News at Stirling The University of Stirling's Communications and Media team aims to work positively and closely with the media, providing a service that will help media professionals to cover news, personalities and events at the University in an informed manner. News at Stirling University of Stirling swimmer, Cameron Brodie, selected as Team GB flag bearer for opening ceremony at World University Summer Games in Chinese Taipei

University of Stirling swimmer and Commonwealth Games medallist, Cameron Brodie, was at the forefront of British student sport this weekend after being selected as the Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the 29th FISU Summer World University Games 2017 in Chinese Taipei. 

The Scottish swimmer was the official representative of the GB team when the World University Games (WUGS) got underway with a celebratory welcome at Taipei Stadium on Saturday.

Brodie, 24, is making his second WUGS appearance having competed two years ago in Gwangju and will be looking to star in both the 100m and 200m butterfly events.

A two-time Commonwealth Games representative and part of the Scottish team which won silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay final on home soil in 2014, Brodie has also medalled regularly at domestic level.

Winner of the 200m butterfly title at the 2015 British Championships, he added another silver earlier this year in Sheffield behind Olympian James Guy and will be looking to use the WUGS to qualify for Team Scotland’s 2018 Commonwealth Games team.

The International Sports Scholarship Programme (ISSP) athlete also recently graduated with a Masters in sports management and spoke of his pride at being handed the duty of flag bearer.

He said: “What an honour, it came as a total surprise. To get the call, ahead of so many incredible athletes – I was a little bit in awe of them, the fact that I got to lead them all out at the Opening Ceremony – I was buzzing for it.”

“I’ve never been to an Opening Ceremony before, so it was a new experience and to be flag bearer was be even better.”

Held biennially in major cities across the globe, the World University Games sees athletes come together to compete across 22 sports with the Summer Universiade the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics.

At the last Games, Team GB recorded its biggest medal haul in ten years, with 12 per cent of athletes medalling – a total of 11 podium finishes split between three gold, four silver and four bronze.

Over 110 athletes will represent GB at this year’s Games which run from August 19-30 with Brodie one of 16 swimmers in the squad.

A mature professional who is well adapted to the racing environment, Brodie trains in the pool for up to 20 hours a week while also setting an example to those around him, young and old.

Andy Hibbert, GB Chef de Mission said: “Cameron is a fantastic representative for Great Britain and I am delighted he was been chosen as our flag bearer for Taipei 2017. He embodies the values of our team and is a role model for younger athletes on the team.”

Brodie leads out Team GB at World University Games Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:16:00 +0000 With the World University Summer Games set to begin this weekend, two County Tyrone sports personalities are making waves at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.

University of Stirling swimmer Calum Bain, from Dungannon in County Tyrone, will this week fly out to Chinese Taipei ahead of the Summer Games, which run from 19-30 August. And the 20-year-old’s progress will be closely monitored by compatriot Cathy Gallagher, from nearby Donaghmore, in her role as Stirling’s Director of Sport.

Bain, a second-year accountancy student, is part of Stirling’s internationally renowned high performance swimming programme and, over the past year, has been training with coach Bradley Hay with an eye on making Team Ireland’s Summer Games squad.

After impressing with a gold-winning performance at the Irish national trials, and posting a new Ulster record and consideration time for next year’s Commonwealth Games at the British Summer Championships, the former Royal School Dungannon pupil was rewarded with a call-up and is in good shape ahead of Taipei.

“When I sat down with Brad at the start of the year, everything was geared towards Taipei so to make the team has justified all the hard work and I’m just excited to get out there, not just to race but to take in the atmosphere as well – especially the opening ceremony,” he said.

“I’ve competed at national competitions before but this will be my first senior international event so I’m excited about being exposed to such a high level of competition and testing myself.”

Although he focuses primarily on 50m events, he will be part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team where some old partnerships will be renewed and past rivalries rekindled.

“There are actually quite a few guys I’ve raced with and against going to the Games, and even a couple from my Ulster juniors relay team, so it’ll be good to team-up with them again as well as take on a few familiar faces.”

Bain’s transition to senior international competition follows his decision to join the University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and high performance swimming squad last year.

It was a decision made all the easier with the University’s reputation for producing Olympic-level athletes, with four swimmers achieving three medals in Rio last year. The team also secured a further three medals at this summer’s FINA World Championships in Budapest, including a gold for Duncan Scott in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

“My main reason for choosing Stirling was obviously the sport, but also how the University could help me combine my swimming with my studies,” Bain continued.

“My swimming has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years and I’m continually making progress and hitting targets which is largely down to the high quality of coaching and programming we receive.

