Join us at our campus open day on Saturday 18 June

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 2017, you can find out more about our campus open day and how to book a place here

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Festival of chemistry

hal-in-moscow-2More than 90 students from 24 schools will take part in the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry here at the University of Brighton later this month.

The 11 to 13-year-olds will take part in hands-on, practical events including a ‘murder mystery’ which will involve students using their analytical chemistry skills. There will also be a ‘University Challenge’ to invent a new colour indicator to show how much sugar is in food products.

And Professor Hal Sosabowski, the university’s Professor of Public Understanding of Science based on our school, will provide an “explosive” lecture using liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and solid carbon dioxide.

All students will be given individual prizes and certificates and winning teams will be awarded prizes for their schools.

The Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative run by The Salters’ Institute which promotes the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences amongst the young, and to encourage careers in the teaching of chemistry and in the UK chemical and allied industries.

This year event on 14 June will be the festival’s twentieth appearance at the university. The festival is one of 49 taking place at universities and colleges throughout the UK and Ireland. This year, the institute is working in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Discovering new antibiotics

Scientists at the University of Brighton are working with a team in South Korea on research that could lead to the development of new antibiotics.

Just weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron called for a worldwide cut in the unnecessary use of antibiotics and rewards for drug companies which develop new medicines to fight drug-resistant superbugs, the scientists have been studying soil bacteria which, they say, have the genetic potential to “produce tens of thousands of novel antibiotics”.

The South Korean-led study has been supported by University of Brighton scientists Professor Colin Smith and Dr Giselda Bucca in the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences.

The scientists undertook a detailed study of the activity of genes that are responsible for antibiotic production in a soil bacterium called Streptomyces. These bacteria are the major producers of antibiotics that are used worldwide to treat infections. Their study reveals how the activity of the genes for antibiotic production are controlled in the particular species of bacterium they studied – Streptomyces coelicolor – and this new knowledge, they say “suggests new ways for scientists to increase production of known antibiotics and, perhaps more importantly, to discover new antibiotics”.

Professor Smith said: “There is a critical need for developing new antibiotics because of the global rise in antibiotic resistance. Soil bacteria such as Streptomyces have the genetic potential to produce tens of thousands of novel antibiotics. However, it can be very difficult to coax them to produce these antibiotics in detectable quantities under laboratory conditions.

“The results from our study suggest how we could manipulate these bacteria to switch on production of antibiotics. This could allow us to ‘awaken’ genetic pathways for antibiotics that are not usually active outside of their natural soil environment. This, in turn, could enable us to study their properties and to scale up their production in the laboratory if they look promising as new antibiotics.”

Professor Smith and Dr Bucca are now embarking on a proof-of-concept study with the global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to establish whether the same genetic controls operate in other Streptomyces bacteria. Professor Smith said: “If they do then this will open up new possibilities for increasing production of clinically-important antibiotics.”

The research is published in Nature Communications, find out more here.

Professor Colin Smith

Professor Colin Smith

Do you need some help with job hunting?

Student Services are offering their annual ’Transform Your Life’ two day graduate employability course.
‘Transform Your Life’ 2 day University of Brighton graduate employability course

Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 June 2016
This course is particularly suited to any final year students or graduates who may be finding the next stage of their career rather challenging.

It includes:
* confidence boosting activities
* applications/CVs
* online presence
* presenting yourself well at interview (including practice interviews)

Find out more about the course, including how to book a place, here.

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Well done Riccardo

Congratulations to Riccardo Terzi for winning the highest number of votes from his peers for the best journal Club presentation for the academic year.  Riccardo gave his talk on a pore-forming toxin implicated in enterocolitis in foals, which is the topic of his MRes project.  Riccardo is with working on a project supervised by Simon Hardy.

Parakeets flocking to Europe

Rose-ringed_Parakeet_eating_leavesParakeets were once a rare site in Europe but new research co-led by the University of Brighton shows there are now as many as 85,000 across the continent – and the numbers are increasing all the time.

In fact, the non-native Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) is now a common site in many parts of the continent – and they could be posing a major threat.

Researchers are now asking members of the public to help keep tabs on numbers by reporting sightings.

The new study, conducted by Dr Rachel White, Senior Lecturer in ecology and conservation from the University of Brighton’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, and European colleagues as part of the ParrotNet research network, has shown that parakeets are on the march across European cities.

The research provides an overview of the state of the Ring-necked Parakeet populations across Europe, along with the most detailed estimate of the total number of European populations so far. In East and Northern Europe, Ring-necked Parakeets remain scarce, but across other parts of the continent, numerous growing populations can be found. The European total has been estimated in this study to be no less than 85,000 birds.

Dr White said: “Invasions by non-native species are considered a major threat to biodiversity, agriculture and sometimes human health. Ring-necked Parakeets in Europe originate predominantly from India and Pakistan. They are clearly very successful invaders and although serious impacts are currently unknown, the enduring, strong growth of their populations raises concerns.

The team is asking members of the public to help by reporting Parakeet sightings through mobile apps or websites such as BirdTrack  or iNaturalist

Find out more facts about parakeets here

The research is published in the Open Access journal ‘The Open Ornithology Journal” and more information on invasive parakeets in Europe can be found via the ParrotNet website. ParrotNet is an EU COST Action (ES1304).

