Students Staff

Research impact

15 December 2015

Essex big data projects feature in ESRC magazine

Filed under: Research impact — Tags: — Communications Office @ 12:28 pm

Britain in 2016Two big data projects based at Essex have been featured in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)’s annual flagship magazine.

Britain in 2016 showcases the economic and social research funded by the ESRC, and this year’s includes a feature on how data can help society to work better and businesses to compete.

The article looks at the Administrative Data Research Network, established in 2014 to allow researchers to carry out social and economic research using administrative data, and the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, set up to help companies, local authorities and academics to use data more effectively.

Dr Melanie Wright is Director of the Administrative Data Service, which co-ordinates the Administrative Data Research Network here at Essex. She told the magazine: “We set out to build a new research infrastructure, which would enable researchers to have access to incredibly rich, important and detailed data – but to do it in a way that is safe, secure, regulated and controlled, and always in the public interest.”

The three-page feature examines how the Network consulted privacy groups to address public concerns about how data are used. “Right from the beginning,” Melanie adds, “we were aware that there’s huge public concern about privacy and how government uses data collected about people – data that’s really not recorded for the purposes of research.”

The article also examines the role of the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, also established in 2014. Professor Vania Sena, Director of the Centre, based at Essex Business School, says, “There is a layer of companies, especially in our region, which would benefit from being able to analyse big data, but they don’t have the skills or technical knowledge to do this. We focus on SMEs and local government. We collect their data sources and try to merge them with additional sources of data to create a more detailed picture.”

One of the research projects it has undertaken examined what faster broadband means for local businesses – whether transactions are now made electronically, for example, and if businesses are Skyping their suppliers. The Centre also trains businesses in using data to increase productivity and efficiency.

The Administrative Data Research Network, meanwhile, has around 50 projects at various stages of development, including one which will look at the socio-economic impact of Northern Ireland’s ‘peace walls’.

Britain in 2016 is out now, and available at WH Smith, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Boots.

You can also order a copy by emailing: enquiries@azonelogistics.com

 

 

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14 July 2015

Making the most of big data

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: — Communications Office @ 2:43 pm
Professor Anthony opens the IADS conference

University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster opens the IADS conference

The potential of big data was discussed at a special conference organised by our Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS).

Analysts and researchers from across the academic, business and local government sector came together at Wivenhoe House to explore the potential of big data analytics and identify areas of potential collaboration.

IADS is a multi and interdisciplinary institute, bringing together expertise in analytics and data science from across our University.

During the conference IADS director Professor Maria Fasli explained how academics from across disciplines were working together to look at the wide range of challenges around big data and how it can be used to answer key questions in society.

The speakers also included Professor Vania Sena, from Essex Business School, who said there was a need to remove the hype from the reality around big data and the how the Essex-based ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre was focused on empowering organisations to use their data to improve their businesses and operations.

 

 

 

 

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15 June 2015

Inaugural mental health research conference with Tavistock partners

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact, What's on — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 2:23 pm

The University is hosting its inaugural annual mental health research conference with our partner, The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday 8 July.

The University’s partnership with the Trust is expanding and the theme of the event is Working Together, Making a Difference. It will bring together colleagues from the University and the Trust in a way that will mutually benefit clinical practice and research.

The aim is to make a real difference to the lives of people suffering with mental health problems, to promote resilience and positive mental health. The event will also create opportunities to form collaborative groups around mental health issues.

The themes of the conference are: Understanding People’s Experience of Mental Health, Building Resilience and Positive Mental Health and Making a Difference: Research Methods and Impact.

The event is being held at our Colchester Campus on 8 July from 9.30-4.30. Book a place using Eventbrite.

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18 May 2015

Workshops to help make sure your research connects with the right people

Filed under: Research impact, What's on — Communications Office @ 1:25 pm
Victoria and Albert Museum How to Guide

How to guides were developed as part of the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, co-curated by Dr Gavin Grindon, which were used by protesters around the world.

Workshops are being held to help our academic staff and research students identify the best way of engaging with key audiences.

Those attending will hear from Essex academics sharing their experiences and also get insights from leading organisations and companies.

Engaging the Public with Research will be held from 2pm to 5pm on Wednesday 27 May at Wivenhoe House hotel on our Colchester Campus.

Engaging with the Private Sector will be held from 1.30pm to 4.15pm at Wivenhoe House on Tuesday 9 June.

