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 Hate crimes against LGBT+ residents in deprived neighbourhoods risk going unrecorded because housing associations rarely enquire about tenants’ sexual or gender identity, research has found.

The University of Stirling study, which was funded by the British Academy, found many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people living in deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland have experienced either abuse or assault, or live in fear of such attacks.

However, because social landlords do not routinely ask people their sexual or gender identity on equality monitoring forms, it is difficult to get a full picture of the prevalence of hate crime or anti-social abuse against tenants who identify as LGBT+.

Dr Peter Matthews, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University, said people were also unlikely to come forward to report incidents as it placed the burden on them to come out at a time when they were already feeling vulnerable.

“If you don’t ask people on the basic monitoring form whether they are LGBT, then if somebody has an issue because their neighbour is shouting homophobic abuse at them, you’re asking them to come out at the same time as telling you about the anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“Also if you don’t have that data within your system, you can’t analyse it by that category to see if there are particular issues these service users face.”

The research team interviewed 20 people who identified as LGBT+ and either lived in a deprived neighbourhood or had experienced homelessness. They also interviewed people from four housing associations, two homelessness organisations and one local authority. While the research found many positive stories and examples of good practice, it also revealed the difficult circumstances faced by some LGBT+ people.

One trans woman, who did not want to be identified, said nearly every window in her house had been smashed.

“There was a group of teenagers that would come to my house and shout abuse and throw stones at my window,” she said. “Every window apart from my kitchen and bathroom windows has been smashed at one point or another just because they know that the ‘tranny’ lives in there.”

Other participants said they changed their everyday behaviour by avoiding walking back to their homes alone at night, getting taxis to their door or arranging for a friend to drop them off.

Dr Matthews said when they asked service providers why they didn’t routinely collect this data, the usual response was that staff were afraid of causing offence.

“This is incredibly problematic,” he said. “It needs to be recognised that presuming people would be offended is homophobic and transphobic. It presumes that sexual and gender identity is something that people should be ashamed of and want to keep secret.

“It denies LGBT+ service users their identity and any issues relating to their identity – you are putting LGBT+ people back in the closet.”

In a separate study, the researchers also looked at the issue of homelessness in the LGBT+ community. Again they discovered that a lack of data made it impossible to say how many LGBT+ people are homeless.

They are now calling on service providers to routinely ask people their sexual identity and gender identity.

Hate crimes against LGBT+ people in deprived areas ignored Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:02:00 +0000 A new landmark study conducted by the University of Stirling will empower policymakers to improve the lives of Scotland’s older population by providing them with a comprehensive insight into the economic, health and social circumstances of people over 50.

The Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study has analysed the data of 1,000 Scots over the age of 50 – providing a wealth of information that will inform, influence and support the debate around how the country tackles problems posed by its ageing population.

The initial findings and benefits of the pioneering research – the first of its kind in Scotland –will be revealed and discussed at a special event in Edinburgh today (Friday 8 December). The Stirling team are seeking funding which will allow the study’s numbers to be increased to 7,000, with participants re-interviewed every two years.

HAGIS has joined the Gateway to Global Aging – a group of studies that now covers more than two-thirds of the world’s population aged 50+. These are all based on the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Their role is to influence and inform public policy relating to quality of life among older people. HAGIS therefore provides a benchmark that, for the first time, enables the comparison of over 50s in Scotland with those in other countries.

Participants provide information on their wellbeing, finances, health, relationships and activities. Most participants gave permission to link this data with their health, pension, benefits and tax records.

Professor David Bell said “HAGIS is an important resource for academics and policymakers seeking to understand the challenges faced by older people in Scotland. Its links to similar studies worldwide and to administrative records in Scotland make it a more powerful tool for understanding these challenges than any other survey currently available. It comes at a time when the Scottish Government is acquiring new powers, many of which affect older people.”

Initial analysis of the data has revealed a number of findings, spanning a number of policy areas, including:


Sixty-eight per cent of men aged between 50 and 64 are working and around 20 per cent are retired, with the remainder unemployed, unable to work through illness or disability, caring or looking after the family home. Just 18 per cent of individuals who identify themselves as being in poor health are in work.

Comparing the results with the participants’ level of education, the team found that among those aged less than 65, those with the lowest levels of education are most likely to be out of the labour market (55%), while those with a degree are most likely to be retired (26%).

