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 use of monkeys in movies and television shows is fuelling the illegal trade in the animals for pets, according to a University of Stirling academic.

Conservation Psychologist, Lesley Elizabeth Craig, warned that, while computer-generated imagery is good enough to create realistic animals on screen, many filmmakers are still employing monkeys in films. She lists recent Hollywood blockbusters, The Hangover Part II; The Wolf of Wall Street; and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; among those to have used primate actors.

Writing in The Conversation, she says: “Regardless of how these animals are treated on set, the reality is that they’re being placed in unnatural environments and made to act for other people’s amusement against their will.

“What’s more, there’s evidence that using real primates on screen actually encourages the illegal pet trade. It’s estimated that more than 3,000 great apes and hundreds of thousands of other primates are traded as pets and bush meat each year.”

Ms Craig, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, cited recent research which found that 70 movies released between 1990 and 2013 had used primate actors – with chimpanzees, capuchins and old-world monkeys the most commonly used.

“The study found that more than half the time they were shown among people, dressed up and performing human actions,” she explained. “It also found that primates on screen were ‘smiling’ 19 per cent of the time, something that primatologists widely recognise as an expression of fear or submission.”

The PhD researcher added: “The study concluded that using primates in filmmaking compromised their welfare by removing them from their social groups, training them to perform unnatural actions, and denying them the opportunity to behave naturally.

“All of these things have lasting negative psychological and physical effects on primates.”

Read the full Conversation article here.

Movie star monkeys fuel illegal pet trade, academic says Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:11:00 +0000 The Scottish salmon industry could receive a boost of more than £23 million if it better utilises fish by-products, according to a new University of Stirling study.

Researchers at Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and the University of Massachusetts found that the total value of by-products could increase by 803 per cent if salmon farms maximise edible yields and introduce better separation at the processing stage.

It would add 5.5 per cent to the salmon industry in Scotland, the research found.

Lead author Julien Stevens, of the Institute of Aquaculture, said: “We hope this research facilitates improvements, there is a need for further infrastructure investment and policy support to incentivise resource efficiency, along with greater transparency on the current uses of by-products within the sector.”

The terrestrial livestock processing industry has long been able to separate by-products to maximise value and efficient utilisation. The new study – funded by IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation – sought to identify the best markets for salmon processing by-products in the same way.

For finfish, by-products typically include trimmings, skins, heads, frames (bones with attached flesh), viscera (guts) and blood. They are a potentially important resource, known to contain valuable nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, protein and lipid fractions (long chain omega-3 fatty acids), which can support further processing into a range of products.

The scientists used figures from 2015 and found that, by exploiting all high value by-product types for existing domestic and export food markets, there was the potential for a total increase of 803 per cent, or £23.7 million.

By combining primary products (54 per cent yield), with the maximum potential by-product food yield (around 23 per cent), it results in 132,171 tonnes of food.

The remaining by-products, minus blood water (4.3 per cent) are then utilised in the important production of fishmeal and fish oil, and subsequently used in aquafeed for farm raised marine species. In this example, accounting for that material in feed for European seabass and gilthead seabream, would result in 148,691 tonnes of total edible yield compared to the original production of 92,081 tonnes of salmon.

Stirling’s Dr Richard Newton and Professor Dave Little also worked on the study, alongside Michael Tlusty, of the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts.

The research, The rise of aquaculture by-products: Increasing food production, value, and sustainability through strategic utilisation, is published in Marine Policy.

Salmon by-products could generate £23m extra for industry Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:33:00 +0000 University staff and students have been shortlisted at two prestigious awards ceremonies that recognise excellence within the nursing sector.

Reflecting the quality of teaching at Stirling, the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport will compete for five top accolades at the Student Nursing Times Awards (SNTAs) and two at the Journal of Health Visiting Awards.

