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News archive for July 2009

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News Archive

July 2009

Stroke Play win sets up Kelsey nicely for battle in Belgium

Hunter beats his best but misses out on World Championship final

University of Stirling swimmers ready to roll in Rome

University’s Principal receives honorary doctorate

Stirling sports conference looks at ‘The Murray Effect’ on tennis

New arrival helps University football team to a winning start

Inbred bumblebees less successful

Experiences of living in a surveillance society

Stirling swimmers head for World Championships


Stroke Play win sets up Kelsey nicely for battle in Belgium

Kelsey MacDonald with her trophy

Date released: Wednesday 29 July 2009

Kelsey MacDonald (pictured) is aiming for fourth time lucky in Belgium after successfully retaining the Scottish Under-21 girls’ Open Stroke Play title.

The second year golf scholarship student at the University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, held her nerve in a sudden-death play-off against English mid-amateur champion Lucy Williams on Friday.

Victory on her home course of Nairn Dunbar brought the Winning Student 2008/09* silverware for the second year running and qualification for the TOTAL International Juniors event at the Royal Golf Club of Belgium – an event MacDonald knows only too well.

“I have been runner-up three times in Belgium so I am determined to go that one step further this time,” said the 18-year-old. “It is a super tournament with girls and boys from all over the world competing. I am going to rest next week then warm up for Belgium with the British Stroke Play Open in Aberdeen.”

In front of an expectant home crowd, MacDonald’s four-under-par first round 70 put her in prime position to add to her victory at Powfoot last year. But she began the final round of the 54-hole competition a shot behind Williams and it proved an epic battle.

With two holes to play, MacDonald led by one thanks to birdies at the 13th, 15th and 16th, but a bogey at the 17th set up a nail-biting finale. Both players sank long putts to birdie the 1st, the first of the play-off holes, but MacDonald repeated the feat at the next, the par five 18th, to secure victory in style.

She said: “To be honest, it hasn't quite sunk in. When I won it last year, I was probably not expected to as I was up against Curtis Cup players. This year, I’ve had disappointments and I felt I had to make my mark, so to retain the title was very significant and important to me. My golf on Friday was a wee bit dodgy, but when it came to the play-off, somehow my nerves left me. Over the course of the competition I feel I showed my golf at its best. To win at home is something very special that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

MacDonald has become only the second person to win the title back-to-back, the first being current LPGA player Catriona Matthew - herself a University of Stirling alumna. MacDonald remarked: “I didn't realise the significance until I managed to retain it. Knowing that now, it seems even more of an achievement as Catriona has had such a successful career.”

Further information:

To find out more about Winning Students, follow the link:

Photography courtesy of Ian Macrae.



Hunter beats his best but misses out on World Championship final Swimmer Andy Hunter in action

Date released: Tuesday 28 July 2009

An improved personal best was sadly not enough for Stirling swimmer Andrew Hunter to reach the finals of the 200m Freestyle in Rome.

Hunter, studying Accounts and Business at the University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, qualified in 12th place for the semi-final of the FINA World Championships on Monday evening (27 July).

Drawn in the same semi as swimming legend Michael Phelps, Hunter clocked a record low 1:46.90, but finished in 15th place and missed out on today’s final.

He will, however, remain in Rome to cheer on fellow Stirling team-mate and Winning Student Lewis Smith who will be competing in the 400m Individual Medley on Saturday.

Winning Students, led by the University of Stirling, supports students competing in high performance sport.

Another Winning Student, Hannah Miley of The Robert Gordon University, missed out on a medal in the final of the 200m Individual Medley. In a world-breaking final, the British record holder finished sixth in a time of 2:09.91, bettering her Olympic result by five places.


University of Stirling swimmers ready to roll in RomeSwimmer Andy Hunter prepares for Rome

Date released: Monday 13 July 2009

Two University of Stirling swimmers set off this week for their very own version of The Italian Job. Andy Hunter (pictured right) and Lewis Smith, both members of the Stirling Intensive Training Centre (ITC), are heading for a training camp in Sardinia as they step up preparations for the FINA World Championships in Rome from July 17 to August 2.

Also heading for Rome is Clare Dawson, a Psychology student from Bangor, who will swim for Ireland in the women's 200 metre freestyle.

The training partners and Winning Students 2008/9* athletes will join the 40-strong Great British team which also includes double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington. Hunter, competing in the 200m freestyle and Smith, a 400m Individual Medley swimmer, will be buoyed by their impressive qualifying performances at the British Gas Scottish National Championships in Glasgow which saw them both finish first.