Social Security

The percentage of people with a “high” measure of disability increases from 11.9 per cent of the population to 48.8 per cent between the ages of 50-59 and 80+.

Just less than half of people who think their physical abilities are substantially limited are not receiving either Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance. These benefits are the largest of those being transferred to the Scottish Government from the UK Department of Work and Pensions.

Life expectancy and preparedness for retirement

Respondents typically underestimate their life expectancy, with women underestimating their life expectancy more than men.

People in more affluent areas are more likely to underestimate their life expectancy. Someone living in the most affluent area of Scotland typically underestimates their life expectancy by 2.4 years on average, compared to someone in the most deprived.

Almost 40 per cent expect to retire before the State Pension Age (SPA), 30 per cent are planning to retire at that point, while 30 per cent believe they will continue working past SPA.

Forty-two per cent of respondents do not have any pension arrangements other than state provision, while 49 per cent are enrolled in an occupation pension scheme. Twenty-three per cent have a private pension and 14 per cent have both an occupational and a private pension.


Single men are significantly less likely to participate in bowel cancer screening (57.6%), compared to those who live with a partner (79.5%).

Increasing the participation rate of single males to the Scottish average would save around 3.2 lives per year, the team said.


The initial findings are being revealed at Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh. The audience includes partners from other international ageing studies.

One of today’s speakers, Professor Jim Smith of the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, who is an advisor to the HRS surveys around the world, said: “HAGIS is a well-crafted jewel and essential to Scotland as it adjusts to population ageing.”

Launched in July 2015 by Professor Bell and Research Fellow Dr Elaine Douglas, the £500,000 study is funded by the US-based National Institute of Aging and Nuffield Foundation.

For more information on HAGIS, click here.

Major study into older Scots set to inform and shape policy Fri, 08 Dec 2017 10:55:00 +0000 Summer black truffles – one of the world’s most expensive ingredients – have been successfully cultivated in Scotland for the first time by a University of Stirling academic.

Dr Paul Thomas, a Research Associate at Stirling, cultivated the delicacy – which cost as much as £900 per kilogram – as part of a programme at a secret site south of Edinburgh.

The aromatic fungi has been growing in the root system of native oak trees, treated to encourage truffle production, and were harvested by a specially trained dog.

“This is a very highly regarded truffle species and the potential for Scotland is huge,” Dr Thomas said.

“We’ve achieved a number of world-firsts and even harvested Mediterranean Périgord truffles in the UK earlier this year, but this Scottish advance inches us closer to our ultimate goal of the UK becoming pivotal in the global truffle industry.”

Prior to planting in 2010, the truffles’ host tree – a native oak – was inoculated with truffle spores and the surrounding soil was made less acidic by treating it with lime.

The first Scottish truffles were analysed and used for further training but the largest –weighing 45 grams – was offered to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin.

Mr Kitchin said: “Scottish truffles! How exciting! It would be a dream come true to get a good supply of Scottish truffles at The Kitchin.

“I’m really looking forward to trying them out in some of my favourite season dishes.”

The summer, or burgundy, truffles are prized for their intense flavour aroma, but their natural habitat in continental Europe has been affected by drought due to long-term climate change, and yields are falling while the global demand continues to rise. A recent report in the Climate Research journal, suggested that truffle cultivation potential in the UK is increasing due to climate change.

In partnership with local farmers, Dr Thomas, a director of Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd, has been cultivating truffles in the UK for the past decade. The company was the first to successfully cultivate UK native summer truffles in central England in 2015 and then in Wales in 2016.

Summer black truffles cultivated in Scotland for first time Thu, 07 Dec 2017 15:06:00 +0000 University of Stirling tennis scholars Scott Duncan, Maia Lumsden and Jonny O’Mara make history after winning prestigious BNP Paribas Master'U with Team GB

Three University of Stirling tennis scholars have won the 'the world event of university tennis' with Team GB after defeating the USA in the final of the BNP Paribas Master'U in Lille.

Scott Duncan, Maia Lumsden and Jonny O’Mara were part of the first ever group of British players to bring home the gold after their victory at the Ligue des Flandres de Tennis. The win shows the continuing improvement within UK university tennis with Team GB superseding its bronze from 2016 and previous World University Games medals.

