Category Archives: Spring 2016 issue

West Indian war workers in Britain FEATURE

Mixing It: The Changing Faces of Wartime Britain

Britain’s stand against Hitler meant that the country saw the largest and most diverse inward migration in its history, as millions of people either fled the Nazis or came to join the fight against Germany and its allies. This remarkable influx was largely forgotten in the aftermath of World War Two, but historians at the University of Huddersfield – led by Professor Wendy Webster – have recovered and collated memories of the period and made them the basis of an exhibition.

Flying officer P C Ramachandran

Johnny Pohe – Maori RAF pilot

Mixing It

Professor Webster has conducted extensive archival research for Mixing It, which will also include a book to be published in 2016. Her research traces the rich and complex history of national and ethnic diversity in Britain during the Second World War. Although such diversity was unprecedented, it is largely absent from memories of war. The project looks at a range of wartime sexual, racial and cultural encounters between different national and ethnic groups. It explores the impact of diversity on British society and the contributions of different groups to wartime culture, focusing on the BBC and British cinema.

Survivors’ testimonies

The project, backed by funding of £110,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, includes oral history interviews with ex-service personnel and Jewish Kindertransport refugees, who are among the last surviving witnesses to the fear and turmoil unleashed in Europe by Hitler and the Nazis.

Imperial War Museum North

The exhibition, Mixing It: The Changing Faces of Wartime Britain, takes place at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester until 11 September 2016.

West Indian WAAFS training to be instrument repairers, Wiltshire

Visitors will see a display of photographs and text and hear audio recordings from interviews carried out by Professor Webster’s research assistants, Dr Janette Martin and Dr Rob Light.

They include the memories of two women who were parted from their German Jewish parents when they were sent to safety in the UK on the Kindertransport trains. There are also memories of the large numbers of Chinese seamen who were vital to the Merchant Navy as it braved U-boats to bring supplies to Britain.

Jewish refugee children at the Dutch border

There are photographs and text displays that tell remarkable stories, such as that of Johnny Pohe – a Maori RAF pilot who was murdered by the Gestapo after escaping his POW camp. There are pictures that illustrate the enormous diversity of people who came to Britain, including Dutch child refugees, Canadian sailors and aircrew, war workers from the West Indies, Indian pilots, Norwegian seamen and huge numbers of Polish service personnel.

Graham Williams 1 FEATURE

Crime scene investigation benefits from advances in forensic science

Advances in the forensic analysis of body fluids found at crime scenes are helping to identify those guilty of a crime as well as preventing miscarriages of justice.

Identifying body fluids found at crime scenes

Dr Graham Williams, a forensic biologist at the University of Huddersfield, has developed new techniques in identifying exactly which body fluid is the source of a DNA sample.

Currently DNA techniques can state that a person’s DNA is present in a sample, but cannot always state which body fluid it is. Dr Williams’ research has developed a technique that shows exactly where an RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) sample comes from, such as blood, saliva or vaginal material. His technique incorporates Quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and analyses samples, such as fingernail scrapings, by characterising RNA, which is a single-stranded equivalent to DNA.

This research has the potential to have a major impact on the investigation and prosecution of sex offences resulting in a dramatic increase in the rate of successful prosecutions in rape cases. The process also reduces the potential for contamination of evidence and it is cost-effective.

The Forensic Biology Group at the University of Huddersfield, led by Dr Williams has also been working to answer questions relating to Temporal Forensics, such as how old is the person who deposited the stain and how long has the stain been there?


Separating the DNA of identical twins

Dr Williams’ latest research has solved one of the few limitations of DNA profiling by successfully testing a technique for distinguishing between the DNA of identical twins.

The probability of a DNA match between two unrelated individuals is about one in a billion. For two full siblings, the probability drops to one in 10,000. Identical twins present exactly the same DNA profile as each other which has created legal conundrums when it has not been possible to tell which of the pair was guilty or innocent of a crime.

Dr Williams and his Forensic Genetics Research Group have developed a solution to the problem and published their findings in the journal Analytical Biochemistry.

As twins get older, the degree of difference between them grows as they are subjected to increasingly different environments. For example, one might take up smoking, or one might have a job outdoors and the other a desk job. This will cause changes in the methylation status of the DNA.

In order to carry out speedy, inexpensive analysis of this, Dr Williams and his team propose a technique named HRMA (high resolution melt curve analysis).

HRMA subjects the DNA to increasingly high temperatures until the hydrogen bonds break, known as the melting temperature. The more hydrogen bonds that are present in the DNA, the higher the temperature required to melt them. If one DNA sequence is more methylated than the other, then the melting temperatures of the two samples will differ – a difference that can be measured, and which will establish the difference between two identical twins.

Dr Williams provides a detailed summary of the science behind this research at blog site The Conversation.

Prof Anne Gregory November 2014 outside Whitehall FEATURE

Meeting the demands of the public relations and communications industry

There has never been a more challenging yet exciting time for the public relations and communication industry. Its rapid growth in recent years has resulted in the need to identify and develop talented professionals to work in this field.

Industry growth

In 2014/15 public relations agencies alone experienced a global growth of 7% and are now worth some $13.5bn, up from $12.5bn in 2013.

The UK is currently leading the way in this sector with communication contributing massively to its exports around the world. According to the latest UK Government figures Advertising and Marketing, which currently includes public relations, is the second largest category in the UK Creative Industry with 153,000 people exclusively employed within it, and a total of 482,000 employed in the more widely defined Creative Economy.

