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News archive for June 2009

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News Archive

June 2009

Secretary of State celebrates Scottishness

Major roadworks affect University access routes

Why would you want to go anywhere else?

A great day for Stirling graduates

Book awards for enterprising Stirling students

SINAPSE delivering improved medical imaging for key diseases

University Academics named in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

University of Stirling hosts Science Day for local schools

How the threat of terrorism affects fear and behaviour

Celebrating fish expert’s extraordinary international career

Director appointed to national child protection hub at Stirling

Stirling appoints new Head of Aquaculture

University researchers help us to keep on taking the pills

Stirling students head for World University Games with tennis and Taekwondo squads

Secretary of State celebrates Scottishness

Date released: Tuesday 30 June 2009

Jim MurphySecretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy MP, visited the University of Stirling on Monday 29 June to deliver a speech on Scottishness in the 21st Century.

More than 60 students from the International Summer School, the Centre for English Language Teaching and Summer Academic Programme were invited to the address, which marked the week in which the Scottish Parliament celebrates its 10th birthday.

He argued: "All of us who value a strong Britain should embrace Scottishness, its emotions and symbols even more than we already do. Patriotism, national pride and the Saltire belong to all Scots. This strong sense of Scottishness does not, and will not, translate into a rise in separatism. Being passionate about Scotland doesn't make you anti-British. It doesn't make you want to break up Britain. We know the vast majority of Scots want to remain in a strong United Kingdom."

Following his address, Mr Murphy was given a tour of the University's first class sports facilities. The University of Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, the centre of a national network of excellence, providing training and support for high performance athletes studying at universities and colleges across Scotland.

Picture: Mr Murphy was welcomed to the campus by Professor Grant Jarvie, Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching), and Professor Christine Hallett, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

Major roadworks affect University access routes

Date released: Friday, 26 June 2009

The University entrances will be closed, in turn, during the weeks commencing 29 June and 6 July 2009 for road repairs. There are also major road works in Stirling city centre over the coming weeks. Please read these notes carefully for details of bus service alterations and restrictions for motor vehicles.

Monday 29 June – Friday, 3 July 2009

Rear Entrance and Innovation Park Road Closure

The Rear Entrance to the University and Innovation Park will be closed for road resurfacing during the above week between 09:15 – 16:00 hrs and 18:30 – 24:00 hrs. Vehicles will only be able to enter and leave the Campus and Innovation Park via the Main Entrance on Airthrey Road during these hours.

Bus Services
62/63 will not enter the campus during this week. Customers will need to board and alight at the bus stop on Hillfoots Road, outside the Rear Entrance.
54, 54A and 58 will continue to serve the University. Emergency timetables will be in operation, due to the closure of Stirling Bridge (see below).

Monday 6 July – Friday, 10 July 2009

Main Entrance Closure

The Main Entrance at Airthrey Road Roundabout will be closed for road resurfacing during the above week between 09:15 – 16:00 hrs and 18:30 – 24:00 hrs. Vehicles will only be able to enter and leave the campus via the Rear Entrance from Hillfoots Road during these hours.

Bus Services
62/63 will enter the University campus by the Rear Entrance, turning at Queen’s Court, and leaving by the Rear Entrance onto Hillfoots Road.
54, 54A and 58 will not be entering the University campus during this week. Customers will need to board and alight at the bus stops outside the Main Entrance.

Closure of Stirling Bridge

Stirling Bridge, the main road between the University and Stirling city centre, will be closed from Sunday 28 June for approximately 8 weeks for essential repair works. It is anticipated that this work to the Stirling Bridge will cause traffic congestion in the vicinity of the University and Causewayhead. Drivers are advised to plan alternative routes into Stirling, and to avoid these areas if possible.

Bus services

A number of bus services will be suspended during the period of this work:
53 will not be running during the closure of Stirling Bridge.
Unilink, including Sunday Unilink service, will not be running during the closure of Stirling Bridge.