It was a dominant display from start to finish from the Brits as they defeated Ireland 6-1 and China 7-0 in the earlier rounds before going on the defeat USA, who were going for their seventh consecutive title, 4-2 in an intense final.

Commenting on the event, MSc Psychology of Sport student, Duncan, said: “I really enjoyed the weekend and felt the team atmosphere and spirit provided a great platform for us all to play our best tennis. I’m absolutely delighted to get the gold medal and help make history!”

Sport Studies student, Lumsden, who is enjoying a rich vein of form both on the singles and doubles circuits, added: “It’s been an amazing few days with unforgettable experiences on and off the court.”

O’Mara, who is in his first year of a Sport Studies degree, was also ecstatic to represent his country and come away with the result. He said: “It's been an incredible few days with some special moments and really great to share the win with the team.”

The Stirling trio were joined by Philippa Horn and Emma Hurst from the University of Bath as well as University of North Florida athlete, Jack Findel-Hawkins.

Speaking at the event, Universities Manager at the Tennis Foundation and proud Team Captain of the Great Britain Master’U team in France, Alistair Higham, said:  "It was an incredible day with the whole team contributing to a magnificent victory. Defeating the USA team with the best of the US College system including former US Open Champion and their No.1 ranked girl and No.1 ranked boy was very special. The team spirit we have is second to none and the players found levels of performance and mental strength required to defeat the champions of six years in a row. This has been the result of a lot of hard work and investment behind the scenes from the Tennis Foundation for the past six years.”

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, added: “It is an absolutely fantastic result for everyone involved and we’re particularly delighted for our Stirling athletes who proved yet again that they can consistently deliver at the very top.

“Our High Performance Tennis Coaching team led by Euan McGinn, is doing a wonderful job with the programme and the recent medals and titles show the impact they are having on the students. We want all of our athletes to reach their potential and enjoy experiences like Scott, Maia and Jonny have in Lille and working closely with Tennis Scotland, we will carry on providing the best possible performance environment for them to develop.

“Whilst the athletes delivered on-court in France, special thanks must go to BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) and the Tennis Foundation whose unwavering support for student tennis in the UK continues to be vital to its ongoing success.”

The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain’s leading tennis charity, supporting University tennis via numerous methods including: generating the future tennis workforce; providing support to get more students playing tennis; offering enhanced support for institutions engaged in a broader programme of tennis provision and supporting the sharp end of performance.

Visit the Tennis Foundation’s website to find out more about its involvement in UK university sport.

All images by Etienne Jeanneret.

Tennis stars a smash hit in Lille Thu, 07 Dec 2017 10:40:00 +0000 A research project coordinated by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture has received a prestigious award in recognition of its work in the Atlantic Ocean.

Professor Trevor Telfer received the EU Atlantic Project Award for Accessibility and Connectivity on behalf of the TAPAS (Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability) project.

Launched in March 2016, the four-year research project aims to support sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector in Europe by establishing an efficient regulatory framework and decision support system.

The project evaluates structures currently in operation across the EU’s marine environments, including the Atlantic Ocean, and its lakes and rivers, examining various environments and developing new approaches to deliver computer-based support systems for sustainable aquaculture expansion.

The outcomes will help decrease the licensing time for new and existing developments, enhance the public image of aquaculture and to gain a better understanding of the sustainability of aquaculture in the European Union.

Professor Telfer received the award from James How, Chair of the Atlantic Strategy Group, at the 4th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference in Glasgow.

“The TAPAS consortium are proud to receive recognition in the Accessibility and Connectivity category,” Professor Telfer said. “This affirms the importance of the work we are doing and emphasises the need for communication between scientists and stakeholders in developing future approaches to aquaculture sustainability.”

TAPAS involves 15 partner organisations including research institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and regulators from across Europe.

The Atlantic Project Awards, established in 2016, recognise outstanding success stories relevant to the implementation of the Atlantic Action Plan, which aims to support the marine and maritime economy in the Atlantic Ocean area.

EU award for Stirling-led aquaculture project Wed, 06 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Experts at the University of Stirling will play a key role in a two-year project to develop advanced insect processing solutions for aquafeed.

