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 final of the UK’s largest business funding competition – similar in format to the hit TV show Dragon’s Den – will be hosted at the University of Stirling, it has been announced.

Scottish EDGE – a contest that identifies and supports the country’s up-and-coming entrepreneurial talent – will take place at the Macrobert Arts Centre on Wednesday 29 May.

The University and the Macrobert are hosting the event – expected to attract 600 attendees – in partnership with Stirling Council and Forth Valley College. It will see 20 businesses pitch to an expert panel of judges, chaired by Jim McColl OBE, in a bid to win a slice of the £1million prize pot.

There will also be a number of keynote speakers and business support exhibitors.

It is the first time that Scottish EDGE has left its Edinburgh home since its inception in 2013 and the University’s Director of Commercial Services, Liam Spillane, is delighted to welcome the event to campus.

He said: “Stirling Venues is delighted to attract such a vibrant and high-profile event to the University of Stirling campus, which is itself a thriving hub of research and innovation. 

“We’re always keen to encourage collaboration between industry and the academic community and this is a great opportunity to showcase to incubator companies our breath-taking location and unique event facilities.” 

Mr McColl, of Clyde Blowers, will be joined on the panel by Steve Dunlop, of Scottish Canals; Simon Hannah, of Fishill; Maeve McMahon, of Royal Bank of Scotland; and Carol Beattie, of Stirling Council.

Businesses are able to win up to £150,000, with a total of £1million on offer.

Now in its twelfth funding round, Scottish EDGE – which is supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hunter Foundation, and the Scottish Government – has provided a springboard to almost 300 businesses.

Past winners have, to date, created an additional 2,660 Scottish jobs, generated an additional £79.78m in turnover, and received additional investment to the sum of £67.44m. In the last round of Scottish EDGE, cash prizes of £1.07m were shared amongst 38 winners across three different categories.

Scottish EDGE CEO, Evelyn McDonald, said: “For us, Stirling is the perfect location for EDGE’s first venture away from its native Edinburgh venue. The city’s pro-business attitude and fast progression towards being a centre of excellence in start-up innovation, aligns perfectly with our agenda to attract and support the best entrepreneurial talent Scotland has to offer.

“With businesses from CodeBase Stirling and University of Stirling’s Sporting Chance Initiative occupying finalist and winner places in the past three Scottish EDGE Finals, it has been impossible for us to ignore the quality of start-up business that Stirling is producing. We’re looking forward to experiencing first-hand that highly driven entrepreneurial culture.”

Final of ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition to be held at Stirling Wed, 09 May 2018 09:58:00 +0000 A research team led by a University of Stirling expert have set off on a scientific cruise to the Arctic Ocean to study the effects of warming on marine life.

Professor David Pond, of the University’s Institute of Aquaculture, is Principal Scientific Officer on the voyage to the Fram Strait region between, Greenland and Svalbard, which forms part of a larger £16million programme.

The team will investigate the impact of warmer winters across the polar region, which has resulted in year-on-year lows of sea ice – which is having an unprecedented effect on how the Arctic ecosystem operates.

Changes to the lower part of the food chain are causing serious concern because it is dominated by one type of zooplankton – copepods, small crustaceans the size of a rice grain. As fish and other species rely on zooplankton for their main source of food, the Arctic food chain is precarious in the face of climate change and susceptible to dynamic change.

Scientists from two of the programme’s projects will spend a month at sea assessing how zooplankton are coming with a warming Arctic Ocean (DIAPOD project), and the impact of warming on the Arctic food chain (ARISE project). The scientists will collect samples and examine them to check how healthy the animals are, while their environments will also be examined.

Professor Pond, lead investigator of the DIAPOD project, said: “We have a busy and exciting schedule of science ahead of us.

“We will use specialised nets to catch the zooplankton from the surface down to depths of 2km in the Fram Strait region. We will be conducting on-board experiments to study how environmental change is impacting on these animals. We’re particularly interested in understanding if this key Arctic food source is showing signs of change in its behaviour or abundance.”

Dr Claire Mahaffey, of the University of Liverpool, is leading the ARISE project.

She said: “It is important to understand how the Arctic Ocean is responding to a changing environment, and it is vital we are able to detect change to the Arctic ecosystem above natural ecosystem variability.

“Overall, ARISE will use a combination of biological markers at the base of the food chain and in Arctic seals alongside seal population ecology and mathematical models to develop a new framework to detect long term change in the Arctic Ecosystem. During the cruise to the Fram Strait, we will capture the biomarker signals at the base of the food chain during a key transition period from winter to spring in the Arctic. The ARISE team will be busy collecting large quantities of seawater, phytoplankton and zooplankton for biomarker analysis back in our laboratories.”