“However, being away from home has also made me a lot more independent and focused on what I need to do and I’m much better organised in terms of balancing the training and competing with the academic work. This is partly down to being on the scholarships programme but also just a result of how things work at Stirling.

“Stirling’s a nice historic city with plenty to offer and being from a smaller town it had everything I was looking for so that, along with the swimming programme and support that comes with, made it a pretty easy decision for me.”

With over 10,000 athletes and 170 competing countries, the World University Summer Games, or Universiade, is the second largest multi-sport event on the globe, behind the Olympics. It brings together the world’s leading student athletes for 12 days of intense competition alongside a variety of cultural and educational experiences.

Ms Gallagher was appointed Stirling’s Director of Sport in March 2016 after holding positions at Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. She will be keeping a close eye on Bain and Team Ireland’s progress in Taipei.

“I always had a passion and drive for sport at university having been involved in three clubs whilst at Queen’s University Belfast so I understand the impact sport can have on students and I’m thrilled for Calum and his development over his first two years with us,” she said.

“Calum’s selection is testament to his hard work and natural talent and it’s great we’ve been able to support his progress both in and out of the pool.

“We believe sport has a huge role to play in the development of students as individuals as well as athletes, meaning both the social and academic sides of university life are promoted just as much as the performance element.

“That’s what makes the role so interesting and I’m immensely proud to be leading sport at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence which commits us to delivering excellence in everything we do. Whether that’s developing Olympic athletes or encouraging health and wellbeing at a recreational level we aspire to set standards in the delivery of sport and physical activity in the university sector.”

Ms Gallagher was Team Ireland’s Head of Delegation to the World University Summer Games in 2011 (Shenzhen), 2013 (Kazan) and 2015 (Gwangju), and was part of the Irish team at four other Games. Therefore, the former St Joseph’s Grammar School pupil has a long association with the competition and will be cheering on Bain as well as six other Stirling athletes who will represent Teams GB and Switzerland in swimming, football and golf, demonstrating the strength of the University’s successful high performance programmes 

She added: “The World University Summer Games is a wonderful event and a great opportunity for Calum and the other students to test themselves at the very top of international student sport.

“As well as the competition itself, they will enjoy such memorable cultural and interpersonal experiences so I’m delighted their hard work, and that of their coaches, has been rewarded with selection.

“Their ability to combine studying with such committed training and competing is an inspiration for everyone at the University and I know they will thrive in the unique arena of the Games.”

County Tyrone duo making waves at Stirling Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:30:57 +0000 Scientists at the University of Stirling have discovered a new type of plant growing in Shetland – with its evolution only having occurred in the last 200 years.

The new plant is a descendant of a non-native species, the yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), which colonised the United Kingdom in Victorian times. It has evolved through the doubling of the number of chromosomes, known as genome duplication or polyploidy.

The plant, referred to as ‘Shetland’s monkeyflower’, produces yellow flowers with small red spots. It is larger than the typical monkeyflower and its flowers are more open.

Researchers say the finding is significant as it shows that a major evolutionary step can occur in non-native species over a short period of time, rather than over thousands of years.

Associate Professor Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin said: “Evolution is often thought to be a slow process taking thousands or millions of years. Yet we show that a major evolutionary step can occur in a couple hundred years.”

A team from Stirling’s Biological and Environmental Sciences, working with Dr James Higgins at the University of Leicester, carried out tests after a “chance encounter” with the plant while conducting fieldwork near Quarff, Shetland.

Led by postdoctoral researcher Dr Violeta Simon-Porcar, they measured the plant’s genome size and surveyed 30 populations of monkeyflowers from Shetland and across the United Kingdom.

The plants were then grown under controlled conditions and their floral and vegetative characteristics were measured to compare the effect of genome duplication in morphology and flowering time.

The team also conducted genetic analyses to investigate the relationship between the new polyploid plant and other populations in the Shetland Isles.

Genome duplication is common in the evolutionary history of flowering plants and many crops – such as potatoes, tobacco and coffee – are polyploids. However, it is rare to witness the phenomenon in recent history.

While genome duplication seems to be particularly common in hybrids between different species, the new plant has doubled its genome without hybridisation and has the same species as both its father and mother.

The Stirling team say that young polyploids, such as the new plant, provide an opportunity to investigate the early stages of an important evolutionary process.


Dr Vallejo-Marin said: “The fact that the new polyploid involves a non-native plant is poignant, given the fact that human activities are transporting all sorts of animal and plant species well beyond their native habitats. This raises the possibility that non-native species may increasingly participate in major biological processes, including the formation of new types pf plants and animals.”

