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 The University of Stirling has reinforced its commitment to promoting healthy and active lifestyles after launching its inaugural Campus 5K which will take place on Tuesday 4 April.

The first ever University of Stirling Campus 5K is open to runners of all abilities, over the age of 12, from those tackling their first organised run to more experienced athletes looking for a competitive challenge in a unique setting. Participants can run, jog or walk the course to suit their own personal fitness levels.

Following a successful Festive 3K in December, the Campus 5K is the latest addition to the University’s growing programme of inclusive health and wellbeing events which are open to students, staff and members of the local community. The University is using its diverse programme to demonstrate the benefits of physical activity and hopes it will result in more people enjoying active lifestyles.

The new 5K has been developed and organised by students from the University’s MSc Sports Management course, in partnership with the Sports Development Service and the University Athletics Club, who are hoping to see a big turn-out of student, staff and community runners.

Speaking at the launch, Niamh Kennedy, one of the race organisers, said: "We're extremely excited for the University of Stirling Inaugural Campus 5K and look forward to welcoming runners of all abilities, from across the area, to the University to take part and enjoy the scenery of our beautiful campus."

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling added: “At Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, we take great pride in delivering sport and physical activity for everyone, from toddlers learning to swim to athletes competing at the Olympics. The Campus 5K is a great opportunity for us to bring staff, students and the local community together in a fun environment and promote the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.

“It’s particularly fitting for the first ever Campus 5K to take place in the University’s 50th Anniversary year and we’re confident it will become a highlight of the event calendar for many years to come."

The University of Stirling Campus 5K will start at 6.30pm on Tuesday 4 April with registration open from 5pm at the Gannochy Sports Centre (FK9 4LA).

There is a £2 entry fee and places can be booked online via A limited number of places will also be available on the night. 

For specific enquiries email or call 01786 466900.

University champions active lifestyles with launch of inaugural Campus 5K Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:34:00 +0000 Two University of Stirling student golf scholars secured victories at the 11th Dundonald Tournament, taking the two individual awards home.

Chloe Goadby and James Wilson both finished ahead of the field at the annual competition in Ayrshire, which is part of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) programme.

Clean sweep

Chloe finished with a 10-over-par, six shots ahead of second-place teammate Gemma Batty, while Stirling star Jen Sexton’s closing round of 81 gave her third-place and secured a clean sweep on the women’s podium for Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.

In the men’s competition, Stirling duo James Wilson and Chris Maclean battled it out in a playoff to decide first and second place.

A missed putt from Chris helped James to triumph at the close of the three-day event, while overnight leader and fellow Stirling golfer Colin Edgar finished in fourth.

Challenging conditions

Dean Robertson, High Performance Golf Coach at the University, said: "I was delighted to see fourth-year student athlete James Wilson win his first BUCS student tour event at Dundonald Links in what were extremely challenging conditions. This is just reward for the hard work and commitment he has shown day-in day-out over the past four years.

"Chloe Goadby continues to impress and with her improving skills and mind set, she was able to show the rest of her competitors a clean pair of heels as she completed her final nine holes in three under par. As so many got blown away in the cold blustery conditions she was able to display a craft in her game that is now becoming more and more prevalent.”

Stirling women took the title in the team competitions, with the men coming second behind the University of St. Andrews.

View the full women’s leader board and full men’s leader board.

Double victory at Dundonald for Stirling golfers Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:24:00 +0000 Bees latch on to similarly-sized nectarless flowers to unpick pollen – like keys fitting into locks, University of Stirling scientists have discovered.

Research, published in Ecology and Evolution, shows the right size of bee is needed to properly pollinate a flower. The insect fits tightly with the flower’s anthers, to vibrate and unlock pollen sealed within.

Pollinator size

Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin, from Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: “We found that a pollinator’s size, compared to the flower, significantly influences how much pollen is deposited.”

Experts found more pollen grains are deposited when the pollinator’s body is the same size or wider than the space between the flower’s reproductive organs.