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: "Climate change has a devastating effect on our planet, from melting polar ice caps to rising sea levels and I am proud the UK is leading the way in tackling this harm.

“World-class researchers from 18 different UK institutes will be undertaking this vitally important work and through our modern Industrial Strategy we have committed to investing 2.4 per cent of GDP on research and development to help tackle major global challenges.”

Funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), the Changing Arctic Ocean programme aims to generate a better understanding of the Arctic to more accurately predict future change to the environment and the ecosystem. Within the programme, there are four main projects, with more than 80 scientists combined, from 18 UK research institutes.

Stirling expert leads research expedition to the Arctic Wed, 09 May 2018 09:20:26 +0000 Guests are invited to swing back in time to the 1960s at an evening of games, songs and film organised by the University of Stirling.

The University is taking part in the Scotland-wide Festival of Museums weekend – an annual three-day celebration of history, culture and arts organised by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) - on Saturday 19 May.

The Art Collection is celebrating 50 years of the University of Stirling and all things 1960s, with a tour of its 1967 exhibition, the opportunity to listen to songs and play board games from the sixties, and a free screening of the 1969 film 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'.

Curator Jane Cameron said:  “We are delighted to be taking part in Festival of Museums this year to celebrate 1967 and 50 years of the University. 

“In 1967, the students and staff arriving on campus would have felt themselves part of a young, modern movement. Youth was in the news as never before thanks to the year's Summer of Love, the hippy counterculture, civil rights marches and protests, and above all the revolution in popular music, with its pervading influence on media, fashion and youth lifestyles. 

“We want to reflect this history and inspire the same kind of feeling in our students now.  We are particularly pleased that as part of the event, current Creative Writing students will be delivering a public reading of work inspired by our 1967 exhibition.”

The 1967 exhibition highlights the Pathfoot building's role in the first year of the University and examines the life of its first students, looking at what they were wearing, listening to and reading as they lounged on Harry Bertoia-designed chairs in this modernist paradise. 

Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to listen to the songs of the ‘60s and play board games such as Twister, which was released in 1967.  Creative Writing students will also read from their work inspired by the 1967 exhibition.

The event will end with a screening of the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on a novel by Muriel Spark. 

The University of Stirling event, which is being held in the Pathfoot Building on Saturday 19 May between 6-10pm, is free of charge, but tickets must be booked in advance.

For further information, please contact:

Swing back in time to the 1960s at University’s Festival of Museums event Tue, 08 May 2018 15:07:00 +0000 The University of Stirling’s Art Collection will receive a share of £3.6million set aside to support internationally important collections at university museums.

Announced by Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, the funding will see £1.2m shared among Scottish universities for three academic years, beginning 2018-19.

Jane Cameron, Art Curator at the University of Stirling, welcomed the pledge. She said: “The grant three years ago was transformational for the Art Collection and allowed us to develop an outreach programme engaging with students, staff and the wider community.”

University museums look after over two million items, which account for around 18 per cent of Scotland’s national collection.

Speaking during a visit to Glasgow School of Art, Ms Somerville said: “Scotland’s university collections represent a resource of outstanding scholarly, educational and cultural importance. This investment recognises the national importance of our university museums, as well as the vital role they have within their institutions.

“Hearing from students at the Glasgow School of Art, it is clear that the collections play an important part in their day-to-day learning as well as providing a service to the wider research community. Our funding will support projects across nine Scottish universities to enhance the public accessibility of their museums and galleries and help build on existing community engagement and outreach work.”

Stirling and the Glasgow School of Art will share the grant – managed by the Scottish Funding Council – with Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Robert Gordon and St Andrews universities.

John Kemp, interim chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Scottish university museums are an important educational and cultural resource for the nation. This funding is a significant investment in the valuable work that goes on there and will also support the museums’ ambition for the future in areas such as digital technology.”

Jacky MacBeath, Convenor of University Museums in Scotland, said: “This is fantastic news for university museums in Scotland. This grant will support innovative work in university museums, from local inclusion programmes to international engagement projects.” 

Stirling Art Collection boosted by new funding Tue, 08 May 2018 11:12:00 +0000 The University of Stirling is partnering with a leading education provider to deliver Stirling courses in Singapore.

The agreement between the University and Amity Global Institute will allow students in Singapore to enrol on undergraduate and postgraduate-level degree courses.

