Innovation and Research Round-Up

December Edition

December has arrived! While you are getting into the festive spirit, we are looking back on the achievements and success our research teams have had during November. From students having their first taste of research to rugby leading the way in mental health services, our research teams are having an impact across so many lives.

Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme

The Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) provides all of our second-year undergraduate students the opportunity to take part in a funded and supported research project. Our 2022 programme came to an end with a celebration event on 2 November, where the students presented their research.

“The Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme puts students at the very forefront of research at the University of Derby. Working alongside dedicated academic supervisors, students taste first-hand the excitement that comes with being the first person ever to test a certain idea or hypothesis - often the student’s own hypothesis. Research projects belong to students, who reap the deep satisfaction of every success and obstacle surmounted - building confidence, independence, and aspiration to be the very best they can be.” Dr Jordan Phethean, Lecturer in Geoscience and URSS supervisor.  

Students Daniel Lodge and Tracey Lukaza both presented at the conference.

Find out about their experience and what they enjoyed from the scheme

University Magazine

Our University magazine is out now! Explore our research section which features three incredible pieces of research and the impact that they are having. 

Take a look at our lastest magazine issue

Derbyshire Festival of Business 

Derbyshire Festival of Business is back for a second year! The festival helps connect and support local organisations while showcasing Derbyshire’s extensive capability to future clients, customers and investors. 

The festival offers a wide range of events that take place online and at venues across Derbyshire. There is an extensive selection of free workshops, masterclasses and networking activities offered throughout the festival, helping to support businesses within the region. 

Find out more about the festival or discover the latest events available

Tackling mental health

From a preference for self-resilience to difficulty in recognising mental health challenges, Rugby Players Ireland have explored the barriers to seeking mental health support. Supervised by the University of Derby’s Dr Phillip Clarke and in collaboration with Dr Rob Dempsey (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Deirdre Lyons, Head of Rugby Players Ireland’s Player Development Programme, conducted the research into barriers and enablers that players encounter when seeking help for mental health concerns. The findings can now inform Rugby Players Ireland’s support services, but they also hope that the findings will guide other sporting organisations with their support options.  

Find out the research findings that are informing Rugby Players Ireland's support services

Covid-19 and conspiracy theories

Understanding health beliefs and the variables that influence adherence to public health measures are critical in slowing down the spread of Covid-19, according to lead author and recent Derby graduate Stein Vaal. The research, supervised by Dr Malcolm Schofield and involving Derby’s researchers, Dr Ian Baker and Dr Ben Roberts, found that conspiracy theories on social media are linked to the reluctance to comply with Covid-19 regulations. In addition, the findings indicated that personality traits were also influencers in people’s behaviour toward the compliance with Covid-19 restrictions.  

Learn more about Covid-19 conspiracy theories on social media

11th International Congress of Contemplative Sciences and Mindfulness

Dr William Van Gordon, Associate Professor in Contemplative Psychology, recently gave a keynote speech at the II International Congress of Contemplative Sciences and Mindfulness, which was facilitated by the University of Zaragoza, Spain, between 3 - 4 November. Opening the final day of the congress, Dr Van Gordon presented his paper on ‘The Changing Shades of Ego on the Path of Awakening’, which highlights from his research investigating the role of egotism and flawed ontological beliefs in the onset and maintenance of mental illness. Dr Van Gordon said: “The benefits of taking time to stop and breath and contemplate our existence have been discussed for thousands of years, but research is now providing empirical evidence that these benefits extend to the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of our being". Dr Van Gordon's keynote speech received coverage in several media outlets, including by USA Zero Detail

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) funds university study to support families after traumatic brain injury

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the research partner of the NHS, has awarded £140,000 funding to conduct a study to determine whether storytelling (specifically, the ‘Life Thread’ approach) can support the wellbeing and adjustment of family members after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). 

The study, led by Dr Charlie Whiffin, Associate Professor of Nursing, is the first funded by the NIHR with a Chief Investigator from the University of Derby. Dr Whiffin is supported in her role by co-lead applicant Dr Fergus Gracey (University of East Anglia), co-applicants, Dr Caroline Ellis-Hill (Bournemouth University), Dr Alyson Norman (University of Plymouth) and, importantly, two family members (Patient and Public Representatives). Dr Natasha Felles, Lecturer in Psychology, also from the University of Derby, is a named collaborator on the grant. 

Traumatic Brain Injury is a sudden injury to the brain commonly caused by falls and collisions. Those who survive tend to experience a wide range of difficulty including physical, cognitive, behavioural, and emotional changes. The impact of TBI on the survivor’s family can be significant and there is a need for more research to help families understand how their lives have changed, as Dr Whiffin explained: “While there is growing recognition of the importance of family members in the recovery pathway for the injured person, there is not enough attention given to how brain injuries change the lives of the uninjured members. This study will consider if a storytelling approach can be used to help family members make sense of their experiences and promote positive adjustment post-TBI.” 

Understanding pressure ulcer risks 

Dr Lisa Ledger, Head of Occupational Therapy, presented a keynote lecture at Wounds UK conference on 7 November in Harrogate. Part of the 'Patient First - compassion based care' session, Lisa’s presentation was on her key PhD research findings around patient perception and the understanding of pressure ulcer risk. The lecture was delivered to an audience of around 200 delegates. 

In September, Dr Ledger also delivered two keynote presentations at European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) in Prague. The keynote’s focus was led by Dr Ledger’s PhD research on the importance of research focused on patient understanding and context of risk. This is novel in the research arena of pressure ulcer risk as research to date has largely been focused on the healthcare professionals view.  

More recently, Dr Ledger has been invited to provide expert knowledge as part of a Specialist Clinical Reference Group for the National Wound Care Strategy Group for NHS England.

Wounds UK Conference

Consortium AETHER project

The University of Derby’s Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE) has become a key research partner on achieving the UK’s net zero emissions pledge. Sustainable aviation is a critical factor in achieving net zero emissions. As a result, IISE alongside TISICS, M.Wright & Sons and OXECO have formed a consortium to develop liquid hydrogen tank technology for zero-emission aviation.

Learn how this project aims to achieve this with scalable technology