All posts by Tanya Horan


Continuous Improvement in Industry

Organisations which prioritise the continual improvement and innovation of their existing practices often use Lean[1] processes such as Continuous Improvement (CI) cells[2].

Continuous Improvement cells are a work improvement technique, which originated from the concept of Quality Circles[3]. The main benefits of adopting this approach can include productivity improvement, cost savings, safety improvements, workforce engagement and work quality improvement, all of which can lead to significant benefits for industry.

Working with industry


The Innovative Design Lab Research Centre (IDL) at the University of Huddersfield focuses on solving real world problems by working with organisations to develop solutions to design challenges and project based problems.

In 2016 IDL researched the benefits and challenges of Continuous Improvement cells with four organisations: Highways England, a design service supplier, a construction service supplier from the highways supply chain and Network Rail. The research was funded by Highways England.

Impact of CI cells

The research identified many benefits of CI cells at Highways England, in the highways supply chain and at Network Rail. These include improvements in team and supply chain coordination; team building and coaching; and task and resource management.  Particularly significant statistics include 165% improvement in the mean staff engagement scores when comparing Highways England’s outstations which use CI cells with those that do not.  A 14% productivity increase in one team was estimated based on their planning reliability records after their CI cell implementation.

Buyuk takim celli 2

The research also revealed a number of challenges, in the area of systematic data recording prior to adoption of the technique, knowledge about what to measure, standardisation and implementing continuous improvement.

Improving CI cells in the Highways Supply Chain

The research team developed a series of suggestions based mainly on the challenges they identified with current practices:

CI cell training: basic Lean training was recommended in order to raise awareness as well as introducing standard terminology and practices.

CI cell execution: in order to improve this particular aspect a number of suggestions were made, including systematic problem solving and standardising CI cell board design and execution.

CI cell benefit recording: a set of measures can be introduced so that teams know exactly what to record and measure and a better comparison is made across the board

CI cell incentivisation: in order to keep teams’ focus on continuous improvement it was suggested that an incentivisation programme between and within teams could be introduced.

Future CI cell research

Continuous Improvement cells by their very nature are always looking for new ways to improve processes and remove constraints to delivery. As part of this research IDL recommended further research, which included identifying the critical success factors by investigating why some teams are successful and others are not. Further understanding of which factors lead to better job satisfaction and evaluating how the programme could be improved were also recommended. Comparison of the performance over a period of six months of at least two similar teams, one using CI cells and the other not and evaluating the impact on their KPIs (key performance indicators) and team engagement is a future research opportunity, along with investigating where teams are allocating their saved resources through their CI cell practices and how they are being used.

Lucia Fullalove, Lean Collaborative Research Manager at Highways England who funded the research, commented:

“It is important to ensure that results from the Lean Collaborative Research are tried and incorporated into the work practices so that benefits identified by the research work can be fully realised. This will reinforce the usefulness of the research in supporting delivery of the Lean contribution to the RIS (Roads Investment Savings) at Highways England.

“Indeed, it is my experience with work in the HE Supply Chain (e.g. Manchester Smart Motorway) that all areas where I witnessed CI cells deployment have demonstrated improvements in the areas identified in the research. In addition, team members felt empowered and as a result were more pro-active in taking necessary actions to remove constraints identified in their work activities to improve or allow timely work delivery.”

[1] Alarcón, L. (1997). Lean construction. CRC Press.

[2] Miron, Luciana, Talebi, Saeed, Koskela, Lauri and Tezel, Algan (2016) Evaluation of Continuous Improvement Programmes. In: 24th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, 18th – 24th July 2016, Boston, USA. (


Mega construction projects of scales of this nature will undoubtedly benefit my mainstreaming DRR in their construction processes

Disaster Resilience in Construction Education and Research

The past decade has seen a concentration of disaster events causing major social, economic and financial impacts. In order to tackle these increasing losses, the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction 2015–2030[1], endorsed by 187 UN states in 2015, promotes disaster risk reduction practices.

There has been growing recognition that the construction industry and associated built environment professions are a vital component of this capacity. The scale, size and impact of the built environment cannot be ignored. In the UK for example, construction is one of the largest sectors of the economy. It contributes almost £90 billion to the UK economy (or 6.7%) in value added, comprises over 280,000 businesses covering some 2.93 million jobs, which is equivalent to about 10% of total UK employment[2]. It generates about 9% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the European Union and provides 18 million direct jobs.

