Health and well-being at Research Café VII

ResearchCafe_marchphoto2Participants were treated to a very sunny and warm spring afternoon out at the IM Marsh campus for our April Research Café. Our two speakers this month were Madeleine Cochrane from the Centre for Public Health and Duncan Casey from Built Environment, both demonstrating how LJMU research makes a genuine and valuable contribution to the improvement of health and well-being in society.

Madeleine’s presentation described the evaluation of a very interesting initiative in schools, the Stand Against Violence workshop. Official statistics and research show that while there were 1.3 million violent incidents recorded in the UK in 2013/14, young people are not likely to be markedly violent in childhood but may get caught up in violence as adolescents. The workshop programme was developed by a charity based in the South West of England to provide an early intervention and was delivered within the PSHE education section of the curriculum. The LJMU researchers looked at one particular workshop which starts with a short 11 minute film which re-enacts the unprovoked street attack of a young man, Lloyd Fouracre. This is followed by discussion around the consequences of the violent attack and a Q&A session. Aiming to evaluate the experiences of both pupils and teachers using a mixed methodology of observation, questionnaires, reports and interviews, they found that the workshop was informative and engaging, despite some concerns from teachers about showing a film with violence. Pupils’ attitudes towards violence improved significantly following the workshop, although these decreased slightly over time. The next steps for the researchers will be to apply the findings from this study to other areas of the UK using a longitudinal study and/or randomised controlled trials.

The evaluation report is available at:
http://www.cph.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Evaluation-of-the-Stand-Against-Violence-Workshop-LJMU.pdf

The second speaker of the afternoon, Dr. Duncan Casey, is currently based in Built Environment, though his background is in biology and chemistry, where his main research interests lie. His animated presentation showed how biological problems can be addressed with chemistry, physics and engineering, a truly inter-disciplinary approach which is at the leading edge of experimental research. Duncan talked us through the difficulties of diagnosing conditions such as cancer using traditional techniques such as biopsy, and why working with single cells is more accurate but very difficult given their size and complexity. The research team has been developing a toolkit for manipulating and sampling single cells using laser light focussed down to a tiny point, a technique known as optical trapping. They have built a system using lasers and quantum dots which makes it possible to pierce an individual cell very precisely without killing it, to either sample from it or delivery a tiny cargo to study its responses. Some world-firsts have already been revealed using the platform, and they now have a very powerful tool for further exploration, in collaboration with teams at Aston, Glasgow and Imperial. Duncan will be speaking about his work at a forthcoming Café Scientifique in Liverpool’s Hope Street Hotel (http://liverpoolcafescientifique.org/) and at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London (https://royalsociety.org/summer-science/)

Thank you to both our speakers for a very interesting afternoon. The next Research Café will take place at the Avril Robarts Library on 20th May.

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