Having won the accolade in 2012 and 2016, the University is again nominated for Nurse Education Provider of the Year (Pre-registration) at the SNTAs – making it the only UK higher education institution to make the shortlist in all seven years the awards have been running.

Also at the SNTAs, Ela Hamer and Devon Buchanan are nominated for Student Nurse of the Year (Mental Health); Leanne Patrick is in the running in two categories: Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs and Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year; and Teaching Fellow Jennie Young is shortlisted in the Educator of the Year category. Significantly, in each of the SNTA categories Stirling is nominated, it is the only Scottish university shortlisted.

At the Journal of Health Visiting Awards, Stirling’s Health Visiting Programme Team – comprising staff members Kathleen Clarke, Alison Hackett and Joyce Wilkinson – is shortlisted for its Contribution to Health Visiting Education. Alison is also nominated for the same award, in an individual capacity.

In further success, student Joan MacLeod is in the running for Health Visiting Student of the Year.

Making a difference

Professor Jayne Donaldson, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “I am delighted that our outstanding students and staff have been shortlisted for these awards.

“Our students demonstrate how student nurses and health visitors can make a difference – from care delivery to effecting change – at a national level. 

“Our teaching team thoroughly deserve their recognition as they have demonstrated exceptional commitment this year to deliver a first rate BSc Nursing programme and student experience.”

Reacting to her nomination, Ela said: “I am delighted to be shortlisted. This not only reflects my personal and professional development throughout my degree, but also the support I have had from mentors, staff and fellow students.

“I feel very privileged to be shortlisted and thank everyone who has helped me develop to where I am today.”

Jennie said: “I feel quite overwhelmed and genuinely, truly grateful to the students and colleagues who nominated me for this award. I am very humbled and honoured to be thought of in this way.

“Our students make it a pleasure to come to work and it’s fantastic to be able to contribute to their education and skills as nurses of the future.”

Now in their seventh year, the SNTAs, which celebrate the achievements of the student nursing community, will be held at London Hilton on Park Lane, on Thursday 26 April.

The Journal of Health Visiting Awards will take place on Thursday 22 March in Leeds.

Stirling nominated for top nursing awards Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:29:00 +0000 The theory that parents’ low aspirations are to blame for their children’s lack of progress at school will be challenged by a University of Stirling academic.

Dr Morag Treanor, a senior lecturer in Sociology, will dispel the ‘poverty of aspiration’ myth at a seminar hosted by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) tomorrow.

Aspirations have become a key educational policy driver in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and are seen as critical levers for closing the attainment gap between children and young people of high and low socio-economic backgrounds.

However, Dr Treanor will use research from the Growing up in Scotland longitudinal study to challenge the belief that children’s less successful progress in education can be blamed on the low aspirations of their parents.

The University of Stirling is one of the partners of the CRFR centre which is based at the University of Edinburgh.

The informal seminar, entitled Can we put the ‘poverty of aspiration’ myth to bed now?, will be held at 23 Buccleuch Place in Edinburgh between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

CRFR informal seminars are free but booking is essential. To register please email:

University of Stirling academic to dispel ‘poverty of aspiration’ myth Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:33:00 +0000 Animal traffickers are taking advantage of remote ivory trade routes to smuggle pangolins – one of the world’s most endangered animals – out of Central Africa, a new study has found.

The solitary mammals – sought after for their meat and scales – are being transported across remote forest borders in a largely successful attempt to avoid increased law enforcement, according to groundbreaking research led by the University of Stirling.

In the first ever study to investigate how criminals are sourcing pangolins from African forests, experts found that local hunters in Gabon are selling increasing numbers of the animals to Asian workers stationed on the continent for major logging, oil exploration and agro-industry projects.

In another significant finding, the team discovered that the price for giant pangolins has risen at more than 45 times the rate of inflation between 2002 and 2014.

The study is published in the African Journal of Ecology today, World Pangolin Day, and experts believe it will help law enforcers tackle the increasing problem.