Please be aware that bus timetables for most routes are being amended as a result of the closure of Stirling Bridge.

See our getting here page for directions on getting to the University of Stirling.

Why would you want to go anywhere else?

Date released: Wednesday 24 June 2009

Christine Hallett, John Reid and James Naughtie

Former Home Secretary Dr John Reid, pictured here with Professor Christine Hallett (Principal) and Dr James Naughtie (Chancellor), paid an impressive tribute to his former university today as he received an honorary degree.

In his speech to the students attending their degree ceremony, he told them: "I have been around the world and met potentates, princes, presidents and two popes, but the best and brightest people I have met have been here at the University of Stirling. You have a vital community with critical thought, mental rigour, and an environment second to none. Just walk around the place, why would you want to go to any other university in the world?"

A great day for Stirling graduates

Date released: Monday 22 June, 2009

Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 June will be red letter days for around 1,200 University of Stirling students, when the Summer 2009 Graduation Ceremonies are held on campus at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre.

The University’s Chancellor, Dr James Naughtie will preside over all four ceremonies and in addition to awarding student degrees, The Chancellor will confer Honorary degrees upon five distinguished individuals, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to society.

Media are invited to attend for photography but must notify the Communications Department in advance on 01786 466687.

Wednesday 24 June, 10am

Kenneth Schofield CBE will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sport.

Subjects covered: Economics; Management; Nursing and Midwifery; School of Biological and Environmental Sciences; Sports Studies

Wednesday 24 June, 2.30pm

Rt. Hon Dr John Reid MP will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public affairs.

Subjects covered: Institute of Education; Film, Media and Journalism; Politics

Thursday 25 June, 10am

Professor Patrick Smith will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fish immunology and long term support of the Institute of Aquaculture.

Peter Lederer CBE will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Scottish tourism and the promotion of Scotland worldwide.

Subjects covered: Computing Science and Mathematics; Applied Social Science; Institute of Aquaculture; Marketing; Psychology

Thursday 25 June, 2.30pm

Dr Sylvia Jackson will receive the award of Master of Arts in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the community of the Scottish Parliamentary constituency of Stirling.

Subjects covered: School of Languages, Cultures and Religions; Accounting and Finance; School of Law; History; Philosophy; English Studies

Note to Editors:

Bridget McConnell will receive her Doctorate (EdD) at the awards ceremony for the Stirling Institute of Education at 2.30pm on 24 June.

The EdD is a part-time doctoral programme with a formal taught element aimed especially at professionals from education, health, culture and social welfare. They undertake research on an aspect of professional practice which often has a significant impact within their field and on themselves as professionals.

Chief Executive of Culture and Sport Glasgow, Bridget’s thesis investigated how cultural policy was developed within Scotland by interviewing key figures from government, politics and the media. Her research concluded that the ways in which cultural policy was shaped were unpredictable and uncertain and led her to recommend greater exposure of professionals working in the culture sector to help build their confidence in informing and shaping cultural policy.

Professor Julie Allan, who directs the EdD programme and was one of Bridget’s supervisors said: “Bridget has produced an important work of research which will influence the cultural policy community in years to come. It is a tremendous achievement and an excellent example of what can be achieved through the Professional Doctorate.”

Speaking of her Doctorate, Bridget said, “It's been a real pleasure to return to Stirling to complete the latest phase of my academic career. The pressure of completing a doctorate alongside a full-time job and family commitments has been made all the easier by the unswerving commitment and support offered by both my tutors and fellow students. I want to thank everyone who has helped me in this mammoth endeavour.”

Book awards for enterprising Stirling studentsStudent winners of John Smith book awards

Date released: Friday 19 June, 2009

Students at the University of Stirling who are chasing their dream of studying for a degree, have been supported in their studies with the award of £100 book tokens. The awards were made by John Smith & Son, who run the campus bookshop, to students taking Access courses towards degree studies at the University of Stirling. John Gray, manager of the campus bookshop, presented the awards to seven students (see details below).

