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Jeffrey Morosoff

Associate Professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations
Hofstra University
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Professor Simon McKeown

Professor in the Institute of Modern Art in the School of Arts and Design
Teesside University
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Russell Lucas

Professor of International Relations and Global Studies
Michigan State University
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Professor Sue Backhouse

Professor of Sport Psychology and Behavioural Nutrition
Leeds Beckett University

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Video games tackle climate change

The University of Delaware recently hosted a Climate Change Video Game Jam for students that paired the ingenuity of designing a video game with activism and the use of research to address one of the world's biggest problems. The national video game design competition was the brainchild of A.R. Siders, director of the UD's Mangone Climate Change Science and Policy Hub and core faculty in the Disaster Research Center. Participants representing five universities — UD, the University of California - Irvine, Ohio University, the University of Southern California and Irvine Valley College — competed in the event at UD's Esports Arena. Eight games were submitted and ran the gamut in their design, gameplay and visual effects. They ranged from a game focused on sustainable fishing, an ocean pollution clean-up, pirates cleaning oil spills, a mermaid helping her sea creature friends and a professor collecting magical stones to address storms and sea level rise. Four games included original artwork — both hand-drawn pixel art and 3-D models — and original sound effects and music. One had voice acting by the lead developer because the team “wanted to center her voice” in the game both figuratively and literally. The students behind the latter walked away victorious. As a self-proclaimed “climate geek” and long-time gamer, the idea for such an event was a natural way for Siders to marry two of her passions while actively engaging UD’s student body in addressing environmental issues. “The Jam is a great opportunity to bring people together from totally different perspectives who are all excited about the connections across these themes,” Siders said. “Facts and charts don’t move people. They don’t inspire action or instigate change, but video games can change how people think about climate change.” Siders also hopes that the game jam helps put UD on the map as a place that does cross-disciplinary climate work. “We have excellent expertise in game design, climatology, engineering, ocean science, and environmental humanities,” Siders said. “But our real strength is our ability to put those together creatively.” Members of the media who would like to interview Siders about the Climate Change Video Game Jam or other related topics can visit her profile and click "connect" or send an email to mediarelations@udel.edu.

A.R. Siders
2 min. read

Podcast: Aston University researchers discuss how brain injury research led to a better understanding of dementia causes

Professor Roslyn Bill discusses her research into brain cell membranes with Dr Matt Derry Serious brain injuries and dementia are affected by the flow of water through a protein called aquaporin-4 in brain cell membranes Aquaporins are responsible for clearing the build-up of waste products in brain cells in a process Professor Bill likens to a ‘dishwasher for your brain’. Professor Roslyn Bill, co-founder of Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence (AIME), joins Dr Matt Derry to discuss her research into brain cell membranes in the latest Aston Originals podcast. Water moves in and out of brain cells through tiny protein channels in the cell membrane called aquaporins. One in particular, aquaporin-4, is the focus of Professor Bill’s research. In 2020, she was lead author on a paper published in prestigious journal Cell on how the channels open and close and how this can be controlled. Uncontrolled water entry into brain cells can occur after head trauma, causing swelling which leads to severe brain injuries of the type suffered by racing driver Michael Schumacher after a skiing accident. Finding drugs to control this water movement could lead to treatments to prevent brain swelling in the first place. This research into brain swelling and the contribution of aquaporins led Professor Bill to research into Alzheimer’s, a common form of dementia, which is also related to the action of aquaporins. Alzheimer’s is caused by a build-up of waste products in brain cells. In a process Professor Bill likened to a ‘dishwasher for your brain’, aquaporins are responsible for clearing this waste as we sleep. Professor Bill was selected for an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) in 2023, which is being funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The funded project will further investigate the process, and whether it might be possible to develop a drug to boost the ‘brain dishwasher’, which could be taken to slow or even prevent cognitive decline due to ageing. Bringing together this biological research with the polymer research of AIME, chemists like Dr Derry will help in the drug development and could also lead to totally different applications. Professor Bill said in the podcast to Dr Derry: “We can take the knowledge that we have of how these proteins work in cells and try and apply them to interesting applications in biotechnology. And this is where the sort of work that you (Dr Derry) do comes in, where you can develop plastic membranes, polymer membranes, and then take learning from the biology and try and make really, really good ways of purifying water, for example.” For more information about AIME, visit the webpage. The website also includes links to the previous AIME podcast and details about open positions.