The workshops are being organised through Essex’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), part of a nationwide strategy to support research organisations to accelerate the impact of research.

The Engaging the Public with Research workshop programme includes Claire Jones, Research Associate at KCL, and former Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Leeds. Professor David Smith from the Coral Reef Research Unit at Essex will talk about involving the public in research, while Dr Lina Hakim will discuss her work  as Andrew Mellon Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Dr Gavin Grindon, Lecturer in Art History at Essex, will discuss his work as curator of the exhibition Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Engaging with the Private Sector workshop will feature Dr Steve Glowinkowski, Founder and CEO of Glowinkowski International Ltd, and Dr Kali Demes, Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate, Glowinkowski International Ltd, talking about the company’s successful partnership with Essex. Other speakers will include Dr Abhijit Sengupta from Essex Business School and Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier, Director of Research at the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and co-founder of spin-out companies UltraSoC Technologies Ltd Metrarc Ltd. A panel discussion will be chaired by Professor Geoff Wood, Dean of Essex Business School.

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11 May 2015

It’s all in a wink…or a blink

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 10:04 am
Ana Matran-Fernandez  working on the Cybathlon challenge

Ana Matran-Fernandez working on the Cybathlon challenge

Could we control our smartphones in the future with a simple wink or blink? Well this is the challenge being taken on by students at the University of Essex.

PhD students Davide Valeriani and Ana Matran-Fernandez recently took part in Hack the Brain, the first UK Hackathon dedicated to projects related to the brain and won with their EyeWink project.

The Essex duo, who are part of the University’s Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) group, together with two other participants, led the winning team which in just eight hours built a working prototype which linked up eyebrow movements to controlling a phone, via an EEG-measuring device and a computer.

“We were really proud that in such a short space of time our team had a good idea and a fully working prototype,” explained Ana.

Following the success at Hack the Brain, Davide and Ana are now hoping to develop the project into a wearable wireless device (EyeWink) which can be used for a wide range of ways to control a smartphone using combinations of winks and blinks – from changing a song while running to locating a missing phone.

EyeWink will allow users to control their phones without their hands. In the future, Davide and Ana would like to develop it for people with mobility issues, such as those who have locked-in syndrome.

The Essex BCI group, which is in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, is also taking part in the international 2016 Cybathlon championship in Zurich. Cybathlon is a tournament for parathletes who will compete in six races with the aid of human performance-enhancing technology.

One of these races involves brain-computer interfaces and the Essex Brainstormers team will be among 48 teams taking part where they will battle it out control an avatar in a race by capturing brain signals and turning them into commands.

 

 

 

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6 February 2015

Essex presence at Magna Carta conference

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Research impact — Tags: , , , — Communications Office @ 5:27 pm
Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury

Essex graduate Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was one of those participating in the Magna Carta event

Essex alumni have played a key role in an international conference marking the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

Opened by Essex graduate and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow MP, the four-day Human Rights in the Modern Day Commonwealth: Magna Carta to Commonwealth Charter conference brought together parliamentarians, experts and academics.

One event focusing on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights featured an all-Essex panel: Chair of our Human Rights Centre Professor Sir Nigel Rodley was joined by Essex Honorary Graduate and former member of staff Baroness Onora O’Neill, and Dr Corinne Lennox who graduated in 2000 with an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights.

Participants also included Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the first female Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, who graduated from Essex in 2000 with a PhD and picked up an Honorary Degree last year.

The conference was hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK at the Houses of Parliament. The programme included the practical and social understanding of rights and freedoms, protection of women and girls, FGM, the death penalty, equality, LGBT rights, freedom of speech and a free press, terrorism and the right to a fair trial.

 

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19 December 2014

SOAS and Birkbeck join Essex in CHASE

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Communications Office @ 5:15 pm

The Consortium for Humanities and the Arts, South-East England (CHASE) has welcomed two new members: SOAS, University of London, and Birkbeck, University of London.

The new members bring internationally significant research strengths in the arts and humanities to the Consortium, and will contribute to the development of a distinctive research environment within CHASE, which was founded by the University of Essex alongside the Courtauld Institute of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London, the Open University, and the Universities of East Anglia, Kent and Sussex.

CHASE hosts one of 11 new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) in the UK, and enrolled its first students in October. As part of their membership, SOAS and Birkbeck will engage with aspects of the DTP, including access for their students to its programme of skills training for doctoral researchers.