Mega construction projects of scales of this nature will undoubtedly benefit my mainstreaming DRR in their construction processes
Mega construction projects of scales of this nature will undoubtedly benefit my mainstreaming DRR in their construction processes

The United Nations has issued a stark warning to the world’s business community that economic losses linked to disasters are “out of control” and will continue to escalate unless disaster risk management becomes a core part of business investment strategies.


In recognition of these challenges, an EU funded project entitled CADRE (Collaborative Action towards Disaster Resilience Education), was launched in 2014 and was funded by the European Commission, to identify mechanisms to mainstream disaster resilience in the construction process.

CADRE has been successful in capturing labour market requirements for disaster resilience; its interface with the construction industry and its professionals and identifying stakeholder requirements helping to mainstream disaster resilience within the construction process and thereby to identify how to integrate disaster risk reduction in construction practices.

Words into action

From left Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh
From left Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh

Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh have been appointed to Chair a ‘Words into Action’ working group who will develop a UN guidebook on Construction Policy and Practice targeting governments, construction industry bodies and construction firms around the world to help prevent and recover from natural and man-made disasters. The guidebook will incorporate the results of the CADRE study, including thirteen key knowledge gaps and key themes identified among construction professionals as part of CADRE, and a series of recommendations to key actors in the built environment on how to more effectively mainstream disaster resilience in the construction process.

The guide will be published in early 2018 and copies will be supplied to all 187 countries that were signatories to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  The guide is being developed in conjunction with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and with input from other construction professional bodies.

In addition, CADRE is also providing the basis for an innovative professional doctoral programme (DProf) that integrates professional and academic knowledge in the construction industry to develop societal resilience to disasters.

[1] United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (2015). Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction 2015–2030. Geneva: UNISDR.

[2] Department for Business Innovation & Skills (2013) UK Construction: An economic analysis of the sector, July 2013.


MIAMI-2 – a leading centre for the study of radiation damage in materials

MIAMI-2 has established the University of Huddersfield as one of the world’s leading centres for the use of ion beams as a tool for the investigation of issues ranging from nuclear technology and nanoparticles to semiconductors and the effects of radiation exposure on materials in space.

Hitachi engineer assembling the MIAMI-2 microscope
Hitachi engineer assembling the MIAMI-2 microscope

Europe has three transmission electron microscopes with in-situ ion beam research facilities and two of them are in Huddersfield. The first of which was MIAMI-1 – standing for Microscope and Ion Accelerator for Materials Investigations – designed and built by Professor Steve Donnelly, Professor Jakob van den Berg and Dr Jonathan Hinks.

From left Dr Jonathan Hinks and Professor Steve Donnelly
From left Dr Jonathan Hinks and Professor Steve Donnelly
Professor Jakob Van den Berg
Professor Jakob Van den Berg

MIAMI-1 is a bespoke combination of a 100 keV ion accelerator with a 200 keV electron microscope enabling nanoscale investigation of radiation damage. Now it has now been joined by the more powerful, versatile and much larger MIAMI-2 which has dual ion-beams and greatly-enhanced analytical capabilities.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) awarded £3.5 million for the development and construction of MIAMI-2, which has required the construction of a new storey at the laboratory complex in which it is now housed on campus.

Designed and constructed in collaboration with major companies such as, Hitachi and National Electrostatics Corporation – which have contributed major components – MIAMI-2 is already operational and will have its official launch in 2018.

Demand is high to use MIAMI-2 and will increase even further now that the University of Huddersfield has become one of the three UK universities to form the UK National Ion Beam Centre (UKNIBC) funded to the tune of £8.8 million – again by EPSRC.

The MIAMI-2 team consists of six members of academic staff plus two PhD researchers – rising to four in September with more studentships being advertised – and is currently mastering the complex new facility and its exceptional potential.

MIAMI-1 allows researchers to observe radiation damage on the nanoscale as it is happening but now MIAMI-2 brings additional capabilities in terms of analytical techniques. This means that they can irradiate, observe and analyse all at the same time generating a huge volume of invaluable scientific data in a very efficient manner.