Dr Vallejo-Marin said: “Some plants, particularly those that are buzz-pollinated – a technique where bees hold onto the flower and vibrate to shake out the pollen – require a close physical interaction between their floral sexual organs and their visitors.

“The closer the bee fits to the flower, allowing it to touch both the male and female sexual organs, the more efficiently the insect can transfer pollen between plants.”

Bees that are too small, relative to the size of the flower, transfer fewer pollen grains to other flowers and act ‘pollen thieves’, extracting the pollen they need without pollinating the flower.

Flowers need pollinators to collect and transport pollen to fertilise other flowers and trigger fruit and seed production.

Former Stirling PhD researcher Dr Lislie Solís-Montero, who works in El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) research centre in Mexico, added: “Bees that are too small in relation to the distance between a flower’s sexual organs behave as pollen thieves – removing pollen, but depositing very little.

“Our findings will help understand natural populations of nightshade and whether a visitor acts as a pollinator, or a pollen thief. This is not only relevant in its native range in Mexico, but also in the invasive species which is found right around the world.”

Dr Vallejo-Marin added: “Surprisingly, visits by smaller bees were associated with more seeds being produced, indicating that more pollen does not necessarily create more seeds. Seed production may also depend on the quality of the pollen and different kinds of pollen grains competing to germinate. However, by identifying whether visiting bees and complex flowers match physically, we can predict whether these bees are likely to be effective pollen carriers or not.”

The ecologists used a species of nightshade plant (Solanum rostratum), which was buzz-pollinated with captive bumblebees of varying sizes. They recorded the number of visits received, pollen deposition, and fruit and seed production. Varieties of nightshade include potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.

Pollination mystery unlocked by Stirling bee researchers Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:26:00 +0000 The University of Stirling threw its doors open to the community for a day of discovery this weekend, to celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary.

Thousands of people were welcomed onto campus on Saturday, 18 March, to explore packed timetable of free activities, highlighting the University’s flair for innovation and history of 50 years of life on campus.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “It was tremendous to see so many people - alumni, retired staff, and local families - visit the University and join staff and students to mark 50 years of inspiring learning and teaching, and impactful research. Openness is one of our key values and there’s no better way to celebrate our vibrant history than by opening our doors to the local community to celebrate our collective heritage.

“At Stirling we encourage people to open their minds and make a real difference in the world. I hope today’s activities showcasing Stirling over the last half-century has fascinated, inspired and enthused our visitors.”

The day’s programme included a hands-on science fair, a scavenger hunt and a chance to learn CPR skills. There was a fantastic response to our call for people to share their memories of the University with numerous photographs catalogued and oral history interviews recorded – ensuring that all the memories collected on the day will be added to the University’s Archives.

Public engagement

Members of the public had the chance to delve into a programme of engaging science cabaret talks, short lectures and activities covering a range of fascinating subjects, from Brexit, history, creative writing, poetry readings through to tours of the Art Collection. The rare opportunity to see the Victorian Columbian Printing press in operation and print a commemorative bookmark to keep was a clear favourite with families who clearly enjoyed learning about the traditional printing techniques and the history of printing in Scotland. 

Children from Bridge of Allan Primary School curated a special time capsule which was buried on campus, to be dug up in 2067.

There was also an opportunity for visitors to hear from Stirling Honorary Graduate, and former headteacher of St. Ninian’s Primary School, Elaine Wyllie. Local children donned their trainers to show members of the public how they can benefit from taking part in The Daily Mile. Stirling scientists are currently examining the impact of the initiative on children’s health.

Stirling Council Head of Communities and People, Alan Milliken, who spoke at the Open Day on the success of Stirling’s Daily Mile initiative, said: “We have been working closely with the University of Stirling scientists as they study the impact of the Daily Mile on our pupils and we look forward to the results of this important project. This is just one example of the University being a key partner in contributing to positive changes across the Stirling area and beyond.”

