The Role of Science in Society and Policy

Initiator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Anna Gilmore, David Miller
University of Bristol: Stephan Lewandowsky
Cardiff University: Lorraine Whitmarsh
University of Exeter: Jason Reifler

Project outcomes

  • Created a highly interdisciplinary team that would not have been put together without the GW4 initiator funding
  • Group has submitted an application to the GW4 Accelerator Fund

The Impact of Offshore Windfarms on Marine Organisms

Initiator Fund

Project period: May – July 2014

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Phillipe Blondeli
University of Bristol: Andy Radford, Daniel Robert
Cardiff University: Roger Falconer
University of Exeter: Rick Bruintjes, Steve Simpson, Darren Croft, Matt Witt, Phillipp Thies

Project outcomes


renewable energy
Offshore renewable energy is gaining importance as a valuable alternative to hydrocarbon energy, and the UK is a world leader in the construction of offshore windfarms aiming to provide 33 GW of energy by 2020. This energy may provide sustainable and clean energy with minimal harm to the environment, however, two important questions remain unanswered:

  1. What is the impact of large-scale offshore windfarm construction on marine organisms, especially with regards to high impact pile driving?
  2. Within windfarms fishing will be limited. How can the value of these sites be maximised, e.g. co-locating aquaculture?

Piling Rig set up

This project has allowed testing of new ideas in the real world which will lead to high impact interdisciplinary publications. A valuable research network of world-known scientists has been created and two research grant proposals were produced and submitted to the Catapult Environmental Programme. There are plans to submit future NERC large grants applications and for GW4 studentships.

 

 

 

Plant-Soil Responses to Environmental Extremes

Initiator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Kevin Briggs
University of Bristol: Claire Grierson
Cardiff University: Mike Harbottle
University of Exeter: Sarah De Baets

Project outcomes

  • Created and shared information created at an event including an equipment and facilities summary, comments related to key research questions, details of four Accelerator proposal outlines, delegate research interests, and initial thoughts
  • Followed up with an online survey for delegates to register their interest in developing one of the four accelerator proposals generated from the event
  • Group to develop a full accelerator proposal
  • New links between researchers were established during the event

 

Nanoscale Sensors for Healthcare and the Environment [NANOSENSE]

Accelerator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – April 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Philip Shields, Duncan Allsopp
University of Bristol: Martin Cryan
Cardiff University: Peter Smowton
University of Exeter: Geoff Nash

Project outcomes
Low cost, portable sensors are becoming commonplace for example in mobile phones that monitor temperature, pressure and humidity. A new generation of sensors is urgently required that can rapidly test for diseases such as bacterial infections, monitor glucose or pollutant gases.

The community was formed from four internationally renowned optoelectronics research groups at Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. The University of Bath’s world leading Gallium Nitride (GaN) nanorod technology was distributed amongst all partners. Characterisation, modelling and device design was initiated. This developed a detailed understanding of the potential of GaN nanorod technology for use in nanoscale sensors including fabrication approaches for optical waveguides.

We are developing applications for ESPRC grants on GaN-Graphene integrated structures and GaN nanorod based sensors. A number of journal and conference papers have been produced. We have presented two papers at a major US conference in New York.

GW4 Synthetic Biology Showcase

Initiator Fund

Project period: May – July 2014

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: David Leak
University of Bristol: Paul Race
Cardiff University: Dafydd Jones
University of Exeter: Thomas Howard

Project outcomes
Synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to the understanding and design of biological systems. It is an inherently multidisciplinary research area covering a broad range of challenges including biofuels and bioenergy, the transition towards a bioeconomy, medical and health-care advances, food security and advanced materials manufacture. As such synthetic biology underpins many of the GW4’s grand challenges.

This project has established a GW4 synthetic biology strategy group comprising researchers from all four universities which are now poised to push ahead with cross-institute collaborations. Further community events are planned in order to explore collaborative ideas and identify further funding. Potential funding has been identified, especially in the areas of security and future cities, where Research Councils UK, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and H2020 calls are expected in the next 12 months.