Talent attraction and skills development

To meet the increasing demands of this growing industry two key challenges have been identified: talent attraction and skills development.

Research by Professor Anne Gregory is tackling issues such as establishing credibility for the profession by standardising what are regarded as the essential capabilities on an international level, with the eventual aim of bringing it in line with other professions such as law, medicine and accounting, all of which have internationally recognised standards.

Government communications

Professor Gregory has worked with the Cabinet Office since 2004 when she was asked to develop their first capability framework for communication professionals working across government. Her work has continued since then to help them develop their skills, knowledge and behaviour. As the Home Office appears in at least one of the top three news stories every day its level of exposure in the media is constantly high making the need for professionalism all the more important.

With a clear focus on the 4,000 permanent communication civil servants, rather than what is commonly known as the political ‘spin doctors,’ this can include those who work for central government as well as those who work for linked organisations such as the DVLA, the Environment Agency and NHS Blood and Transplant. These professionals work on major national campaigns such as attracting blood donors, safe driving, free child care, attracting teachers into their profession, keeping the UK safe and informed during the recent Ebola outbreak.

Turning point

The coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties was a recent turning point for the profession as government communication came under intense scrutiny. Professor Gregory has worked with the Cabinet Office throughout all these changes and has developed the Senior Talent Programme as well as contributing to the Early Talent Programme. These two key initiatives are designed to identify those civil servants with the potential to take that first step up in the profession right through to being members of the senior management team working at the highest level with Ministers and the Boards of their Departments.

For the Senior Talent Programme Professor Gregory has designed and delivers a Master’s course which was co-created with the Cabinet Office providing a bespoke course for their Senior Talent staff. And a mark of its success is that 50% of those who have completed the programme have been promoted or moved on to more challenging roles.

Future global research

As a former Chair of the Global Alliance of Public Relations and Communication Management, Professor Gregory has just instigated a major piece of research to develop a Global Capability Framework for the profession worldwide.

With cultural and political differences between countries, the aim is to specify the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required to work in this profession, whilst taking into account the significant differences in the way it is practiced in different continents and countries.

Working with the Global Alliance, it is planned to set up a research project on a hub and spoke basis. The University of Huddersfield would be the hub, partnering with a small number of Universities and professional associations globally from each continent.

The Global Capability Framework will be a benchmark against which national professional bodies and employers internationally can measure the capability of their professional communities. From it they will be able to achieve a long-standing ambition which is to establish continuing professional development programmes which have common currency and recognition around the world.

Feature Image for Spring Issue Resized

International musical collaboration

The world of experimental music using instruments and electronics may not top the charts, but with a collaborative project between the University of Huddersfield and the Université de Montréal and McGill University in Canada, this niche genre can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

This international collaboration has enhanced Huddersfield’s already considerable reputation in this field and enabled an exchange of culture, skills and facilities between these institutions in a series of projects.


IMED_16136_AdkinsHron_C1_demo disc cover FEATURE

One of these projects has resulted in the release of an album by the renowned Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes. Lépidoptères is a cycle of five works for recorder and electronics co-composed by Professor Monty Adkins, a composer, performer and Professor of experimental electronic music at the University of Huddersfield and Montreal-based composer and performer Dr Terri Hron (pictured below).

Terri Hron

Lépidoptères is a work for recorders and electronics made of five movements, each referring to families of butterflies and moths. The nature and character of the recorder is similar, with its varying tonal colours, and its transformations from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. The consort of recorders used belongs together with sonic and physical connections between the different instruments. This inspired similar connections and interactions between the recorder(s) and the electronics.

The album was released at a concert in Belgium in February 2016 with tour dates around the UK, Belgium, Amsterdam and Prague. Terri also gave a preview of the album at a concert at Leighton Colony in Banff, Canada.

The Centre for Research in New Music

The project was conceived during Terri’s residency in the summer of 2014 at the studios of the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) at the University of Huddersfield. CeReNeM is a community of world-leading artists and scholars who bring interdisciplinary perspectives to research in contemporary composition, performance, music technology, improvisation and sonic media. It hosts a vibrant postgraduate programme with 50 Masters and PhD students from 18 different countries benefiting from outstanding facilities such as the Huddersfield Immersive Sounds System (HISS) and SPIRAL (pictured below), the University’s digital studio spatialisation laboratory for computer music, electroacoustic music and spatialisation technologies.

Spiral credit Louis Austin (1)

Photo Credit: Louis Austin

An immersive musical experience

As well as the recording for Lépidoptères taking place at McGill University, the composition took place at the Université de Montréal as a result of a long-standing relationship between the University of Huddersfield and the Université de Montréal’s Vice-Dean Robert Normandeau, a well-established figure in the world of electronic music.

McGill University uses a 22.2 surround sound system developed by research at NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster. It is the only facility of its kind outside Japan and provides the ideal environment for creating a totally immersive musical experience.

McGill recording studio

McGill recording studio

One of the key outcomes of this work is the development of an algorithm to control the sound in relation to the recorder for this piece. Rather than creating a fixed piece of music that the recorder plays from start to finish, this research has created a system where it is possible to control the way in which the sounds and the various processes work all the way through the movement. As a result each performance is never the same, providing a unique experience for the audience and the performer.

Future projects with other countries are already in the pipeline as the University of Huddersfield and its partners plan an international network of musical collaborations.