Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

To mark International Women’s Day in 2018 we are celebrating the achievements of just some of the academics working here at Brighton.

Our Women of Impact web feature demonstrates how our academic staff are achieving great things, working on the complex challenges facing society, educating and inspiring the next generation and making an impact in communities. The varied and diverse career journeys illustrate the huge range of talent that we welcome at the University of Brighton.

From biosciences read these profiles

Dr Anja RottDr Anja Rott – Ecology and entomology
“I am fascinated by the diverse interactions we observe between insects, plants and the world they live in. My aim is to understand better what dynamics drive species interactions within a complex ecosystem.”


Dr Dawn ScottDr Dawn Scott – Supporting the Underdog
“I want to help people understand wildlife more so they can appreciate them and the benefits of living alongside them. I want my research to help find solutions to allow people and wildlife to coexist and through teaching and education I want to inspire people to strive for a future where we appreciate and protect wildlife.”

Dr Melanie FlintDr Melanie Flint – Cancer and Stress
Dr Flint is passionate about mentoring future breast cancer researchers leading a multidisciplinary team of post-doctoral scientists, PhD students and MSc students – all with the same goal – to establish a proven mechanistic link between psychological stress and cancer to improve patient outcome.

Dr Susan SandemanDr Susan Sandeman – Advancing Biomedical Technology
Dr Susan Sandeman is a biomaterials scientist whose research focuses on ways to better understand and optimise the interaction of materials with the cells and tissues of the body in order to provide corrective treatments.

So what does make Rudolph’s nose glow red?

It’s a debate that has been raging for years.

Scientists previously thought Rudolph’s red nose was due to an excess of blood in the vessels supplying the reindeer’s nasal passages, caused by the exertion of pulling a heavy load – Santa’s sleigh and his sacks of gifts.

But researchers at the University of Brighton have come up with another explanation: Bioluminescence or the production of light as a result of a chemical reaction, similar to that produced by fireflies and some deep sea organisms that use light traps to catch prey.

The study may appear frivolous but it has proved a valuable exercise for the University’s biology students. And the findings have been deemed worthy enough to be published today in DEINSEA, an online journal of the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam.

The research was led by Dr Angelo Pernetta, a conservation ecologist and Deputy Head of the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. He said: “My colleague Dr Neil Crooks and I wrote the paper with undergraduate students as a consequence of a journal club we run for the Biology degree course at our Hastings campus.

“The paper is a light-hearted response to a previously published paper, which discussed why Rudolph had a red nose. It has already proved a very valuable experience for the students involved – one student recently secured a funded PhD studentship at Warwick University and he mentioned his involvement in the production of this paper definitely played a part.”

The previous paper, published in DEINSEA in 2012, identified the cause of Rudolph’s nose glow as “nasal mucosa induced by the exertion of pulling a heavy load: excessive stresses endured whilst flying with San­ta and the sleigh in tow resulted in cerebral and bodily hyperthermia, overworking the nasal cooling system, causing the nose to glow”.

But the new study says: “Whilst we recognise the central tenet of highly vascularised nasal mucosa in reindeer helping regulate nasal heat exchange, we concluded that this is unlikely to be the causal factor of Rudolph’s particularly iridescent append­age for multiple reasons.”

Their conclusion was: “The fact that Rudolph’s nose glows red has previously been noted as being advantageous in foggy conditions, since it is the most visible colour in fog. A 1939 paper noted that Rudolph’s glowing nose aided Santa Claus in his Christmas Eve prepa­rations when a thick fog descended.

“This would suggest that Rudolph was specifically chosen because of this adaptive trait and would suggest that, far from being caused by excessive strain from pulling Santa Claus and the sleigh, his red nose was in fact caused by bioluminescence to aid in navigation.

“We believe we have found a scientific answer to this age-old question. Now all we need is to do is discover how Rudolph and his fellow reindeer manage to fly.”

To read the journal go to: http://bit.ly/2AA9sUE

Anti-depressants could combat infections

Researchers here at the University of Brighton have found drugs used to treat mood disorders are also potentially active against bacteria which cause catheter infections.

