ESI postgraduate students Katie Shanks and Hasan Baig with Professor Sir Steve Smith and Dame Stephanie Shirley.

Exeter research celebrated in Impact Awards

During a glittering ceremony last night in the Great Hall the winners of the University of Exeter Impact Awards 2013 were revealed.

The University was delighted to welcome Dame Stephanie Shirley, entrepreneur and philanthropist as the guest of honour at the event, which was attended by more than 300 guests.

The event was also attended by the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Sir Steve Smith.

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Knowledge Transfer) who hosted the evening said: “Our intention in running these Awards is to provide a great opportunity to showcase research which is having an impact on society both now and in the future.

"Projects were judged based on research quality, innovation, partnership working, and significance and impact.

"The Awards also provide a fantastic platform to bring together and thank those outside of the University who have worked with us, and whose contribution is invaluable in creating our world-leading research outcomes.”

Cristina Locatelli who, together with Professor Gabriella Giannachi, won the Outstanding Impact in Arts and Culture Award said: “We are delighted our project Art Maps has been awarded such a prestigious recognition.

"We feel it is a testimony to the hard work of researchers and professionals from a varied range of disciplines, coming together in the firm belief digital technologies can not only extend access to art collections to people of all ages and backgrounds around the world, but also enrich their engagement with arts with new and exciting dimensions, which we are just starting to explore.”

Professor Gabriella Giannachi added: “This has been a truly interdisciplinary project, involving researchers in Computer Science; Digital Humanities; Human Computer Interaction; Performance Studies and New Media; as well as three departments at Tate (Tate Online; Tate Education and Tate Research); and, on numerous occasions, the general public, who helped us to shape ideas over the last two years. Everybody in the team is thrilled to have received this year’s impact award in the Art and Culture category as this reinforces our belief in the value of interdisciplinary collaboration to research new technologies so as to raise awareness about art and culture among diverse user groups.”

The winners of each category are as follows:-

Arts and culture

Art Maps: the development of a new crowdsourcing tool

A new crowdsourcing app developed with the Tate Gallery allows users to explore more than 67,000 artworks and relate them to the places, sites and environments they encounter in daily life.

Art Maps users can pinpoint the locations of particular images, identifying the viewpoints used by artists, and allowing others to find out more about the location they are in, and the artworks themselves. The app also analyses users’ locations, displaying works associated with that location.

Art Maps is an interdisciplinary project between Tate, the Centre for Intermedia, and the University of Nottingham's Department of Computer Science.

It is funded by RCUK.


Simpleware – image based modelling tools for industry

Since Simpleware was founded by Professor Philippe Young in 2000 the company has seen a 600 per cent growth in revenue, selling to high profile customers such as NASA, the US Naval Research Laboratory, and Siemens.

The twenty five-strong team have won numerous awards in recent years including two Queen’s Awards (one for Enterprise one for Innovation) in 2012 and 2013.

The company develops, markets, and distributes world-leading software solutions for the conversion of 3D image data into computer models used for design and simulation.

Health and wellbeing

Judging the value of healthcare treatments: getting the outcomes right for patients

This project assisted national and international bodies such as the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, who are faced with increasing uncertainty on the funding of new technologies, with their decision making.

Medicines and other health technologies should prove how they lead to patient-relevant outcomes, such as survival or quality of life.

Spiralling research and development costs and societies’ desire for faster access to innovative treatments have led to shorter clinical trials that assess surrogate (eg, blood pressure or tumour response) rather than patient relevant outcomes.

Policy and education

Rewriting education for teachers: improving professional understanding and practice

Learning to write is one of the most important skills a young person learns – it is a gatekeeper to future economic wellbeing. Yet achievement in writing has remained stubbornly resistant to policy initiatives and professional intervention.

The Centre for Research in Writing has provided the first evidence that embedding grammar within the teaching of writing significantly increases the rate of writing improvement.