Professor Linda Bauld, Dean of Research Impact at the University, added: “The research we do at Stirling aims to make a difference to society and address key global challenges. Open Doors Day was a great opportunity for us to bring our teaching and research activities to life and showcase some of the work that is contributing to positive changes in and around Stirling, the rest of the UK and internationally.”

Stirling was Scotland’s first new university in more than 400 years and gained its Royal Charter in 1967. Events are planned throughout the year to celebrate the half-century anniversary and showcase the University’s unique history, culture and achievements.

For more information visit

University opens its doors to mark milestone 50th anniversary Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:49:00 +0000 A new virus that has caused mortalities in farmed fish populations in Ecuador and Israel has now been detected on fish farms in Egypt, according to a new report from the University of Stirling and WorldFish.

Scientists are now trying to establish a firm link between the virus and a recent surge in mortalities in Egyptian farmed tilapia.

Global threat

Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has the potential to be a global threat to the tilapia fish farming industry, worth an estimated $7.5bn per year.

Tilapia is an important species for aquaculture because it can be grown in diverse farming systems and requires minimal fishmeal in its feed. It has a naturally high tolerance to variable water quality and can grow in both freshwater and marine environments.

It is also important in developing world contexts as it is inexpensive for small-scale farmers to grow for food, nutrition and income.

In the last five to six years, Egypt has seen an increase in mortalities of farmed tilapia populations in the summer months as water temperatures rise.

Surveys indicate 37% of fish farms were affected by these mortalities in 2015 with a potential economic impact of around $100 million to the wider value chain and economy.

Identifying the cause of and preventing these deaths is of significant importance in Egypt, which relies on domestic aquaculture for 60% of fish consumed.  Farmed tilapia makes up 75% of that production.

Minimising impact

Dr Michael Phillips, Director of Science and Aquaculture, WorldFish said: “Tilapia were previously considered to have good disease resistance. While the report and the emergence of TiLV will not dent the species’ dominance in global aquaculture, it is a sign that greater efforts will have to be made to ensure tilapia’s hardy reputation.”

Tissue samples from seven farms affected by ‘summer mortality’ were tested at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture for TiLV. Three of the seven samples tested positive for the virus.

Stirling virologist Professor Manfred Weidmann said: “Globally, there is no aquaculture system that is free from the risk of disease. Unless we are able to manage disease, minimize its impact, and bring down the prevalence and incidence of diseases we will not be able to meet future demand for fish.”

Scientists from the University of Stirling and WorldFish will now work to establish whether TiLV is the primary cause of ‘summer mortality’.

In the short to mid-term, gaining a better understanding of the prevalence and spread of the virus, and its modes of infection will inform scientists and fish farmers of the best management and other practices to mitigate and control its impact.

The Institute is also working with other Egyptian partners, including Kafr El Sheik University and the Egyptian commercial tilapia farming sector on a project, funded by DFID Newton, looking into the modification of fish farm design and management practices to control fish diseases.

Egyptian mortality mystery in tilapia fish closer to being solved Sun, 19 Mar 2017 10:06:00 +0000 The operation of surveillance cameras is the subject of a new UK strategy, shaped by a University of Stirling privacy expert.

In a world-first, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner has established a National Strategy for England and Wales to set out how surveillance cameras should be operated and to ensure that they are used in the public interest.

Public safety

Stirling’s Professor William Webster, Director of the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance & Privacy, has advised on the development of the strategy, designed to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

He said: “Britain has more surveillance cameras than any other country in the world. Their growing prevalence raises critical questions about whether we can be confident that all these cameras are being used in a way the public would approve of – and, if not, whether regulation can force operators into line.

“The publication of the strategy demonstrates that there will be more concerted efforts to govern how CCTV is used in the future as we try to keep up with changes in technology.”


The strategy encourages best practice in how organisations use cameras, such as standardised technical requirements to ensure footage is of sufficient quality for use as evidence in court, as well as training requirements and expected practices for camera operators, so that the public have confidence in how the systems are used.

It stresses compliance with the law, especially in relation to data-processing, and promotes public engagement activities to promote greater understanding of CCTV use. 

Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter said: “After a year of hard work I’m delighted to be able to launch this strategy. It’s a strategy that is far reaching, touching on many areas of surveillance camera use – police and local authority, installers and manufacturers, training providers and regulators – and of course how the use of surveillance cameras impacts members of the public. I look forward to delivering on this for the next three years ensuring that where surveillance cameras are used they keep people safe whilst protecting their right to privacy.”

The strategy aligns closely to the Home Office responsibilities to keep the UK safe from the threat of terrorism and to reduce and prevent crime and ensure people feel safe in their homes and communities.

World-first surveillance strategy shaped by Stirling expertise Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:08:00 +0000 University of Stirling students and staff teamed up with Scotland rugby star Finn Russell at his old school this past week to help launch two new running events taking place in the heart of Scotland.

The 24-year-old fly-half was back on his old stomping ground at Bridge of Allan Primary School to launch the brand new The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run (20 May) and Great Stirling 5K (21 May) where he was joined by pupils and members of the local community, including representatives from the University’s men’s and women’s rugby clubs and sports participation team.

Both events will form part of a weekend of running in central Scotland alongside the inaugural Stirling Scottish Marathon.

The University’s scenic campus will be heavily involved throughout the weekend as it will host The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run on Saturday 20 May before forming part of the marathon course the following day.

Commenting at the launch, Finn said: “I’m delighted to return to my old primary school to help launch the Great Stirling 5k and The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run.

“It’s really important that kids are active from a young age, and this kind of event will help promote a healthy lifestyle.

“It is also pleasing to see Stirling host such a large event, with thousands of people taking part across the weekend it will really put the city on the map."

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “The University of Stirling is delighted to be involved in the inaugural Scottish Stirling Marathon and we look forward to cheering the marathon runners through our stunning campus on Sunday 21 May.

“Before that however, the opportunity for families and 5k runners to get involved on Saturday 20 May will be a fitting start to a fantastic weekend of activity in the city and I would encourage everyone to join in.”

The weekend of events, organised by The Great Run Company, is fully supported by Stirling Council.

The Thistles Great Stirling Family Run is open to children aged 3-13 years old. For the older children (9-13 years old) a dedicated wave will be available at the start. Children in the older category will not be allowed to have an accompanying adult with them.

After the event all children will be presented with a special medal, bottle of water and a snack to celebrate their achievement.

For more information, visit

Stirling athletes and staff join rugby star Finn to launch family run Thu, 09 Mar 2017 16:14:00 +0000 A consultation examining how electronic tagging should be expanded in Scotland to help reduce reoffending levels has been launched. 

Potential new uses for tagging, including new technology to monitor alcohol consumption and voluntary schemes for persistent offenders, are being considered by experts including Dr Hannah Graham, lecturer in criminology at the University of Stirling, as part of a major expansion of electronic monitoring.


The Scottish Government consultation has been launched to seek public views on how electronic monitoring should be used before new legislation is announced.

The expansion of electronic tagging could see it used as a condition of a community payback order and other measures to provide added security of restricting a person’s movement while they are carrying out their sentence in the community.

Changes being explored include:

  • Introduction of GPS tracking technology in addition to current radio frequency tagging
  • Giving the court the option of tagging as an alternative to imposing a fine
  • Using tagging as a bail condition as an alternative to being kept in custody on remand
  • Introduction of electronic tags as a condition of release from custody while police investigation is ongoing.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "We are preparing for a major expansion on the way we use electronic monitoring across our justice system and we want to hear people’s views on what those changes should look like.

“We want to make best use of emerging technology and make changes which continue our drive to reduce reoffending and tackle our high rate of imprisonment in the best way possible to keep people safe.

“There will always be crimes where a prison sentence is the only reasonable response, but international research backs our own experience that prison is not always not the most effective way to bring down offending." 

International evidence

Dr Hannah Graham, lecturer in criminology at the University of Stirling, said: “This consultation is an important opportunity for people to voice their views because the proposals it contains for new uses of electronic monitoring will require changes to the law to be passed.