Hunter, who will make his solo debut for Great Britain on 27 July, said: “I feel in really good shape and my coach has got me doing all the right stuff. My personal target is to give the best performance I can. I’m not thinking about any finishing positions, but I’ve put in a lot of work over the last few months and that should give me a chance.

“I’ve been to the Olympics in Beijing and to the World Championships before, but it will be like a whole new experience for me competing as an individual. But we have a great team and I’m absolutely delighted Lewis made it and that the University has two students on the British team.”

Lewis Smith heads for RomeSmith (pictured left) shook off a recent bout of illness to qualify for the trip to Rome and the 21-year-old has plenty of time to prepare fully with his event taking place on the final day of competition. “I’ve quite a long time to wait,” said Smith. “But that has given me the chance to get a couple more weeks of training and preparation. And I’ll hopefully get to see lots of good swimming in between.”

With a European Championships under his belt, a new Scottish record set in March and the experience of training with American swimming legend Michael Phelps, Smith is in confident mood.

He added: “I have always performed well under pressure and in a way, the bigger the event, the more you are up for it. A lot of people listen to music and try to tune out from the crowd, but I like to take in what is going on around me. Reaching the final in itself would be a good achievement and I think it is a realistic target. Then you are right in the mix and who knows what can happen.”

Notes to editors:

* The University of Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. As part of this designation, Stirling leads the Winning Students scheme which supports students aged 16-28 across Scotland competing in high performance sport.

For more information, contact Sports Communications Officer David Christie on 01786 466673 or email


University’s Principal receives honorary doctorate Professor Christine Hallett receives honorary doctorate from Loughborough University

Date released: Monday 13 July 2009

The University of Stirling’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett (pictured), is to receive an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University. The award is conferred in recognition of the professor’s outstanding leadership in higher education and academic contribution to the field of social policy.

Professor Hallett began her career as a civil servant in the Department of Health and Social Security and has spent most of her career in social policy research, focusing on the areas of women and social policy; juvenile justice, child welfare and child protection; the personal social services; and rights and participation in social welfare.

She has authored and edited a number of books dealing with child protection and other social policy areas and has published extensively in academic journals.

In addition to her responsibilities as University Principal, Professor Hallett is a Civil Service Commissioner; Chair, Board of Trustees of the Council for International Education (UKCISA); Convenor of the Research and Commercialisation Committee, Universities Scotland; Trustee, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

An alumna of Loughborough, having completed a PhD there in 1994, Professor Hallett has been invited back to her old university as it celebrates its centenary. Speaking of her honorary doctorate the professor said: “I am very pleased to have been recognised by Loughborough University in this way – and delighted to be returning there on what is, for everyone connected to that university, a very special year indeed.“



Stirling sports conference looks at ‘The Murray Effect’ on tennis

Date released: Monday 13 July 2009

Everything from ‘The Murray Effect’ on British tennis to the whisky drying impact of the war on Scottish Golf will be under discussion in a series of conferences hosted by the University of Stirling this week (14-18 July).

The International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport (ISHPES) will hold its 11th International Congress at the University, while the British Society of Sports History (BSSH) Conference, running concurrently, makes a welcome return to Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.

More than 80 diverse presentations will be made over the five day international conference with speakers arriving from across the globe, including leading sport historians Allen Guttmann and Thierry Terret. Following a successful Olympic Games style bid in 2008, the University was selected to host the ISHPES event, becoming the first ever non-capital city to do so.

Sport is regarded as a positive force in society, improving health and helping to combat social ills, but the conference will investigate its success rate under the theme of Sport in History: Promises and Problems. Other topics include: International Boxing and the construction of an American National Identity; the development of Scottish netball; football hooligans in Ex-Yugoslavia and dragon boat racing in modern day China.

There will also be a seminar by University of Stirling PhD student and tennis coach Fiona Reid, revealing new findings around tennis participation in Scotland following Andy Murray’s rapid rise. Reid said: “There is a widely held belief that the success of world-class athletes provides a catalyst for the development of sport in their home country. In addition it has been suggested that the lack of top athletes as role models for sports people in the UK is a barrier to both increasing sports participation and improving performances on the world stage.”

With the British Open teeing off on Thursday, all eyes will be on Turnberry. Luke Harris, speaking at the BSSH Conference, will explore World War II’s impact upon the game of golf in Scotland. He said: “The war brought major changes to some courses as they were important pieces of land and potential enemy landing positions. In some cases this meant losing the course altogether, or a few holes, towards the war effort. The war did not just bring about visual problems alone, but clubs also had other problems such as a lack of money and a shortage of whisky available at the bar.”