Through extensive professional development with teachers and a partnership with Pearson Education, the project has changed the professional understanding of writing tutoring and altered classroom practice.

Public engagement

Past Caring: a study of bereaved carers, by carers, for carers, with carers

A carer-led team supported by researchers have studied how carers experience bereavement after a long-term caring role. There is little research into this area and no research that has directly involved carers on the project.

The project was started following requests from carers, with the team being supported by who provided research expertise, resources and training in research and digital story telling.

The research has resulted in a DVD of digital stories which is being used in the education of health care and social care professionals.

Regional partnership

Optimising emergency stroke treatment to reduce disability

In collaboration with the South West Peninsula Heart and Stroke Network, the PenCLAHRC team has helped deliver a four-fold increase in the number of stroke patients treated. They have halved the time it takes to deliver thrombolysis at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

The project uses innovative computer simulation and data analysis to model stroke pathways and identify changes which provide the most benefit to patients.

Stroke is the third greatest cause of death and greatest cause of adult disability in the UK. The only licensed treatment is thrombolysis with the ‘clot-busting’ drug altepase, which significantly improves outcomes but is critically time-dependant.

Sustainable futures

There were combined winners in this category, with Hasan Baig and his supervisor Professor Tapas Mallick both taking home the honours.

Combining solar energy and biomass: unlocking a new energy source for rural communities

The combination of solar and biomass energy is being harnessed by Prof Tapas Mallick’s team to generate an uninterrupted off-grid power supply which could benefit rural communities.

Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems integrated with bio- and hydrogen-energy could provide an effective energy source in areas with poor access to traditional energy systems but lots of solar energy and biomass.

The group is developing efficient BioCPV modules to integrate these technologies through national and international, academic and industrial collaboration, with the development of smart control technologies.

Windows of the future: developing advanced photovoltaic technology

Miniaturised prototype solar cells being built by Hasan Baig at the Environment and Sustainability Institute are four to five times more effective at capturing solar irradiance than conventional flat panels.

By reducing the cell size, the amount of silicon required is also reduced, lowering carbon footprint, whilst generating higher energy for a given surface area.

Working under the supervision of Prof Tapas Mallick, Hasan’s efforts have been central to the development of building integrated concentrating photovoltaic (BiCPV) technology.


Fourth generation biofuels: programming bacteria to produce retail-grade diesel

Cutting-edge research in synthetic biology has designed bacteria that produce oils identical to diesel.

The breakthrough, led by Professor John Love and backed by Shell, is important because the bacterial fuel can substitute directly for retail petroleum products.

These biofuels will help mitigate rising CO2 emissions and could also solve the fuel-or-food dilemma, as the bacteria thrive on waste.

This breakthrough technology is the focus of a major project involving academic and industry groups from the UK and USA.

Best postgraduate impact

A new event recognition system for water distribution networks

Significant cost savings and improved customer service are being achieved by water and wastewater services provider United Utilities after they worked with the University on a pioneering event recognition system developed by PhD student Dr Michele Romano, Professor Zoran Kapelan and Kevin Woodward.

United Utilities use the system to rapidly and reliably identify events such as water leakages or burst pipes, allowing staff to resolve problems quickly.

The technology enables a more proactive approach in delivering an improved service to seven million customers and is expected to have worldwide impact once more widely available

After the ceremony Sir Steve said: "I was delighted not only by the quality of the research on display but also by the real difference it was making to improving understanding of some of the biggest challenges we face, be they regional, national or global. The evening was a great success and my personal congratulations go to all the winners who thoroughly deserve their trophy."

The University was also pleased to welcome Wates Group, one of the UK’s largest building and construction companies, as our main partner for this year’s event.

Gary Campbell-Dykes from Wates concluded: “We were extremely pleased to be able to work with the University on this initiative and would like to add our tribute to the winners and all the finalists for their outstanding research projects. It was a fantastic night for all involved.”

Date: 11 December 2013

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