‘There’s a pressing need to reduce unnecessary and costly uses of prison in Scotland, and how this is done matters. What roles new uses of electronic tagging might play in this are central to what the consultation asks people to comment on.

International evidence shows electronic monitoring can be used effectively and ethically, without routinely resorting to custody. This doesn’t mean indiscriminate tagging and surveillance en masse, nor does it mean ignoring victims and families. It means tailoring tagging to be fit-for-purpose, with due regard for all affected. This consultation proposes some practical ways of better integrating electronic tagging with supports for rehabilitation to help people leave crime behind.”

To access the consultation click here.

Last year the Scottish Government announced plans to introduce new legislation to expand the use of electronic monitoring.

Consultation on increased use of electronic tagging launched Mon, 06 Mar 2017 11:30:00 +0000 University of Stirling students scooped the prize for Best Factual Film at The Royal Television Society Scotland’s annual Student Television Awards. 

The awards, held at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, celebrate the best in student television from across Scotland.

Highly commended

Stirling film and media students Jamie Sutherland, Kate Galbraith, Calum McIntosh and Sean Hayman were recognised for their film The Cornerman.

The jury was impressed by the well shot, professionally produced film about legendary Coatbridge boxing coach Rab Bannan. The team were commended for a piece that was enjoyable to watch and utilised good access to interesting interviewees.

Calum McIntosh said: "We are honoured by our win at the Royal Television Society awards and would like to thank the production staff at the University of Stirling for all their help and support in making this documentary.

“The Cornerman is not just our story to tell – all of Barn Boxing Club can be proud of it. It’s a testament to the incredible selflessness and humility of Rab Bannan, and the dedication of those who give their time to the Barn.”

Film talent

Ups and Downs, by students Jemma Campbell, Laura Beaton, Gemma Miller and Andrea Linhova, was also nominated in the same category.

Dario Sinforiani, Head of Production Teaching at the University, said: 'We’re delighted that to see another group of Stirling production students win at The Royal Television Society Awards.

“The success they have enjoyed demonstrates their commitment and talent to The Cornerman. I'm very proud of the students and the staff who guided them through the process."

Documentaries from Stirling production students also won the Best Factual Film award in 2012, 2013 and 2015 and The Cornerman was recognised at the 2016 Scottish Student Journalism Awards.

Stirling scoops factual film award Fri, 03 Mar 2017 15:59:00 +0000 A study by the University of Stirling and six other British universities has revealed significant inequalities in child welfare across the UK, with children in Scotland’s poorest areas 20 times more likely than those in the least deprived to become involved in the child protection system.

Researchers found ‘strong social gradients’ in the rates of intervention across the four countries, with each step increase in neighbourhood deprivation bringing a significant rise in the proportion of children either ‘looked after’ in care (LAC) or on a child protection plan or register (CPP/CPR).

Academics from the universities of Stirling, Edinburgh, Coventry, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Cardiff and Queen’s University Belfast were funded by the Nuffield Foundation to investigate data on over 35,000 children who are either LAC or on CPPs – over 10% of all such cases open in March 2015, when the study began.

In Scotland ten local authorities (LAs) took part – representing approximately 53% of the child population (0-17yrs) – with a sample including over 1,500 children on the CPR and around 8,500 LAC.


The Child Welfare Inequalities Project’s findings, which are revealed at a conference in London today, show that:

  • children in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods in Scotland are 20 times more likely to be LAC than children in the least deprived 10%;
  • across the UK, each step increase in deprivation brings a rise of around a third in a child’s chances of being in care;
  • in all countries children are over-represented in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods, particularly so in Northern Ireland.

The study drilled down below local authority level in all the four countries, revealing that children living in equivalent neighbourhoods – whether highly deprived or not – in different LAs have starkly different chances of being in care, with low deprivation LAs around 50% more likely to intervene.

Although it was beyond the scope of the study to analyse why this was the case, the researchers say the likely explanation is that – relative to demand – more deprived LAs have fewer resources to allocate to children’s services.

