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Sussex Research funds 13 new projects

Sussex Research has made 13 awards in the eighth round of the Research Development Fund, which aims to develop activities that will lead to the submission of substantive external research proposals. 

The eighth round of the competition received 32 bids from faculty in 10 schools. There was a 41% success rate, with the successful bids coming from the following schools: BSMS, EngInf, LifeSci, LPS, MPS, and Psychology.

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “Each time that we have run the RDF, the overall quality of applications has increased. We are also beginning to see now how critical RDF support has been in the development of a number of large-scale successful external funding applications.

"The scheme has been part of a new culture of support for research, which I hope will enable Sussex to go from strength to strength in winning research income, and producing outputs and impact.”

Research Development Fund awards were made to:

Helfrid Hochegger, LifeSci; Antony Oliver, LifeSci
A novel system for expressing full-length recombinant human proteins
This project aims to develop a novel DT40 lympocyte-based protein expression system, which will enable the facile expression of soluble recombinant human proteins. The research will generate ‘proof-of-principle’ results with two proteins - Greatwall kinase and PALB2.

Penny Jeggo, LifeSci; Steve Sweet, LifeSci
Identifying the origin of translocation-prone, ATM-dependent DNA double-strand breaks using chromatin immunoprecipitation mass spectrometry
A subset of slow-repairing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) contribute disproportionately to translocations. The DSBs’ origin, heterochromatin or transcribed regions, is controversial. We will assess the chromatin type in which these DSBs occur using a γH2AX ChIP mass spectrometric approach.

Kathryn Lester, Psychology; Andy Field, Psychology
Children’s risky play experiences, parental anxiety and the development of childhood fear and anxiety
This project will provide essential feasibility and pilot data for a longitudinal study investigating the impact of maternal and paternal anxiety on children’s experiences with risk and challenge through risky play, and in turn, the effect on risk for childhood fears and anxiety across childhood.

Kun Liang, EngInf
A Novel Linear Electromagnetic Actuator Driven (LEAD) Camless Valve Train for Internal Combustion Engines
A low cost camless engine using linear electromagnetic actuator driven (LEAD) valve train will be developed. The Sussex LEAD system significantly improves the engine efficiency, maximum torque and power, and emissions.

Liz McDonnell, LPS; Laura Morosanu, Mark Walters, James Hampshire and Nuno Ferreira, LPS
One year after the EU Referendum: creating a new data set in the Mass Observation Project
This interdisciplinary project seeks to document and understand the complex experiences and perceptions of ordinary British residents as they navigate the dramatic and unfolding political and social changes, triggered by the EU Referendum. A commissioned directive to be delivered by the Mass Observation Project will produce a new and methodologically innovative data corpus consisting of reflective accounts, focusing on the impact of Brexit in the following areas of everyday life: belonging, identity, social and personal relationships, prejudice, perceptions of immigration and politics.

Tony Moore, LifeSci; John Spencer, Luke Young, Mary Albury and Alice Copsey, LifeSci
Testing of specific AOX inhibitors targeted at Candida auris – a multi-drug resistant human fungal pathogen
The objective of this proof-of-concept study will be to obtain additional preliminary data which establish that alternative oxidase plays a vital role in the metabolism of C. auris and therefore a suitable target for controlling the proliferation of this multi-drug resistant human fungal pathogen.

Jane Oakhill, Psychology; Robin Banerjee, Alan Garnham, Scarlett Gaebler, Psychology
Reading Feelings: Does reading fiction improve empathy and social skills in children?
There is evidence that reading (literary) fiction improves empathy in adults. We plan to explore how, why, and to what extent such a link is present in children, what aspects of empathy are related to reading, and whether other social skills are also influenced by reading.

Alessia Pasquazi, MPS; Marco Peccianti, MPS
Feasibility study for a novel generation of optical clocks for quantum systems based on toroidal optical resonators
This feasibility study will focus on the development of optical clocks based on resonating toroids. These optical resonators feature an extremely high cavity field enhancement. This is an enabling factor in the development of optical clocks with extreme accuracies which are key elements in a large spectrum of emerging quantum technologies. This study will lead to the definition of compact ultraprecise optical clocks operating at very high stability with extremely low laser powers, a major challenge in the field.

Elizabeth Rendon-Morales, EngInf; Heike Rabe, BSMS
The first minute of life: novel technologies to monitor heart rate in newborn babies needing resuscitation
This project will develop an innovative heart rate monitoring device to assist neonatal health carers during resuscitation of a newborn baby. The device is based on Electric Potential Sensing technology, which will provide a non-invasive, reliable and quickly administered solution to provide heart rate information from the newborn.

Sandra Sacre, BSMS; Sarah Newbury, Valerie Jenkins and Chris Jones, BSMS
Exploring the role of microRNAs in cognitive impairment associated with breast cancer treatment
Chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer may cause cognitive impairment. Patients describe problems with their memory, concentration and speed of thinking. This project will examine if there is a relationship between microRNAs produced during chemotherapy treatment and these symptoms.

Esra Sorguven, EngInf
Improving energy efficiency of water pumps through novel flow measurement techniques
Water pumps are amongst the most frequently used turbomachines, which account for 10% of  global energy consumption. The project aims to make use of the novel experimental and numerical techniques developed at the Thermo Fluid Mechanics Research Centre, for the analysis and improvement of water pumps.

Alan Stewart, LifeSci; Jeremy Niven and Daniel Osorio, LifeSci
See and be seen: Understanding Trade-offs in Glow Worm Bioluminescent Signalling
Glow-worm females attract males through their bioluminescent glow at night, and males fly towards females to mate. This nocturnal signalling is susceptible to artificial lighting at night (ALAN), which is one of the factors implicated in the long-term decline of glow worms. This pilot study will establish the techniques needed to quantify cost-benefit trade-offs in this signaller-receiver system in unprecedented detail and will quantify the impact of ALAN on its efficacy.

Jose Verdu Galiana, MPS
Implementation of a quatum transducer of single microwave photons  
This project aims at developing an advanced experimental setup for implementing a quantum transducer of single microwave photons using a trapped electron. The potential future applications of this device include ultrasensitive quantum radars and quantum microwave microscopes.


Sussex Research has provided development funding to 85 projects under eight rounds of the RDF. For more information on the scheme and details of all awards made, visit the Sussex Research website.

A ninth call for proposals will be launched in February 2018. 

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By: Deborah Foy-Everett
Last updated: Monday, 3 July 2017

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