Wray Vamplew, chair of ISHPES Scientific Committee and Professor of Sports History at the University of Stirling said: “The University of Stirling is delighted to build on its reputation generated from hosting the BSSH conference in 2007 by attracting both the British conference again and also this major international event. History does not just mean the distant past, but right up to the moment and it is sure to be an interesting sporting week with such an impressive number of speakers coming from all over the world.”

Background information:
  • ISHPES 11th International Congress runs from Tuesday July 14 to Saturday July 18. For more information and to view the full programme, see
  • ISHPES is sponsored by Stirling Council, The University of Stirling, the University of Stirling’s Department of Sports Studies and Routledge Publishers.
  • BSSH Conference 2009 takes place on Friday July 17 to Saturday July 18. See for more details.
  • The University of Stirling was designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in 2008.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a speaker, contact External Relations on 01786 466687 or email:



New arrival helps University football team to a winning start Craig Mason makes a scoring debut


Date released: Monday 13 July 2009

Former Wales Youth International striker Craig Mason (pictured) signalled his University of Stirling First XI arrival with a star performance in the first pre-season fixture last Friday. Mason has joined the University of Stirling - Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence - on a football scholarship which will see him improve his on-pitch skills and gain a Sports Studies degree at the same time.

Released by Cardiff City at the end of the season, the 18-year-old was snapped up after impressing at the Exit Trials in Walsall. Despite only arriving on campus last Tuesday, Mason took little time to make his mark, netting a neat headed goal as the First XI ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over Falkirk FC U19s.

The pacey frontman said: “I arrived on the Tuesday, went for a jog and had one training session with the squad then it was straight into the match. It was a good game and it wasn’t too tough fitting in as the boys have been great with me. We played well and it was nice to get a goal. I got two goals during the exit trials as well so I’ve been pretty lucky so far.”

Mason joined the Bluebirds aged 13 and made a first team appearance in a pre-season friendly last season. He has also represented his country at U15-U19 level and even played in the qualifiers for the European Championships, but the striker was deemed surplus and admits it jolted him into a rethink.

“When Cardiff released me, I started to think about another option to professional football,” added Mason. “I was still looking for a club, but my interest in turning pro had been waning. I thought it would be better to get an education so here I am. I was offered a scholarship in America too, but decided to come to Stirling as the facilities are excellent here and the people were so welcoming.”

Mason is just one of several new arrivals as the squad looks to improve on a decent third place finish in the East of Scotland First Division last season. Creag Robertson put the University team in front midway through the first of three 30-minute periods after a pinpoint in-swinging corner from Abraham Keller, who joins from Swiss side FC Basel. Falkirk enjoyed plenty of possession, but lacked the killer touch and Mason put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go, again the benefactor of another precise Keller delivery.


For more information, contact Sports Communications Officer David Christie on 01786 466673 or email



Inbred bumblebees less successful

Date released: Thursday 2 July 2009

Penelope Whitehorn

Declining bumblebee populations are at greater risk of inbreeding, which can trigger a downward spiral of further decline, according to researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. They have provided the first proof that inbreeding reduces colony fitness under natural conditions by increasing the production of reproductively inefficient ‘diploid’ males.

The sex of bumblebees is normally determined by the number of chromosome sets an individual receives. Males, born from unfertilised eggs, are haploid (just one chromosome set), while females receive genetic material from a father and a mother and so are diploid (two sets of chromosomes). In situations of inbreeding, however, the likelihood of generating a ‘freak’ diploid male is increased. 

Penelope Whitehorn (pictured), a researcher in the School of Biological and Environmental Studies at the University of Stirling, led a team who sought to investigate the effects of a generation of these diploid males on the fitness of bumblebee colonies.

She said, “The study of genetic diversity and inbreeding in bumblebees is currently of particular importance as many species have been suffering from significant population declines. The intensification of agriculture and the associated loss of flower-rich meadows and other habitats on which bumblebees depend has led to isolation of groups of bees and a consequent loss of their genetic diversity, increasing their susceptibility to possible deleterious effects of inbreeding”.

The researchers mated fertile female bees in the laboratory with either their brothers or with unrelated males. Those queens that established colonies in the laboratory could be divided into three groups – inbred queens producing diploid males, inbred queens producing normal colonies without diploid males and a control, non-inbred group. After monitoring the initial founding of the colonies in the laboratory, the researchers then compared the development and survival of these three colony groups under natural field conditions.

According to Whitehorn, “A number of fitness parameters were severely negatively affected by diploid male production, including colony growth rate, total offspring production and colony survival. However, no significant effects of inbreeding in the absence of diploid male production were detected”.