Scottish care system

Professor Brigid Daniel, from the University of Stirling’s Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, said: “Too many children in Scotland are living in poverty.  It is to be hoped that the range of anti-poverty initiatives in Scotland, including the Child Poverty Bill, will eventually impact on levels of child welfare interventions. However, it is notable that the Child Poverty Strategy makes no mention of child protection or children being looked after away from home as linked with poverty. The First Minister has established a ‘root and branch’ review of the care system in Scotland: our research suggests that this review must focus on poverty as one of the key factors associated with children being accommodated away from home in the first place.”

Researchers also spoke with local authorities and frontline social work professionals about how decisions around individual children and families were made. Poverty was often treated as a ‘taken for granted’ backdrop of practice, rather than a key focus of work to support families.

Child welfare

Lead investigator Professor Paul Bywaters from Coventry University said:“This is not about pointing the finger at local authorities or apportioning blame to anyone for a situation that is in critical need of attention. What we’re doing is holding up a mirror to the child welfare sector, and to the UK’s governments, and saying ‘This is how it is – now what shall we do about it?’. Our ultimate aim is to make reducing inequalities in child welfare a key policy objective, in the same way that tackling inequalities in health and education have been prioritised in recent years.”

Many staff across the UK reported feeling ‘overwhelmed’ by the complex level of need they encountered in families, and did not feel that they had the power to change the inequalities that they saw.

Huge postcode disparity in proportion of children in care Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:28:00 +0000 Football fans are being ‘misled’ by complex gambling adverts on television, a University of Stirling study has found.

Behavioural scientist Dr Philip Newall analysed live-odds gambling adverts displayed during two months of televised English Premier League matches and found they were biased towards complex and highly specific bets.

The research, published in Addiction Research and Theory, found almost 60% of televised bets involved a specific player scoring, while odds for a team to win with an exact score line were also popular. Gambles like this are particularly difficult for punters to accurately predict due to the many potential goal scorers or score lines.

Complicated gambles

Dr Newall, of Stirling Management School, said: “Live-odds TV gambling adverts that promote betting on specific, complex gambles during sporting events are becoming increasingly prominent in the UK. These types of bets are attractive to gamblers due to the high potential win: however, due to the vast number of potential outcomes, they are very difficult to rationally quantify and forecast and result in significant average losses.”

Complex gambles were advertised most often and had the highest bookmaker profit margins. The study found that as the complexity of the bet increased, football fans’ optimism about their chances also grew, yet the odds became less fair.

During the two-month window, only a minority of adverts were based on simpler events, such as “Manchester City to win”, that participants are more likely to correctly identify.

Dr Newall added: “It seems football fans are rarely able to rationalise the likelihood of a win for the complex events that now dominate gambling advertising in the UK. Everyone, from die-hard football fans to novice gamblers, struggled to estimate the outcome of live-odd bets and may be underestimating the cost of these gambles.”

Big business

The gambling industry has spent £500 million on advertising since 2012 and takes in more than £13.6 billion a year from the public.

Dr Newall said: “Bookmaker profit margins on advertised bets are much higher than the average losses on the likes of fixed-odds betting terminals. At a minimum, an industry committed to promoting responsible gambling should disclose the average profit margin with all advertised football bets. Providing people with this information could help them become more sensitive to the risks of costly complex gambles.”

Adrian Parkinson from Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "The betting industry has, for some time, been developing these bet types with a particular focus on attracting the young, football supporting demographic. They are creating the illusion of an easy big win, based on something the consumer feels knowledgeable about, but the reality that is tied up in these complex bet structures means you're odds of winning are negligible. It's manipulation of consumers and it's time bookmakers came clean on the real value of these bets."

This research was funded by the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics and supported by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Gambling adverts on TV ‘mislead’ football fans Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:31:00 +0000 Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, University of Stirling researchers have found.

An analysis, published in the journal Ecology Letters, suggests that forests are at risk globally from the increased frequency and severity of droughts.