Although scientists from elsewhere in the UK and overseas are already making extensive use of MIAMI-2, the University of Huddersfield’s own researchers will also take full advantage of the facility.

Currently, the largest area of activity at Huddersfield is nuclear technology with projects and international collaborations on both structural materials for reactors and solutions for waste storage. However, this group of researchers have historically worked with semiconductors and among the range of projects in which they are currently engaged are two PhD students studying nanowires and other types of nanoparticles. A further area of research is materials that have been in space or which are going into space; the hope is to understand the impact of the radiation they are exposed to and to develop a greater understanding of the history of the cosmos.


Celebrating the Brontӫs

In Victorian Britain the writing of the Brontӫs was considered by some to be scandalous, uncouth and coarse. Over the years their writing has become sanitised and Dr Michael Stewart is re-engaging with their legacy in order to shed new light on their life and work. He is focussing on what is wild and savage about their writing and exploring the world outside of Wuthering Heights.

Ill Will

Ill Will book cover

Dr Michael Stewart’s creative writing has received many awards and accolades and his latest work is inspired by the Brontӫs. Wuthering Heights was originally published in 1848 and Dr Stewart’s latest novel Ill Will considers what happens when Heathcliff runs off in the storm. It explains the missing years and how he turned from an uncouth stable boy to a gentleman psychopath.

Dr Stewart’s research for Ill Will included consulting various archives, such as The Liverpool Maritime Museum and the slavery archives at Liverpool City Library, as well as speaking with historians from the Liverpool Record Office, the Peel Group and Chetham’s Library in Manchester.

During the writing of the book, Dr Stewart walked hundreds of miles across the Yorkshire Moors and from Top Withens, the inspiration for the location of Wuthering Heights, to Liverpool docks. He re-enacted the walk that Mr Earnshaw took in 1771, which resulted in him returning with Heathcliff.

As part of the book launch Dr Stewart shared proof copies at the Bradford Literature Festival on 8 July 2017. HarperCollins is publishing the hardback in early 2018 and the paperback later in the year and Dr Stewart is currently negotiating film and television rights.

The Brontӫ Stones

Funding has been secured from the Arts Council and Bradford Council for a trail of engraved stones commemorating the bicentenaries of the birth of the Brontӫs. Dr Stewart is leading on this project called the ‘Brontӫ Stones’, which will see a stone each for Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontӫ. The Charlotte Stone will be placed in the wall of the birthplace in Thornton; the Emily Stone will be placed in the middle of Thornton Moor overlooking Oxenhope; the Anne Stone will be placed in the meadow at the back of the Parsonage in Haworth and the fourth stone will be a hidden stone.

The stones will be carved with specially commissioned writing from some of the most prestigious writers in the country, including Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay and Jeanette Winterson. The stones will be in place in 2018 and there will be a series of walks, events, and talks organised around the stones. These events will be aimed at readers, writers and walkers and there will be school and college projects to engage with young people.

The Brontӫ Stones and the book Ill Will, will both be part of a focussed marketing strategy by HarperCollins to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Bronte in 2018.


New research from the University of Huddersfield Press

The University of Huddersfield Press was established in 2007 to provide an outlet for publication for University authors and to encourage new and aspiring authors to publish in their areas of subject expertise. Producing print books, open access eBooks and academic journals, the Press covers a wide range of subject areas providing a platform for innovative and interdisciplinary research at Huddersfield.

Keep up to date with new publications, plus events and competitions by following us on the University of Huddersfield Press blog, Facebook and Twitter.

New titles: 

Grist Anthology


The latest Grist Anthology is an innovative blend of some of the most exciting and freshest voices in prose and poetry today. It features five sections written from five distinct narrative viewpoints.

Grist offers a valuable platform for new writers. By publishing emerging writers alongside some of the more established names in literature. It offers an exciting opportunity for those starting out in their writing careers.

Have a look at the latest anthology I You He She It – Experiments in Viewpoint

Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies

David Taylor

Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies by David Taylor 2

Professor David Taylor has established a fine reputation for his books and articles on the history of policing in England. This new book on Huddersfield policing looks at the mid-nineteenth century and issues facing the local area in relation to policing a centre of West Riding textile production.