The discovery could lead to new methods of treating infections and could contribute to overcoming problems with antibiotic resistance.

The research, led by Dr Brian Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology and Deputy Head of the our School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Dr Jones and collaborators Dr Mark Sutton from Public Health England and Dr Khondaker Miraz Rhaman from King’s College London have been studying infections associated with the use of urinary catheters which are used in their millions across the world every year. The bacterium Proteus mirabilis often causes catheter infections and forms crystalline biofilms on catheter surfaces that block urine flow and lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

Catheters are widely used for long-term bladder management in both the community and nursing homes but the care of individuals undergoing long-term catheterisation is frequently undermined by infections.

Dr Jones said: “The majority of patients undergoing long-term catheterisation are cared for outside the hospital environment where catheter blockage is often not noticed until more serious complications arise.

“A particular hazard of catheter blockage is the accumulation of infected urine in the bladder, which eventually results in upper urinary tract infection and the onset of potentially fatal complications including septicaemia.

“It has been estimated that 50 per cent of individuals undergoing long-term catheterisation will suffer from catheter blockage at some point during their care, with chronic blockage also a common problem.

“It is perhaps then unsurprising that blockage is also the cause of numerous emergency hospital referrals, and not only damages the health of patients but also places significant strain on healthcare resources.” Continue reading

Welcome Biosciences

For our Welcome Events in the Biosciences we conducted an Actionbound scavenger hunt, aimed at improving the students’ knowledge and navigation of the Moulsecoomb campus. The points gained in the scavenger hunt resulted in awarded straws which were used to build the egg-holding contraptions needed for the big “Egg Drop Challenge”. 105 students took part in the scavenger hunt – we had 23 teams complete the missions and tasks, resulting in some great pictures with Matt from the School Office. Unfortunately not a single egg survived the big egg drop challenge – but we still had chocolates all round –  in my eyes a great way of ending an afternoon filled with fun and activity – Dr Anja Rott


Egg Drop Challenge straw constructionEgg Drop ChallengeEgg Drop Challenge parachute attempt Scavenger Hunt SelfieScavenger Hunt SelfieScavenger Hunt Selfie

Is austerity really to blame for stalling life expectancy in England?

Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology in our school, writes in The Conversation that: “Far from being a hopeless search for cash, we can increase life expectancy and lower care costs. What we need if political vision and will. Both are currently in short supply.”

Read the full article here.

How good is your garden for wildlife?

Our mammalian biologist Dr Dawn Scott and fellow experts are revealing the secret lives of animals and insects that live in gardens and lawns.

Watch out for Dr Scott who is featuring in a new BBC 4 TV programme ‘The British Garden: Life and Death on your lawn’.

Dr Scott said: “For this programme we assessed the biodiversity in eight gardens to see how different gardens support wildlife and what features of those gardens were the best for wildlife.”

Presented by Springwatch’s Chris Packham, the film looks “beneath the peonies and petunias” to reveal how male crickets bribe females for sex, how a robin’s red breast is actually war paint and how a single litter of foxes can have up to five different fathers.

The programme is scheduled for broadcast at 9pm on 11 July.

A warm welcome at our open day

Sunshine, blue skies, our brilliant ambassadors and friendly staff welcomed visitors to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June.

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and campus where you will be studying. You’ll also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking about beginning your studies in 2018 and missed this one, find out more about upcoming events on our website.

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Moulsecoomb Campus Open Day

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and the campus where you will be studying. You will also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking of beginning your studies in 2018 come along to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June. Find out more about open days on our website.

Quorum Technologies Electron Microscopy prize

If you are currently in your final year and using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) in your project you are eligible for consideration for this years Quorum Technologies Electron Microscopy prize 2016-17, for final year undergraduate projects.

There is a £200 project prize this year, which will be awarded in recognition of the most commendable undergraduate final year project utilising microscopy.

To enter please send a copy of your project to Dr Jonathan Salvage either by email or as a paper copy marked for Dr Salvage’s attention to the school office, by Friday 9 June (latest).

Good luck!