Afterwards Willie Anderson, deputy chairman of John Smith & Son said: "We have made these awards to selected Stirling University students for several years now and always enjoy participating in the event. It’s good to be able to help deserving students and we are always impressed by their very high calibre. The people we met today are all very enterprising and we wish them every success in their future study.”

This is the sixth year of the scheme in which The John Smith Awards are offered to students on the part-time Access to Degree Studies programme. The £100 book tokens acknowledge the students’ personal commitment to education and they are chosen on the basis that they have faced particular challenges over the course of the programme or that they have had a very particular input.

Jim Bradley, Programme Director of the Access Course said: “All ten of the award winners will be coming to the University as undergraduates this autumn, with degree subjects varying from journalism, psychology and sociology to environmental science and education. The students who received awards today worked incredibly hard and I’m very proud of them.”

Of the 69 people who began last year’s Access course, 49 are now going on to do a university degree and all but two of those are enrolling at the University of Stirling.


1st row, L to R: Janet Turnbull, Lisa McCabe, Kenneth Boyle

2nd row, L to R: Linda Montgomery, Lorraine Anderson, Annabelle Glen

3rd row, L to R: John Gray, Sara Gardner

4th row, L to R: Willie Anderson, Deputy Principal Grant Jarvie

The Access to Degree Studies programme can be valuable, for those who feel they lack qualifications or the confidence to start on a degree straight away. To find out more, call us on: 01786 467951 or email:

SINAPSE delivering improved medical imaging for key diseases

Date released: Thursday 18 June, 2009

More effective medical imaging to help diagnose and treat patients with Alzheimer’s, stroke, cancer and other conditions is one of the key goals of a major research network which held its first scientific meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday 17 June.

SINAPSE - Scottish Imaging Network: A Platform for Scientific Excellence - is a world class consortium of researchers from six Scottish universities with expertise predominantly in brain imaging. Scientists involved in the collaboration - believed to be the only one of its type in the world - are pooling and expanding research into brain imaging.

The network is also helping to attract top quality imaging researchers to Scotland as well as delivering better training in the use of imaging technologies – MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET (Positron Emission Tomography), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and EEG (electroencephalogram) – applied around the world in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions.

The conference saw information shared on a wide range of medical imaging studies being conducted by SINAPSE collaborators. One of these, led by the University of Stirling, involves EEG (Electroencephalograph) – one of the few brain imaging methods that allows us to examine brain activation at the millisecond level. Using the technology, researchers can view what the brain is doing ‘in real time’ simply by using the brain’s own electro-magnetic properties. The Psychological Imaging Laboratory at the University of Stirling is at the forefront of research exploring how EEG can help uncover the workings of human cognition.

Professor David Donaldson, an expert in Cognitive Neuroscience, said: “Work in the Psychological Imaging Laboratory uses EEG to investigate cognitive abilities like memory and language. For example, we are currently running EEG studies examining how emotion interacts with memory.

“It is already known that emotional events are remembered better than non-emotional events, but we do not fully understand why this is the case. Our current work in healthy individuals will help provide a better understanding of how memory and emotion systems work together in normal functioning, and should pave the way to future studies in patient populations that suffer from specific emotional memory problems such as Depression and Schizophrenia.”

Further Information:

SINAPSE is an initiative in imaging, involving the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and St Andrews. It has secured £6.3m from the Scottish Funding Council (plus £700k support from the Chief Scientist Office), and £35m investment from the partner universities. It will initially run until 2012.

For further information, contact Professor David Donaldson by email at: or on 01786 467657/466371

University Academics named in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Date released: Tuesday 16 June, 2009

Three academics at the University of Stirling have been named in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which recognises outstanding achievement and service across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Professor Catherine Niven - OBE

The founding Head of the University’s highly regarded Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Catherine NivenProfessor Kate Niven, Director of the NMAHP Research Unit (pictured) was awarded the OBE for services to healthcare. An outstanding nurse leader, she is internationally recognised in the field of research and education for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.