Find out more about the university’s research on this here.

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Smart on Sugar

We are the first university in the country to launch a campaign to cut sugar consumption – and are being backed by Jamie Oliver.

JamieOliver_SugarSmart_campaignimageThe renowned chef, who launched the Sugar Smart drive, has sent staff and students a message of support as the university joins with Brighton & Hove City Council in its Sugar Smart City campaign.

Jamie Oliver sent our university’s 23,000 students and staff the following message: “I’m hugely excited that the University of Brighton is joining the Sugar Smart campaign. It’s brilliant to hear that you are introducing a levy on sugary drinks to help raise awareness about the long-term damage too much sugar can have on our health, and empowering us all to reduce it in our diets. We’re facing a growing obesity crisis; with more than four million people in the UK diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, the need for action is more urgent than ever. Students of all ages need to be more aware of the dangers sugar consumption can have on our long-term health.

“I really believe that we need a comprehensive strategy to turn the tide of diet-related disease and get back on track. It’s not about banning sugar altogether – a piece of cake for a special treat is totally fine, but we need to understand that by reducing the way we eat and drink sugar, we can have a huge impact on improving our health. Paired with regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, we can all lead a healthier, happier life.”

The university intends introducing initiatives over the next academic year to raise awareness of sugar consumption and hidden sugar, including the introduction of a 10p levy on the price of sugary drinks. The money raised will be used to fund food education schemes for the university’s students.

This ties in with research being carried out by some our team in PABS.

Dr Claire Marriott, Senior Lecturer in the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, is leading new research with Professor Adrian Bone, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, and Dr Wendy Macfarlane to find new ways to help people understand the need to cut back on sugar in order to avoid obesity and related conditions.

She said the problem was urgent: “Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are inherently linked and the complications associated with both can be very serious. For example, Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of amputations, with over 135 related operations a week. In addition to the personal cost, which should not be underestimated, tens of millions of pounds are spent in Brighton and Hove alone to treat people with Type 2 diabetes. Nationally, 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget is spent treating this disease and associated complications.”

To see a video about Jamie Oliver’s campaign, go to: https://vimeo.com/141049331

For more information on the university’s work in this area, visit the university website.

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Inspirational South Africa

Renee Mcalister , 2nd year Ecology BSc(Hons), was inspired by the fieldtrip to South Africa. Here’s a taster of her experience on the trip.

Sundownwer on the Kopje

Sundownwer on the Kopje

I found the South Africa trip life changing on many levels; educationally, emotionally and intellectually. The beautiful intensity of the work served to underpin the concrete learning experience. There have not been many times in my life when I actually desperately wanted to wake up at 5.30am! To watch the dam change from dark to half-light to light and know that anything might happen – from an African fish eagle swooping in to the sight of a water buck watching its young caper in the reeds. And the dawn shrieks of the ibis were a bracing start to every day.

The camaraderie with fellow students, lecturers and staff at the reserve was warm and fun. The atmosphere between us was supportive and nurturing and laughter was as abundant and hearty as a kudu stew. The teaching was utterly amazing. The staff were incredibly knowledge, incredibly encouraging and incredibly just incredible. It was so well organised and flowed wonderfully.

It was an honour to be able to see African wildlife in such a well cared for environment. And a privilege to share the experience with people who have devoted their lives to conservation.

On my return I found I had changed. I felt that I could possibly become a scientist. I felt that I learnt more in those two weeks than I would over a year in a 20 credit module. Learning by doing consolidates knowledge.

Enter your final year project into the Quorom prize scheme

If your final year, undergraduate project used Scanning Electron Microscopy you are eligible to enter this year’s Quorom prize scheme.

There are three x £200 final year undergraduate prizes available. The prizes will be awarded in recognition of the three most commendable undergraduate final year projects that have included the use of electron microscopy.

If you meet the criteria above, please email a copy of your final year project to Dr Jonathan Salvage or drop a hard copy off at the Image and Analysis Unit or the PABS school office, marked for the attention of Dr Jonathan Salvage.

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New research will benefit patients

Scientists at the University of Brighton are playing an integral role in developing a new early warning system that tells patients and carers when urinary catheters are infected and at risk of blocking.

Urinary catheters are the most commonly used medical devices, with hundreds of millions sold worldwide every year. Many of these will be used for long-term management of incontinence in older individuals or those with spinal cord injuries, and these patients are at particular risk of infection, and associated complications.

One of the most serious complications of infection is the encrustation and blockage of catheters, which is mostly caused by a bacterial species called Proteus mirabilis. Blockage, in turn, leads to the onset of serious complications such as kidney infection and septicaemia, one of the UK’s biggest killers.

A reliable system for patients or their carers to spot infection early and take action before blockage occurs would have considerable benefits to patients, and could considerably reduce NHS costs.

Dr Brian Jones

Dr Brian Jones

Leading the university’s research is Dr Brian Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology at the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, and Head of Research Development at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. This work is a collaboration with scientists at the University of Bath.

 

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