He continued: “We found that genome duplication has immediate effects on the morphology and life strategy of this plant. Plants with double the DNA in their cells produce larger flowers, larger leaves, thicker stems, but they also take longer to flower.

“Although these type of changes are predicted by theory, demonstrating them is complicated as in older polyploids the parental species may be missing or may have evolved since the separation of the polyploid and non-polyploid lineages.”

The paper, Recent autopolyploidisation in a wild population of Mimulus guttatus (Phrymaceae), has been published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

Dr Simon-Porcar was funded through a postdoctoral fellowship from Plant Fellows.

University of Stirling team discovers new plant in Shetland Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:59:00 +0000 The effect of climate change on historic sites will be among the issues debated at an international heritage conference hosted at the University of Stirling.

Preserving Scotland’s iconic attractions – such as Edinburgh Castle and Orkney’s Skara Brae – in the face of unpredictable weather patterns will feature in the discussion topics at the inaugural Global Challenges in Cultural Heritage Conference, on 1-2 September.

The Conference, held as part of the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, will celebrate the recently-formed partnership between the University, The Palace Museum in Beijing and Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Professor Richard Oram, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “Cultural heritage faces many challenges, many of which are replicated across the world. While local circumstances may vary, there are opportunities to share knowledge and experiences, and to collaborate in finding solutions to these global problems.


“It is particularly fitting that the inaugural conference is being hosted here in the Stirling area – a pivotal location in Scotland’s past and itself a prominent historical site.”

Experts presenting at the two-day conference include HES’s Head of Science and Technical Research, Ewan Hyslop, who will discuss “climate change impacts on our cultural heritage”. He will outline HES’s approach to managing the effects of climate change on the organisation’s estate of 336 “properties in care” across Scotland.

Meanwhile, Meredith Wiggins, of Historic England, and HES’s David Harkin, will present on the “conservation challenges and opportunities” raised by unpredictable weather patterns across the globe.

And Katie Mills, of the University of Manchester, will discuss the impact of weather conditions on prehistoric rock art, and medieval ruins and sculptured stones.

Climate change impact on top historic sites explored Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:26:00 +0000 The University of Stirling's High Performance Swimming Coach, Ben Higson, has announced his decision to leave his position at the University to take up the role as National Senior Team Head Coach and Head Coach of the National Centre (Dublin) for Swim Ireland. Higson has been in the position since the 2013/14 season and coached a number of athletes to World, Olympic and Commonwealth success during that time.

Scottish Swimming Performance Director, Ally Whike commented

"Ben has been an integral part of the development of the University of Stirling Performance Swimming Programme alongside his colleague Steven Tigg and has had a tremendously positive influence, helping to build and implement a quality coaching programme that delivered success at the very top level of our sport. The University in partnership with Scottish Swimming will ensure that the high quality coaching programme offered at Stirling will continue with minimal disruption. Scottish Swimming is grateful for the contribution that Ben has made to the sport in Scotland over the past years and leaves with our best wishes for the future”.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, commented

"We recognise that Ben’s significant contribution to swimming at Stirling, and to Scottish Swimming, has led to this opportunity and we wish him well as he takes this next step in his career. The University of Stirling in partnership with Scottish Swimming is already working on a succession plan to ensure the highest level of continuity for our athletes and will consolidate this before commencing a worldwide recruitment process."

Steven Tigg and Brad Hay continue to be an integral part of the programme and we remain committed to the delivery of world class coaching and the development of elite swimming at the University of Stirling.

Ben Higson secures Swim Ireland National Coach position Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:21:35 +0000 Scots’ daily consumption of 110 tonnes of sugar from cut-price food and drink is fuelling obesity, a University of Stirling academic has warned.

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, spoke out after Cancer Research UK calculations suggested Scottish people devour the equivalent amount of sugar packed into 4.3 million chocolate bars – or 3.1 million cans of cola – every day, through unhealthy food and drink bought on special offers.

Cancer Research UK said they carried out the research to highlight why Scotland is in the grip of an obesity epidemic.

Professor Bauld, a Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert, said: “Obesity is the unpalatable cost of the cheap deals routinely served up in our shops.

“It leaves a bad taste to know such an enormous amount of discounted sugar is lining our stomachs and weighing so heavily on the nation’s health.

“We need urgent action now to prevent thousands of cancers in the future.”


With obesity linked to 13 different types of cancer, Cancer Research UK called for government restrictions on multi-buy offers and related promotions on unhealthy food.

These promotions account for around 40 percent of all expenditure on food and drinks consumed at home in Scotland.