Originally trained as a nurse in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, Professor Niven worked in acute medical nursing and in geriatric care, before studying Psychology and completing a PhD at Stirling. In 1996 she became the inaugural Professor and Head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University and in 2000 she became the Director of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) Research Unit. Funded by the Scottish Government, the NMAHP Research Unit carries out high quality research into direct patient care, with the aim of improving patient outcomes.

Speaking of her award, Professor Niven said: “I’m really delighted. It’s so nice to have your work appreciated and the award isn’t just for me – it’s for the Unit and the Department which are going from strength to strength. I don’t know when the award will actually be presented but I’m allowed to take three guests to the ceremony. So I’ll be accompanied by my husband and I’m hoping to take my two little grand daughters, who will find a visit to the palace very exciting!”

Professor Gerard Hastings – OBE

Professor Gerard Hastings, Director of the Institute of Marketing

A professor in Social Marketing at the University’s Stirling Management School, Professor Gerald Hastings (pictured) will receive an OBE for services to healthcare. He is also the Director of the University’s Institute for Social Marketing, as well as the Cancer Research UK Centre for Tobacco Control Research.

In recent years he has acted as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organisation on tobacco and alcohol marketing as well as blinding trachoma, and as a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Health Select Committee during their enquiries into the tobacco and food industries.

He provides regular guidance on social and critical marketing to the Scottish, UK and European Parliaments and has acted as an expert witness in litigation against the tobacco industry. Speaking of his award, Professor Hastings said: "This is a great honour that comes as a result of years of excellent work done by a team of dedicated researchers at Stirling and the Open University, and the consistent support they have had from Cancer Research UK.

“As a result, we have been able to make significant inroads into some of society's biggest public health problems – including smoking, drinking and obesity. It has been my privilege to lead this team and though my name appears on the citation, the real credit belongs to them."

Professor David Blanchflower - CBEProfessor David Blanchflower, leading UK economist

David Blanchflower (pictured), one of Britain’s leading economists and a Professor of Economics (part- time) at the University’s Stirling Management School, was awarded a CBE. This was given for services to the economy and to the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), of which he was a member until recently.

The first non-UK resident to serve as a member of the MPC, Professor Blanchflower’s research interests lie in labour economics, wage determination, youth labour markets, entrepreneurship, trade unions and happiness. He was named “2008 Briton of the Year” in business by the Daily Telegraph for his foresight in anticipating the recession.


University of Stirling hosts Science Day for local schools

Toby the dog with handler Steph O'Connor

Date released: Monday 15 June, 2009

Is it possible to fool a lie detector test? How good are we at identifying crime suspects? Can a dog really sniff out bumblebees? (Pictured, our talented spaniel Toby with handler Steph O'Connor). These and many more questions will be answered when the University of Stirling opens up its science laboratories to around three hundred local school pupils. They will be on campus on Wednesday 17 June, for a day of hands-on experiments and fascinating facts.

Seven local schools will bus in groups of mainly S4 and S5 year students to the second annual University of Stirling Science Day, where they can work alongside research scientists and lecturers. There will be seven hour-long science sessions running in parallel at 10-20 – 11.20am; 11.30-12.30pm and 1.15-2.15pm. The pupils choose which sessions to attend, depending on where their interests lie – whether this is marine biology, psychology, computing science, the mysteries of maths, or environmental issues.   

The Science Day is part of the University’s initiative to counter a future shortage of scientists; engaging with today’s teenagers in the hope of developing Scotland’s ground-breaking scientists of tomorrow.

The University’s Institute of Aquaculture will be mounting some exciting experiments, including the use of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) used to monitor fish feeding behaviour, assess the status of netpen structures for farming fish and carry out environmental monitoring.