From September, students will be able to sign up for: BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance; Master of Business Administration; and BSc (Hons) Management. And from February 2019, students can enrol on: MSc Banking and Finance; and MSc Data Science for Business.


University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac, welcomed Dr Aseem Chauhan, Chancellor of Amity Education Group, to Stirling’s campus on 1 May, to meet key staff and explore future areas for collaboration in teaching and research.

Amity Education Group has more than 150,000 students in 300 programmes at 150 institutions. It has 35 campuses in India, as well as in London, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Netherlands, Mauritius, South Africa and China. More than 6000 staff and faculty work in the Amity Group and are credited with having completed 300 funded research projects and having filed over 900 patents.

Stirling joins forces with top Singapore education institute Fri, 04 May 2018 11:49:00 +0000 Experts at the University of Stirling will lead a new study investigating the effects of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable groups.

The research is one of two studies funded by the independent charity, GambleAware, with the other project being led by Ipsos MORI.

The studies will look at the extent of gambling advertising and marketing, where it occurs, the themes and messages, and which particular aspects affect children, young people and vulnerable groups. They will use innovative techniques to understand targeting of people based on their online behaviour and the role of social networks.

The project brings together a range of expertise and organisations, with Stirling working alongside ScotCen Social Research and the University and Glasgow. Ipsos MORI will work with cross-party think-tank Demos and marketing analytics specialists Ebiquity.

Fiona Dobbie, Research Fellow at the University’s Institute for Social Marketing, is leading the Stirling study.

She said: “We are delighted to be part of this research consortium conducting the first UK-based study into the impact of gambling marketing on children, young people and vulnerable groups.

“Working with our collaborators we will explore the different ways that gambling marketing may reach and appeal to young people and vulnerable groups, for example through sport sponsorship and social media, and we will be developing a greater understanding of the ways that such marketing may influence gambling-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour. Findings from this study will fill an increasingly urgent evidence gap, which will impact future policy and debate.” 

Clare Wyllie, Director of Research and Evaluation at GambleAware, said: “The research will provide a much more nuanced understanding of which specific exposure, content and techniques in gambling marketing and advertising have the most effect on which particular vulnerable group.

“This is important so policy makers can target aspects which pose the most risk. We are excited by the strength and range of teams working on this project”.

Guided by the National Responsible Gambling Strategy, GambleAware is an independent charity tasked to fund research, education and treatment services to help minimise gambling-related harm in Great Britain.

University launches study into gambling marketing Thu, 03 May 2018 14:17:20 +0000 A major discovery that could “revolutionise” the understanding of omega-3 production in the ocean has been made by an international team of scientists.

Led by the University of Stirling, research has found – for the first time – that omega-3 fatty acids can be created by many invertebrates inhabiting marine ecosystems, including corals, worms and molluscs.

The breakthrough challenges the generally held principle that marine microbes, such as microalgae and bacteria, are responsible for virtually all primary production of omega-3.

Lead scientist Dr Oscar Monroig, of the Institute of Aquaculture, said that the findings strongly suggest that aquatic invertebrates may make “a very significant contribution to global omega-3 production”.

“Our study provides a significant paradigm shift, as it demonstrates that a large variety of invertebrate animals, including corals, rotifers, molluscs, polychaetes and crustaceans, possess enzymes called ‘desaturases’ of a type that enable them to produce omega-3, an ability thought to exist almost exclusively in marine microbes,” Dr Monroig explained.

First author of the study, Dr Naoki Kabeya, of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, visited the Institute of Aquaculture after receiving a fellowship from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS).

Dr Kabeya said: “Since invertebrates represent a major component of the biomass in aquatic ecosystems such as coral reefs, abyssal plains and hydrothermal vents, their contribution to the overall omega-3 production is likely to be remarkable.”

The research also involved Stirling’s Professor Douglas Tocher, and members of an international consortium of scientists, including Dr David Ferrier, of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews; Dr Filipe Castro, of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) - University of Porto; the Spanish National Research Council; the Australian Institute of Marine Science; and Deakin University.

Dr Ferrier said: “It was very surprising to us to see just how widespread these genes were, particularly in animals that are so common and abundant in the sea.

“It is also intriguing that these genes seem to be jumping between very different organisms, such as from plants or fungi into an insect and a spring-tail, by a process of horizontal gene transfer. This has been a controversial idea, that genes can move around in this way, but our data looks rather convincing that these genes have done this in at least some of these species."