Roslyn BillDr Matthew Derry
2 min. read
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Aston University pharmaceutical spin-out company shortlisted in life sciences industry awards

MESOX is a spin-out from the pharmaceutics group at Aston Pharmacy School The company partners with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to bring challenging therapeutics to market It has been shortlisted in the Medilink Midlands Awards 2024. A spin-out company from Aston University’s pharmaceutics research group has been shortlisted for a life sciences industry award. The Medilink Midlands Awards aim to showcase the very best collaborations between industry, academia and the NHS across the Midlands. The company, MESOX, founded by Dr Ali Al-Khattawi, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at Aston Pharmacy School, is competing in the Start-Up category for newly established companies that show a promising future. With in-depth expertise in particle engineering for drug delivery and pharmaceutical spray drying, MESOX uses IP-protected carriers to improve the bioavailability and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, partnering with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to bring challenging therapeutics to market. Medilink Midlands provides specialist business support to boost the region’s economic output from the life sciences industry. Working alongside the Midlands Engine and other strategic alliances, it helps stimulate additional and value-added growth of the Midlands as a prosperous community for life sciences. The awards winners will be announced at a ceremony taking place on Thursday 9 May at the Athena in Leicester. To celebrate Medilink Midlands’ 20th year anniversary of delivering business support, one finalist will be announced as the 2024 ‘Winner of all Winners’ and presented with a £5,000 prize for innovation development. Dr Ali Al-Khattawi, founder and CEO of MESOX, said: “We are excited to be nominated as a finalist for this award, which is a testament to the innovative research at Aston University that has led to MESOX and a great way to recognise the efforts of our team. “MESOX is expediting the development of life-saving therapeutics through cutting-edge carrier technologies. Our vision is to be a leading research-based pharmaceutical company in the Midlands one day and we hope this opportunity brings us a step closer to this goal.” Luke Southan, technology transfer manager at Aston University, said: “Aston University’s School of Pharmacy has always been a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship. This is most often seen through our many students who end up running their own independent pharmacy stores, but it is also the school that has created the most Aston spinouts. “MESOX is the latest example of this, and it is a company that is on track to be generating significant revenue and region impact over the next five years. This award nomination evidences the potential the company has to offer.”

Ali Al-Khattawi
2 min. read

Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day | Media Advisory

Today professional baseball commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, where the league, players and fans across the world not only honor a baseball legend but also celebrate a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for racial equality and social justice. This day marks Robinson's historic debut in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947, breaking the sport's color barrier and paving the way for future generations. Beyond its significance in sports history, Jackie Robinson Day serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of one individual's courage and determination in challenging systemic racism. Key story angles for journalists to explore include: Legacy of Jackie Robinson: Reflecting on his contributions to sports and civil rights activism. Continuing fight for racial equality in sports: Examining current initiatives and challenges in promoting diversity and inclusion. Impact of Robinson's legacy beyond baseball: Exploring his influence on other fields such as business, politics, and social activism. Diversity in Major League Baseball today: Assessing progress and remaining barriers for minority players and personnel. Educational initiatives inspired by Jackie Robinson: Highlighting programs that use his legacy to teach lessons of tolerance, resilience, and leadership. Intersection of sports and social justice: Investigating how athletes and sports organizations continue to advocate for change on and off the field. Connect with an Expert about Jackie Robinson For journalists with questions or looking to cover the history of Jackie Robinson and how he changed the game, here is a select list of experts. To search our full list of experts visit www.expertfile.com Curt Smith Senior Lecturer · University of Rochester Christopher Philips Associate Professor · Carnegie Mellon University Michael Lewis Professor of Marketing· Emory University, Goizueta Business School Mark Feinsand Sports Reporter · New York Daily News Photo Credit: The New York Public Library

