News: November 2018

Chemsex and PrEP reliance are fuelling a rise in syphilis among men who have sex with men

No one is entirely sure about the origins of syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The first recorded outbreak in Europe appeared during the 1495 invasion of Naples, where it led to widespread disease and death, particularly among troops on the French side. Later, disbanded armies helped to spread syphilis, the “great pox”, across Europe, where the disease rapidly became endemic.

Transmitted from person-to-person primarily through sexual contact, the first symptom of syphilis to appear is usually a small, round and painless skin ulcer, referred to as a canker, at the site of infection. This canker will eventually heal and disappear but the bacteria remain, circulating in the blood and potentially leading to severe health consequences, including heart disease, dementia and blindness.

This article by Simon Bishop, Lecturer in Public Health and Primary Care, at the School of Health Sciences is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 30 November 2018

Rare woodland wildlife at risk because of 50-year-old tree felling rules

This article by Craig Shuttleworth, Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, at the School of Natural Sciences is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article

In the UK it is illegal to deliberately kill or injure red squirrels, disturb them while they are using a nest, or destroy their nests. Yet, although the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act provides these protections, there is a legal anomaly in England and Wales – one that can potentially undermine the conservation of the red squirrel, along with every other rare and endangered forest plant or animal species. Although rare woodland species are protected, the habitat they dwell in is generally not.

Publication date: 30 November 2018

What seabirds can tell us about the tide

When the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) set out to tag razorbills, their aim was to track their behaviour and movements along the coast of North Wales. The tag data revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. "We saw this as an opportunity to re-use the data and test if the birds might be drifting with the tidal current," says Matt Cooper, a Master of Oceanography graduate from Bangor University in Wales. It turns out they were, according to a new study led by Cooper that shows the potential of using seabirds to measure ocean currents. The results are published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Ocean Science.

Publication date: 29 November 2018

Why are we getting these warm wild winds?

Is there a cold winter on the way?

Whilst our weather has warmed in the last couple of days with the arrival of mild westerly winds from the Atlantic, there are indications further afield which may point to a cold winter for Wales.

Scientists monitoring ocean conditions over the tropical Pacific Ocean have detected a warming of the surface water which is a strong indicator of the onset of a major global climate event, known as an “El Nino”.

Publication date: 29 November 2018

Virtual Reality enables you to swim with sharks - in Welsh!

"Ocean Rift", one of the world’s most popular Virtual Reality programmes is the first to be available in Welsh for use with VR headsets. (English version here).

Created by Dr Llŷr ap Cenydd, a lecturer at Bangor University’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Ocean Rift was one of the first programmes to be released alongside the Samsung Gear VR headset, and has become one of the most popular with an estimated 2.5 million downloads since 2013.

Publication date: 28 November 2018

What planet Earth might look like when the next supercontinent forms – four scenarios

The outer layer of the Earth, the solid crust we walk on, is made up of broken pieces, much like the shell of a broken egg. These pieces, the tectontic plates, move around the planet at speeds of a few centimetres per year. Every so often they come together and combine into a supercontinent, which remains for a few hundred million years before breaking up. The plates then disperse or scatter and move away from each other, until they eventually – after another 400-600 million years – come back together again.

This article by Mattias Green, Reader in Physical Oceanography, Bangor UniversityHannah Sophia Davies, PhD Researcher, Universidade de Lisboa , and Joao C. Duarte, Researcher and Coordinator of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Group, Universidade de Lisboa is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 27 November 2018

Networking event in Manchester, 6th of November

SASHI co-investigators and associates met with others interested in developing suicide and self harm research in Manchester to identify important research questions and discuss future opportunities.

Publication date: 16 November 2018

Guest Lecture from Professor Robert Hoehndorf, KAUST, Saudi Arabia

Publication date: 15 November 2018

How to help people with dementia retain the power of choice

Deterioration in the ability to produce complex speech or understand what people are asking, can make it difficult for people with dementia to make choices in conventional ways. It can be simple things like deciding which clothes to wear, or what to have for dinner. But when a person is in the more advanced stages of dementia, and may not be able to speak at all, it can be difficult for those caring for them to work out what their preferences would be.

To help the estimated 280,000 people with dementia who are living in UK care homes, family members are often asked what their loved ones would prefer and notes are made by staff. But we know that people’s preferences can change, sometimes on a daily basis, and are hard to predict even by people who know them really well.

This article by Rebecca Sharp, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Zoe Lucock, PhD researcher at the School of Psychology is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 15 November 2018

Poorer children priced out of learning instruments but school music programmes benefit the wider community

Years of austerity in the UK have bitten away at school budgets, and the arts have suffered heavily. Schools can no longer afford to employ teaching assistants, so it is little wonder that local authorities have cut school music funding.

Schools are responsible for their own budgets, and musical instrument lessons that were traditionally subsidised by councils have been cut down in some districts. Now, the Musicians’ Union has found that children living in the poorest areas are no longer getting the exposure to music and the arts that they so often only get in school. With parents being asked to subside instrument lessons, 41% of low-income families have said that they cannot do so due to their limited household budget.

This article by Eira Winrow, PhD Research Candidate and Research Project Support Officer and Rhiannon Tudor Edwards, Professor of Health Economics, at the Centre for Health Economics and Medicinces Evaluation is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 13 November 2018

University to stem decline of RE teachers

Bangor University is to contribute towards increasing the number of teachers available to teach Religious Education and improve the teaching materials available to both teachers and students.

Religious Education has been facing a crisis in recent years, with teachers feeling increasingly underqualified to teach an ever-changing syllabus at GCSE and A level, while recruitment of new graduates as subject teachers is failing to keep up with demand.

A new three-year project at the University’s School of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences will collate and develop new teaching materials for use by both teachers and students and encourage more current university students to become subject teachers.

Publication date: 7 November 2018

Improbable vision

Publication date: 6 November 2018

Elite Sport; have you got what it takes?

Research in School of Sport Health and Exercise Sciences has partnered closely with England and Wales Elite Cricket squad. 

Publication date: 5 November 2018

More experiments may help explore what works in conservation

All over the world, countless conservation projects are taking place, attempting to achieve aims from reducing habitat loss, to restoring populations of threatened species. However there is growing awareness that conservationists have not always done a good enough job at evaluating whether the things they do really work. But our new study shows that simply experimenting could change this.

This article by Julia P G Jones, Professor of Conservation Science, School of Natural Sciences is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 5 November 2018

British Science Association | October 2018 newsletter

Publication date: 1 November 2018