Certain omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential for human health, particularly in western countries with high prevalence of cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases for which omega-3 oil supplements are commonly prescribed. Therefore, the new research is not only likely to impact the scientific community, but also the general public and various industries involved in the production of supplements.

“These findings can revolutionise our understanding of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids production on a global scale,” Dr Monroig added.

The paper, Genes for de novo biosynthesis of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are widespread in animals, was funded by MASTS and the European Union’s FP7 funding programme.

The research is published in Science Advances.

Scientists make major breakthrough on omega-3 production Thu, 03 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 An image showing two boys walking hand-in-hand alongside their father – who is using a wheelchair – has won the inaugural images competition designed to promote research at the University of Stirling.

Nearly 2,000 people voted for the image, entitled Enabling carers to be active, which was submitted by PhD student Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

The image, entered in the Living Well category, highlighted behaviour change research to understand and address the barriers carers of all ages face in keeping active.

Shubhanna took the photo of her husband and two sons while they were on holiday in Lincolnshire last summer. Her husband has a neurological condition and their youngest son is autistic.

“We go to the same holiday park each year, because it's one of the few places we know that caters specifically for families living with a disability or long-term health condition,” she said.

“It's perhaps not apparent to many people how hard and time-consuming it can be to plan a family holiday when you also have to consider whether the holiday venue will be accessible for people with physical and learning difficulties – are all of the rooms accessible for a wheelchair user; are there activities to do which are accessible and fun; is there a hospital or medical centre nearby in case the health condition deteriorates during the holiday? 

“On the surface, it looks like a happy holiday snap of a family enjoying a lovely walk on a summer day. What you don't see is the number of people and organisations who played a part in enabling this one moment to happen. For me, this picture represents what can be achieved when health and social care professionals work together with families to address the barriers that we face in accessing something as simple as a walk in the park.”

She added: “I'm really pleased that this research image competition helped to raise awareness of the barriers that many family carers face in looking after their own health and wellbeing. I was overwhelmed by the response to the image and by the number of people who contacted me to say that the picture really resonated with them.

“We know that around one in seven people in Scotland currently provide unpaid care to a disabled or ill family member, so perhaps it's not that surprising that so many people, across all sections of society, could relate to the message being conveyed in that one image.”

The second prize went to PhD student Ellie Hopkins, from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, for her image Who’s watching, in the Cultures, Communities and Society category.

The image, which gained 1,600 votes, shows graffiti on a wall to highlight research surveying the proliferation of social documentary photography and photojournalism in modern South Wales.

The third prize was won by PhD student Seonaid MacKay, from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, for her photo Rural nursing, of a woman walking along a country road – also in the Cultures, Communities and Society category.

With 1,100 votes, this image was linked to research into rural nursing and the interplay between people, profession and place.

A memorable mention went to Katherine Raines, PhD student in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, for her image Trapped Przewalski foal in Chernobyl. Submitted in the category Global Security and Resilience, this image highlighted her research into the ecological consequences of radiation to wildlife.

The results of the competition were announced at the inaugural Research Images awards ceremony on Monday evening, and prizes of £250, £150 and £100 towards research expenses were presented to the three winners by Deputy Principal (Research) Professor Judith Phillips. They also received a framed copy of their image.

Research Development Officer Fiona Millar said: “My colleague, Rachel Beaton, and I are delighted with the engagement our inaugural Research Images competition received. We were pleasantly overwhelmed with the number of votes cast and enjoyed seeing how the top three changed over the voting period.

“Research Images demonstrates an appetite across our research community to disseminate their research in novel and innovative ways that we look forward to continue encouraging.”

Photo of young carers wins inaugural images competition Wed, 02 May 2018 11:26:00 +0000 The University of Stirling’s top athletes have been given a heroes’ welcome on their return to campus after starring at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The group brought home 11 medals from Australia, with third-year swimming scholar, Duncan Scott, becoming the most decorated Scottish athlete at a single Games, as he won six medals at the Optus Aquatic Centre.

The 20-year-old-won bronze in the 200m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 4x100m freestyle relay, alongside Stirling teammates Scott McLay and Craig McLean, before going on to claim a sensational gold in the 100m freestyle, a further bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay and silver in the 200m individual medley.

Commenting on his success, Scott said: "Gregor Tait used to hold the title of the most successful athlete at a single Games and he was amazing for the sport: he's helped all the swimmers that are performing now to come through.

"I've been a World Champion as part of a relay team but to be Commonwealth Champion individually is great."