Details of how to purchase a copy and the open access version are available here: Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies

Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research


Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research is a peer reviewed, interdisciplinary and fully open access journal. The journal features primarily work by undergraduates. The journal is a showcase for student work that demonstrates the significance, rigour and high standards of research. Fields is designed to inspire our students to work to the very highest standards and to see the work they do, even as undergraduates, as having the potential for further impact in the wider world.

Read the latest issue here: Fields

Stonehenge app image

Bringing to life the sights and sounds of ancient world heritage sites

Dr Rupert Till and a team of technicians at the University of Huddersfield have launched an app which brings the sights and sounds of sites like Stonehenge back to life. Unlike other computer game-like walkarounds, the sonic dimension of the Huddersfield app enables the user to hear what an ancient site used to sound like, in addition to being able to see what it looked it. This has been achieved by integrating acoustic modelling and using recordings of relevant ancient musical instruments.

The app turns smartphones, tablets and computers into time travel devices, enabling users to see and to hear ancient and mysterious sites such as Stonehenge as they were in the distant past, before they fell into ruin.

Named the EMAP Soundgate, it is now available as a free download for iPhones and iPads, Android devices, for PC and Mac, and with a Mac only version at Apple’s App Store.

Exploring world heritage sites

In addition to Stonehenge, where Dr Till has conducted extensive research on the original acoustics, the first release of the app enables users to make visual and sonic virtual tours of two other World Heritage sites – Palaeolithic Age decorated caves near Altamira in Northern Spain, and the ancient Roman theatre at Paphos in Cyprus.  New sites could be added to future releases, and there are also plans to adapt it for virtual reality headsets.

Full physical access to the sites included on the first version of Dr Till’s app can be restricted. It is rare to be allowed to enter the centre of Stonehenge, for example and some of the caves are not open to the public.  Therefore the app, installed on a portable device, can enrich or even replace an actual visit. Stonehenge today is a remnant of what used to be there and this app enables visitors to see and hear what it was like at different periods, from the beginning of its development through to its completion about 4,000 years ago. App users will also have the choice of visualising the site in daylight, dusk or after dark, with appropriate natural sounds.

Ancient musical sound bank

Ancient musical instruments form part of the app’s sound bank, alongside environmental sounds such as bird song.  Dr Till’s recent activities have included the production of recordings for the European Musical Archaeology Project.  They have included an acclaimed disc of Viking age music and the sounds made by ancient bone flutes.

The app has been conceived, developed and produced in-house at the University of Huddersfield, with the expertise of its Computer Games department being crucial to the digital modelling, based on the acoustic data provided by Dr Till.

Rouen blood transfusion 1954

Women at the forefront of the NHS

The traditional role of women in the medical profession was often seen as one of caring and not necessarily a role that required technical, pharmaceutical or even medical skills. Research at Huddersfield has revealed a new dimension to the type of work women occupied in the NHS during the mid-20th century.

While researching his book on hospitals in Leeds and Sheffield, Professor Doyle discovered documentary material showing mid-20th century women carrying out analysis in the pathology lab, taking charge of radiography and handling other high-tech procedures.

“Care to cure”

2 million volt X-ray Generator, Sheffield
2 million volt X-ray Generator, Sheffield

As the 20th century develops there has been a shift in culture in the medical profession from “care to cure” using new technologies, medication and pharmaceuticals. This focus has often seen men and the male doctor leading this area. This research reveals that in the early days of the NHS, women were just as likely to be found in labs and x-ray departments as at the bedside adopting a caring role.

A brochure issued in 1952 by the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board, reports on the previous five years of its activities – therefore covering the transformation to the NHS in 1948. It has a sequence of photographs showing women – some in nursing uniforms, some in lab coats – taking control of most aspects of hospital life.

This brochure demonstrates that during this time women were using microscopes, manipulating a huge two million volt X-ray machine, operating an iron lung, taking charge of the chest clinic and correcting children’s eyesight in the orthoptic department. Few men are to be seen. Most doctors would have been male, but there were actually very few doctors in hospitals at this period.

Professor Doyle has also accumulated evidence from overseas as well as the UK.  For example, a 1950s blood transfusion centre in Rouen, France, was entirely run by women.