Funded by a £17m award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and more than £10m from its seven member institutions, CHASE DTP aims to create a research environment that will support a new generation of doctoral students in creating their own cultures of research and practice.

Whilst Birkbeck and SOAS will not receive studentship funding from the AHRC DTP award, their PhD students will be participating in ‘cohort development’ events supported by the AHRC grant, and the two institutions will make financial contributions to the CHASE cohort development fund.

Professor Vicky Lebeau, CHASE Director and Professor of English at the University of Sussex, says: “We are delighted to welcome Birkbeck and SOAS to CHASE. Both are unique institutions and we look forward to working with them to further develop the CHASE ethos and environment for our researchers.”

Professor Richard Black, SOAS Pro-Director (Research & Enterprise), says: “I am extremely pleased that SOAS has been accepted as a member of CHASE. The greater access to skills training this will bring will be a positive benefit for our PhD students and the wider School. I look forward to collaborating with CHASE partners in the months and years ahead.”

Professor Matthew Innes, Vice Master of Birkbeck, says: “We are delighted to join CHASE and the research environment it is developing. Our students will benefit hugely from CHASE doctoral training activities and events. Birkbeck’s unique mission and vibrant traditions of doctoral research will be strengthened by this collaboration, and we look forward enthusiastically to a creative partnership.”

To learn more about CHASE DTP or the members, partners or students, visit www.chase.ac.uk, follow @CHASE_DTP on Twitter, or email: enquiries@chase.ac.uk.

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17 November 2014

Five top tips on making an impact

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 2:18 pm

New training courses are being launched to support our researchers to show how their research is having an impact.

To coincide with the launch of the courses, our Research Impact officers Matt Bennett, Richard Gunn, and Daniel Williamson offer their top tips.

  1. Start to think about the potential impact of your research as early as possible.
  2. Be creative and innovative in writing about impact in grant applications. Funders are really interested in novel ways of generating impact.
  3. Make a plan to track and collect evidence of your impact.
  4. Take advantage of financial support for impact offered by funding bodies, especially the Research Councils.
  5. Make use of the University’s resources and experience with impact. Consult your faculty’s impact officer and attend the new impact training for researchers courses.

Our Research Impact team can offer you guidance and training on all aspects of research impact, and they can provide assistance in collecting evidence too.

Further information is available on the University’s research impact webpage.

Upcoming training includes:

  • Wednesday 26 November, 3pm to 5pm – Introduction to impact
  • Wednesday 10 December, 3.30pm to 5.30pm – Writing about impact in grant applications

Full details on the Learning and Development website

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7 November 2014

The positives of ignorance

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 5:29 pm
Dr Linsey McGoey

Dr Linsey McGoey speaking at the event

Dr Linsey McGoey, of our Department of Sociology, was the keynote speaker last month at an event in France exploring ignorance and uncertainty in commercial and governmental organisations.

The seminar, which attracted researchers and policymakers, was organised by the Centre for Society and Development – which is part of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research – in collaboration with France Stratégie, a division of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Speaking after the event, Dr McGoey explained how: “Ignorance and uncertainty are often seen in general as solely negative phenomena, but actually often ignorance can be used in quite positive ways in different organisations.

“So the aim of this evening was to understand the ways that ignorance is not simply the mere opposite of knowledge or a inevitably negative asset.”

France Stratégie was first established in 2013 as an expert body offering expertise, strategy and foresight to the Prime Minister. The organization also serves as a tool for social dialogue and civic debate on environmental, economic, and governance issues.

Find out more in a France Stratégie video (in French).

 

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28 October 2014

Robots romp to comp victory

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Research impact — Communications, CER @ 11:49 am
The winning team from our robotics lab, L-R Jason, Fang and Ben

The winning team from our robotics lab, L-R Jason, Fang and Ben

Our robotics team have scooped first prize in the staff Essex Spirit photo competition.

The team, pictured here, left to right, Jason, Fang and Ben, shared the prize with robot Baxter.

Their photograph was judged most inspiring and most successfully captured the Essex Spirit, which is bold, tenacious, inquisitive and impatient for change.

Take a look at the rest of the shortlisted photographs on flickr.

The first prize winners were presented with a £100 voucher, 2nd place, which went to the studious coot photo “go on challenge yourself” won a £50 voucher  and 3rd, which was won by the “sunrise” was presented with a £25 voucher.

Three new starters were invited in to judge the shortlisted entries with Professor Jules Pretty casting the deciding vote.

 

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