2 min. read

Aston University to help Saudi Arabia turn waste into energy

Energy will help power new cities in the desert Aston University is in talks about converting waste products into vital energy Its Energy and Bioproducts Institute is experienced in the waste-to-energy sector through global collaborations. Aston University researchers are to help turn waste into energy to power new cities in the desert. The University has started talks with experts from Saudi Arabia, including those who are building two sustainable cities in the desert, called NEOM and The Line. They are to collaborate with Aston University and its Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) to explore how they can convert waste products into vital energy. The scientists and engineers are to apply their expertise to help Saudi Arabia create technology to convert discarded matter into a source of energy and other innovations such as using date palm waste to transform desert sand to allow it to retain water and grow crops. Aston University also hosted a two-day conference in March to discuss how to develop and apply the technology. The event is a key element of the UK-KSA Waste2Energy project supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office under the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF) programme and is led by senior lecturer in mechanical, biomedical and design engineering Dr Muhammad Imran. More than 70 delegates attended the conference, including representatives from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), King AbdulAziz University, The National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC). Professor Patricia Thornley, director of Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute, said: “The delegation chose to collaborate with and visit EBRI because we have common research goals, but some complementarity facilities and skills. We are looking forward to working together to develop some the shared priorities we have identified.” Tim Miller, EBRI director of engagement, added: “Aston University has extensive engagement in the waste-to-energy sector through substantial industrial and academic collaborations globally. Advancements made by institutes like EBRI in waste-to-energy technologies are continually contributing to sustainable energy development.” “The meeting provided an insightful overview of the project, emphasising the significant opportunities it offers to UK industries and academia for funding, collaboration and PhD opportunities. “Our special appreciation is extended to Naif Makki from the Ministry of Energy, Saudi Arabia and his colleagues for their valuable participation.” The event ended with a tour of the EBRI lab and biochar demonstrator plant and a visit to Kew Technology’s Sustainable Energy Centre in Wednesbury.

Patricia ThornleyTim Miller
2 min. read

Major UK tile company joins up with Aston University to digitise for the future

Shropshire-based Craven Dunnill has been in business for over 150 years The company will work with the University through a Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP) It will streamline and digitise its warehouse processes and practices as part of a long-term growth plan. The UK’s longest-operating manufacturer, supplier and importer of ceramic tiles has joined forces with Aston University in a Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP). Shropshire-based Craven Dunnill, which has been in business for over 150 years, has a large and complex supply chain, both of finished tiles and of the raw materials for manufacturing. Its customers are consumers, merchants, property developers, bathroom and kitchen retailers, in addition to architectural and building communities. A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is a sector leading KTP provider, with 80% of its completed projects being graded as very good or outstanding by Innovate UK, the national body. An mKTP focuses specifically on increasing effectiveness and improving results through better management practices. The company wants to fully streamline and digitise its processes and practices, including ordering, purchasing, stock and warehouse management, as well as delivery planning and sales tracking. It would also see the company’s different business divisions integrated. Developing an accurate real-time warehouse management system is a key part of the project as, currently, different production batches vary slightly in colour and size, making it crucial not to mix them when fulfilling orders. The company is working with Aston University’s Professor Ben Clegg and Dr Gajanan Panchal (academic lead and supervisor) from Aston Business School. Professor Clegg, a professor of operations management, has pioneered a successful methodology called Process Oriented Holonic Modelling (PrOH Modelling), a way of fully engaging employees in organisational change using systems modelling and storyboarding, that will be used to help Craven Dunnill’s employees to guide and implement new processes. Dr Panchal specialises in logistics and supply chain management, including warehouse management and optimisation. He uses a variety of approaches to comprehend and analyse problems with warehousing operations. Completing the team in the KTP associate position is Dr Olanrewaju Sanda, who has started analysing the issues in the warehouse including the data around inventory accuracy and stock selection. Working closely with management and the Aston University team, he will digitalise operational systems. Part of this will include building a digital dashboard to represent the factory and move it towards a ‘digital twin’. Simon Howells, CEO of Craven Dunnill, said: “Although the mKTP is for two years, we don’t see it as a finite project. It will improve our pace of change and our developmental dynamism. Our supply chains and processes are complex, and we know getting the best advice and expertise is going to be really crucial for the long-term growth of the company.” Professor Ben Clegg said: “We’ve been using the PrOH modelling approach in various forms for several research projects. The more people we can involve, the more successful the project tends to be. I think the company was interested in our unique combination of our knowledge of digital technologies, logistics and our expertise in organisational change.” Olanrewaju Sanda said: “The warehouse is the heartbeat of the company – everything flows in and out of there. If we can solve the high-level problems at the warehouse, it will trickle down to everything else and leave the company in the best possible position for the future.”