Reappraising the role and status of women

Chest Clinic, Sheffield
Chest Clinic, Sheffield

Professor Doyle now believes there is an opportunity for health historians to reappraise the roles and status of women in early 20th century hospitals and he hopes to carry out further research.  Meanwhile, he has written a blog that includes the text and pictures of the 1952 Sheffield booklet.

He acknowledges that men did begin to exert predominance in healthcare technology and began to take over the narrative of the medicalization of healthcare.

okEngineering header

Developing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists

What makes an effective teacher of vocational science, engineering or technology (SET)? How can a teacher’s effectiveness be improved in an education system under increasing pressures from changing economic, political and technological circumstances? These questions have an important bearing on current debates and policy concerning technical and vocational education – not least the recent Sainsbury Review – and are the focus of a three-year research project based in the School of Education and Professional Development.


okADA_33_main image page 04_05

Subject Specialist Pedagogy in Initial Teacher Education for Vocational Science, Engineering and Technology (ITE-VocSET) is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which has a long-standing interest in improving teaching and learning in SET subjects. This interest connects with a wider UK context of ongoing concern about the supply of scientists, engineers and technologists, not only of graduates but also at technician level where further education colleges – and their technical teachers – play a critically important role.

With its long tradition of teacher development for the further education sector, and its strong record of research in this field, the School of Education and Professional Development is uniquely placed to host the project, which combines research into subject specialist pedagogy with application to teacher development.

The project has a semi-experimental methodology based on a series of “interventions” – short programmes of study for trainee teachers in addition to their main teacher education programme. Based on a theory of change in which specific aspects of teacher development are identified as possible consequences of the intervention, the team then aim to evaluate its impact on what teachers do and how they think about their actions.

Learning resources


The research began in October 2015 with a literature review aimed at building a conceptual model of subject specialist pedagogy appropriate to the teaching of vocational SET subjects. The resulting model of pedagogy was then used to develop and refine learning resources for use by trainee SET teachers taking part in the interventions. These resources include structured video materials based on teaching sessions in further education colleges, animations to explain and illustrate key concepts of pedagogy, and a website providing structured pathways through the conceptual model.

Alongside the resource development, the team has worked with partner universities and colleges to identify trainee SET teachers – and teacher educators – who would like to take part in the interventions. A key issue has been the shortage of SET trainee teachers across the country, which has meant approaching the project on a national basis, using online sessions and “Saturday schools” based in Manchester to facilitate participation.

The first of the interventions is now approaching completion and evaluation is under way. Working with colleagues from the Education and Training Foundation (the national body for further education teaching) the aim is to include up to 70 participants by early 2018. In addition to evaluating the specific approach used in the intervention, the research will provide a rich source of qualitative data on how SET specialists think about their teaching, their students and the relationship between the college and the workplace. This research should be the basis for a range of publications for the 2020 Research Excellence Framework.

Cluster of Differentiation CD40

New cancer treatment without the serious side effects

Researchers at the University of Huddersfield are the first to arrive at a deep understanding of a molecule that destroys cancerous tumours without harming healthy cell tissue. The discovery, which has been patented, opens the doors for a highly effective cancer treatment.

A journal article describes the science behind the breakthrough. The research team headed by Dr Nikolaos Georgopoulos has developed and patented a cancer treatment regime that exploits the unique properties of the molecule – a protein named Cluster of Differentiation 40 (CD40). The next phase is to secure funding for clinical trials.

Targeting tumour cells

Skin cells
Skin cells

Tumour cells proliferate by continuously dividing. This places them under considerable stress, but they have developed protective properties that enable them to cope.  CD40 removes this protection so that the tumour cells die, but because normal cells are not placed under “oxidative stress” they are unharmed by the protein.

It was vital to understand these remarkable properties of CD40, with their immense potential for cancer therapy.  Years of investigation began to unlock the mystery.

Cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, usually have side effects and healthy cells are destroyed along with cancerous cells.

Dr Georgopoulos and his co-researchers at the University of Huddersfield made this discovery because instead of working purely with tumour cells, they were able to make comparisons with the effects of CD40 on normal cells as well as engineered – para-malignant – cells that allowed them to mimic the process of carcinogenesis – cancer development. They have now identified exactly why this molecule can kill tumour cells and why it leaves normal cells unaffected.