Scotland also has among the highest obesity rates in Europe, according to NHS Health Scotland information. Cancer Research UK commissioned a YouGov survey that suggested around seven in 10 Scots supporting restrictions on multi-buy offers on high-fat and sugar-laden foods.

Professor Bauld added: “When it publishes its obesity strategy, the Scottish Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to introduce measures that will have a profound impact on our lives.

“We know that less healthy foods and drinks are more likely to be bought on promotion than healthier foods and anyone who regularly navigates the aisles knows how hard offers on junk food are to resist.

“And with studies showing the most deprived in our society are more often obese and less likely to get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, much more needs to be done to make healthy options affordable instead.”

Scots’ sugar rush driving ‘obesity epidemic’, figures suggest Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:11:00 +0000 Two academics from the University of Stirling have been shortlisted for prestigious awards celebrating the achievements of women in Scotland.

Carron Shankland, Professor of Computing Science, and Professor Karen Boyle, co-director of the Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies, have been shortlisted at the Scottish Women’s Awards 2017.

The awards, in their first year, recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding women in Scotland – from entrepreneurs, professionals and civil servants to academics, emergency workers and charity workers.

Organisers Creative Oceanic received thousands of nominations from members of the public, industry professionals and other key stakeholders.

Professor Shankland is shortlisted in the Services to Science & Technology category. Her work focuses on understanding the behaviour of biological systems through mathematical and computational models.

In 2016, she was one of 12 women in computing and mathematics to receive a Suffrage Science Award recognising both scientific achievement and ability to inspire others.

Passionate about the promotion of careers in science for women, Professor Shankland chairs CygnetS, a best-practice network of computing departments engaged in gender equality work. She initiated the University’s Athena SWAN work, to improve diversity in higher education, and has led it for the past four years.

Professor Shankland said: “I am excited to be doing research that makes a difference to society.

“I hope that, by being nominated for this award, I can act as a role model for young people who may not have realised that a career in science is open to them.”

Professor Boyle is shortlisted in the Services to Education category.

Her main research area is on gender, violence and representation, and underpinning this work is a recognition that changes in representation do not only follow on from social changes, but can also help to bring about those changes. She is the first Professor of Feminist Media Studies in the UK and is committed to working with women’s organisations to think about how academic research works in the world.


Professor Boyle said: “It is an honour to be nominated alongside other women working to challenge gender inequality across Scotland.

“This is such an exciting time for feminist education in Scotland, and Stirling has been leading the way in the development of applied postgraduate programmes in Gender Studies.

“Learning alongside our students is an absolute privilege and seeing the difference they make in the world is genuinely inspiring."

Irfan Younis, CEO of Creative Oceanic, said: “We are delighted to see so many people getting involved in the inaugural Scottish Women’s Awards.

“We have had a fantastic response from the public and we are looking forward to welcoming and acknowledging the most dedicated and successful Scottish women in a celebration of their tireless work. We would like to wish all the finalists the best of luck.”

The awards will take place at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Wednesday, 30 August.

Stirling academics shortlisted for the Scottish Women’s Awards Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:10:00 +0000 University of Stirling women’s tennis team secure second place at the European Universities Championships in Madrid

The University of Stirling’s women’s tennis team created some memorable moments in Madrid this past week as they claimed a silver medal at the European Universities Championships in their best ever finish at the tournament.

The squad, including Maia Lumsden, Patricia Skowronski and Zoe Moffat, travelled with confidence having seen Lumsden claim her maiden professional singles and doubles titles earlier in the season whilst Moffat also won the Scottish National Championships in May.

Following preliminary victories over University of Innsbruck, National Technical University of Athens and Maastricht University, the team enjoyed a straightforward quarter-final against Polish team, AGH University of Science and Technology, before coming through a tight semi-final against Istanbul Aydin University. The momentum wasn’t to continue though as the unrelenting heat finally took its toll on the players as they lost out to a very strong University of Bordeaux squad in the final.

Meanwhile in the men’s draw, Stirling battled against tough opposition throughout and, despite beating the overall winners Camilo José Cela University, suffered narrow losses through the remaining rounds before finishing in ninth place, defeating the University of Coimbra in their final match.

Commenting on a successful week, Stirling’s Head Tennis Coach, Euan McGinn, said: “It’s an unbelievable achievement for the players and the first time any of our tennis teams have won a silver at the European Championships. It was a tremendous effort from the girls and special mention to my fellow coach, Nick Rosenzweig, who supported them during the tournament.

“It’s been a great experience for the players and they can take away the fact they’ve competed and delivered against national-standard and world-ranked players across the week. They have gained a lot of confidence and motivation which, going into the new season, will help them all as they look to win the British Universities title and improve their own individual standings.”

