Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sport science postgraduates present research at international conference

The Harrison Rotation

Postgraduate students from the Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science have presented their research findings at the International Conference of Environmental Ergonomics.

MSc students Fiona Nation and Matt Birkett, supervised by Dr Andrew Garrett, investigated the effectiveness of short-term heat acclimation in hot conditions and its potential as a training aid for performance in cool temperate conditions that we experience in the UK.

This work has an occupational application such as the preparation of the military before embarkation to hot countries and can be applied to sports performance.


The conference, held at Action Stations Visitor Centre, Portsmouth in early July, was an international experience, with over 200 delegates from 27 countries attending.

Their work received a postgraduate award to attend the conference from W. L. Gore & Associates, who make the outdoor clothing Gore-Tex.

The poster presented at the conference is available to download here. The conference abstract will be published in the international journal Extreme Physiology and Medicine.

Five bizarre fossil discoveries that got scientists excited

Paleontologist at work - LEGO Minifigures, Series 13

By Liam Herringshaw, Lecturer in Geology & Physical Geography

From trilobites to tyrannosaurs, most fossils are of creatures with hard shells or bones. These materials don’t easily biodegrade and sediment has time to build up around them and turn them into a record of the creature that is still with us millions of years after it has died. Soft-bodied organisms like worms, on the other hand, decay rapidly and their fossil record is decidedly patchy.

In exceptional circumstances, however, their remains are preserved and sometimes in the most unusual places. With the right detective skills, palaeontologists can use such discoveries to open up whole new windows on the history of life on Earth. A recent discovery found in 50-million-year-old rocks from Antarctica has yielded a particularly incredible example: fossilised worm sperm.

It’s a great reminder that there are far stranger fossils out there than dinosaur bones. Here are some of the most bizarre specimens ever found. Read more

Grants awarded in June 2015 (over £10k)

Each month we publish a round-up of grants awarded in the Faculty of Science and Engineering over £10k. Congratulations to all staff on their awards.

The awards for June 2015 are as follows:

Dr K Earle, £12,000, Hull City Tigers Ltd, PhD Sponsorship Agreement

Mr P A Marshall, Dr C Wilcox, Dr H White£15,000, Hull City Tigers Ltd, Injury screening using the Functional Movement Screen in academy level footballers – Studentship

Prof M Wang, £62,983, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Process Intensification for Carbon Capture with new solvent

Dr A Dyson, £46,590, Office for Naval Research, Theory of Transport in Semiconductor Devices

Dr S G Maher, Dr S J Archibald, Dr A Beavis, Prof J Greenman, £30,000, Castle Hull Hospital Trust, Biophysics Research Project

False memories expert featured in BBC Radio 4 programme

Photograph montage

Professor Giuliana Mazzoni‘s work on false autobiographical memories will be among research featured in a new programme produced for BBC Radio 4.

The programme, entitled ‘Past Imperfect’, is focused on the growing understanding of how false personal memories are generated, both naturally and artificially, and their possible consequences on behaviour and decisions people make.

Professor Mazzoni’s research featured in the programme refers to the consequences of false memories on decisions about food intake.

In the programme, one of Professor Mazzoni’s studies is replicated on a small number of participants.

The original study, which was done in collaboration with Dr Alan Scoboria at the University of Windsor, CA, showed that participants who during the procedure develop false childhood memories about becoming ill after eating spoiled food, after a few weeks not only rate that food less appealing than before the procedure had taken place, but also eat that food less compared to a control food.

The programme will also discuss the general applicability of these results and the ethical implications of this type of studies.

Past Imperfect’ will be aired on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 9pm.

Here be dragons: the supermassive black hole that’s growing impossibly fast

This artist’s impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur). New observations using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile have revealed not only the torus of hot dust around the black hole but also a wind of cool material in the polar regions.

There may be more and bigger black holes out there than we thought. Do we need a map? ESO/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

By Kevin Pimbblet, Senior Lecturer in Physics

“Here be dragons” was a phrase once used on ancient maps, often accompanied by mythical sketches, to highlight an unexplored or potentially dangerous area. Astronomers might want to borrow this warning to label the centre of galaxies, which contain supermassive black holes.

There’s a lot we don’t know about these monsters – and scientists have just found one that even defies the laws that are meant to govern its growth. By growing to a huge mass at an exceptionally fast rate, this black hole indicates that there could be more – and bigger – supermassive black holes out there than we previously thought. Read more

The rise and demise of a super-armoured ‘monster worm’ from ancient China

Collinsium ciliosum

Scary-looking creature but at least it doesn’t bite. Credit: Jie Yang

By Charlotte Stephenson, PhD candidate, palaeoenvironments & palaeobotany

It was partly bald, partly covered in hair and had 15 pairs of legs, 72 spines and two antennae. It’s no wonder that worm-like creatures like Collinsium ciliosum are also known as “Hairy Collins’ Monsters”. The animal, discovered in China, lived over half a billion years ago, during the Cambrian period.

This heavily armoured creature is one of the first early animals to have developed an external skeleton specialised for self defence. It adds to a growing number of weird and wonderful fossils from this dynamic period, unravelling the mysteries of how life on Earth came to be. Read more

PhD student wins Best Poster Award at national radiation oncology conference

Clinical Bioscience

Congratulations to cancer research PhD student Bashak Onal on being awarded the Best Poster Prize at the UK Radiation Oncology Conference (UKRO).

Bashak, who is studying for her PhD in the School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, presented her work on oesophageal cancer and radiotherapy response.

Bashak’s research is based on finding proteins, the presence of which may predict how a patient will respond to radiotherapy before the treatment begins.

Such an approach may help to identify non-responding patients before radiotherapy, allowing these patients to be considered for alternative treatment. Read more

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