 

GW4 Environmental Humanities

Initiator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Axel Goodbody
University of Bristol: Peter Coates
Cardiff University: Ria Dunkley
University of Exeter: Nicola Whyte

Project outcomes

  • Group intends to submit an application to the GW4 Accelerator Fund
  • Plan to write a political pamphlet from an interdisciplinary arts and humanities perspective

Flexible Formwork

Initiator Fund

This project has been awarded Accelerator funding for the Prototypical Iterations in the Built Environment community.

Project period: May – July 2014

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath:
John Orr
University of Bristol: John Macdonald
Cardiff University: Diane Gardner
University of Exeter: Prakash Kripakaran

Project outcomes
This project has developed a new GW4 community with a shared vision to change the way that all structures are designed and operated within the built environment. This is seen as crucial to the success of achieving global sustainability in the face of growing populations and increasing urbanisation. The community has begun to identify new areas of work and funding routes.

 

Climate Extremes and Variability – Evaluating the Risks (CLEVER)

Initiator Fund

Project period: May – July 2014

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Nicholas Mitchell
University of Bristol: Dan Lunt
Cardiff University: Ian Hall
University of Exeter: Tim Lenton

Project outcomes
This project will focus on quantitatively evaluating the risks of extremes in climate and its variability. These extremes (floods, droughts and heat waves) pose potentially the largest climate change risks that societies need to manage, better guidance is urgently needed. The central idea will be to use an integrated network of observational and paleoclimate data, along with climate model simulations, to elucidate the relationship between the mean climate state and climate variability across a range of timescales, and to identify possible precursors of climate tipping points that could form the basis for early warning systems.

This project has developed new collaborations and a stronger community. The group have begun working on a synthesis paper and have identified key research opportunities for GW4 that will make a successful NERC large grant proposal. Links between paleoclimate modelling research within GW4 and state-of-the-art predictive model development at the Met Office has also been strengthened.

AVaRICE: Algal Valorisation & Remediation of metal Ion Contaminated Effluents

Accelerator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – April 2015

This project has been developed from the Initiator funded Algal Valorisation and Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage community.

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Christopher Chuck
University of Bristol: Tom Scott
Cardiff University: Devin Sapsford
University of Exeter: Chris Bryan
Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Mike Allen

Project outcomes

Our aim was to investigate the use of algae native to contaminated mine sites to remove metals from acid mine drainage (AMD) and then convert the algae to biofuels. This would remediate the water while simultaneously providing a sustainable source of value products. The overall idea is that AMD costs significant sums of money to treat: the AVaRICE process would not only treat the water but would also create valuable products (biofuels and recovered metals) to offset the treatment costs – literally and figuratively a green technology.

The key objectives were:

  1. To what extent can algae grow (produce biomass) and remediate (remove metals) the AMD from the former Wheal Jane tin mine?
  2. What metals are found in the Wheal Jane AMD and in what quantities?
  3. What valuable products can be produced from the algal biomass?

The core objectives have been met with algal cultivation completed at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and DNA harvested from both Wheal Maid and Wheal Jane water samples processed. Next-generation sequencing analysis is underway, and extensive HTL test work has been completed. Additional work was undertaken on investigating the off-line growth of algal biomass, and adsorption and desorption of zinc.

There has been significant national and international interest from the media, industrial and academic partners. We have been invited by Shanks/REYM based in the Netherlands to visit their facilities and explore future collaborations. We are also looking at UK-USA collaborative links with Arizona State University.

Numerous papers and grant applications have been completed or are in progress, this includes an expression of interest for the Innovate UK Biotechnology Catalyst Early Stage Translation call.

As the community has grown, partners have joined together to pursue common interests allied to or outside of the AVaRICE concept, leading to many other joint research avenues.

Little of what has been achieved, could have been done by a single group or institution. Huge progress towards proving the concept of the AVaRICE process has been made, and the community is highly motivated and determined to pursue the development of AVaRICE further.

More information: avarice.org.uk
Follow AVaRICE on Twitter:
@AVaRICE_gw4