The University’s world-renowned Institute of Aquaculture has joined a consortium that is seeking to work with leading and emerging producers of black soldier fly larvae in producing new insect products for a series of animal feed sectors.

The consortium will provide general expertise in fish farming, specific knowledge on fish nutrition and health, and will carry out assessments and fish trials during the project.

Dr Oscar Monroig, a lecturer with the Institute of Aquaculture, will study the nutrition aspect of the new feed and his colleague, immunologist Simon MacKenzie, will cover health.

Dr Monroig explained the approach could improve the health of fish.

He said: “We will be assessing the impact of different insect meal products developed by the other partners/work packages on fish health and immunity.”

“The insect meal products manufactured by Entomics, in collaboration with Reading University, will be used not as a mere fishmeal replacement alternative, but rather as a feed ingredient for functional feeds aiming to enhance health of fish.”

The Institute of Aquaculture is also advertising a part-time post-doctorate post for the project, and the University’s technicians will be involved in the fish trials.

The consortium is led by Entomics, a company founded by Cambridge University graduates, and also involves academics from University of Reading.

Stirling to develop insect processing solutions for aquafeed Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:11:00 +0000 University of Stirling’s Deputy Principal for Internationalisation and Graduate Studies, Professor Leigh Sparks, has joined a delegation of senior leaders from Scotland’s higher education sector on an official visit to India.

Led by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, the visit takes place between 2 and 5 December 2017. The delegation will join the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International and the British Council as they meet with key Indian government officials, education policymakers and business leaders. They will share the message that ‘Scotland’s universities welcome India’ and highlight opportunities for partnership and collaboration between India and Scottish Higher Education Institutions.

More than 120 nationalities are represented at Stirling, with the University currently home to 69 students from India. Nearly 350 former students in India make part of Stirling’s 82,000-strong global alumni family. The University’s relationship with India will be strengthened further next year, thanks to the recent launch of series of a £2,000 scholarships for Indian postgraduate students.

Indian graduates were among those celebrating when they received their degrees from Stirling this year. Anita George excelled to such a degree while studying for her MSc in Data Science for Business that she scooped a top industry award and job thanks to quality of her work during a placement. She now works full time for NHS National Services Scotland as a data analyst.

The visit is also being used to highlight more than 70 collaborations between Scottish Higher Education Institutions and India, including student exchange programmes, research partnerships and joint-courses.

One such research partnership led by Stirling’s Professor Linda Bauld, Director of the University’s Institute for Social Marketing, is a £3.4m effort to tackle tobacco-related harm in Asia and Africa. Working with researchers in Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and the Public Health Foundation of India, along with six other countries, the study aims to help local and national organisations in driving down tobacco use in India following significant recent declines in Scotland.


Speaking ahead of the visit, Professor Leigh Sparks, Deputy Principal for Internationalisation and Graduate Studies, said: “As a global university, Stirling has a strong, 50-year track record of establishing mutually beneficial, innovative and productive partnerships with organisations across the world. Our existing research collaborations demonstrate how experts at Stirling can work constructively with specialists in Indian institutions to challenge ideas, change policy, and save lives.  

“This visit is an ideal opportunity to explore further avenues for collaboration between the University of Stirling and partners in India, working together to address global challenges. It will also allow the University to celebrate the enormous contribution that Indian students make to Stirling while highlighting excellent learning opportunities for future Indian students in the heart of Scotland.”

Deputy Principal joins India mission to promote Scottish higher education Mon, 04 Dec 2017 10:16:00 +0000 Over 100 festive runners donned their Santa hats at the University of Stirling to take part in the annual Santa Dash around campus.

Basking in the St Andrews Day sunshine, students, athletes, staff and members of the community worked their way around the 3km route in an assortment of themed costumes ranging from the humble piece of tinsel to the more adventurous human-sized Christmas presents.

Chris Black, who was also victorious in the recent Fright Night Fun Run at Halloween, was first male and overall winner with an impressive time of 11 minutes 47 seconds whilst first female was Sarah King in 14 minutes 33 seconds. The University’s high performance golf squad also followed up their success at the Halloween event as they took home the team prize and the final prize of best dressed went to ‘Elf in a Present’ Emily Boardman.

Santas on the run for festive dash Sat, 02 Dec 2017 10:52:49 +0000 An award-winning author and the first director of the Macrobert Arts Centre have both spoken of their pride after receiving honorary degrees at the University of Stirling.