Dr Katharine Abernethy, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the work, which also involved the University of Sussex, Gabonese researchers and other industry partners.

“This is the first study of how illegally traded pangolins may be being sourced from African forests and it shows that the high value paid internationally for large giant pangolin scales is probably affecting their price, even in very remote villages,” Dr Abernethy said.

“However, local subsistence hunters are probably not the primary suppliers – this is likely to be criminal hunting organisations, possibly those who are also trading in ivory in the region, as the demand markets are similar.”


Found in Asia and Africa, pangolins are scaled, primarily nocturnal animals, which feed predominantly on ants and termites. The eight species of pangolin range from vulnerable to critically endangered, with their meat and scales in high demand, especially in Asia.

With the decline of the Asian species in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of African pangolins seized in Asia. Consequently, in 2016, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals – banned all international trade in the African species in a bid to restrict wildlife losses.

The new study focused on Gabon, in Central Africa, where, as in many other countries, domestic hunting and eating of certain species of pangolin is legal.

The team visited communities using pangolins and other wildlife for food, as well as markets in provincial towns and the capital, Libreville, to assess the numbers sold and prices. They found that the relative value of pangolins has increased significantly since 2002 – more than the price for other species and higher than expected under inflation. In Libreville, giant pangolin prices increased 211 per cent over the period, while arboreal pangolin prices rose 73 per cent – despite inflation going up by just 4.6 per cent.

People with Asian connections were significantly more likely to ask for pangolins than any other species, the researchers found. However, illegally-traded pangolins were not detected by law enforcers controlling traditional meat trade chains, but found associated with ivory trading across forest borders.


The study concluded that the high international price of scales was driving up local costs, with hunters increasingly targeting pangolins to sell them on, rather than for home consumption.

Dr Abernethy said: “We conclude that whilst there is clear potential and likelihood that a wild pangolin export trade is emerging from Gabon, traditional bushmeat trade chains may not be the primary support route.

“We recommend adjusting conservation policies and actions to impede further development of illegal trade within and from Gabon.

“As in the ivory trade, law enforcement and international efforts to save pangolins need to target specialised criminal hunters, rather than putting pressure on the subsistence community.”

Daniel Ingram, who was involved in the research whilst at the University of Sussex, said:  “We are still learning about the scale of trafficking in pangolin meat and scales but every new finding adds very concerning new details about this trade.

“The link between Asian industrial workers working on major projects in Africa and requests for pangolins is worrying, and warrants further investigation.”

The Universities of Stirling and Sussex collaborated on the research with Gabon National Parks Agency, Agricultural University of Harbin in China, Gabon Institute for Tropical Ecology Research, the Wildlife Conservation Society Gabon programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group.

The study, The emergence of a commercial trade in pangolins from Gabon, was funded by the Gabonese Government student grants service, the Gabon National Parks Agency, and the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group.

New study sheds light on illegal global trade of pangolins Sat, 17 Feb 2018 00:01:00 +0000 Artists inspired by big data are to gather at an event organised by University of Stirling academics.

The workshop will bring together creative thinkers and practitioners who take a “data-driven” approach to their artistic or creative outputs.

Delivered in partnership with Creative Stirling, the Urban Big Data Centre, and Codebase Stirling, the event has been organised by the University’s Dr Eddy Borges-Rey and Dr Greg Singh, and will examine how creative people can explore the changing world from the perspective of the “small city”.


Dr Borges-Rey and Dr Singh, of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “We invite artists whose work explores the impacts of communications technologies and data entities upon individuals, communities and environments.

“We engage creative thinkers who draw from data to glean insight into problem-solving within our communities.

“And we seek to learn from practitioners who use data visualisation and other means to enhance awareness of data-driven aspects of everyday life to shape their interpretations of the relationship between humans and the world around us.”