Explaining the reasons for a lack of scientists, Senior lecturer Dr Kim Jauncey of the Institute of Aquaculture explains: “School pupils tend not to choose science subjects because they regard them as difficult and prefer to ensure good grades by going for easier study options. The result is that we have too few scientists in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

However, the trend seems to be that more businesses are demanding science backgrounds when vetting potential employees and for students hoping to have professions with a future, the field of science has untapped potential.

“Certainly science has a major part to play in all of our futures, since scientific developments will influence everything from health to the economy,” insists Dr Jauncey. “For instance, the world food supply, whether of crops, livestock or fish stocks, already depends upon science to maximise yields.

“There is huge competition between nations to make the important scientific breakthroughs and here in Scotland, it’s vital that we stay in the forefront of scientific development. Yet that will only be possible if we can ensure a new generation of scientists. So it makes sense to introduce young people to science at an early age and to demonstrate how exciting and challenging this area of study can be.”

Notes to editors:

Approximately 300 pupils from Stirling area secondary schools will come to the University of Stirling campus for our Science Day. Schools taking part are: Alva Academy; Alloa Academy; Wallace High School; Dunblane High School; Brae High School; Denny High School; Perth Grammar School.

For more information on Science Day, contact Sarah Stewart on 01786 467039 or email:

How the threat of terrorism affects fear and behaviour

Date released: Monday 15 June, 2009

One aim of terrorism is to disrupt citizens’ lives so that they press their governments for change. Governments meanwhile try to assure their citizens that steps are being taken to protect them. So how successful is this strategy and just how do such threats affect people’s feeling and actions?

This is the subject of a public lecture to be given at the University of Stirling by Dr David J. Weiss, a leading American psychologist whose expertise is in the area of judgment and decision making.  His talk will be delivered on Monday 22 June at 11am in room 3T1 within the University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery (R.G. Bomont Building).

Based at the University of Southern California, Dr Weiss was recently funded by the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration to measure expertise exhibited by air traffic controllers. His current research work is on behalf of the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) and is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Dr Weiss believes that the landscape for the aviation industry changed forever after 9:11 and says: “Terrorists claimed a great triumph. Defensive measures put in place by governments around the world have made flying inconvenient and worrisome for passengers. In retrospect, one wonders why it took so long for the economic and psychological impacts of terrorism to be felt in this arena.”

He makes the point that, 13 years earlier, the world had witnessed a similar incident - the infamous bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which brought the commercial airliner down over Lockerbie. “Subsequently, there was a great deal of attention paid to allocating responsibility for the attack, but little focus on how those on the ground were affected,” he says. “Had the reactions of these potential flyers been explored at the time, the world might have chosen to defend itself long before 2001.”

Dr Weiss received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego. He has spent his entire teaching career in the Psychology Department at California State University, Los Angeles and has published extensively in his area of expertise.

More information on Dr Weiss’s work – together with many articles on his major vice: the game of contract bridge – can be found at:

For further details on the lecture, contact: Lynne Black, 01786 466345

Celebrating fish expert’s extraordinary international careerProfessor Randolph Richards receiving his FEAP award

Date released: Monday 15 June, 2009

Professor Randolph Richards CBE (on left of picture), Director of the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, recently travelled to the Faroe Islands to receive the prestigious award for Excellence in European Aquaculture.

Presented to him by Professor Patrick Smith of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation, on behalf of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP), the award recognises the person who has excelled in his or her contribution to the development of European Aquaculture.

It is one of many well deserved accolades which Professor Richards has received over the last thirty years.  During that time he has played a major role in the emerging aquaculture industry in Scotland, greatly benefiting our economy in the process. In 2008, he received the CBE; an award which reflects and pays tribute to outstanding achievement and service, right across the community and the nation as a whole.

Speaking of the changes in the aquaculture industry during the last thirty years, he said: “It has been very rewarding to be involved in the groundbreaking developments which have taken place in Scotland and indeed worldwide, which have led to the establishment of a sustainable and efficient aquaculture industry.