Dr James Robertson – a novelist, poet, editor and publisher who grew up in nearby Bridge of Allan – and Anthony Phillips, who oversaw the creation of the Macrobert in the early 1970s, became honorary graduates at Stirling’s winter ceremonies on Friday, 24 November.

It was a poignant moment for both men as they returned to the University in its 50th anniversary year.

Dr Robertson said: “I’m really pleased to have this honorary degree from the University of Stirling - partly because it feels like coming home - and also because I have had quite a lot of association with the University over the years.

“I have come and given lectures and talks and feel very closely associated with the ethos of this University - I like its internationalism, its openness and the way it challenges students to study and think about their wider place in the world. It feels like the place to be.”

Dr Robertson has published six novels to date, including ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’, which was long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, and ‘And the Land Lay Still’, the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year in 2010. He is recognised by Stirling for his outstanding contribution to writing in Scotland, for his work to extend the use of the Scots language, and for his role in highlighting the importance of political activism and participation.

Casting his mind back to his early years in Bridge of Allan, Dr Robertson fondly remembers childhood bike rides to the Stirling campus.

“I was conscious of the University being built as a wee boy. I used to come down and cycle around, watching the buildings going up,” he explained. “When I was a bit older, I used to come into the University, to the Macrobert Centre, and watch the student life go on around about me. It was exciting and it felt to me like this was a world of possibilities - and it still feels like that.”

He added: “I would describe the University of Stirling as being open to people from everywhere but it’s also rooted in its place – it feels like it’s quite a homely place with a local feel to it, as well as being a place that’s open to people from everywhere in the world.”


Mr Phillips was appointed as the Macrobert’s first director in 1970 – before the centre was built – and was pivotal in making the arts central to the lives of staff, students and the community.

He received the award of Doctor of the University for his role in the creation of the centre, and for his major contribution to classical music administration and scholarship, through his editing and translation of the literary legacy of leading Soviet-era composers.

Reflecting on becoming an honorary graduate, Mr Phillips said: “It was a mixture of incredulity, delight, pleasure and pride in almost equal proportions. It was the first time in my life that I had this particular cocktail of emotions all wrapped up in one thing.”

Mr Phillips had some advice for the 800 students graduating from Stirling’s winter ceremonies, saying: “In the university environment you have the opportunity to think for yourself, not just to collect facts and information.

“It is more and more important than it ever was to keep your own judgement and make your own mind up – and I think that’s the greatest value that a university can provide.”

Dr Robertson added: “If I were giving advice to today’s graduates, I think I would say you have to focus on what you want to do – not necessarily in your career – but what you want to get out of life, but also what you want to put into life.

“I feel the more generous you are in your outlook towards the world, the more the world will be generous to you.”

Honorary graduates’ delight at Stirling recognition Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:52:00 +0000 Experts from the University of Stirling will provide vital support to tackle major challenges within the Indonesian aquaculture industry as part of a new strategic collaboration.

The University’s world-renowned Institute of Aquaculture will research key issues and help train students and professionals as it supports the Indonesian Government in its long-term development of the sector, specifically a sustainable expansion of locally produced seafood.

The announcement follows the signing of a formal memorandum of understanding between a University delegation – led by Director of International and Recruitment, Stuart Shorthouse, and Institute of Aquaculture Director, Professor Herve Migaud - and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

The Institute has established the link with the support of Ainsley Mann, of GlobalScot, and Jakarta-based consultant Kirk Evans.

The Institute will help research a number of areas, including: sustainable aquafeeds, health management of aquatic organisms, protection of the environment, and breeding and genetic improvement.

Professor Herve Migaud, Acting Director of the Institute of Aquaculture, said: “The prospect of supporting the world’s second largest aquaculture producer, including plants, in tackling key challenges of food security, capacity building and training in Indonesia is a hugely exciting venture. We are delighted to be able to bring the knowledge and expertise of Scotland to Indonesia supporting the development of innovative solutions towards a sustainable intensification of aquaculture are key priorities.”


The agreement follows a series of discussions between Stirling and the Indonesian Government over the past year. During their latest trip, Professor Migaud and Mr Shorthouse met with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, as well as the directorates for Aquaculture (AquaFeed) and Education to discuss the potential support.

