Research Café II: balloons, irregular shoes and Oscar Wilde

left to right: Charlotte Apps, Andrew Leach and Deáglan O Donghaile

left to right: Charlotte Apps, Andrew Leach and Deáglan O Donghaile

The second Research Café of the academic year was a lively affair, with three highly interesting, engaging and wide ranging presentations all of which generated a large volume of discussion from the audience.

First speaker up was Charlotte Apps, 2nd year Biomechanics PhD student from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Charlotte’s presentation focused on the Biomechanics of the Forward Lunge in Stable and Irregular Shoes. Charlotte has recently spent time in Bejing, working with a leading sports brand to design a new type of functional footwear.

Charlotte explained that functional footwear is something which incorporates a design feature to specifically improve comfort, performance, injury protection or training capacity. After highlighting the benefits, Charlotte revealed her involvement in the design of the next generation of unstable shoes and showed us a prototype of her work, which we will be looking forward to seeing on the high-street someday soon….

Next up was Deáglan O Donghaile, Senior lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Studies, speaking on Oscar Wilde and the Radicle Politics of the Fin de Siecle. While Oscar Wilde is presently perceived as being largely apolitical Deáglan open the audience up to his political side and showed that, in his own time, Wilde was considered to be quite a radicle by his contemporaries. Describing Wildes own exposure to nationalist influences as a child to and giving examples of him posting bail for anarchists and debating on nationality rights to illustrate the point.

Deáglan went on to explain how Wilde argued poetry was the way forward, that at the time in question his work was read as radicle and showed how in the children’s story, The Selfish Giant Wilde is asking questions about rights to pleasure and is questioning authority and the enclosure of space and beauty. Through his enlightening talk Deáglan encouraged the audience, as Wilde himself did, to think in the 3D sense.

The final speaker for the afternoon was Andrew Leach, lecturer in Pharmacy from the school of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences. Covering the topic Pharmaceuticals in the Mirror, Andrew examined the role of mirror image isomers in the action of drugs and described his recent study investigating the process that converts between them.

Using balloon models, Andrew illustrated the flexibility, squishiness and constant movement present in molecules. He demonstrated the mirror image properties of three modules arrangements and showed that this is not possible with four modules arranged in a tetrahedron. Andrew explained that the same modules arranged differently may react differently with enzymes and this can lead to some drugs working less effectively in certain situations. Andrew has done a lot of work recently to measure how likely molecules are to undergo the process of switching to a mirror image (and there by potentially becoming less effective). A lot of questions followed on the impact these studies may have on drugs research and the potential applications of Andrews’s novel calculation method.

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