Madrid magic as tennis stars serve up silver medal at European Championships Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:00:00 +0000 University of Stirling athletes enjoy medal success at World Championships, Deaflympics and British Summer Championships

The University of Stirling’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading high-performance swimming centres was reinforced this past week with ten athletes securing medals at a number of international and national competitions.

Leading the way at the FINA World Championships, in Budapest, was double Olympic-medallist, Duncan Scott, who was part of the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team that retained its world title in style, beating off the challenge of Russia and Olympic champions, the USA. Scott then claimed his second medal on the last day of competition with a silver in the men’s 4x100m medley relay alongside Stirling teammate Ross Murdoch, who competed in the heats.

Individually, Scott fell agonisingly short, by four hundredths of a second, off a bronze medal in the 200m freestyle before finishing fifth in the 100m event. Murdoch was also pipped to fourth place in the 200m breaststroke after placing eighth in a very quick 100m final won by GB teammate Adam Peaty. Meanwhile, fellow Stirling student Kathleen Dawson finished a respectable eighth in the 100m backstroke and seventh in the women’s 4x100m medley relay at her first-ever World Championships.

Commenting at the end of an intense week of competition, Scott said: “I’m delighted with how my week has gone. My individual races have been good and the relays have been incredible. That relay (4x100m medley) was incredible and to finish on a high like that, there is no better way to end the week than on the podium with these boys.”

Meanwhile, in Samsun, Turkey, third-year Sport and Exercise Science student, Danielle Joyce, stole the show at the Deaflympics with Team GB, as she won two gold medals in the 50m and 100m freestyle events along with two bronzes in the 50m backstroke and the 4x100m mixed freestyle relay.

Speaking about her experience, Joyce said: “It’s been an amazing journey and I’m still buzzing about the whole thing. To have worked so hard to get there, I’m so happy to see the hours of training pay-off and still can’t quite believe I’ve come away with as many medals.

“I’ve met some brilliant people along the way and I can’t thank my teammates, coaches and family enough for helping me achieve what I did and making it such a memorable experience.”

Closer to home, seven of the University’s high-performance swimmers brought back medals from the British Summer Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. Olympian, Craig Benson, won gold in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke, along with a silver in the 200m event. Teammate Jamie Graham came second in the 50m. In a successful meet for the University of Stirling, there were also silver medals for Charlie Boldison (100m backstroke), Danielle Huskisson (800m freestyle) and Lauren Mills (50m butterfly) as well as bronze for Callum Lawrie (400m individual medley) and Calum Bain (50m butterfly).

Cathy Gallagher, the University of Stirling’s Director of Sport, was thrilled to see further success from our swimmers. She said: “Whether it’s domestic events or competing on the world stage, our high-performance swimming programme continues to deliver fantastic results across the board. The coaches and athletes are a credit to the University and their success is testament to the unrivalled talent, hard work and standards in the programme.

“This has been a great way for the students to end their academic year, although the excitement isn’t quite over as we have a number of swimmers heading to Chinese Taipei later this month for the World University Summer Games, where they will compete against the crème-de-la-crème of higher education sport, on a global scale.”

Stirling swimmers take the world by storm Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:30:00 +0000 The University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) has awarded its first international gold accreditation for excellence in dementia design.

Two buildings within a senior living development in the Tokyo suburb of Setagaya have received the recognition from the world-renowned centre.

Designed by Tokyu Land Corporation, the senior living development comprises 176 living units, a 75-bed care residence, accommodating people with dementia, and a multi-functional long-term care service to support patients who want to live at home. It also includes a community salon, which promotes intergenerational interaction, and a kindergarten.

The University has been working with the company and their partner Mediva Inc over the last 18 months, advising on the design of the care residence and multi-functional day care centre, and creating integrated housing and services to support people living with dementia.

The accreditation process was undertaken by the centre’s Chief Architect Lesley Palmer and its Learning Development Officer Lynda Hutton. The gold certificate was awarded by Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, during a recent visit to Tokyo.

Ms Palmer said:  “The Setagaya project was a very exciting project for the DSDC design team to be involved in. The team had to work closely with Tokyu and Mediva to ensure the cultural differences in living and care provision between the UK and Japan were supported whilst ensuring the successful application of our dementia design principles.

“The result is a well-considered, contemporary design response which responds to the local modern vernacular and to our Stirling dementia design principles. The integration of kindergarten, community salon and multi-purpose care centre within a senior living development is a sensitive, logical approach to supporting people with dementia to live as independently as possible within their community.”