Global problem

The study found a similar response in trees across the world, where death increases consistently with increases in drought severity.

Dr Sarah Greenwood, Postdoctoral Researcher in Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: “We can see that the death of trees caused by drought is consistent across different environments around the world. So, a thirsty tree growing in a tropical forest and one in a temperate forest, such as those we find throughout Europe, will have largely the same response to drought and will inevitably suffer as a result of rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns on Earth.”

The biological and environmental scientists did find specific, varying features in different tree types can alter their resistance to drought. Species with denser wood and smaller, thicker leaves tend to fare better during prolonged, unusually-dry periods.

Climate change

Stirling co-author and Professor of Ecology, Alastair Jump, said: “By pinpointing specific traits in trees that determine how at risk they are from drought, we can better understand global patterns of tree mortality and how the world’s forests are reacting to rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.

“As the temperature of the planet continues to climb, mass tree mortality will hit more forests than ever before. Forests store a substantial amount of the world’s carbon and increased tree death will only propel future global warming.

“This has very significant implications for fully understanding the impact of climate change on our planet.”

The study was supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

Forests worldwide threatened by drought Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:50:00 +0000 The burial site of James I of Scotland – brutally murdered 580 years ago today – is set to be explored in a project led by a University of Stirling archaeologist.

Professor Richard Oram, Dean of Stirling’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and colleagues will attempt to locate the city of Perth’s ‘Charterhouse’, a monastery of Carthusian monks commissioned by James I as a showcase and future mausoleum for his dynasty. 

James I was killed, on 21 February 1437, by Sir Robert Graham, an acolyte of the Earl of Atholl, in a bloody struggle for the Scottish throne. The monarch and his wife Joan were both buried in the ‘Charterhouse’.

Today, 21 February 2017, experts in archaeology, Scottish history and 3d visualisation from the University of Stirling, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), and the School of Simulation and Visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art, announced a joint venture that seeks to locate the Charterhouse site – and the tombs within it – and recreate it as a virtual museum for the 21st century.


Project lead Professor Oram said: “Stirling are global leaders in the area of cultural heritage: committed to sharing our knowledge with the world, we’re proud to play a central role in this partnership.

“Perth’s Charterhouse was unique in Scotland. James built it to be the spiritual focus of his dynasty and poured huge sums of money into it to create a splendid setting for his tomb.

“Medieval descriptions speak of the magnificence of the church, but nothing of it remains above ground to be seen today – the whole monastery was plundered and demolished at the Reformation.

“Working with our archaeology colleagues and the wider community in Perth, we aim to locate the Charterhouse buildings and recover as much of their plan as possible to allow us to ‘build’ a virtual reconstruction of the complex and restore the jewel in the crown of the city’s lost medieval heritage. Unearthing this almost forgotten building will transform understanding of Perth’s place in James I’s ambitions: locating the royal tombs within the church would be the icing on the cake.”

Dr Lucy Dean, the newest member of the Centre for History team at UHI and co-investigator on the project, added:  “In the early fifteenth century, Perth was at the geographical heart of the country, a few miles from the inaugural site of Scottish kings, and the setting for parliaments, exchequers, church courts, royal ceremonial, and a bustling hub for trade in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. The murder of James I was a pivotal moment that saw a rapid end to Perth’s status.

“The Charterhouse Project will allow the local, national and world communities the opportunity to discover and re-discover the fascinating history of this lost capital through innovative research and delivery methods. Moreover, both the research and the products it will produce will offer innovative educational tools and involvement for all levels from primary to high education and beyond.”

Project lead at the Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation, Paul Wilson, said: “The Charterhouse Project offers the opportunity to use state of the art 3D visualisation techniques to bring this exciting period of history to life, and to create a vivid sensory experience of James I’s burial place in 360 / 3D Super High definition which would be accessible across a range of different platforms and devices.”

Public engagement

The public will have a chance to learn more about the project on Saturday 25 February 2017 through a digital presentation at Perth Museum and Gallery (10am – 12 noon). A walking tour of the city (12.30pm -2pm) will offer the opportunity to hear about King James I’s dreams to make Perth the capital of Scotland, how these were violently ended in 1437, and how archaeological and historical research are helping to tell the story.