Dr Borges-Rey and Dr Singh have also held other “Life in Data” workshops in Beijing and Nanjing in China, and in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The “Creative Innovation in Scotland: Big Ideas from Small Cities” event will take place on Monday 19 February, at Codebase Stirling.

Further information on the “Life in Data” collaborative network can be found at:

Big data meets art at event organised by Stirling academics Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:03:00 +0000 The future of surveillance cameras in the UK will be debated in a Question Time-style event hosted by a University of Stirling academic.

Professor William Webster, a Director of the Centre for Research into Information Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP), which is dedicated to understanding the social impacts and consequences of surveillance practices, has organised the event in Central London.

Professor Webster said: “Surveillance cameras are a key feature of modern society, they are used for a variety of policing and law and order purposes, and are symbolic of the surveillance society within which we live.

“This event offers a unique opportunity for the general public to ask questions about the use of surveillance cameras in society, we have assembled an esteemed panel of experts and are expecting a full and frank debate on a range of issues.”

The event will follow the format of the BBC’s long-running Question Time programme and will give members of the public an opportunity to ask questions and debate issues associated with surveillance cameras.

The panel will consist of: Tony Porter, Surveillance Camera Commissioner; Lord Brian Paddick, Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs; Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch; Simon Israel, Channel 4 News’ Senior Home Affairs Correspondent; and Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary and national police lead on CCTV.

Among the issues likely to be debated are: the proliferation of surveillance cameras in the UK, their purpose and function, their effectiveness and consequences, and contemporary developments in technology, such as facial recognition technology, drones and body-worn cameras.

The event will be held at the London School of Economics on 21st February between 6pm and 8pm.

Entry is free but audience members must register a place via Eventbrite or via

Further details can be found on the CRISP website.

‘Question Time’ event on surveillance to be hosted by Stirling academic Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:01:00 +0000 Young musicians from the inspirational Big Noise Raploch programme visited the University of Stirling this week to learn about higher education and the opportunities it can unlock.

Staff welcomed six members of the programme to campus where they received a workshop on the positive impact that university can have on careers.

The Wallace and St Modan’s High School students also enjoyed a treasure hunt around campus and a visit to Macrobert Arts Centre.

The session began with the students asked about their career aspirations – and how they believed they could fulfil that ambition. They then completed an exercise to illustrate how universities vary from institution to institution, before matching photographs of students with subjects – encouraging them to challenge gender stereotypes.

“This was to show the children that there is no such thing as a typical university student and that our campus is extremely diverse,” explained Natalie Sweeney, Student Recruitment Officer, who co-led the session.

“We then asked the students to think about certain subjects – such as education, languages and mathematics – and discuss what sort of jobs you can do with certain qualifications.”

Following the workshop, the students were split into two teams and, led by student ambassadors, enjoyed a treasure hunt campus tour, during which they answered questions on, and learned about, the University. Their visit concluded with a tour of the Macrobert.

Widening participation

Tracey Kerr, Widening Participation Manager, said: “A university experience can be life changing and it’s important that everyone realises that it could be something they could do.

“The session was all about raising awareness of what university has to offer so that students from different backgrounds realise that university has something valuable to offer them; from studying subjects that are fun, which can improve their career chances, to the sports, societies and other activities that are an important part of university life. 

“We hope that our workshop opened their eyes to more opportunities and has made them realise that choosing to go to university could be a great decision.”

Big Noise, delivered by the charity Sistema Scotland was established in Raploch, Stirling, in 2008 and has since opened centres in Glasgow’s Govanhill, Torry in Aberdeen, and Douglas in Dundee. The charity aims to transform children’s lives and communities through music. Involvement in the Big Noise orchestra programmes gives children an invaluable range of life skills and experiences, including confidence, teamwork, resilience, pride and aspiration.

Simon Rennard, a Big Noise Raploch musician, said: “Our Big Noise programmes focus on supporting children and young people to develop a range of life skills and achieve their full potential.