Akiyoshi Komuro, Operating Officer / Division Manager at Tokyu Land Corporation, said: “Tokyu Land Corporation strives to create sustainable local communities in the super-aged society and has been involved in the senior housing field as one of the pioneers in Japan.

“Dementia is one of the most important social issues in Japan. We believe that the Setagaya project makes a significant contribution to the society through promoting and supporting independence in people with dementia using dementia design.

“The project has created well-considered, authentic Japanese design incorporated with Stirling's dementia friendly design principles through a number of discussions between DSDC, Mediva and Tokyu Land Corporation, including a couple of visits to Stirling.

“Good design makes not only the residents, but also all people involved, from visitors to our staff who work there, comfortable.

“We will use the experience gained through this project to our future developments and give it back to the residents and the local communities.”


Kanoko Oishi, CEO at Mediva Inc, said: “Working on the Setagaya Project together with DSDC was a very exciting experience.

“Japan is a rapidly aging society facing many issues, with dementia being one of the most serious. DSDC provided us with innovative and scientific design principles to develop an environment which people with dementia can feel comfortable.

“Here we combined DSDC methods with Japanese tradition. For example, we took DSDC color principle but used colors seen in Kimono's, the Japanese traditional outfit. Setagaya Project is the first evidenced-based designed facility for dementia in Japan. We hope that it will contribute to a better future for our elderly and their families.”

The Dementia Services Development Centre will deliver ongoing training to Tokyu Land Corporation and front-line care staff on the importance of communication, behaviour and the dementia design principles.

Japan, like the UK, has a growing ageing population, leading to an increased focus on supporting the rising number of people with a diagnosis of dementia.

This work cements the strong partnerships the University has with organisations in Japan.

Stirling awards Japan its first gold for dementia design Wed, 02 Aug 2017 10:39:00 +0000 Hospital patients with dementia and other causes of confusion have longer stays and worse treatment outcomes than people without the condition, research led by the University of Stirling has found.

The research is the first large population-based study to prove that people with confusion, caused by dementia or delirium, have inferior treatment outcomes, when compared with the rest of the population.

Lead researcher, Professor Emma Reynish, Chair in Dementia Studies at the University of Stirling, said: “People with confusion – or cognitive spectrum disorders – make up over one-third of the population over 65 who are admitted as an emergency to hospital, and half of patients over the age of 85 years.

“People who are admitted to hospital with confusion seem to do badly, and are at an increased risk of dying, increased risk of re-admission, and a hospital stay nearly two weeks longer than those without confusion. It is unclear whether this is as a result of the care that they are given or the disease process itself, or a combination of both.


“People with confusion include: those with dementia; those with delirium – a sudden change in someone’s cognitive state; those with delirium in addition to dementia; and people with undiagnosed dementia. Delirium is most common, at 24.6%, followed by known dementia, at 17.3%. Whatever the cause of their confusion, they all appear to do equally badly.

“Concentrating the hospitals’ treatment and care on just one of these groups of patients – i.e. those with dementia or those with delirium – may be detrimental to the rest of the hospital population who are confused.”

The study found patients with ‘cognitive spectrum disorder’ (CSD) – delirium or dementia – stayed in hospital for an average of 25 days on average – more than double the length of stay for those without CST, who remained for 11.8 days.

Patients with CSD were also more likely to have died within a year of admission – with a 40% mortality rate, compared with a 26% rate in the rest of the hospital population.


Professor Reynish added: “There are two main implications that need urgent attention. The hospital care pathway should be re-examined and designed to centre around those with ‘confusion’ or cognitive spectrum disorders, rather than dementia or delirium alone.

“Secondly, there is a need for further research to determine direct causal relationships – i.e. whether the underlying pathological processes of the disease itself, or the care delivered affect these outcomes – as well as predictors of decline and optimal care pathways for this large, vulnerable and complex population.”

The research, carried out in partnership with experts from the University of Dundee and NHS Fife, examined hospital outcomes in more than 10,000 patients aged 65 or older, with an emergency medical admission.

The study was published in the BMC Medicine journal.

Hospital patients with dementia and other causes of confusion have worse outcomes, study finds Tue, 01 Aug 2017 10:43:00 +0000 Tobacco manufacturers are offering retailers incentives to promote their products in a bid to mitigate the effects of the advertising ban, a University of Stirling study has found.

The research discovered tobacco companies are offering rewards – such as cash bonuses, iPads and hospitality - to small businesses that attempt to boost sales of their brands.

Twenty-four small independent tobacco retailers in Scotland – including convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations – were interviewed for the study, which followed the country’s ban on the open display of tobacco in April 2015.

