Bridging the Gaps Publication

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    BRIDGINGTHE

    GAPS

    WITH GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM

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    6 Foreword Anticipating a Festival of Ideas

    8 Foreword Effecting a Fundamental Change

    10 Bridging the Gaps An Introduction

    12 BTG Success in Numbers 14 The Shape of Things to Come how BTG has Shaped the Research Environment

    19 Festival of Research

    22 Every Picture Tells a Story Swanseas Research as Art competition

    26 Case Study Cyberterrorism: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

    28 Case Study Translation Arrays Version, Variation, Visualisation Phase 2

    32 Noted & Quoted BTG in the Media and Press

    34 Multidisciplinary Science & Technology Working at the Boundaries WithoutFalling Through the Cracks

    36 College Collaborations

    38 Case Study Communicative Proling of Online Sex Offenders

    40 Leading a Project for the First Time

    CONTENTS

    Produced by Andrea Buck, BTG Programme Manager; Rhian Morris, BTG Programme Ofcer,Chris Marshall and Amy Rowland in The Planning & Strategic Projects

    Design, Rhianna Hatcher and Leah Williams at Waters Creative

    Images, James Davies at James Davies Photography

    If you are inspired by the researchers and the research in this publication, please contact Andrea Buck in the rstinstance: a.j.buck@swansea.ac.uk, +44 (0)1792 606669

    Swansea University is a registered charity No 1138342

    CONTENTS

    44 Case Study Clots From Crabs: Can Factors from Invertebrates Act as BloodClotting Agents For Human Blood?

    46 Case Study Analysis of the Attributes of Archers Using Human Remains fromthe Mary Rose Warship

    48 Talking Heads Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Research

    54 International Collaborations & Global Reach

    56 Case Study Advanced Piezoelectric Biosensors and Hollowed Microneedlefor Blood Sampling and Drug Delivery Application

    58 Case Study Establishing a Networks Research Group at Swansea University

    60 Case Study Tully Meetings Saving the NHS with Good I.T.

    62 BTGs Legacy: Setting a New Vision

    65 BTG External Collaborators

    66 BTG Awards

    70 BTG Steering Group and Team

    74 Contact Details

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    FOREWORD

    Bridging the Gaps (BTG) is a story of threeparts. It was an idea that attracted almost1 million of Research Council funding intothe University; it was a project to share thatmoney in the University to bridge gaps acrossdisciplines; and it remains an active visionto transform how we think about workingtogether and growing as a powerful,research-led University.

    The key idea behind getting the funding was thatexciting things can happen from the grassrootsup. Swansea University is full of fantastic ideasthat need support, nurturing and celebrating. BTGanticipated a festival of ideas waiting to happen.Many researchers turn their focus outwardsand their research then becomes invisible totheir colleagues, if not just within departmentsthen certainly further across the wider Universitycommunity. Key, then, to the original proposalwas the intent to provide structures to encouragethe unexpected, and to help new ideas growacross the University. This is quite a departurefrom the usual high-level, top-down, pre-plannedsafe research planning! In fact, comparedto many other BTG projects across the UK thatwere funded, we were distinctive in not having apre-planned research agenda. We did t want toresearch in preconceived elds, but instead wewanted to create a culture where new research and new research networks would grow.

    Universities often feel they do not have enoughmoney, and it is easy to think that researcherswith less resource deserve more. This is scarcity

    thinking. Instead, BTG brought a stream offresh money into the University and we decidedright away to allocate it to the most promisingprojects. Moreover, we decided to do so in anopen way, relying on colleagues as referees tohelp assess quality and promise. Not only didreferees learn about what was going on, peopleproposing ideas to be funded tried harder tothink through and explain their ideas so refereescould see how they would work. And they didwork. For every 1 we spent on projects, theUniversity has already gained more than 6 innew external funding.

    We did not fund anything that did not havea proposal; this is the same as saying we didnot fund anything that had no serious thinkingbehind it. For the cost of writing a few words ina proposal we transformed attitudes to funding,and for some people it quickly helped them overthe rst hurdle of writing external grant proposals.

    But BTG was not about funding, although thisis an obvious proxy for research health. BTGwas and is about building visible andeffective research celebrations across disciplines.This publication is a written festival, samplingthe diversity of the things that were and arebeing achieved. Ideas range from supportingthe Richard Burton Diaries to the Research asArt competition which rapidly went from aninternal idea to a national phenomenon. Thesetwo examples, out of many, exemplify the BTGphilosophy: think it through, get it funded, makeit visible, share the excitement, and (as theshampoo instructions say) repeat.