“This week’s visit to the University of Stirling was a fantastic opportunity for some of the young people, who work so hard at Big Noise Raploch, to explore a variety of different pathways available to them.

“Visits like this one are a really exciting way to work with the young people and help them discover a range of opportunities that they may wish to pursue in the future.”

University opens its doors to Big Noise musicians Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:20:00 +0000 As well as further national titles and international selections in tennis, football and rugby, this week sees Stirling athletes competing across the world from PyeongChang to California.

Here are the latest sporting headlines.


MSc Performance Coaching student, Kyle Waddell, won his first match as an Olympian as he and his GB teammates came out on top of a tense affair against Switzerland in the first session of the men’s curling at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The team went on to narrowly lose against reigning Olympic champions, Canada, in the following session and will now take on Japan in their third round robin match.


Golf scholars, Gemma Batty and Chloe Goadby, have been selected for the Scotland team travelling to South Africa to play in a number of top level amateur events as well as an international match against their South African counterparts.

In the men’s game, Robert Foley, Michael Lawrie, Alasdair McDougall, Laird Shepherd and Jordan Sundborg are currently in Coachella Valley, California, preparing for Stanford University’s Prestige Collegiate tournament which features many of the top National Collegiate Athletic Association Division One golf teams.


Whilst there were defeats for both the men’s and women’s first teams, the u20s enjoyed a 4-1 victory away to Burntisland.

Off the field, fourteen Stirling footballers have been selected to represent the men’s and women’s Scottish Student Football teams.

The men’s squad are due to take on League Two side, Montrose, as part of a programme to prepare for a match against the Republic of Ireland in mid-April. The Stirling students selected are:

Kieran Hall; Ross Kellock; Lewis Hunter; Rory MacEwan; Alex Webb.

Meanwhile, the women’s squad have already taken on Hamilton Accies in a warm-up match as part of their preparations for this year’s Home Nations tournament. There are nine Stirling students involved in this year’s squad including:

Ciara Bonner; Rachel Donaldson; Demi Falconer; Rebecca Foote; Chloe Logan; Beth McKay; Katy Morris; Kirsten Reilly; Ellie Simpson.


Following the Six Nations debuts of Siobhan Cattigan and Megan Kennedy, fellow Stirling rugby players, Fergus Bradbury, James Couper, Luke Earl-Wright and Owen Jarvie have been selected for the Scottish Student Rugby squad that will face Scotland U19s at the end of February and compete against Irish Students in early March. 


University of Stirling tennis coach, Nick Rosenzwig, continued his rich vein of form as he claimed the men’s singles title at the Scottish National Indoor Championships in Glasgow. Having defeated current Stirling scholar, Kieran Macarty in the semi-final, Rosenzweig won the final against Heriot-Watt University athlete, Bruce Strachan, who had earlier beaten another Stirling student, Scott MacAulay, in the other semi-final.

However, it wasn’t all near-misses for Macarty and MacAulay as they teamed up to win the men’s doubles event.

Commenting on the week’s action, the University of Stirling’s Head of Performance Sport, David Bond, said: “Student sport offers a number of fantastic opportunities for athletes who put in the hard work and dedication required to compete at the top level.

“It’s great to see as many athletes receive Scottish Student call-ups and we hope they have a great experience being part of the national setup.

“Kyle competing in PyeongChang is an obvious highlight of the week and we’ll all be keeping a close eye on how he and his teammates get on.”

Stirling athletes go global Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:17:00 +0000 Experts will use satellites to monitor the quality of water in Scotland’s lochs as part of a pioneering new project led by the University of Stirling.

The Faculty of Natural Sciences is working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to investigate the feasibility of introducing earth observation technology to its day-to-day operations in a bid to improve the quality and efficiency of water sampling.

The cutting-edge approach uses the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite to identify potential contaminants in bodies of water, such as algal concentrations, harmful algal blooms, and mineral and organic matter.