“Production from traditional fisheries is at its limit and Aquaculture has filled the gap in providing healthy seafood products which are so essential to human health. The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling has played a lead role in this development and it is very rewarding to have been recognised in this way by FEAP.”

As a leading fish disease specialist, Professor Richards has co-ordinated large EU research programmes on fish diseases. For eight years he was a member of the UK’s Veterinary Products Committee, which licenses all animal medicines and oversaw the development of medicines which helped control the potentially devastating problem of sea lice infestation.

The development of other important vaccines used in the control of bacterial and viral diseases and the research required for product licensing was carried out by Professor Richards and his colleagues.

He has also been a regular advisor to international bodies such as FAO, the EU and Lloyds of London, his expertise being sought on aquaculture in Turkey, Thailand, Ceylon, Greece, Sweden and many other countries.

Raised in North Wales, Professor Richards presently lives in Alloa. He is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Royal Agriculture Societies and the Institute of Biology and is a Director of the Moredun Research Institute at Edinburgh.

He joined the Institute of Aquaculture in 1973 as a Nuffield Research Fellow, becoming Director of The Institute in August 1996.  He is due to demit office as Director at the end of June so as to be able to concentrate on research and industry development.

Of his time spent heading up the University’s internationally acclaimed Institute of Aquaculture, Professor Richards said: “I have indeed been fortunate to be leading the Institute at such an exciting time in its development. Our involvement in European and International development has been bolstered by significant investment from the University, which has allowed us to maintain our position at the forefront of scientific research through the provision and application of the latest technologies.

“Our success has been the result of a team effort from a group of dedicated and hardworking staff and an extensive network of collaborating researchers.”

For more information, please contact Beatrice Campbell on: 01786 467870 or email:

Director appointed to national child protection hub at StirlingBeth Smith appointed director of new Multi-Agency Resource Service

Date released: Tuesday 9 June, 2009

One of Scotland’s leading child protection professionals has been appointed to lead the Multi-Agency Resource Service (MARS), based at the University of Stirling.

The new director of the MARS is Beth Smith (pictured), formerly Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Children’s Services for Education and Community Services at Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Chair of the Dumfries and Galloway Child Protection Committee. 

She took up her post this month at the head of this innovative service, which is the UK’s first hub of child protection expertise.

She said: “The MARS will be a valuable resource for child protection agencies and practitioners in Scotland by assisting them to deal with complex cases. We have an opportunity to make a real difference, by helping them to access the expertise they may need to carry out their work effectively.”

Specifically, the MARS will facilitate the exchange of support, advice and information to:

  • Act as a critical friend to organisations involved in complex and challenging child protection work;
  • Help agencies identify perceived and actual gaps in skills or experience at a strategic planning, operational management or practitioner level;
  • Help agencies access a range of support to assist staff involved in complex and challenging child protection work;
  • Put processes in place to facilitate and support access to external skilled practitioners, managers, academics, consultants;
  • Build a community of expertise.

As well as funding the MARS through a grant to the University of Stirling totalling £320,000, the Scottish Government is seconding a business manager to the MARS for the next three years to support its development.

Scotland’s Children’s Minister Adam Ingram said: “This pioneering hub of expertise will let agencies draw on advice and support from international leaders in the field. By helping agencies to work through difficult cases, share successes and develop strategic approaches we can ensure they are best equipped to help children at risk. That will help us work together to build on the progress already made and do all we can to protect children from harm.”

Professor Brigid Daniel, a leading child care and protection expert at the University of Stirling, said: “This initiative aims to do something active and positive about equipping staff with the information they need to be able to support children.  The MARS will link with the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN), whose co-ordinator is also based at Stirling. The SCCPN acts as a hub for the generation and dissemination of research evidence to support child care and protection practice. Together, MARS and SCCPN constitute a unique approach to ensuring that professionals who work with children have access to the expertise and research evidence that they need.”


Who can approach MARS (individual workers or just agencies)?

The details of how the interface with the MARS will work will be finalised, but it is envisaged that this will be with agencies rather than individuals. Local agencies may identify an individual as a MARS contact point to simplify communication, but this is still to be finalised.