Future cancer treatment

From left: Chris Dunnill and Nik Georgopoulos
From left: Chris Dunnill and Nik Georgopoulos

The team has also worked on a method of using CD40 in targeted, intravenous bio-therapy by discovering the best way to deploy the molecule. The discovery has been patented, and the University is exploring commercialisation through a spin-out company – provisionally called ThanatoCure™ – Thanatos is the Greek word for ‘death’, referring here to cell death.

Advanced discussions are being held with a company that specialises in early-stage development of innovative cancer therapies. It is hoped that the company will secure funding in the region of £900,000 for clinical trials that would see colorectal cancer patients receiving the new treatment. The trials could start as early as the end of 2017.

A big proportion of research leading to the breakthrough was conducted by Dr Chris Dunnill, during and beyond his PhD, supervised by Dr Georgopoulos.  Also part of the research team – and co-contributors to the new article in a leading journal – were PhD students Khalidah Ibraheem and Albashir Mohamed, supervised by Dr Georgopoulos, and Professor Jenny Southgate from the Department of Biology, University of York.

  • The article A redox state-dictated signalling pathway deciphers the malignant cell specificity of CD40-mediated apoptosis is in the journal, Oncogene.

New research from the University of Huddersfield Press

The University of Huddersfield Press was established in 2007 to provide an outlet for publication for University authors and to encourage new and aspiring authors to publish in their areas of subject expertise. Producing print books, open access eBooks and academic journals, the Press covers a wide range of subject areas providing a platform for innovative and interdisciplinary research at Huddersfield.

Find out about our new titles, plus events and giveaways by following us on the University of Huddersfield Press blog and Twitter.

New titles

British Journal of Pharmacy

British Journal of Pharmacy

British Journal of Pharmacy is an online peer-reviewed open access journal offering gold open access with no article processing charges (APCs). The Journal aims to publish original research papers, critical reviews and rapid communications on the latest developments in pharmacy.

The journal accepts manuscripts highlighting novel research and development in pharmacy. Submissions can be accepted from a wide array of pharmaceutical sciences, including:

  • pharmacy
  • novel therapeutic targets and molecular pharmacy
  • contemporary formulation strategies to improve drug delivery and targeting
  • pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry
  • pharmacokinetics and therapeutics
  • pharmacoeconomics
  • pharmacovigilance
  • innovations in teaching pharmacy

Read an in-depth interview with the Editor Hamid Merchant

Have a look at the very first issue of BJPharm

Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies – David Taylor

Beerhouses, Brothels and Bobbies by David Taylor 2

Professor David Taylor has established a fine reputation for his books and articles on the history of policing in England. This new book on Huddersfield policing looks at the mid-nineteenth century and issues facing the local area in relation to policing a centre of West Riding textile production.

The book is available to order via the University Press or email

The Making of a University – John O’Connell

The Making of a University

This book is a record of the development of an institution with a remarkable history. The University’s foundations go back to the early part of the nineteenth century when the local Huddersfield community decided it wanted a place of learning to promote the education of the working classes. Since 1825 development has encompassed a mechanics institution, a female educational institute, a college of technology and a polytechnic, before becoming the University of Huddersfield we know today. The author, the late John O’Connell, was a Professor at Huddersfield and this book draws upon his research which now resides in the University archives.

Find out more about this unique book and order your copy online

Sky scene

Harnessing astronomical data

Many institutions and individuals collect astronomical data, however, there is currently a lack of any widely adopted comprehensive standards of recording that data and the use of a variety of systems makes it expensive.

The current retrieval processes for existing astronomical records have a number of difficulties that are commonly known as the 5Vs (volume, velocity, variety, value and veracity). If these difficulties could be solved it would result in more reliable and cost effective acquisition of useful and valuable data.

Auditorio de Tenerife Conference Centre
Auditorio de Tenerife Conference Centre

In previous research it was ascertained that the discipline of astronomy as a whole does not have, but would benefit from, a single comprehensive schema for data storage and retrieval. A conference paper on this subject was presented by Guy Beech from the University of Huddersfield at the BiDS 16 conference, Auditorio de Tenerife. The ideas and concepts being developed have relevance to those currently being promoted as ontologies (a formal naming and definition of the different types of data), with a Semantic Web (which provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused).