Stirling currently leads the £2.9m GloboLakes project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which has established the world’s first satellite-based global lake surveillance system. However, this new feasibility study will allow scientists to understand how the technology may benefit end users, in this case SEPA, in developing the approach as an operational capability and, in turn, improving their approach to assessing lake water quality.

Dr Claire Neil, a Research Fellow in Biological and Environmental Sciences, is leading the project with SEPA, funded through a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship.

She said: “This is the first step in implementing satellite remote sensing as a regulatory data resource and will produce a step change in the way we monitor quality in the UK.”

Dr Neil will use reflectance measurements, taken from the satellite, to estimate concentrations of chlorophyll-a, in Scottish lochs. The data will then help to assess risk to water quality status and allow SEPA to better target and enhance their sampling efforts.

“Recent scientific achievement through projects such as NERC GloboLakes have provided the scientific know-how which allows us to characterise a large range of optical water types with satisfactory accuracy,” Dr Neil explained.

“This method of monitoring provides a more detailed and representative view of the whole lake, when compared to current sampling techniques that typically assess water quality in samples taken close to the lake edge.

“As such, measurements obtained from satellite remote sensing will increase our confidence in assigned water quality status and will provide an opportunity to direct sampling efforts.”

Dr David Pirie, SEPA Executive Director, said: “Utilising data gathered from satellites offers many opportunities in environmental protection and assessment and I am very excited about SEPA’s involvement in this joint venture with the University of Stirling.” 

The £70,000 year-long study will begin in February 2018, however, further funding may allow the project to be extended by another two years.

Innovative new study to monitor Scotland’s water from space Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:34:38 +0000 University of Stirling curler, Kyle Waddell, to make Winter Olympics debut in PyeongChang

Team GB curler, Kyle Waddell, has become the latest University of Stirling Olympian after joining his British teammates for the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games (9 – 25 Feb).

MSc Performance Coaching student, Waddell, was selected for the Games as part of Team Smith who earned their official selection thanks to being the leading British team in the World Curling Tour rankings at the start of the season. The team will be led by skip, Kyle Smith, and he and Waddell will joined by Smith’s younger brother, Cammy, as well as another sibling duo of Thomas and Glen Muirhead.

Alongside Team Muirhead in the women’s event, the curlers will be amongst the top British medal hopes at this year’s Games as the country sends its largest-ever team with 58 athletes flying the flag over the next two weeks.

Commenting on his Olympic adventure, Waddell said: “The 2018 Olympics was one of our main goals for the past three or four years and even before we were out of juniors. So to be selected felt like a great achievement as becoming an Olympian is not something you get to do every day.

“However, the competition is the main thing for us now so, whilst it’s great to be selected, our performance is what we’re focusing on.”

The University’s Director of Sport, Cathy Gallagher, said: “To represent your country on the world’s biggest stage is a great honour and Kyle’s selection is testament to the hard work and dedication he demonstrates every day. We are very proud that Kyle is the latest to join an illustrious list of University of Stirling Olympians.

“Having been relatively new to our International Sports Scholarship Programme, Curling has already proven to be an excellent addition and I know Kyle’s achievements and Olympic appearance will be a further boost for the sport’s reputation at the University.”

Waddell and his teammates first take to the ice on Wednesday 14 February 2018 (00:05 GMT) when they will face Switzerland in the first session of the Men’s Round Robin stage.

Waddell becomes Stirling’s latest Olympian Fri, 09 Feb 2018 16:51:00 +0000 Support provided by the University of Stirling to those traditionally under-represented in higher education was highlighted to policymakers during an event at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 6th February.

The parliamentary reception, organised by Universities Scotland, highlighted the work that Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions are undertaking to drive a step forward in widening access.

The University of Stirling is committed to enabling students from all backgrounds to achieve their full potential, and actively encourages applications from non-traditional groups. Students are selected on both ability and potential, with a range of tailored support packages in place to assist students facing particular challenges during their time at university. The University’s long-standing record of success in driving access to higher education reflects its commitment to be an institution where ability – not background – is valued.