Mr Shorthouse said: “As a global university, Stirling has a strong track record of developing mutually beneficial, innovative and productive partnerships with institutions and organisations across the world. We fully recognise the importance of international collaboration in learning and teaching, student exchanges and research.

“The University has been an active collaborator in teaching and research areas with institutions in Indonesia, and we have been fortunate to welcome some very talented Indonesian students and researchers to our campus as a result of these linkages. We are very pleased to be extending our collaboration with Indonesia through our new partnership with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.”

As part of the agreement, Stirling will provide a one-year MSc programme in Sustainable Aquaculture tailored to the needs of the Indonesian industry. It will cover areas directly relevant to the country, including fish husbandry, health control, and food security, safety and quality. A number of sector-specific PhD programmes will also be available.

The Institute of Aquaculture is a global leader with more than 40 years of experience in aquatic animal health and production. It has developed more than 900 alumni, many of whom are now working in aquaculture research, education or industry across the world.

Stirling experts to help develop Indonesian aquaculture Wed, 29 Nov 2017 13:19:00 +0000 Burning chillies can deter elephants from ravaging crops in African and Asian communities, according to a new study involving a University of Stirling researcher.

Crop foraging by elephants can destroy a year’s supply of food in just one night and, as a result, many of the highly endangered animals are killed in retaliation on a daily basis. It is the main source of conflict between food security and elephant conservation in both Africa and Asia.

Dr Rocío Pozo, of the University of Stirling, has carried out the first study assessing the effectiveness of burning exclusively chilli-briquettes – made from dung and chillies - in altering elephant behaviour. Dr Pozo was a PhD researcher at the University of Oxford when she conducted the study as part of the Ecoexist Project in Botswana.

Significantly, Dr Pozo discovered that burning briquettes during the night triggered a change in elephant movement trajectories – turning them from predominantly nocturnal creatures to diurnal.

Dr Pozo, who joined Stirling in September, believes the study, published in Oryx, could help to improve the perception local communities have about elephants and increasing their tolerance towards living with wildlife.

She said: “Although chillies have been widely used in areas of elephant crop foraging, this is the first replicated and randomised field experiment to assess the effectiveness of chilli-briquettes in altering space-use and behaviour in Africa.

“Our findings suggest that, within a period of two weeks, elephants identified the location and time at which the briquettes were smouldering. In response, they modified their spatiotemporal behaviour to cross chilli sites either before or after the presence of chilli smoke.

“Once the chilli-briquettes were removed, or exchanged for briquettes without chillies, elephants returned to the sites within a period of 24 hours.”
She added: “This is an excellent non-lethal and low-cost opportunity for local farmers to keep elephants away from their crops or properties in the short term. However, we hope that it will also provide a long term benefit – by helping to decrease negative perceptions of elephants and therefore combining them with land-use managements in the field.”

Dr Pozo, from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, was working as an Ecoexist Research Fellow as part of her PhD at the University of Oxford when she conducted the research between the villages of Seronga and Beetsha in the eastern Okavango Panhandle, Botswana, over a five-month period. This area was chosen as it included some of the most populated villages along the Okavango River, which attracts a large number of elephants due to the availability of water.

With the help of local assistants, she built and tested more than 600 briquettes – made from a ton of elephant dung and hundreds of kilograms of dried chillies.

Once all of the briquettes were dry, the team lit them, according to randomised treatments across 10 experimental sites located along a 30km area.

All experimental sites were checked every morning and evening and the number of elephants and the types of herds using the areas were recorded. Camera traps were also used at each site to photograph the exact times at which elephants approached the briquettes with chillies and those without.

“All of this gave us a good idea of how efficient chilli-briquettes were at deterring elephants’ trajectories in the eastern Panhandle at times when elephants were more likely to be encountered around people’s fields and properties,” Dr Pozo explained.

The approach also has an additional benefit to local farmers as other countries in Africa have showed it by providing extra income thanks to the sale of chillies for other purposes.

Significantly, other groups in Africa are now implementing Dr Pozo’s chilli-briquette protocol. For more details on the technique, watch the video

The study, Chilli-briquettes modify elephant temporal behaviour but not numbers, was funded by the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research and the Ecoexist Project, Botswana. Dr Pozo also received grants from Kellogg College and the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.