Other medals in the pool for Stirling athletes included Aimee Willmott, 25, who landed England’s first gold medal of the Games in the 400m individual medley, while Ross Murdoch, 24, won silver for Scotland in the 200m breaststroke. If entered as its own team, the University would have finished fifth in the Games’ swimming medal standings.

Out of the pool, Stirling graduate, Marc Austin, 24, put in a hugely impressive performance to take bronze in the triathlon.

Welcoming the athletes back to campus, University of Stirling Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: “I am delighted and immensely proud of our athletes who have returned from Australia with two gold, two silver and seven bronze medals.

“The achievements are testament to the hard work and dedication of our athletes and coaches here at Stirling, and, once again, re-emphasises our position as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.”

Eight swimmers who train at the National Swimming Academy, based at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, were selected for the Games. Scott, Willmott, Murdoch, McLay and McLean, were joined by Scotland’s Kathleen Dawson and Craig Benson, as well as Northern Ireland’s Calum Bain. All are coached by Steven Tigg, Head Performance Swimming Coach who was also part of the Team Scotland coaching group in Australia, supported by Bradley Hay and Josh Williamson.

Stirling’s Grant Sheldon also competed alongside Austin in the triathlon.

The athletes are now back in full training and preparing for demanding summer schedules, with the swimmers working towards the European Championships in Glasgow whilst the triathletes’ focus will be on World and European Series events.

Heroes’ welcome for returning Gold Coast stars Tue, 01 May 2018 15:17:00 +0000 Two decades of nursing at the University of Stirling and the 70th anniversary of the NHS will be marked with a special event featuring guest speakers and musical performances.

The celebration of nursing – jointly hosted by the University and NHS Forth Valley – will take place at Macrobert Arts Centre next week, when International Nurses’ Day will also be marked.

Speakers will include Professor Fiona McQueen, Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer; Professor Angela Wallace, Nurse Director at NHS Forth Valley; and Professor Catherine Niven, Professor Emeritus at the University of Stirling.

Stirling student nurse Ela Hamer will be among a number of others to give a presentation at the event, which will also include two short screenings, a display of historical items by the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, and a performance by Forth Valley Nurses Choir.

Professor Jayne Donaldson, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, who will welcome attendees on the day, said: “The University of Stirling, in conjunction with NHS Forth Valley, is delighted to host this special celebration of nursing.

“The event will allow us to mark 21 years of nursing at Stirling and the 70th anniversary of the NHS, while recognising the vital work of nurses and student nurses around the world.

“We are looking forward to welcoming nurses, student nurses and members of the public to the Macrobert for an afternoon of presentations, exhibitions and music.”

Professor Angela Wallace, NHS Forth Valley Director of Nursing, said: “This celebration will showcase the changing role of nursing as a profession over the past seven decades.

“Although medical advances have moved far away from the early days of treating patients with polio and TB, today's nurses still maintain the caring spirit of their predecessors.”

Nursing 2018: A Celebration will take place at the Macrobert Arts Centre between 3pm and 5pm on Tuesday 8 May – ahead of International Nurses Day on Saturday 12 May.

The free event is open to the public, however, attendees are asked to register here.

Nursing celebration at the Macrobert Arts Centre Mon, 30 Apr 2018 12:05:46 +0000 A University of Stirling nursing lecturer has picked up a top prize at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2018.

Teaching Fellow Jennie Young was named Educator of the Year at the awards ceremony, held at the London Hilton on Park Lane yesterday.

“It was an amazing day, with so much to celebrate in the future of nursing,” said Jennie. “I am so honoured to have been the chosen winner amongst very talented fellow finalists.

“I'm still a bit overwhelmed to be honest but it's an incredible feeling. I'm so grateful to my colleagues both academically and clinically and especially the students for making this happen.   

“Mental health nursing is an incredible career and to be able to contribute to the knowledge and skills of the students who will become the qualified staff of the future is a great privilege. I really am truly grateful.” 

Professor Jayne Donaldson, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “Jennie has been an inspirational educator, leading our work on trauma-informed care within mental health nursing.  She works jointly between the University and NHS Forth Valley, meaning that her work has influenced both academic nursing and in practice. 

“We are delighted her work has been recognised by this award.”

Student nurses, universities and organisations from across the student nursing community were honoured in 19 categories dedicated to celebrating exceptional achievement. 

Stirling was the only Scottish university shortlisted in the Educator of the Year category.

Jenni Middleton, Nursing Times editor and host of the Student Nursing Times Awards, said: “The Student Nursing Times Awards are a fantastic celebration of student nurses and the universities and placement providers that educate and train them.