Working closely with schools and colleges, the University actively helps to raise the aspirations of those less likely to consider continuing into higher education, and supports a range of routes into University. Specific support is also available for students with a background in care, or those whose studies may be disrupted because they care for friends or family members.

"Transformational experience"

Shumela Ahmed is one of the increasing number of Stirling graduates who have returned to education through the University’s Access Programme. Having left school at the age of 14 with no formal qualifications, Shumela initially assumed that was the end of her academic journey.

However, after earning a place on a BBC Scotland Apprenticeship in Glasgow in her early 20s, Shumela was inspired to pursue a degree in journalism. Thanks to the University Access Programme, she was able to gain a place on a degree, and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Politics in 2017.

Shumela is now undertaking a teaching qualification, and works to raise awareness of the University’s support for students from non-traditional backgrounds.

University of Stirling’s Deputy Principal, Professor Leigh Sparks, who attended the reception, said: “A university experience can be life changing. However, we know that for some individuals, getting to university can feel like an impossible goal, while for others personal circumstances can make full time study very challenging. That’s why the University of Stirling has a dedicated team to advise and support students from a range of non-traditional backgrounds, ensuring that their time at university is as rich and fulfilling as any other.”

Shumela Ahmed, University of Stirling Widening Participation Ambassador, said: “My experience at university has been transformational. From someone with no qualifications whatsoever to having an honours degree, I now have a positive future and a new career ahead of me. The opportunities provided by the Stirling’s Access Programme played a key part in making that happen.”

University support helps students to realise their potential Fri, 09 Feb 2018 15:32:00 +0000 A new University of Stirling study is aiming to discover whether protein deficiency in older black South Africans contributes to accelerated ageing, increased frailty and disease.

The landmark research, conducted by experts from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, will provide an important insight and data on the previously unexplored issue.

Funded through the Medical Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund and led by Dr Angus Hunter, Reader in Exercise Physiology, the study will also involve the University of Cape Town.

“The effect of diet and food security is unexplored in elderly South Africans,” Dr Hunter explained. “It is anticipated that this study will produce extremely useful data to inform on health requirements, nutrition requirements and financial constraints for older black South Africans.

“These data will also be extremely valuable for larger scale studies to assess the health effectiveness of altering diet in this population.”

South Africa has an ageing population and an increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

In addition, the population also suffers from a high rate of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.  While HIV medications prolong life, they also speed up the ageing process – with many individuals physically older than their biological age, to the extent that a typical 50-year-old patient is considered an older person in need of care.

To exacerbate the problem, in older people, muscle becomes smaller and weaker leading to frailty and decreased quality of life.

Dr Hunter’s team is investigating whether a lack of protein in the diets of those living in South African townships is accelerating muscle wasting in the elderly.

“We know that, in South African townships, people under 65 do not eat enough protein,” Dr Hunter said. “This is due to relatively high costs of protein, typically from animals and dairy products, and, as such, it’s likely that ageing muscle decline and frailty will be accelerated in the elderly, resulting in decreased overall health, reduced mobility increasing disease rates, economic demands on healthcare systems and premature death.”

He added: “Frailty and lifestyle diseases in elderly black South Africans could be reduced by a healthy diet, especially adequate protein.”

Dr Hunter believes, once his work is complete, it could help healthcare workers in townships provide dietary advice to those aged between 65 and 85.

The study will assess the feasibility and validity of assessing dietary intake in the population and seek to understand to what extent that black elderly South Africans are protein deficient. It will also consider whether a lower protein intake contributes to accelerated ageing, increased frailty and disease, and how much money the individuals can afford to spend on food for themselves.

The team will include two Postdoctoral researchers in South Africa and two Xhosa speaking field workers. They will recruit 150 individuals aged between 65 and 85 – both male and female in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha over 12 months. They will record dietary details of participants and validate their protein intake through urine tests.