This study demonstrates that diploid males are extremely detrimental for wild bumblebee colonies. Diploid males are produced at the expense of industrious females, but unlike these female workers, they do not contribute to colony growth and productivity. In fact, they do not function very well as males either, as they are much less fertile than normal males and any offspring they do produce are always unviable or infertile. The researchers conclude that diploid males may act as indicators of the genetic health of populations, and that their detection could be used as an informative tool in bee conservation.

Further information:

School of Biological and Environmental Studies



Experiences of living in a surveillance society

Date released: Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A University of Stirling expert on surveillance is to lead a new Europe-wide network of surveillance academics. Doctor William Webster

Dr William Webster (pictured) of the Stirling Management School has secured over half a million Euros of funding from the European Science Foundation’s COST programme to run ‘Living in Surveillance Societies’ (LiSS) for the next four years.

Already, over 90 researchers from 15 countries have signed up to the network, which Dr Webster will chair. He said: “The programme is about facilitating a better understanding of what it is like to live in a society where technologically mediated surveillance is so prevalent – both for the surveyor and the surveyed.  It will look at our experiences of the impact of surveillance on people, businesses, technology and governance.”

He explained: “Today, surveillance is all around us, it is ubiquitous, pervasive and normalised. Surveillance, through new technology, takes place on an unprecedented scale, with vast amounts of personal data are collected, analysed, processed and stored for reasons ranging from national security, e-government and market research. For example, our movements and activities are routinely monitored through video surveillance, purchase patterns, sat-nav, mobile telephones, and so on.

“However, this surveillance is also subtle and discreet, with most people unaware that they cast a data shadow as they go about their daily lives, and relatively little is known about the impacts of widespread surveillance on individuals and society as a whole.

“A number of concerns have emerged, including the effects on privacy, social trust, human behaviour and public space, the depth of accountability and transparency, the risks of information sharing, the cost-benefit of technological systems, their effectiveness and the prevalence of errors.”

He outlined the aims of the LiSS programme: “This network brings academics together, rather than being a research project in itself, to raise awareness of surveillance in society, to better understand the consequences of technologically enhanced surveillance, and help inform surveillance policy and practice across Europe.

“The creation of the ‘Living in Surveillance Societies’ research programme is a significant academic development, it is the first European-wide research programme dedicated to ‘understanding’ surveillance and will provide an essential platform for developing research capacity in this area.”

COST is an inter-governmental framework for co-operation and networking of scientific and technical research, funded by the European Science Foundation and the EU Framework programme, part of the Council of the European Union.  COST does not fund research itself, but supports networking activities such as meetings, conferences, scientific exchanges and outreach activities.

Dr Webster explained: “COST ‘Actions’ work on the principle that there will be massive economic benefit deriving from the collaborative academic activities of the researchers – in this case estimated by COST to be 80 million Euros.”

This is the first time a COST Action has been awarded to a University of Stirling academic, and it is a major achievement for Stirling to lead the project as it is one of just four projects to be granted funding from hundreds of applicants in the ‘Individuals Societies Cultures and Health’ (ISCH) COST domain.

Background information:

Dr William Webster is a Senior Lecturer in Stirling Management School, and is the Director of the Public Service Management MBA and BA (Hons) Public Management & Administration programmes.  He is a recognised expert on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance cameras, e-government and electronic public services.



Stirling swimmers head for World Championships

Date released: Wednesday 1 July 2009

Stirling swimmers Andy Hunter and Lewis Smith are counting down the days to the FINA World Championships in Rome, having secured qualification at the weekend in the British Gas Scottish National Championships. Both Andy and Lewis are students at the University of Stirling and members of the Stirling Intensive Training Centre (ITC), as well as Winning Students athletes in 2008-2009.

Andy Hunter, who swam at the Olympics last summer in the GB 4x200m freestyle relay team, was delighted at clinching his place by winning the 200m freestyle. He said: "In the four years that I have been representing Great Britain at a senior level I have never competed in a solo event. I have been waiting a long time for this."

Lewis Smith, meanwhile, delighted the capacity crowd at Tollcross Park Leisure Centre by taking the 400m individual medley title, and said: "I was looking forward to this event a lot and enjoyed the race. I thought I must be in the lead as the crowd suddenly got very loud. I was also feeling really good before the final so knew I was ready to seize my opportunity."

The World Championships take place in Rome from 17 July to 2 August, so the two athletes are now preparing intensively for their time on the world stage. Lewis added: "Andy and I have spoken about Rome during training quite a lot, and we have always talked about it as if it was going to happen for us, so I am delighted that both he and I have earned our places, and ended the Championships on a real high."



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