“The skills, expertise and insight that is taught by educators and mentors in provider organisations as well as in the academic setting is to be celebrated because it inspires our next generation of nursing talent.

“Every year, our judges are stunned by the standard of our entrants, and this year in particular they commented to me just how much better the quality of applicants was. We are delighted to be handing out these trophies to the very best students, and the organisations that are supporting them and helping them to become nurses.”

Going into their 8th year, the Student Nursing Times Awards will return in 2019 and are the only awards recognising student nurses and nurse education.

For more information, visit the Student Nursing Times Awards.

University lecturer lands top nursing award Fri, 27 Apr 2018 12:59:00 +0000 A decade-long survey of western lowland gorillas and central chimpanzees has revealed that there are far more apes living in the Western Equatorial region of Africa than previously estimated.

Researchers, including experts from the University of Stirling, estimate that 360,000 gorillas and nearly 130,000 chimpanzees inhabit the forests of the region – more than previously thought.

However, the team also observed that 80 per cent of the great apes exist outside protected areas – and that gorilla populations are declining by 2.7 per cent annually.

The experts concluded that efforts to stop poaching, illegal logging, and habitat degradation and destruction are key to saving the endangered animals.

Published in Science Advances, the groundbreaking study, led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), involved 54 co-authors – including Stirling’s Dr Fiona Maisels, Honorary Professor; Dr Liz Williamson, Honorary Senior Research Fellow; and Kathryn Jeffery, Research Fellow.

In the largest study of its kind, the team gathered and analysed data on western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee populations. The fieldwork – covering 72,000 square miles – collectively took 167 person-years, with researchers walking a distance longer than the north-south axis of Africa.

Experts attributed the disparity between estimated numbers and the actual populations to refinements in survey methodology and new data from areas not previously included in estimates.


However, during the course of their study, the team also observed a decline in numbers – which supports the continued status of gorillas as ‘critically endangered’ and chimpanzees as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The main factors for the decline are illegal hunting, habitat degradation, and disease.

Although the majority of the great apes were found outside protected areas, they were still in large forested landscapes close to or bordering existing national parks and reserves and away from centres of human activity. This suggests that protecting large and intact forested areas, with protected areas at their core, is critical to conserving gorillas and chimpanzees in this region.

Dr Maisels said: “Our study underscores the huge importance of intact forests to gorillas and chimpanzees, and of preventing illegal felling of good quality forests”.

The authors also recommended the implementation of careful logging practices to reduce impacts on wildlife and habitats, and for land-use planning to be considered on a national scale to ensure ecologically-harmful activities is kept away from intact forests and protected areas.

Dr Williamson, who is also the IUCN Red List Authority Coordinator for great apes, said: “A combination of responsible industrial practices, conservation policies, and a network of well-managed parks and corridors would provide wildlife managers with a winning formula for conserving great apes in Central Africa. Our study has revealed that it is not too late to secure a future for gorillas and chimpanzees.”

Lead author Samantha Strindberg, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “It’s great news that the forests of Western Equatorial Africa still contain hundreds of thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees, but we’re also concerned that so many of these primates are outside protected areas and vulnerable to poachers, disease and habitat loss.

“These findings can help inform national and regional management strategies to safeguard the remaining habitat, increase anti-poaching efforts, and curtail the effects of development on great apes and other wildlife”.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Jane Goodall Institute, Conservation International and the University of Washington are among the collaborators on the research.

The study, “Guns, germs and trees determine density and distribution of gorillas and chimpanzees in Western Equatorial Africa”, is published in Science Advances.

Study reveals greater ape population than predicted – but numbers are still on decline Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:34:00 +0000 A £21 million plan to transform the University of Stirling student experience was unveiled today.

The Campus Central project is one of the University’s biggest infrastructure investments since its foundation, designed with input from the Students’ Union, staff and local stakeholders.

Professor Gerry McCormac, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “The transformation of the centre of our campus is one of the University’s key ambitions to support the achievement of our strategic aims in learning, teaching and research.

“It will enable us to significantly enhance the Stirling student experience and to deliver facilities commensurate with our ambitions to be one of the top 25 universities in the UK.”


University of Stirling Students’ Union President, Astrid Smallenbroek, said: “The Students’ Union is excited by the University’s plans to transform the heart of the campus, to further enhance the student experience.

“We are working in partnership with the University on this project and particularly welcome further improvements to the University’s student support service facilities, and that Stirling students will benefit from new study and social learning spaces.”