The team will work closely with Perth and Kinross Council and local groups (including Culture Perth and Kinross, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, Alder Archaeology, and Perth Society of Natural Sciences) as the project is developed.

This partnership announcement comes after Stirling recently launched an ambitious new educational partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Forth Valley College (FVC), which will promote and develop expertise in managing Scotland’s heritage assets, as well as providing new training opportunities from apprenticeships to postgraduate level qualifications.

Forgotten Scots royal burial site to be explored by Stirling academic Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:09:00 +0000 How funds for current EU-based policies should be transferred to the nation’s devolved governments post-Brexit has been considered by leading University of Stirling economist, Professor David Bell, in a parliamentary report.

The report, Brexit, EU Area-based Policies, and the Devolved Governments, highlights that more than 80 per cent of the money received by the UK from the EU in 2015, excluding rebates, was allocated to policy areas controlled by the devolved governments. However, their role in the distribution of these funds post-Brexit, is yet to be determined.

Devolved governments

Professor Bell of Stirling Management School, said: “Since the EU referendum, the post-Brexit future for agricultural, regional and rural policies in the UK has been hotly debated, but the role of the devolved governments in relation to these policies has been largely overlooked.

“Even if the UK government decides to continue with area-based policies, important decisions must be made about the allocation of responsibility for their design, administration and evaluation. Repatriating the policies to the UK will pose many political and economic challenges.”

Crucial negotiations

As the UK government begins negotiations with the EU on a number of areas that could dismantle or redesign exciting policies linked to specific locations within the UK, Professor Bell outlines three possible approaches to the funding distribution.

He suggests government officials consider adopting the Barnett formula to allocate the funding or look to create a new set of objective statistical measures, agreed by the four constituent nations, to determine a base allocation.

Another possibility is to agree a shared level of support for policies based in the devolved nations and then transfer an equivalent amount of tax revenues to those governments.

Disrupted relationships

Professor Bell said: “Using the Barnett formula would be a fairly straight-forward option, however, if agriculture and regional spending is cut back in England by the UK government, the devolved governments would come under pressure to follow suit.

“Coming up with new criteria for base allocations is an objective and transparent technique and might achieve better economic and social outcomes for the UK as a whole, however, it would be inconsistent with other funding allocation arrangements.

“The idea to transfer equivalent tax revenues would give devolved governments a greater deal of autonomy, but budgets would not be ring fenced and could become threatened by governments’ other priorities.”

The report concludes that conflicts around funding decisions post-Brexit have the potential to disrupt the relationship between different levels of government within the UK and should not be underestimated.

Government urged to consider allocations of regional funds post-Brexit Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:47:00 +0000 The University of Stirling’s Chancellor Dr James Naughtie – and Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac – have been elected to become Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Also elected to become RSE Fellows were Professor Ronan O’Carroll, of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as alumni Sir Paul Grice, Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament, and Cairn Energy founder Sir Bill Gammell.

International recognition

Professor McCormac said: “I am very pleased to receive this recognition from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, both from a personal perspective and on behalf of my University of Stirling colleagues also honoured today.

“This is a tremendous accolade from an internationally-renowned organisation, validating our commitment to deliver real benefits to the local, national and international communities we serve.”

Extensive achievements

New Fellows are elected each year through a rigorous five-stage nomination process. The five members of the Stirling community were among a total of 59 people named as having been elected to become RSE members.

President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, said: “Each newly elected Fellow has been nominated on their exceptional and extensive achievements; it is a great honour to welcome such a range of outstanding individuals to the Fellowship.

“In joining the RSE Fellowship, they will strengthen the Society’s capacity to advance excellence across all areas of public life in Scotland and further afield.”

The RSE aims to support ‘the advancement of learning and useful knowledge in Scottish public life’.

Five-star Stirling success in top Fellowship Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:18:00 +0000