Retailers reported being offered, and accepting, a range of incentives in return for preferential practices. These included retaining a tobacco unit, maintaining stock availability, positioning products to maximise prominence, a push on sales, trialling new stock and particular brand promotions.

Lead author Martine Stead, Deputy Director of the Institute of Social Marketing, said: "The tobacco industry has, for many years, incentivised retailers to stock and sell tobacco, and to display particular brands prominently on their shelves. 

“We might have expected that these practices would decline following the ban on open displays because customers can no longer see the products. However, our study suggests that is not the case. 

“The tobacco companies rely on retailers even more to promote tobacco, now that displays are covered up. They are still offering them payments and rewards, including substantial lump sums to make verbal recommendations to customers to try a particular brand.”

Mystery shopper

The study, conducted by the DISPLAY team, a collaboration between the Universities of Stirling, St Andrews and Edinburgh, and ScotCen, follows reports of similar incentive-driven schemes in Australia and Canada, where point-of-sale bans are also in place.

The Scottish team found incentives were often incorporated into existing partnership or loyalty schemes with points redeemable against cash or gifts, including hospitality, iPads and business equipment. Some of the retailers also received a cash bonus for keeping a gantry in their store. 

As part of one promotion, retailers were told they would be visited by a mystery shopper who would ask for a rival brand. Retailers who instead recommended another product that the company wished to promote would receive a lump sum as a reward.

Most of the retailers – 17 out of the 24 - were given assistance by tobacco companies before the ban took effect to adapt their gantries to comply with the legislation, which requires tobacco products to be kept out of plain sight in units behind doors or roll down covers.

While the researchers acknowledge that the sample was small, they said it suggested that “the strategies identified in our study are likely to be adopted in other countries with, or planning to implement, a display ban”.

The team acknowledged that using incentives to drive sales within the tobacco industry is not a new phenomenon. However, they found companies are now adapting these practices “to work within the context of the display ban”.

“The rationale for bans on tobacco promotions and displays at point of sale is to reduce the ability of tobacco companies to exploit the retail environment in this way,” they wrote.

“However, this study demonstrates that display bans do not prevent [them] from attempting to exert influence on retailers via their sales reps.”

The team said this influence might be even more critical in the era of plain packaging, introduced in Scotland earlier this year.

The study suggests the practice could be ended by introducing a complete ban on company payments to retailers, reducing the number of shops selling tobacco in any given area, banning sales near schools and offering retailers incentives to stop selling tobacco.

The interviews took place in four Scottish communities in June and July 2015 and over the same period in 2016.

The research paper, Tobacco companies’ use of retailer incentives after a ban on point-of-sale tobacco displays in Scotland, is published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control journal.

The DISPLAY study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is led by Professor Sally Haw, University of Stirling. 

Podcast: Martine Stead discusses tobacco companies' use of retailer incentives


Tobacco industry steps up tactics to reduce impact of display ban Tue, 01 Aug 2017 09:51:00 +0000 The effects of 160 years of woodland creation on bats has been revealed by a natural experiment.

A study led by the University of Stirling has produced evidence of the characteristics of planted woodlands that are likely to benefit bats and other wildlife.  

The research is part of the innovative Woodland Creation and Ecological Networks (WrEN) project between the University of Stirling, Forest Research and Natural England, which is using a novel large-scale natural experiment to assess the impact of 160 years of woodland creation on current biodiversity. Taking advantage of the well-mapped changes in landscapes in England and Scotland since 1840, the researchers have identified woodlands planted between 10 and 160 years ago; there, they are studying a wide range of woodland species to understand their habitat requirements at different spatial scales.


The results, published in the journal ‘Ecological Applications’, show species of bat respond differently to local woodland attributes and the surrounding landscapes, depending on their mobility.

The study also shows that landscape characteristics, such as woodland connectivity, are most important for bats in intensively farmed landscapes where woodland loss and fragmentation have been more severe.

Lead author Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling, said: “These findings suggest that increasing the amount of woodland in a landscape would be a valuable conservation strategy for species which are highly mobile, such as Natterer’s bats.

“However, our study also suggests that specifically targeted planting to improve woodland connectivity is particularly important for less mobile species, for instance brown long-eared bats, which are often less likely to fly across open spaces. These bats are also more likely to benefit from activities which enhance local woodland quality, for example by managing woodlands to promote the old-growth habitat structure characteristic of mature forests.”


Dr Kevin Watts from Forest Research said: “Some bats are known as ‘indicator species’ because changes to their populations can indicate changes in biodiversity. Many of the patterns we observed in bats are similar to those reported in the literature for other wildlife, such as birds, so our recommendations are likely to be useful in creating woodland valuable not only for bats but for other species too.