Developing a solution

The aim of this research project is to develop contemporary data management solutions for the management and utilisation of astronomical data. A key objective is to define an XML Schema and an ontology catering for the whole scope of astronomical related research within academia and industry.

Another aspect of this research will be to develop a set of tools that make use of the schema and ontology and support astronomical researchers in capturing, storing, exchanging and exploring astronomical data.

Improving data storage and usage

If these difficulties could be solved it would result in more reliable and cost effective acquisition of useful and valuable astronomical data. In addition, if this data could be saved and retrieved as semantic data there are all the additional benefits of applying ontologies to assist in better data recognition, interpretation and use.

A proof of concept has been carried out to assess which technologies can be beneficial. The next step will be to add XML based tools, Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL), to design and demonstrate a practical application of astronomical data processes which will enable improved storage and use.

There is an abundance of astronomical data available and the rate of data acquisition is increasing with every year that goes by. It is intended to design an extensible ontology for all the branches and sub-branches of astronomy as a whole. For the ontology to be extensible is the key to success rather than to attempt a comprehensive ontology right from the start. The astronomical ontology will then be able to grow over time.

Social housing in Brazil's Porto Alegre

Measuring quality in urban design and planning

Housing quality represents a key challenge in different areas across the world, with multi-disciplinary and cross cutting implications between urban policies and governance, sociology, psychology, planning, architecture and the built environment.

To address this subject, among others, the University of Huddersfield recently hosted a multi-disciplinary conference, Regional Urbanism in the Era of Globalisation, organised by the University’s Centre for Urban Design, Architecture and Sustainability.

Regional urbanism in Brazil

Dr Ioanni Delsante with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul's Dr Luciana Miron
Dr Ioanni Delsante with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul’s Dr Luciana Miron

Dr Ioanni Delsante from the University of Huddersfield and Dr Luciana Miron of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) presented a paper at the conference dealing with a project in Porto Alegre (Brazil) named PIEC, which has delivered social housing, community buildings, facilities and public spaces. The paper addresses the need for a shared evaluation of the outcomes of urban projects, taking into account the views of the experts as well as the aspirations of the people living there.

The successes and setbacks of the City Entrance Integrated Program (PIEC) have made it a valuable case study for experts in urban design.  Dr Ioanni Delsante, Reader in Urban Design at the University of Huddersfield, has taken a special interest in the project.

Public space and playground in PIEC project, Porto Alegre (Brazil)
Public space and playground in PIEC project, Porto Alegre (Brazil)

The University of Huddersfield has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Porto Alegre’s UFRGS and Master’s students at Huddersfield have paid research visits to the Brazilian city – which has a population of almost 4.5 million – and Dr Delsante continues to work closely with UFRGS.

Future research with China

The UK and China face major challenges in terms of sustainable urbanisation and urban regeneration, especially in residential and deprived areas.

Dr Ioanni Delsante’s future research will evaluate the effects and outcomes of urban policies, design and planning actions as a major priority, not only in light of the urbanisation process but also in respect of inner cities’ regeneration and transformation.

The timeliness of the research relates to major challenges in both partner countries, the UK and China. Years after the Urban Renaissance initiative, the UK is facing significant issues in terms of sustainable urbanisation and urban regeneration, especially in residential and deprived areas. Meanwhile, China’s 2014 urbanisation plan calls for urbanisation quality, including people-oriented urbanisation and embedding ecologically friendly approaches so as to carry forward cultural traditions.

UOH Magazine_13

Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music

Technology plays an increasingly important role in the way music is created and disseminated. The majority of music heard today is mediated through digital technology of one form or another.

But has technology changed the creative possibilities open to composers? Or is it just the same music in a different medium? Can composers work in new ways and conceive their music differently because of the new technological opportunities available today?

The TaCEM project

The TaCEM project, Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music, set out to examine these questions. This collaborative research project between the University of Huddersfield and Durham University was funded by a grant of £312,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and ran for 30 months.

The project examined nine case studies in depth. These nine musical compositions, chosen as outstanding examples of composers deploying new digital technology to significant effect, have been studied in terms of their technical means, their musical context and through music analysis. As part of the project the researchers visited composers from the UK, Europe, USA and Canada in order to discuss works ranging from 1977 to 2013 and analyse the technology that inspired them.