Campus Central will:

  • Enhance our commitment to delivering an exceptional student experience, including new study and learning spaces – and enhanced student support facilities
  • Create vibrant learning and research collaboration spaces
  • Establish a new gateway to the Macrobert Arts Centre, enhancing existing connections with students, staff and the local community
  • Offer an improved retail and catering experience to better serve the University’s diverse, global community of staff, students and visitors
  • Enhance the visual appeal of the campus, maximising the impact of the natural surroundings

The Campus Central development is expected to begin in early 2019, and be completed around September 2020. It will see the refurbishment of the existing Atrium, creation of a three-storey new building, and a re-landscaped, traffic-free Queen’s Court.

The project will see a new entrance and central welcome area for the Andrew Miller Building, with retail, catering, events space and student support services facilities. It will also feature expanded and enhanced meeting and social learning and study space at the Atrium.

The Queen’s Court ground-floor level will provide the gateway to the Macrobert Arts Centre, student support services, meeting and multi-purpose learning spaces. The upper second-floor will house an interdisciplinary, collaborative research space and the Graduate School.

More than 3,000m2 of additional floor space will be created to meet the needs of the growing University community, as well as circa 2,500m2 of refurbished Atrium space. The development will improve connections between the loch-side entrance, residences, teaching zone, Students’ Union, Macrobert Arts Centre, Queen’s Court and Cottrell Building.


Stakeholder workshops and consultations with students, staff, and other users have taken place and will be ongoing to inform the development of the detailed design and layout.

Campus Central also encompasses changes to the transport flow in and around the campus, including the introduction of a new and improved transport hub, minor changes to car parking and new bus routes through the campus.

The works on these transportation changes will begin in mid-May and are expected to be completed in September 2018.

On completion of the main Campus Central building works, the Queen’s Court will be fully transformed into a pedestrianised zone, with the exception of access for emergency and service vehicles.

Transport plans

To facilitate long-term improvements to the University’s facilities, a pedestrian zone will be created in the Queen’s Court area, and will require some essential changes to traffic flow on campus. Buses will be re-routed to a new and improved transport hub providing bus travellers with close access to the Logie Entrance to Cottrell teaching space, Stirling Court Hotel and the University of Stirling INTO Building.

Through the staff and student consultation, it was clear that it was vital to maintain a bus route through the campus, to best serve commuters from the Hillfoots and Clackmannanshire areas. In response to this feedback, a new through-bus route will be created from the transport hub, through part of the current South Car Park, and then on via the Innovation Park road and out onto the Hillfoots Road.

The changes will result in the re-positioning of some car parking; however, there will be no reduction in the overall number of campus car parking spaces available to drivers, as these will be reprovisioned in a new car parking area added to the South Car Park.

The new plans allow for three arrival bus stops into the campus. These will be located at the main entrance to campus - providing access to the Pathfoot Building, outside the Gannochy Sports Centre, and at the new transport hub, which is located close to the Logie Lecture Theatre.

There will be two departure points, which will positioned within the transport hub and at the Pathfoot stop.

The University is committed to providing a fully accessible campus for all our staff, students and visitors. All the plans for the new transport hub, and access to and from all the bus stops, have considered accessibility to the campus, and comply with the Equality Act 2010.

An increased number of disabled parking bays will also be located close to the Macrobert Arts Centre, to allow for safe and easy access to the Centre and the Andrew Miller Building for drivers with disabilities.

The transportation design was developed through stakeholder engagement. A series of consultation workshops were held with staff and students, and these will continue through the next stages of this project.

The University has also consulted, and is in regular discussion with, local bus companies, to ensure the changes meet with their requirements.

The planning application has already been approved by Stirling Council and it is intended that work on the transportation project will commence next month, and be completed and available for use in September 2018, in time for the new semester.

Stirling student experience set for £21m transformation Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:36:55 +0000 Pythons, moths and frogs exhibit a certain type of camouflage that hides their identity from other animals even after they have been spotted, new research has found.

The study, by the University of Stirling and Abertay University, challenges the theory that a predator immediately recognises its prey as soon as they see it.

Published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the research reveals that the appearance of animals with “edge-enhanced disruptive colouration” – where dark patches of camouflage have darker edges and light patches have lighter edges – is difficult for others to identify.

The findings show, for the first time, that this pattern of colouration – which gives the impression of varying surface depths and shadows – appears to slow the process of recognition and, consequently, makes animals harder to identify.