    The Research Council funding has now cometo an end, and the BTG story aligns now to thefuture. What have we learnt from our successesand failures to help ensure the Universitygrows its research? Weve learnt that workingtogether, building bridges between researchers often challenging traditional departmentalboundaries has a phenomenal effect. It allowsa small University to demonstrate it is agile andresponsive to the needs of society, despite theeconomic gloom. It shows in the simplest termsthat investing in the BTG vision not only helpsaddress the profound physical, economic andsocial challenges that lie ahead, but it alsocreates and afrms a powerful community ofeffective researchers.

    Our challenge is to embed this successfulapproach across all aspects of our researchactivity. Anybody reading this wonderful

    publication should think about how they can beinspired from the vast range of accomplishmentsrepresented here and, in particular, by the openprocesses that turned ideas into vibrant activitiesthat continue to expand our horizons in suchvaried and worthwhile ways.

    Professor Harold Thimbleby CEng FIET FRCPEFLSW HonFRSA HonFRCPPrincipal Investigator for Bridging the Gaps

    ANTICIPATING AFESTIVAL OF IDEAS

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    Effecting a fundamental change in the researchculture of a university is no easy task. But that

    was the ambition of Swansea UniversitysEPSRC-funded Bridging the Gaps Programme.The objective was simple: to break downdiscipline boundaries and to embed an inter-disciplinary consciousness across the researchcommunity. In this it has been remarkablysuccessful. The conversations it has started andthe interdisciplinary projects it has incentivisedand underpinned have made a real difference tothe way in which colleagues within the Universitythink about their research and their willingness todevelop and articulate new analytical and criticalperspectives, and to see the world and thechallenges it presents in radically different ways.Above all it has persuaded many colleagues thatto tackle the big and the interesting questions; tomeet the grand challenges that confront societyin the twenty-rst century; to have somethingimportant to say about these and to contribute

    to their resolution, researchers must engage withcolleagues from other disciplines. And this willbe the lasting legacy of Bridging the Gaps inSwansea: a large and growing cohort of activeresearchers who because they have transcendeddisciplinary divides will never view the world andseek to understand it in quite the same way everagain.

    Professor Noel ThompsonPro-Vice-Chancellor for Research

    FOREWORD

    EFFECTING AFUNDAMENTAL

    CHANGE

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    BRIDGING THE GAPS

    Swansea University received the largest single grantof all the university programmes supported, and is the

    only institution in Wales have received BTG funding

    Rarely can the worlds major problems and challengesbe solved by any one approach or academicdiscipline. Multidisciplinary perspectives and expertisecan question conventional thinking, underpin academicrigour and lead to new and novel approaches borne atthe interface between traditional disciplines.

    But how do you encourage researchers to bridge thegaps between disciplines and work together creatively?

    In 2006 the Engineering and Physical SciencesResearch Council (EPSRC) launched a new initiativeas part of its Cross-Disciplinary Interfaces Programme(C-DIP), called Bridging the Gaps (BTG). During the nextfour years EPSRC invested 10.5 million supporting23 BTG programmes at universities throughout the UK,including 987,801 at Swansea University.

    Swansea University received the largest single grant ofall the university programmes supported, and is the onlyinstitution in Wales to have received BTG funding.BTG set out to enable research organisations to build

    a programme of new activities that would stimulatecreative thinking across academic disciplines (especiallybetween engineering and physical sciences (EPS)and non-EPS research areas), and reect institutionalstrengths and strategies.

    Principal Objectives:

    Initiate new, long-term collaborations betweenresearchers across the EPSRC remit and beyond; Stimulate innovative approaches to collaboration

    between disciplines; Increase the cross-fertilisation of ideas and the take

    up of advances across the boundaries betweendisciplines;

    Enable the Research Organisation to encourage andembed multidisciplinary research betweendepartments and alleviate barriers to collaboration.(BTG Fourth Call for Proposals, 2010)

    BRIDGING THE GAPSSwansea University BTG programmeSwanseas programme launched in September 2010and ran for three years. Our vision for Bridging the Gapswas ambitious. We set out to: Transform Swansea Universitys ethos towards cross-

    disciplinary research and innovation, in a monitoredprogramme that empowers researchers and raisesexpectations;