Interactive aural techniques

Professor Michael Clarke
Professor Michael Clarke

A major part of the research has been the use of Interactive Aural techniques, previously pioneered by Principal Investigator Professor Michael Clarke in earlier projects. This approach uses software so that the investigation can be undertaken in terms of sound and by emulating the technologies used for the music.

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Dr Frédéric Dufeu, Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, has worked on the project and has made major advances in the way such interactive software is designed. He has produced emulations of several systems crucial to the development of computer music but now obsolete, enabling their characteristics to be examined and their creative potential researched.

This particular research project had a sense of urgency, as many of the pioneer composers in this field are ageing and so is much of the technology they used. As early computers and synthesisers become obsolete or unobtainable, it becomes increasingly difficult to recapture the sounds and techniques that inspired creativity in the field up to three decades ago. The period covered started in the 1970s right through to the recent past.

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In addition to the software dedicated to the individual case studies, generic software is being developed within the TaCEM project. TIAALS (Tools for Interactive Aural Analysis) enables the user to develop their own interactive aural analyses from the sound contents of any piece.

Co-investigator Professor Peter Manning from Durham University, a leading international expert on the history of electronic music and the technologies behind it, brought this expertise to the project.

International impact

The work has been presented at many of the major conferences in the field around the world, including in Athens, Berlin, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Paris and Perth in Australia. The work has been received with enthusiasm with many academics keen to use the software in their own teaching. The software is to be made freely available alongside a book Inside Computer Music to be published by Oxford University Press. Work is currently underway to complete the final case study for this publication.

Future work includes plans to develop the Interactive Aural approach to a wider repertoire of music including those aspects of acoustic music least suited to traditional notation and verbal description, for example, improvisation, world music and contemporary instrumental works.


International oral history project shares the voices of the “petits réfugiés”

“Petits réfugiés” (little refugees)
“Petits réfugiés” (little refugees)

During the Second World War a large number of French children were displaced and separated from their families as a result of the Allied bombing of France, the threat of invasion and severe food shortages in cities. Known as the “petits réfugiés” (little refugees) the voices of these children have rarely been heard.

Dr Lindsey Dodd’s new research project explores the memories of the “petits réfugiés” providing them with a voice for the first time. A senior lecturer in modern European history, Dr Dodd has research specialisms in the theory and practice of oral history, and the experiences of children in war, particularly in France.

International research collaboration


Following a successful bid with colleagues from Bath Spa University and Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Dr Lindsey Dodd from the University of Huddersfield has embarked on a 30-month research project. This multi-stranded project is jointly funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the French Laboratoire d’Excellence (LabEx) Les passés dans le présent.  The funding unites the AHRC’s theme Care for the Future: Thinking Forward Through the Past and the LabEx research strand ‘The past in the present’.

This Anglo-French funding will enable the recording and analysis of the memories of French people who became “petits réfugiés”

Disrupted Histories: Recovered Pasts

Titled Disrupted Histories: Recovered Pasts, the overarching project incorporates varied research by experts in fields that include history, politics, ethnography, history, sociology and anthropology, who will investigate five separate case studies, linked through the use of oral history. Each of the experts has an interest in history, memory, commemoration and narrative and are all working on post-conflict and post-colonial contexts, with populations who have been displaced. As the research progresses, working papers and research blogs will appear on the project’s online platform, accessed at

Discovering “Usable Pasts”

“Petits réfugiés” (little refugees)
“Petits réfugiés” (little refugees)

Official histories create versions of the past which are “usable”. As such, they tend to homogenise the past and impose certain storylines. The ‘Disrupted Histories’ project looks towards unofficial and heterogenous versions of the past. By providing a platform for those excluded voices it may be possible to revise more formalised narratives.

The experience of civilians in wartime, many of whom are children, can struggle to find a place in the French narrative of the Vichy era, which has created various “usable pasts” over time, from the glorification of the role of the Resistance to feelings of shame over collaboration with Nazi Germany and guilt over the deportation of Jews.

Dr Dodd will carry out around 20 new interviews, focusing on issues of family displacement and separation, and working with the Archives municipales de Boulogne-Billancourt in the Paris region and the Archives départementales de la Creuse in the centre of France.

This research will enable older people to share their childhood experiences and become part of their national story.