2018 – Staff presentations

Swarm Robotics@Edinburgh Napier – Emma Hart, School of Computing

The talk will focus on recent work in Evolutionary Swarm Robotics that has grown out of the new Swarm Robotics laboratory in the School of Computing.  The talk will highlight recent work in evolving functional diversity across a swarm and briefly introduce a new project to evolve physical robots in a novel hybrid ecosystem to aid in decommissioning nuclear facilities.

Smart construction for urban growth – Mila Duncheva, School of Built Environment and Engineering

Cross-Laminated Timber Construction (CLT) is an engineered timber material, which is ideally suited to constructing tall timber buildings in urban contexts. CLT combined with Building Information Modelling/Management (BIM) has the potential to deliver efficiency gains in construction, in the context of housing the ever increasing urban population. This talk will present productivity optimisation findings from an innovative case study building in Glasgow, which is currently the tallest CLT building in Scotland. The study was undertaken thanks the Built Environment Exchange (beX) programme, which facilitated collaboration between Scottish offsite systems buildability capability and Canadian BIM for project management capability.

Women’s work in the cultural industries – Gavin Maclean, School of Applied Sciences

With the increased attention to disparities between men and women within the cultural industries in light of the BBC pay review and the rise of the #MeToo movement, this talk will present initial findings from a Edinburgh Napier-funded project examining the sources of underrepresentation of women and the devalutation of women’s work within the cultural industries. Drawing on qualitative data from over 40 participants working within a number of cultural industries – including actors, screen and theatre writers, classical, folk and ‘indie’ musicians and dancers – this talk explains how organisational processes to ensure sales of cultural works, such as the use of genres and commissioning based on sales, gender the resulting production process. The resulting bureaucratic controls on production – such as commissioning processes, casting calls and audition processes – ultimately work to exclude women.

Researching skills development; students as partners in this process – Samantha Campbell Casey, School of Applied Sciences

Development of employability skills is a key part of any programme of study within Higher Education but problematic skills gaps with graduate recruits exist in a number of areas including Life Sciences. To address this, we developed the Skills Passport to support students in development of and reflection upon key employability skills with a view to articulating these effectively. This tool and associated opportunities are available to all four years of our undergraduate programme, and is evaluated on a yearly basis to assess engagement. This year we have recruited two final year students to undertake this research and to investigate the attitudes of students towards their skills development and the role of both the institution and themselves in the skills development process.  Although the Skills passport was developed with Life Sciences students in mind it could easily be adapted for use elsewhere in other disciplines.

Breastfeeding and the substance dependent mother and baby – Sonya Macvicar, School of Health and Social Care

The promotion and support of breastfeeding for the substance dependent mother and baby is internationally recommended but in practice it is not without its challenges or challengers. This study developed and tested an intervention to support breastfeeding in the maternity setting.
The research identified barriers to breastfeeding continuation as low maternal self-efficacy; physical feeding difficulties associated with neonatal withdrawal and discouraging and judgemental healthcare practices. Using the theoretical concepts of behaviour change an integrated support model founded on practical, informational, psychological, person-centred and environmental components was designed.
A pilot RCT demonstrated the intervention’s feasibility and participant acceptance whilst achieving greater levels of maternal confidence in breastfeeding ability, higher rates of continued breastfeeding and a lesser need for pharmacological management of neonatal withdrawal. The study provided an original contribution in its field and through further research has the potential to address health and social inequalities.

Enhancing learning confidence for direct entry computing students – Ella Taylor Smith and Khristin Fabian, School of Computing

The Associate Student Project’s annual survey of all undergraduate School of Computing students aims to measure, among other things, the students’ confidence in facing various university tasks and situations. These confidence ratings can be compared across various groups of students, including associate students and other direct entrants. Associate students are direct entry students who completed HNDs at college, then continued their studies at Edinburgh Napier in 3rd year. Crucially, associate students matriculate as university students from their first year in college; they have access to university resources and specific events and workshops, within their colleges and at Merchiston. A longitudinal analysis of survey data revealed that, while direct entry students were less confident about their studies than students who had studied here since first year (continuing students), there was a closer parity of confidence between continuing students and associate students.

Design of a long-span Belfast truss using UK home-grown timber – Andrew Livingstone, School of Built Environment and Engineering

The Belfast truss roof form, was first recorded in the 1860s, and was widely used for industrial buildings up to the first world war, with spans ranging from 6m to 20m. This paper presents a long span UK home-grown timber Belfast truss roof system designed to Eurocode 5, with the capability of achieving a maximum clear span of 30m for industrial building use. The paper investigates the advantages of designing this structural roofing system using the bespoke timber strength class C16+, which with greater characteristic strength and density values, better fits the properties of UK grown spruce.

This project was ideal for demonstrating a computational timber connection calculation software previously created within the research group. This software allowed for parametric optimisation of the Beflast truss design.
In conclusion, this example of a 30m clear span Belfast truss roof system using bespoke timber strength class C16+ as opposed to the standard C16 strength class generated savings of:
• Timber section dimensions savings of 34.4%
• Metal fixings (bolts) savings of 47.3%
This project was completed in conjunction with industry partners BSW timber and Carbon Dynamic.

Food Security : a microbial perspective – Ian Singleton, School of Applied Sciences

Microbial contamination of fresh food produce can result in both food spoilage and human illness. Indeed, it is estimated that up to 30% of fresh produce worldwide is lost to microbially mediated food spoilage and this is especially significant in less developed economies. Given this global importance it is essential that research into novel methods to reduce microbial contamination is carried out. This presentation aims to provide an insight into the complexity of the microbial world associated with fresh food produce and the difficulties associated in reducing microbial contamination.

Why do we need chaplains in healthcare? – Austyn Snowden, School of Health and Social Care

Around the world, chaplains provide specialist spiritual care for people with complex healthcare needs. If the nature of chaplain interventions was better understood then multidisciplinary colleagues could both improve their own skills in spiritual care and better understand when to refer for specialist care.  A survey was constructed to establish what aspects of the chaplain/patient relationship were most important for patients in Scotland and Australia. Outcomes were measured with the Scottish Patient Reported Outcome Measure (Scottish PROM©). Results from 610 respondents showed the strongest correlation was between ‘being able to talk about what was on my mind’ and the Scottish PROM (rs(452) = .451, p < .0005). ‘Being able to talk about what is on my mind’ proved more important than being listened to, having faith/beliefs valued, or being understood. Given the importance placed on listening and understanding by clinicians, this original and counterintuitive finding goes some way to explaining the unique role and function of healthcare chaplaincy.

Born to be REBEL – Tiziana Susca, School of Built Environment and Engineering

The aim of my talk is to introduce the scientific activity of the Resource Efficient Built Environment Lab (REBEL), an inter-university research group, created in December 2017 and homed at Edinburgh Napier University. REBEL aims to address sustainability issues in the built environment holistically. In particular, the main strand of research of the single members of the group will be presented, as well as the main driver of our research.
The overall goal is to share with the academic community of Edinburgh Napier our research interests and perspectives, and to foster new collaborations to contribute to the further growth of our University.

Life long health begins before the cradle – Mick Rae, School of Applied Sciences

My presentation will introduce the work we are currently engaged in to further understand how the fetal environment sets the foundations of adult health.  I will describe how we have modelled the fetal environment associated with a common clinical condition, how we have demonstrated that important organ systems are permanently altered during development, how obesity could be ‘programmed prior to birth, and how todays technology is helping us move closer to being able to intervene.  As we live longer, we need to try to live long and healthy lives, and this work begins with the foundations of life long health, prior to birth.