    Dismantle institutional and cultural barriers to cross-disciplinary work, to leave a legacy that bridges socialsciences, arts, humanities and engineering andphysical sciences gaps;

    Generate balanced aspiration between diverse

    groups of researchers, through project-specicsupported activities, contact time and mentoring; Emphasise research sustainability, both nancially

    through stimulating further funding and, intellectuallythrough learning about, appreciating and challengingcontrasting disciplinary cultures;

    Manage effectively and creatively many innovativeprojects to very high standards, delivering aproven model for sustainable institutional researchempowerment;

    Leave a record of evaluation and monitoring, website,art and disciplinary research outputs and otheractivities that can be reused and will contribute tofuture learning and sustainability within and beyondthe University.

    Through a comprehensive portfolio of opportunitieswhich included funding, workshops, support for grantwriting, seminars, lectures, sandpits, coaching, toolkits,

    competitions, an artist in residence programme andlaunching a festival of research, Swanseas BTGprogramme encouraged, facilitated and supportedresearch collaborations which delivered many differenttypes of results.

    This publication highlights the breadth of SwanseasBTG programme and celebrates its transformativeachievements.

    Howard Ingham: BTG Artist in Residence

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    BTG SUCCESS IN NUMBERS

    103 grant applications for externalfunding 19,625,574

    32 external grant applicationsfunded 2,184,411

    BTG SUCCESS IN NUMBERS

    338,979 spent supporting 73projects on campus

    MORE THAN 3,000

    For every 1 BTG hasspent funding projects,

    the University has received 6.44 in grant capture.

    196 NEW COLLABORATIONS INITIATED41 WITH NATIONAL PARTNERS &18 WITH INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS

    NATIONAL ANDINTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES ATTENDED

    205 APPLICATIONS FOR BTG FUNDING73 BTG PROJECTS SUPPORTED 27 LED BY EARLY CAREER RESEARCHERS 35 ACADEMIC

    PAPERS WRITTEN

    AND PUBLISHED

    BTG PROJECTS

    EXTERNAL GRANT APPLICATIONS & FUNDING COLLABORATIONS

    CONFERENCES & ACADEMIC PAPERS

    PEOPLE DIRECTLY ENGAGED WITH BTG

    0 196

    46

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    THESHAPE OFTHINGS TO COMEHow do you go about creating and shaping a culture change? How do you encourageand support researchers to consider working with new people, disciplines, lexicons andmethodologies?

    BTG created a diverse programme of activities, events and support and, together withresearchers who shared a passion for interdisciplinary working, set about demonstrating themany and varied ways collaboration could take place.

    BTG Funding, Proposal WritingSkills and Peer Review PracticeBTG launched two funds: theBTG Bridging Fund, which madesmall, ad-hoc awards of up to500, and the BTG EscalatorFund, which had two structuredcalls a year and involved a simpleand comprehensive applicationprocedure and peer review process.

    The Escalator Fund, in particular,became more and more popular as

    time progressed. In total it received205 applications and 73 wereselected for support.

    The Escalator Fund was structuredinto three levels to encourage peopleto return to it for additional fundingover time: Pilot (to create or pilotand idea); Escalate (to exploreor escalate a theory or project),and Impact (to provide funds for awell developed initiative to createimpact).

    BTG offered support in craftingapplications and anyone whowanted it was offered feedbackabout their proposal, once thereview panel had made itsdecisions. In addition, researcherswere encouraged to rene andre-submit their proposals. An

    integral aspect of the EscalatorFund was its approach to peerreview. As reviewing and evaluatinginterdisciplinary projects is difcult,BTG developed a structured peerreview system (and pro-forma toguide reviewers in what to look forand how to evaluate). This involvedeveryone who had submitted abid to the call (together with otherresearchers who expressed aninterest in developing their peerreview experience and skills). This

    unique aspect to the BTG EscalatorFund gave many researchers notonly their rst opportunity for peerreview but also for peer reviewinginterdisciplinary projects. It provedimmensely successful.

    BTG is an excellent scheme:Developing early careerresearchers ability to writeproposals, enabling them to beprincipal investigators and givingthem experience of peer reviewingproposals.

    Dr Ian Mabbett, TechnologyTransfer Fellow, SPECIFIC

    Grant Writing Support Some of BTGs support focussedupon providing and reinforcingan underpinning...