Laboratory based measurements will also be carried out at the University of Cape Town to assess muscle quality, frailty and risk of developing metabolic disease.

The team will also use recently developed measurement tools to assess the food budgets of those living in the township.

Protein and accelerated ageing link investigated Fri, 09 Feb 2018 09:46:52 +0000 Experts from across the UK are gathering at the University of Stirling to share the latest developments in dementia and ageing research.

The Dementia Care, Design and Technology event will showcase ongoing work by the Dementia and Ageing Research Group and the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University.

The two-day event, which is being held in the Iris Murdoch Building from 7th-8th February, will also hear about related developments from keynote speakers Dr Anne Killett, from the University of East Anglia, and Professor Karim Hadjri, from the University of Sheffield.

Stirling’s Professor of Dementia Research Emma Reynish said: “At the University of Stirling, our dementia and ageing research and development activity focuses around the common goal of improving lives.

“Our research programmes deliver the ‘here and now’ findings that have the potential to make real-life differences.

“Coupled with ongoing development activities, we have the ability to deliver palpable impact to people living with dementia.”

The conference will open with a keynote speech by Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at DSDC, about Iridis - the first app of its kind in the world to assess and provide feedback on how suitable a private home, care facility or other environment is for older people, and particularly those with dementia.

The first day will focus on technology, the acute hospital, care homes and population surveys and data, including a presentation about the Healthy AGeing In Scotland (HAGIS) study of people aged 50+ in Scotland by Professor David Bell. 

Day two will focus on design, neighbourhoods and communities, housing and quality of life, finishing with a discussion about global challenges and solutions.

Experts gather at University of Stirling to share latest dementia research Tue, 06 Feb 2018 15:19:00 +0000 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP, had the opportunity to see first-hand how University of Stirling research is positioning the UK at the forefront of the global aquaculture industry, during a visit to the University’s Institute of Aquaculture on Friday 2 February.

Aquaculture is a key growth sector both in Scotland and internationally. With global populations increasing and climate change presenting new challenges to the production and distribution of food, innovative and transformational techniques are needed in order to farm the best fish in the healthiest and most efficient ways.

The University of Stirling has more than 40 years of partnership and collaboration experience with the aquaculture industry, pioneering the development of scientific techniques, technologies and expertise to support the sustainable production of food in aquatic environments.

During his visit Mr Gove heard how University of Stirling researchers are driving productivity within the sector, including through the development of innovative vaccines to combat diseases, and by working with suppliers to help them produce the most nutritious fish food.  

City Deal

Proposals to develop the Institute, as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal, will build on existing excellence in research and collaboration to deliver a step change in driving productivity in one of Scotland’s most important sectors. 

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “Aquaculture is exceptionally important to the UK economy and to the world in terms of food security. Given the contribution it makes, facilities like the Institute of Aquaculture, which take the academic expertise and commercialise it for implementation in the field are of huge importance. It was fascinating to see first-hand how the centre harnesses the latest science and technologies to drive innovation in this exciting industry.”

Professor Malcolm MacLeod, Senior Deputy Principal at the University of Stirling said: “We know that there are challenges ahead in terms of feeding the world’s population, made more complex by the need to do this in a way which is environmentally sustainable and cost effective. Researchers at the University of Stirling are working in partnership with industry to pioneer new solutions, and having a truly transformative impact across the world.”

Stephen Kerr, Member of Parliament for Stirling, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to show off what we have to offer to the Secretary of State. Aquaculture is important to Stirling and the Stirling City Deal reflects the hopes we have for the future in this field. The jobs and innovation that will come from this investment will have benefits for people throughout Stirling and I am always thrilled to show people round these facilities.”

Secretary of State visits Institute of Aquaculture Tue, 06 Feb 2018 15:07:00 +0000