clearly delineating what we would and wouldn’t do. The membership of the group is diverse and draws together representatives from the policing and technology sectors, academic experts and specialists in human rights and data protection. We therefore needed to spend time getting to know each other and establishing what each of us can bring to the virtual table.

When we met recently for the second time, we were delighted to be joined by the team at Police Scotland who are planning to introduce body worn video for some officers later this year. They are focusing on armed officers initially, in preparation for COP-26 (the UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow. Their presentation generated lots of useful discussion and debate and we agreed as a group to use body worn video as a live case study, which we hope will be of use to both Police Scotland and the group itself as we undertake our work.

We also discussed and agreed how we would organise ourselves and set a timetable for our work. Our workload will be split into manageable chunks by creating four works streams, each of which will be responsible for producing a report for the whole group to consider.

  • Legal Framework & Ethical Standards
  • Evidence and Scientific Standards
  • Consultation and Community Engagement
  • Oversight, Scrutiny and Review

Some of our considerations cut right across all these four areas, for example, human rights and data protection. Each work stream will engage with a wider list of experts and practitioners in order to progress their work. We will also launch a call for evidence, which will seek written views on what changes need to be made to ensure that the process that police go through when introducing new technologies is fit for purpose.

We agreed dates for three more meetings this year with the aim of completing our work in early 2022. When we next meet in May, each work stream will report back to the group on the progress they have made and set out clearly the work they will be undertaking to produce a full report to the group by August.

Since we last met the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing published a report on Police Scotland’s use of drones and body worn video and I am pleased to see that much of the work we plan to do through the IAG will assist policing partners in working constructively with key partners towards addressing many of the recommendations made.

I am confident that by drawing on diverse expertise from civil society, academia, statutory bodies, policing and the technology sector, the IAG will bring real improvements to legal and ethical frameworks, strengthen consultation and oversight processes and help develop evidenced, innovative and human rights based policing solutions.

It is clear to me that there is a real passion and desire amongst the group to support policing partners to enhance policy and practice in this complex area. The detailed work starts now and I for one am really excited about the challenge that lies ahead.

Dr Liz Aston