Will MARS give actual advice or just put agencies in touch with each other?

The primary function of the MARS will be to put agencies in touch with each other and to broker the transfer of support and knowledge.  The MARS may be able to help a contacting agency identify where there are gaps that need to be filled, but it will not have capacity to fill those gaps itself.

Will MARS send teams out to individual areas?

It is anticipated that members of the MARS will visit different areas to raise awareness of the service and develop relationships with agencies, but MARS members will not be seconded to areas to provide concrete support.

Will it regularly look abroad or is it more likely to seek examples of good practice in Scotland?

There is a huge amount of knowledge, experience and expertise in the Scottish child protection workforce, and it should be possible to resolve most requests to the MARS by drawing on this.  It is vital though that the MARS forges strong links beyond Scotland, so that if a specific and rare issue comes up, where input from overseas would be useful, this can be drawn in.

What kind of complex child protection situations are we talking about?

The function of the MARS will evolve based on the demands made on it, and what the child protection sector will find helpful.  Agencies may approach the MARS over a specific unusual case which they don't have experience of, or in a situation where a death or injury has occurred, or even for support in implementing recommendations of a negative inspection report.

What kind of agencies/experts from other countries would MARS engage with?

The MARS is primarily about ensuring that connections are in place to draw in practical, professional expertise when it is needed.  So the links that it will forge outside of Scotland will be with agencies and practitioners directly involved in child protection work.  The MARS will operate alongside the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN), which pulls together relevant research and academic expertise to make it available to practitioners. The SCCPN is also based at the University of Stirling.

Stirling appoints new Head of Aquaculture Professor Austin appointed Head of the Institute of Aquaculture

Date released: Monday 8 June, 2009

Stirling’s reputation as a world-class centre for marine sciences has been bolstered by the appointment of Professor Brian Austin (pictured) as the head of the Institute of Aquaculture.

Professor Austin, an expert in microbiology, joins from Heriot-Watt University where he is Head of the School of Life Sciences. He takes up his new post on 1 July and succeeds Professor Randolph Richards CBE, who will continue his research and teaching work at the Institute.

Professor Austin’s research interests focus on bacterial fish diseases, and in particular the development of disease control strategies, including vaccines, immuno-stimulants and probiotics.

He made the news four years ago when he discovered antibiotics in teak wood and sponges that could have wide-ranging applications such as preventing MRSA, stopping tooth decay and combating food poisoning.

He also has an excellent track record in staff development and welfare. At Heriot-Watt, he chaired the Healthy Working Lives Working Group which helped the university to win the Healthy Working Lives gold award for its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its staff and students. It was the first academic institution in the UK to receive the award.

The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling has grown steadily over the last 35 years to become the leading international centre in its field and the largest of its kind in the world. With over 110 staff and 120 postgraduate students, it brings together cross-disciplinary, world class researchers to meet the global challenges faced by aquaculture.

Its focus is on developing strategies for sustainable aquaculture, whether in modern commercial markets or in feeding poor communities in developing countries. The Institute has a world-class reputation for ground-breaking research on environments, reproduction, genetics, aquatic health, nutrition and feed supplies, on production systems, on markets, and on social and economic impacts.

Background notes:

Professor Brian Austin BSc, PhD, DSc, ILTM, FRSA

Professor of Microbiology & Head of School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University.

Career summary

BSc & PhD in microbiology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

DSc in fish pathology, Heriot-Watt University, 1992.

Postdoctoral Fellow, then Researcher in environmental microbiology, University of Maryland 1975-1978

Senior scientist at the M.A.F.F. Fish Diseases Laboratory, 1978-1984

Joined Heriot-Watt University as New Blood Lecturer in Aquatic Microbiology, 1984; promoted to Reader, 1989; promoted to Professor, 1992.

Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, F.R.S.A.

Guest Professor of the Ocean University of China.