The study was conducted by Dr Rebecca Sharman, a Research Fellow in Psychology at Stirling, alongside Dr George Lovell (Lecturer in Psychology) and Stephen Moncrieff (BSc (Hons) Forensic Psychobiology student), both of Abertay University.

Dr Sharman said: “In the past, it has been assumed that if you can detect where a target is, you must also know what it is. For the first time, we show that this is not the case.

“Edge-enhanced disruptive colouration not only makes targets harder to find, but also harder to identify: just because you know where something is, does not mean that you know what it is.”

Researchers conducted tests with human volunteers at the Visual Perception and Camouflage Lab at Abertay. The participants viewed images of camouflaged animals on a monitor and were asked to locate the target and identify it as either predator or prey.

The research team observed that participants required longer to identify a target, even if they located it relatively quickly.

In addition, when the image background was simplified – making all animals equally easy to locate – it still took longer to identify those with edge-enhanced disruptive colouration.

Dr Lovell said: “The theory that disruptive colouration might impede recognition has been part of biological textbooks for decades. It is great that we finally have some experimental support for this claim.

“Developing effective camouflage has obvious military applications, but it is also used for town planning, architecture, fashion, conservation, and bird-watching, amongst many other things.

“Surprisingly, most military camouflage is not developed on the basis of empirical evidence and, as such, research of this kind has the potential to really make a difference to the safety of personnel.”

Camouflage protects animals – even if they are spotted Thu, 26 Apr 2018 09:35:17 +0000 Following swimming and triathlon glory at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the University of Stirling’s athletes continue to deliver as its golfers and tennis players claimed British titles over the past week amongst other successes. 

Here are the latest sporting headlines.


Having won a clean sweep at the Scottish Student Sport championships earlier in the month, Stirling’s leading golfers travelled to the BUCS Tour Finals at Woodhall Spa full of confidence and the athletes didn’t disappoint. Laird Shepherd and Chloe Goadby won the respective men and women’s titles with Gemma Batty finishing a close second to Goadby. The event also saw a Stirling 1-2-3 in the women’s Order of Merit as first-year scholar, Hazel MacGarvie, was rewarded for a consistent season with the overall accolade whilst Batty and Goadby finished second and third respectively. In the men’s overall standings, Shepherd finished third, just ahead of teammate Robert Foley in fourth.

The team then rounded off the student golf season by winning the BUCS Golf Team Championship at Ganton Golf Club in Yorkshire, defeating Scottish rivals, St Andrews, in the final 6.5-2.5. The win means the team, led by High Performance Golf Coach, Dean Robertson, have won the Scottish, British and European team titles in 2017/18 making it one of the most successful seasons in the team's history.


The University’s tennis stars continued the British success at the BUCS Individual Tennis Championships in London. Natasha Fourouclas won the women’s singles event, defeating teammate Patricia Skowronski in the final. The duo then teamed up to finish second in the women’s doubles where they lost out to fellow Stirling pair, Rebecca Pedrazzi and Ingrid Vojcinakova.

In the men’s draw, Scott Duncan and Kieran Macarty made it to the final of the men’s double before losing out to Tiarnan Brady and Ben Jones of Team Bath.


Sport and Exercise Science student, Bobby Lammie, and his Team Mouat teammates returned from the World Men’s Curling Championships in Las Vegas with a bronze medal after defeating South Korea 11-4 in the third/fourth place play-off.

The team made the semi-finals having topped the round-robin stage but narrowly lost out to Canada to move into the bronze medal match.


The men’s 1st XI ended their Scottish Lowland Football League season with an excellent 2-0 victory over East Kilbride who currently sitting second in the table. The team now prepare for a two-tie playoff against Liverpool John Moores University where the winner will secure a place in next season’s BUCS Premier North Division.

Meanwhile, the women’s 1st XI earned a hard-fought point at Spartans, who currently sit one place above the University in the Scottish Women’s Premier League, and the men’s u20s booked a place in the Under 20 Challenge Cup Final after a 4-3 win over Cumbernauld.


Having returned from the Gold Coast with no less than eight medals, the University’s high performance swimmers now turn their attention to the BUCS Team Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, this weekend. With a particularly strong squad heading to the meet, Head Performance Swim Coach, Steven Tigg, will be hoping for another positive showing from his charges.


Fourth-year Sport and Exercise Science student, George Goodwin, narrowly missed out on a top-20 finish at the Challenge Roma event in Italy, performing well in the swim and bike stages before fading in the run to finish 21st.

BUCS brilliance from Stirling athletes Wed, 25 Apr 2018 09:25:00 +0000