Burning chilli will keep elephants at bay, new study finds Tue, 28 Nov 2017 11:40:00 +0000 More than 800 students and esteemed honorary graduates have celebrated in a winter wonderland after graduating from the University of Stirling.

University Chancellor Dr James Naughtie conferred degrees at two ceremonies on Friday, 24 November, with acclaimed author Dr James Robertson and Anthony Phillips, the first director of the Macrobert Arts Centre, becoming honorary graduates.

Graduates left the morning ceremony to a light flurry of snow – creating the picture-perfect backdrop for their loch-side photographs.

Dr Robertson became a Doctor of the University at a morning ceremony, alongside graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport. He is recognised for his outstanding contribution to writing in Scotland, for his work to extend the use of the Scots language, and for his role in highlighting the importance of political activism and participation.

A novelist, poet, editor and publisher, Dr Robertson has published six novels to date, including ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’, which was long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, and ‘And the Land Lay Still’, the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year in 2010. He is also a passionate exponent of the Scots language and was the first writer in residence at the Scottish Parliament.

Dr Robertson said: “The University of Stirling was being built when I was growing up in nearby Bridge of Allan. I used to cycle along to watch the campus taking shape in the grounds of Airthrey Castle.

“To be made a Doctor of the University 50 years later is not only an honour but also, for me, the completion of some kind of circle. I have a great affection for the University and the liberal, challenging higher education that it has championed over those five decades. Long may it flourish.”


Mr Phillips was honoured at the afternoon ceremony, which celebrated those graduating from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Stirling Management School. He received the award of Doctor of the University for his role in the creation of the Macrobert Arts Centre, located on the Stirling campus, and for his major contribution to classical music administration and scholarship, through his editing and translation of the literary legacy of leading Soviet-era composers.

Mr Phillips was appointed as the Macrobert’s first director in 1970 – before the centre was built – and was pivotal in making the arts central to the lives of staff, students and the community.

A fluent Russian speaker, Mr Phillips has translated various texts, the most notable being the ‘Sergei Prokofiev Diaries’, and is currently engaged in writing the life story of Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, the London impresarios who first brought the major Russian musicians and ensembles to Great Britain in the 1950s.

Mr Phillips said: “The realisation that the part I had the good fortune to play in the creation of the University’s visionary MacRobert Arts Centre, almost half a century ago, has now led to the unexpected award of this honour, makes it one of the most deeply satisfying experiences of my life.”

Role models

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “I am delighted to honour two outstanding individuals at our winter graduation ceremonies. They are role models to our graduands and embody the University’s values of excellence, ambition and openness.

“As an award-winning novelist, editor, poet and publisher, Dr James Robertson has made an outstanding contribution to writing in Scotland. In addition, he is a passionate exponent of the Scots language and has also enthusiastically encouraged political activism and participation.

“We also celebrate Anthony Phillips, who was appointed the first director of the Macrobert Arts Centre in 1970, before it officially opened to the public one year later. Since then, the centre – located at the heart of the University campus – has gone from strength-to-strength and today is a cultural hub offering everything from comedy, dance and music, to opera, art and film. The Macrobert’s success is due in no small part to the vision, ambition and hard work of Mr Phillips, who is also honoured for his major contribution to classical music, arts administration and literary translation.”

“I extend my congratulations to all of our graduands and honorary graduands on their hard-earned achievements."

The winter graduation follows recent University of Stirling ceremonies in Singapore, Oman and Inverness, and graduates will benefit from excellent job prospects with more than 96 per cent of graduates in work or further study within six months.

Photographs, social media and graduate stories from the winter graduation ceremonies are available at the Graduation Live website:

Author and the Macrobert’s first director among Stirling’s winter graduates Fri, 24 Nov 2017 16:48:00 +0000 The University of Stirling will welcome thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators to campus next summer for the Special Olympics Anniversary Games.

Around 1,200 athletes, 2,500 relatives and 400 coaches and officials will descend on Stirling in August 2018 for the Games, which celebrates the 40th birthday of Special Olympics GB and the 50 years since the founding of the worldwide movement.

The organisations provide sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in England, Scotland and Wales. The event will see athletes compete in boccia, badminton, table tennis, football, swimming, athletics, cycling, golf and netball.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, welcomed the announcement, made at a special launch event at the on-campus Stirling Court Hotel.