3 min. read

East or West – who holds the key to our collective future? Public lecture

Professor Jun Du is an applied economist with a keen interest in economic thinking, policy and business strategy Her lecture will examine the differences between Eastern and Western economic models It will take place at Aston Business School on Wednesday 24 April 2024. An influential professor of economics and expert in global trade will be giving an inaugural public lecture at Aston Business School on Wednesday 24 April 2024. Professor Jun Du is an applied economist with a keen interest in economic thinking, policy and business strategy. Her research looks into the drivers and obstacles to boosting productivity and economic growth from the perspectives of individuals, firms, industries, regions and nations. Her lecture, East, West, which is best? - State, Market and the Return of Industrial Policy, promises to be an engaging narrative journey through the contrasting economic development experiences of Eastern and Western countries. Leveraging her extensive research and personal insights, Professor Du will delve into the complex dynamics between state, policies and the twin engines of growth – entrepreneurship and innovation. Professor Du said: “With the backdrop of global challenges, technological upheavals and pressing environmental crises, we find ourselves pondering on the critical question ‘East, West: who holds the key to our collective future?’ “In my lecture I will not just be looking at the differences, but also the strengths and lessons each brings to the table in our quest for sustainable progress and shared prosperity. We will delve into the landscape of economic governance with the formidable powers of the state, the market and entrepreneurs in conflict and convergence, collectively shaping the industries of the future. “This lecture seeks to spark a conversation that encourages innovative approaches to economic governance, with the goal of ensuring lasting prosperity for generations to come. “This is an invitation to change the world. I hope to see you there.” This lecture is free of charge and open to all to attend either in person or online. Places must be booked in advance. You can sign up for this hybrid public lecture here.