“During the WrEN project we’ll be studying other species including birds, insects and plants so we can draw together general principles for landscape scale conservation and restoration.”

Researchers hope this study will help to inform conservation actions and policies focused on the creation and restoration of habitats in landscapes where they have become fragmented.

Improving habitats for bats Fri, 28 Jul 2017 15:28:00 +0000 Three young golfers from the University of Stirling were given the opportunity of a lifetime this week as they teamed up for Glasgow 2018 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open pro-am at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire.

Alasdair McDougall (22), Colin Edgar (21) and Hazel MacGarvie (17) enjoyed a round in the company of Chinese golfer and 2016 Olympic-bronze medal winner Shanshan Feng, who was delighted to play with the students and offer a few tips around the course.

McDougall, who recently took part in The Amateur Championships at Royal St George’s & Princes in Kent, said: “I’m lucky to have played with guys like Richie Ramsay and Scott Jamieson at the University of Stirling but it was really beneficial to get an insight from a female golfer.

“Shanshan was so meticulous in her approach and it was interesting to see how she spent time around the greens. It’s something I’ll learn from.”

All three golfers were at Dundonald Links representing the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, a brand new multi-sport event coming to Scotland in August 2018 featuring Aquatics, Cycling, Golf, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon.

The European Golf Team Championships – which is supported by both the European Tour and Ladies European Tour – will be played at the stunning Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course and will see men and women compete side-by-side for the first time in a competitive tournament.

Tickets for the European Golf Team Championships are now on sale and start at just £10 for adults (Under 16s go free). To purchase tickets and find out more about Glasgow 2018 visit

Hazel MacGarvie, who first picked up a set of clubs at just four years old, is excited at the benefits the European Championships can bring to both the men’s and ladies’ game.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’ll be great for golf to have men and women competing together. I think that’s something golf has lacked so it’ll be a great event.”

Colin Edgar also has high hopes for Glasgow 2018. He said: “I think it’ll be great from a spectator point of view for ladies golf. To let spectators come and watch the females it’ll maybe encourage them to come and watch again.”

All three athletes will be part of the University of Stirling's High Performance Golf Programme, run by former European Tour player and Italian Open winner Dean Robertson, in the new academic year with MacGarvie joining MacDougall and Edgar as she commences her studies in September.

Stirling golfers team up for Glasgow 2018 at Ladies Scottish Open pro-am Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:14:00 +0000 Young people who have tried an e-cigarette may be more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes compared with those who have not, a study led by University of Stirling researchers has suggested.

The research found a link between e-cigarette use in “never smokers” – those who have never tried smoking – and their subsequent first experimentation with cigarettes in the following year.

Dr Catherine Best, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling, said: “Our findings are broadly similar to those from eight other US studies; however, this is the first study to report from the UK. 

“Uniquely, we also found that e-cigarette use had a greater impact on the odds of cigarette experimentation in young never smokers who had a firm intention not to smoke and/or whose friends didn’t smoke. Traditionally, this is the group of young people least likely to take up smoking.”

The research, conducted by the DISPLAY Team, a collaboration between the Universities of Stirling, St Andrews and Edinburgh, and ScotCen, focused on pupils at four Scottish secondary schools. Young people aged between 11 and 18 years old were surveyed in February/March 2015 and then again 12 months later. The initial 2015 survey found that among the 2,125 never smokers, 183 (8.6%) said that they had tried an e-cigarette and 1,942 had not.

The 2016 survey found that 74 (40.4%) of those who had tried an e-cigarette in the initial 2015 survey, went on to smoke a cigarette in the following 12 months – compared to only 249 (12.8%) of young people who had not tried an e-cigarette.

The effect remained statistically significant even after adjusting for other factors that influence smoking uptake including smoking susceptibility, having friends who smoke, whether family members smoke, age, sex, family affluence, ethnic group and school.

“Young never smokers are more likely to experiment with cigarettes if they have tried an e-cigarette,” the study concluded.


The research paper, Relationship between trying an electronic cigarette and subsequent cigarette experimentation in Scottish adolescents: a cohort study, has been published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control journal.

Sally Haw, Professor of Public and Population Health at Stirling, added: “The greater impact of e-cigarette use on young people thought to be at lower risk of starting smoking is of particular concern. 

“Further research is required to discover how experimentation with e-cigarettes might influence attitudes to smoking in young people traditionally at lower risk of becoming smokers; and importantly how many of this group who do experiment with cigarettes go on to smoke regularly.”

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme.

E-cigarette use may encourage tobacco experimentation in young people, new study finds Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:05:00 +0000