University researchers help us to keep on taking the pills

Date released: Monday 8 June, 2009Professor Ronan O'Carroll, helping us to take our medicine

People in Scotland are prescribed non-hospital drugs worth nearly £1 billion a year, but a large proportion don’t take their pills as directed. Not only does this mean a huge waste of money for the NHS, it also means that many courses of treatment are doomed to fail.

Correctly following instructions when taking medicine will determine how successful the treatment is. Yet the World Health

Organisation estimates that only half of patients with chronic diseases follow their treatment recommendations.

Now a team led by Professor Ronan O’Carroll (pictured) at the University of Stirling’s Psychology Department, has been awarded a research grant by the Chief Scientist Office, to evaluate ways that may help more stroke patients to take their medicines as recommended by their doctors.

Some interesting findings emerged from recent research conducted by the team. Professor O’Carroll explained: “Not taking medication as directed was reported by nearly a third of stroke patients. This was particularly the case in younger people, those with more memory impairment, people who had less belief in the benefits of medication and more concerns about possible harmful effects of their medicines.”

The team will now test ways of helping patients to adopt better medication-taking routines. They will also try and elicit and address any unhelpful beliefs patients may have formed, either about their stroke or their medication. The patients’ use of medication will then be measured over a three-month period by using pill containers which electronically record openings.

“We will also assess whether or not stroke patients find these methods acceptable, helpful and easy to follow” said Professor O’Carroll. “If these methods prove successful, our research has the potential to significantly improve the efficacy of a broad range of treatments in the NHS and worldwide.”

Notes to editors

The award from the Chief Scientist Office is for £224,878 over 31 months, starting in autumn 2009. Ronan O’Carroll from the Psychology Department at Stirling University is the Principal Investigator. Martin Dennis (Edinburgh), Marie Johnston (Aberdeen) & Cathie Sudlow (Edinburgh) are collaborators.

Find more details, and a summary of their previous research, at the project website:

For further information, contact Professor Ronan O’Carroll on: 01786 467683 or email:


Stirling students head for World University Games with tennis and Taekwondo squads Katie Gator picked for World University Games squad

Date released: Friday 5 June, 2009

University of Stirling Law student Katie Gater (pictured), has been picked for the BUCS squad for the World University Games 2009 in Belgrade.  In total, six athletes were chosen for the GBR tennis team.

Gater, a sports scholar at Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence, has had a successful junior season this year with two Grand Prix under18 titles. She was a runner up in the under18 masters and she joins the squad as the 2008 Scottish Indoor Championship winner. Along with Claire Ricketts (Brunel) Katie is one of two British-based students in the tennis squad and also represented British Universities in the BNP Paribas open in 2008.

The other four athletes are Dominic Inglot, University of Virginia; Max (Alex) Jones, who graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2008; Philip Stephens, University of Tulsa and Sam Murray, a third year Economics student at North-Western University.

Commenting on the team James Andell, Team Manager for Team GBR Tennis in Belgrade (University of Bath - Coach) said: "I believe we have the best university tennis players available to Team GBR in this squad and I am looking forward to the challenge that the World University Games will bring. It is nice to have a mix of domestic and international based students in the squad, and we hope the experience of Belgrade will develop their careers and future ambitions for tennis."

In another BUCS selection, University student Craig Eden, British Taekwondo Champion (2007/08), has been chosen for the team which will join the Great Britain Representative squad travelling to the World University Games. Eden, who will compete in the 62kg – 67 kg category, has enjoyed great success in Taekwondo with Junior Championship titles and good performances in European International Opens, including Dutch, German and Belgian.

Other team members are Daryl Stokes (Loughborough); Dawud Izza (SOAS); Dominic Brookes (Manchester) and Temi Jegede (London South Bank). The sole female Great Britain representation comes from Carla Summerhill (Edinburgh) who will compete in the under 59kg category.

Barclays is a sponsor of BUCS tennis and their support will assist the squad as they prepare for the World University Games.

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