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

Investigating the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers and refugees during the Covid-19 outbreak

A project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) rapid response to COVID-19, is to investigate the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Principal Investigator is Dr Taulant Guma, Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Applied Sciences.

The re-housing of asylum seekers and refugees into hotels in Glasgow has been a growing social issue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been mounting concern over the welfare of displaced individuals in the city and numerous reports of crowded living conditions and lack of available healthcare, which is leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to the Coronavirus outbreak and other social issues.

Recent moves by private sector firms to relocate asylum seekers into ‘safe environments’ have been widely criticized, particularly for the difficulties in maintaining physical distancing in new crowded, shared spaces thus increasing the risks of exposure to Covid-19.

Organisations and stakeholders representing asylum seekers have reported the fear and distress that this move has caused for asylum seekers.

Well-publicized incidents of violence and suicide by asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow hotels last year have illustrated the added pressures facing private firms who are responsible for their re-housing to implement more protocols to ensure duty of care.

In addition, this re-housing has also made it difficult for charities to provide support to affected individuals, who are moved often at short notice.

Statistical analysis has shown that BAME groups have been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in recent months. The role of housing vis-à-vis Covid-related risks is an area that has been identified as requiring attention in the UKRI’s call for research on BAME groups. Asylum seekers living in the UK in particular are one of the most marginalised groups in society, with most living in poverty, experiencing poor health with the pandemic placing them in one of the most at-risk groups.

The Edinburgh Napier study will adopt a digital ethnographic approach that is co-designed and co-produced with MORE (Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment), a grassroots migrant organisation run by people with experiences of asylum seeking, and the deliverables will be co-created with the partner organisation and migrant participants.

The year-long project will be headed by Dr Taulant Guma and his team includes Dr Gavin Maclean, and Dr Kiril Sharapov from the School of Applied Sciences; Dr Kirsten MacLeod from the School of Arts & Creative Industries; and Yvonne Blake and Robert Makutsa from MORE

The team will produce a social impact documentary, which will give a voice to asylum seekers’ experiences of housing during the Covid-19 pandemic in Glasgow.

“The film will have impact on several levels – through its process of production it will provide a space for dialogue and reflection allowing participants and community researchers to articulate and share the problems, issues and concerns they experience in what is an often lonely and hostile environment,” says Dr Guma.

“Our project will focus on this current and unfolding issue related to the provision of temporary accommodation for asylum seekers during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will examine what the situation is currently on the ground, how the crisis has accentuated the risk for those seeking asylum and develop responses with migrant communities to create a genuinely ‘safer environment’ for asylum seekers.”

The team’s key objectives are:

  • To identify factors and mechanisms which have placed asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation at greater risk of Covid-19 during this crisis.
  • To document the housing conditions and understand the impact of relocation from the perspectives and experiences of asylum seekers themselves.
  • To work with grassroots community groups to influence government policies and practices on asylum accommodation in order to address the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those seeking asylum.
  • To influence media and public debate and raise awareness about the issues and challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK.

For further information on this project contact T.Guma@napier.ac.uk

Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response  And Contact Technology  in Policing 

Caption: The public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’.

 A major new research project will examine how police-public engagement is being changed by the use of new technologies. 

Over recent years, the ways in which members of the public can contact the police have undergone significant changes. As a result, the public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’  by new communication technologies; such as online reporting of crimes and answering of queries, body worn video cameras, mobile data terminals, and the use of social media accounts.  

Now, Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), is to be the Principal Investigator leading an £862,000 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded programme to explore experiences and understanding of such technologicallymediated ‘ contact.  

Over the next three years, INTERACT – Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response And Contact Technology – will consider the perspectives of both police and publicThe study will consider ways in which the police can and should design their systems to better reflect people’s needs and expectations.  

 We aim to shape policy and practice, with a view to improving service provision,” says Dr Aston. She will be working with Dr Helen Wells from Keele University, Dr Megan O’Neill of Dundee University, and Prof Ben Bradford at University College London (UCL); as well as new Researchers, funded by the ESRC, who will be based at Edinburgh Napier, Keele and UCL We will be working closely with three police forces, and with various communities in each, as well as with national policing organisations.” 

 INTERACT represents a significant opportunity to impact the landscape of policing policy and practice nationally and internationally 

Our findings should directly and positively influence what the police do, and what the public are able to do to access police services,” adds Dr Aston. 

In the UK, the National Police Chiefs’ Council believes the public expects policing to join other services ‘online’, but while attention is being paid to what technology can do, for the police in particular, the public side of this encounter has barely been considered.  

 “Online reporting may appeal to some people, or be particularly useful for some crime types,” the team explains, but we do not know enough about how people experience these types of interactions to be confident that they will be of benefit to everyone, in all circumstances.  

 We also do not know if and how these developments might affect the way people feel about the police and what they do. We know that when people interact with officers they come to conclusions about the trustworthiness and legitimacy of police. But this knowledge is based on research which assumes that most or all contact between the public and police happens face-to-face, as it has done for decades. Given that this situation is changing, it is important that we reconsider our theories of public trust and police legitimacy, and if they are both fit for purpose in the current environment and are future-proof against new developments. 

 Research will also consider what it means for the police to be ‘visible’ and ‘accessible’ in a digital age and assess how the public feel about the different ways the police can be seen and contacted.  

 Using a variety of methods our research will develop understandings of police legitimacy in changing times and allow us to recommend ways for the police to stay legitimate in the eyes of the public in the 21st century. 

 For further information please contact: 

l.aston@napier.ac.uk 

Dr Liz Aston
Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor, Criminology