Jun Du
2 min. read

Podcast: Equality must become the norm, not just a box ticking exercise

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) must become “everybody’s business” EDI can reduce pay gaps and open up opportunities for SMEs Aston University now celebrating Athena Swan Gold award for gender equality. Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) needs to become “the norm” in organisations to escape “disappointing” government criticism that it is a waste of time. That’s the guidance coming from the latest episode of ‘Aston means business’, a podcast from Aston University presented by journalist Steve Dyson. Professor Shivani Sharma, the new deputy dean of people, culture and inclusion at the University’s College of Business and Social Sciences, explained that EDI cultures must become “everybody’s business” to address the existing gender and ethnicity pay gaps. Responding to recent government criticisms of EDI schemes, Professor Sharma said: “Not enough investment has gone into these roles because, if we look at the history, it tells us that just relying on everybody to do the right thing doesn’t work.” Also interviewed in the podcast was Omar Rashid, a director of The HR Dept, a human resources franchise for Birmingham Central & Wolverhampton. Mr Rashid, who specialises in diversity and recruitment, said that government criticism of EDI initiatives was “disappointing”. But he acknowledged: “I understand where they’re coming from because, if it’s seen as a scheme, as something we’ve got to do, and it’s not done properly, then maybe it is a waste of time and a waste of money. It has to be seen as the norm.” He said people need to realise they live in a multicultural world, with a diverse workforce, supply chain and customers, and that if implemented properly the benefits of EDI are there. Mr Rashid, who is also president of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce in Birmingham, specialises in diversity and recruitment. He added: “There is opportunity there through different skills. “Each individual, whether it’s race, religion, will bring their own perspectives, their own unique skills, even people with a disability. It shouldn’t be seen as a barrier.” He said examples of a “tick box mentality” were where businesses might adopt Black History Month but do nothing for the other 11 months of the year, or provide a prayer room during Ramadan but not at any other time. He added: “When it’s tick box, it’s not worth it because you’ll have a business or someone who will do something for a short period of time. They half-heartedly did something without the conviction. Diversity shouldn’t be just a little bit here and there.” Professor Sharma went on to say that ‘world days’ such as International Women’s Day can act as a catalyst to focus attention on an issue. But she added: “It’s really important that why you’re doing that is clear, and that the strategy of raising awareness, to remove barriers to women, equitable inclusion in the workplace or in society, continues throughout the year.” She said that Aston University had recently gained an Athena Swan Gold award for promoting gender equality in higher education, but that the “scale” of the problem meant there was still lots more to achieve. She explained that proportions of women entering as students into higher education was really positive, as were degree completion rates. But she pointed to the fact that around 80 per cent of university vice chancellors identified as men, with low representations of ethnic minority women among professors. Professor Sharma added: “It will take a sustained effort to undo that over time.” She also praised the Inclusive Aston networking initiative at Aston University, with senior leaders mentoring colleagues of minority ethnic heritage. Mr Rashid said SMEs needed to look at the opportunities that a diverse workforce and culture can bring to their business. He added: “One SME business engaged with someone from an Asian background, wanted to tap into India, and guess what? He has the connections and they were able to open a branch in India.” Catch up on all of the previous ‘Aston means business’ podcast episodes here.

3 min. read

Aston University ranks amongst the best in the world for business and management in the 2024 QS World Ranking

Aston Business School has risen significantly across Business and Management Studies to 66th place in the world It follows being shortlisted for Business School of the Year by Times Higher Education The prestigious QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on academic reputation, employer reputation and citations. Aston University has risen to 66th place in the world in the 2024 QS World Rankings by Subject for Business and Management Studies. The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on academic reputation, employer reputation and citations. These latest results recognise Aston Business School as among the best in the world for business and management studies. The rankings, released today by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds, provides independent comparative analysis on the performance of more than 16,400 individual university programmes, taken by students at more than 1,500 universities in 96 locations around the world, across 55 academic disciplines and five broad faculty areas. It follows a successful period for Aston Business School, which is part of an elite group of global business schools that hold the gold standard of ‘triple-crown’ accreditation from AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, having recently been shortlisted for Business School of the Year by Times Higher Education (THE) and the QS Reimagine Education Awards, as well as success in the Shanghai rankings, which ranked Aston 13th in the UK for business administration. Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, said: “These latest rankings reinforce Aston University’s strong upward trajectory as we continue to climb the global rankings. Our recent successes reflect the concerted efforts and dedication of our exceptional academic community and stakeholders. “Strong global positioning of our Aston Business School is an integral part of the Aston 2030 Strategy that defines Aston as a leading university of science, technology and enterprise, measured by the positive transformational impact we achieve for our people, students, businesses and the communities we serve.” Professor Zoe Radnor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, said: “I am delighted to see such a strong global performance for our business and management offering here at Aston University, which confirms Aston Business School as amongst the best in the world. “This is the latest external accolade in recognition of our excellence in teaching and research and reflects our strengths in working with industry, developing ethical business practices and providing students with a world-class education.”

2 min. read