News round-up

Read our news in brief

Brain Research & Imaging Centre unveiled

The formal opening of a new research centre at the University has taken place – signalling a transformation in the level of neurological work academics can undertake. The Brain Research & Imaging Centre (BRIC) consists of seven cutting-edge human neuroimaging research laboratories to help better understand brain activity and human behaviour. One of the laboratories contains a Siemens Prisma MRI scanner equipped with multiple additional brain imaging technologies, establishing the first multi-modal MRI facility in the region.
BRIC is a unique collaboration between the University, the research charity DDRC Healthcare and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHPNT) and is located at Plymouth Science Park. It forms part of the expansion of the Hyperbaric Medical Centre, providing improved facilities for research and the treatment of scuba divers, along with delivery of advanced medical training. University researchers have already been using the facility and postgraduate students in human neuroscience are also being taught there.
<p>Man having a scan in the&nbsp;Brain Research &amp; Imaging Centre (BRIC)</p>
BRIC was officially opened by Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor, and Ann James, Chief Executive of UHPNT. Professor Stephen Hall, Director of BRIC and a leading researcher in human neuroimaging, said:
“BRIC has immediately transformed brain research in the region and beyond, with international collaborations utilising the technology we have here to shed light on complex conditions to benefit patients. The addition of BRIC, with its cutting-edge facilities and leading expertise, will support the University’s ambition to become one of the most impactful brain research organisations in the world. We are proud to be working with DDRC Healthcare and UHPNT to make this work possible.”

Plymouth wins bid to run first residential dental summer school

The Peninsula Dental School is to be one of just two hosts for the UK’s first residential programme based around dentistry. The Medical and Dental Schools Councils series of Summer Schools 2022 is funded by Health Education England and has been set up to widen participation and access to dentistry and help create a greater diversity in the dental profession.
The programme will welcome 35 Year 11 and 12 students onto campus and focus on supporting their journey into dental education, from the admissions and selection process to life beyond dental school, showing the range of careers within the oral healthcare profession. By detailing the specifics of dental school, including study skills and revision workshops and even going through a mock entrance interview, the University will hope to break down barriers. The four-day, three-night summer school will recruit from South West schools, and will also include supervised trips to places of interest around the locality.
Professor Christopher Tredwin, Head of the Peninsula Dental School, said: 
“We’re thrilled to be running the Medical Schools Council Summer School to help reach more dental professionals of the future, and know it’ll build on our already hugely successful widening participation work. Recruiting the best students, regardless of their background, ultimately means we’ll be helping to graduate the best dentists to positively impact on patient care, which is hugely important.”

New Doctoral-Training Partnership to focus on climate

A new post-COP26 Doctoral-Training Partnership (DTP) focusing on the challenges and opportunities relating to our global climate has been launched by the University in collaboration with University College Cork. 
The DTP will focus on research proposals related to climate challenges and opportunities in four key areas: Delivering the Blue Economy; Building Resilient Coastal Communities; Achieving and Maintaining Healthy Landscapes; and Enabling the Zero Carbon Energy Transition.
The DTP will host six PhD students, who will be supervised by staff from both institutions, bridging natural and social sciences.

Environmental law experts helping to preserve Shackleton’s lost vessel, Endurance 

The remarkable discovery of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance, in March, after more than 100 years at the bottom of the Weddell Sea was greeted with universal acclaim by marine archaeologists around the world. Immaculately preserved some 3,000m below sea-level, the vessel was located by a project team from the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust using an icebreaker and submersibles, bringing to a close a truly iconic story of human endeavour. 
For two environmental law experts in the University’s School of Society and Culture, however, the discovery had extra resonance. Jason Lowther, Associate Professor of Law, and Michael Williams, Visiting Professor and Research Fellow, were the lead authors of a groundbreaking policy that protects underwater heritage in Antarctica, ensuring merchant vessels like Endurance can never be salvaged by third parties. The pair worked with the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust and a marine archaeologist at Bournemouth University to create the policy under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, specifically to address concerns that undiscovered wrecks, such as Endurance, might be at risk of salvage. The policy was passed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2018, and Endurance added to the list of underwater cultural heritage belonging to the British Antarctic Territory. 
<p>Iceberg sunset in Antarctica.</p>
“It’s great to have been part of something so foundational as this,” Jason said. “And it’s gratifying that Plymouth is developing a reputation as the go-to institution for legal expertise in underwater heritage. To see the pictures and the state of preservation – and know it is going to stay like that – is something of which we can feel very proud.” 
“And the irony is not lost that Plymouth was the last UK departure point for Shackleton and it’s Plymouth 100 years on that is protecting Endurance,” added Michael.