He said: “We are delighted that the University of Stirling will host the Special Olympics Anniversary Games in August 2018.

“As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, Stirling is proud to be affiliated with this event, which celebrates the excellent work of the Special Olympics in transforming lives through the joy of sport while striving to end discrimination.

“At Stirling, we’re proud that the work of our staff, students and alumni makes a tangible difference to people’s lives around the world – and that’s clearly a passion we share with the Special Olympics.

“As a keen sports fan, I am looking forward to seeing some of the wide range of sports – including swimming, cycling, football and table tennis.

“We look forward to giving the 1,200 athletes, their families, support staff and fans a warm Stirling welcome when they arrive on campus next year.”


The Games will begin with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday, 9 August with the competition beginning the following day. The event will run from Friday to Sunday, concluding with a Closing Ceremony.

During the event, marquees will host a fan zone and family zone, while all athletes and coaches will stay in on-campus accommodation.

Olympic medallist swimmer Robbie Renwick, who attended the launch, said: “Participating in sport gave me the best experiences in my life.

“Putting in hard work and seeing the results is a great feeling. Sport brings people together and that’s exactly what Special Olympics does every day for people with a learning disability.”

The Special Olympics global movement was set up in 1968 by President JFK’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, while Special Olympics GB was launched in 1978.

Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “We are thrilled that Stirling and its University’s excellent facilities will be hosting our very special Anniversary Games in August 2018.

“This will not only celebrate our 40th anniversary in Great Britain and 50 years of Special Olympics worldwide but also give over a thousand Special Olympics athletes the chance to compete in a prestigious Games and make new friends and memories.”

University of Stirling to host 2018 Special Olympics event Thu, 23 Nov 2017 13:54:00 +0000

Experts from the University of Stirling have reacted to today’s Budget announcement by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.

David Bell, Professor of Economics, said: “Philip Hammond has given quite a lot away this Budget to try to enhance the Government’s popularity. He’s not increasing fuel duties, he’s spending a lot of money on housing, there’s quite a bit of extra money for technology, and he’s not been quite so draconian on universal credit.

“All of this money is being given away so that the deficit next year is going to look quite a bit worse than had been forecast just a year ago. But I think we’re probably going to end up paying more in the long term.”

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, said: “The Chancellor’s decision to increase the duty on high strength cider is good news. High strength ciders commonly contain 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume and are available in large bottles with up to 22 units (equivalent to a bottle of vodka) for as little as £3.50.

“This product is consumed by heavy drinkers and young people and directly contributes to alcohol-related disease and death, violence and accidents. Increasing the duty will reduce harm, although a future even stronger measure would be for the UK to follow Scotland in introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol.

“It is also very positive that this budget has reinstated the tobacco tax escalator. Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in the UK, and despite recent drops in prevalence, up to one third of adults still smoke in our poorest communities. Higher prices do deter smoking, and today’s announcements will help us continue to move towards a tobacco free future.”

University of Stirling experts react to UK Budget Wed, 22 Nov 2017 17:11:00 +0000 Students from the University of Stirling’s accountancy, business and computing science courses delivered in partnership with Muscat College in Oman celebrated their graduation at a special ceremony this month.

Degrees were conferred upon more than 30 graduates from courses delivered by the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and Stirling Management School.

Dean of Stirling Management School, Professor Sharon Bolton, travelled to Oman with Professor David Mackay, Associate Dean for Internationalisation at Stirling Management School, to celebrate the students’ achievements.

Professor Bolton said: “We are proud of our partnership with Muscat College and it is always a privilege to be part of the students’ graduation ceremony. The conferment of degrees is recognition for their commitment and hard work.

“The time they spend studying with us is designed to prepare them for going out into the world to make a difference. We look forward to welcoming them into our global alumni family and watching their lives and careers flourish.”

The University of Stirling recently extended the successful partnership with Muscat College and introduced new undergraduate degrees in Human Resource Management and Marketing in September 2017. It will also introduce a Masters in Management in January 2018.

Stirling graduates’ prospects are bolstered by the University’s excellent job credentials. More than 96% of graduates are in work or further study within six months.

Ceremony in Oman recognises Stirling graduates Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:05:00 +0000