A fortnight in University News: 5 - 20 April

Posted by pt91 at Apr 24, 2012 03:55 PM |
The campus may have been quiet over the Easter break but there was still plenty of activity here at Leicester.
A fortnight in University News: 5 - 20 April

Comparison of the roughness of teeth. Credit: Mark Purnell, University of Leicester

We appreciate that chocolate can be a considerable distraction, so here’s a selection of stories that you might have missed over Easter:


The roughness of teeth can be used to determine what has been eaten by an animal, according to a study by researchers from our Department of Geology. Not content with rotting fish to determine how they decompose and analysing the scratches on their teeth, the team has now provided a new way of working out the diets of wild animals that doesn’t involve the unpleasant task of looking at the contents of their guts.

Research into the behaviour of flies and their sleep-wake mechanism – their 24-hour behavioural rhythms- was conducted by geneticist Professor Bambos Kyriacou and researchers in Padova.  The researchers took their experiments from a controlled lab environment into their own back gardens and in the process contradicted over 40 years’ research about the behaviour of these insects.

Dino eggs

Scientists investigating whether 70 million-year-old fossil eggs found in the Pyrenees were laid by birds, or their dinosaur ancestors, have used a mathematical formula to compare the different types of eggs. Geologists from the University of Leicester extended the study further by comparing these to Easter egg shapes and suggesting that some of those found on the UK high street may belong to dinosaurs.

A study from the Department of Sociology's Dr Patrick White suggested that participation in adult learning neither increased nor widened during the first decade of the 21st Century – contradicting the assumption that the internet has opened up access to learning, despite a world of opportunities just a click away.

Professor Monica Whitty of our Department of Media and Communications discussed how online dating scammers groom their victims by developing ‘hyper-personal’ relationships at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference. The research, part of a larger study from last year supported by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), focused on fraud where criminals set up fake identities using stolen photographs (often of models or army officers) and pretend to develop a romantic relationship with their victim.

A team of academics from Leicester, Leeds and Sydney, Australia, carried out an analysis of Spanish and Czech cosmetic surgery websites, the first of its kind, and found that their marketing ploys “seem to betray class preferences.” The study involved Dr Jacqueline Sanchez-Taylor from our Department of Sociology and the results were presented the British Sociological Association’s annual conference.

Students and graduates

Undergraduates are designing a novel genetically engineered organism to help dispose of polluting waste. Second-year Biological Sciences undergraduates are taking part in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition this summer, and aim to construct a biological machine that can efficiently degrade polystyrene.

For the third year in a row, students from Leicester reached the final stage of the Undergraduate of the Year awards. Jennifer Morgan and Sarah Gummery made it to the last 10 students in the country in the Management category.

Leicester graduate Matthew McCarthy, who studied Politics here, is involved in Shoebiz –a project that will raise funds for charity by recycling old shoes. Clarks, in partnership with UNICEF UK, has been running a Shoebiz appeal since 2007. Customers are able to donate their old and unwanted shoes at Clarks stores and these are then recycled with 100% of the money generated going to the appeal.

And computers...


Alice, the University’s High Performance Computing (HPC) system, has been recognised by the Uptime Institute’s Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) Awards. We share the award with Keysource, who developed the data centre with a new cooling solution, as joint finalists in the Facility Retrofit category for the design and build of a high-efficiency data centre capable of supporting the high densities to host specialist IT services for researchers.