Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Leading researchers in international development join Brooks World Poverty Institute 

Two leading figures in international development are joining Nobel Prize winner Professor Joseph E Stiglitz at The University of Manchester's Brooks World Poverty Institute.
Professors Tony Addison and Michael Woolcock will be Executive Director and Research Director respectively, joining Professor Stiglitz who is chair of BWPI's advisory board.

Tony Addison who is Professor of Development Studies at the University's Institute for Development Policy and Management came from the World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki where he was Deputy Director.

He is also an Associate Director of the University's Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC) which coordinates a global network of poverty research institutes in the UK and the developing world.

Michael Woolcock will work as a Visiting Professor of Social Science and Development Policy at Manchester this academic year before joining BWPI full-time next September.

He is currently Senior Social Scientist in the World Bank's Development Research Group in Washington DC.

Based at the School of Environment and Development, BWPI was made possible by one of the largest known gifts of £1.3M over three years to fund poverty research in Europe from the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Foundation.

Professor Stiglitz said: "We are delighted with these appointments and welcome both Tony and Michael to Manchester as they take up the vital work of the Brooks World Poverty Institute."

This is another step to building on Manchester's long legacy,beginning in the mid-nineteenth century with Frederick Engels of conducting interdisciplinary research on global poverty and identifying effective policy responses to it.

Professor Addison said: "BWPI represents a long-term commitment by the University to poverty, and will complement the excellent work undertaken by the members of the CPRC around the world."

-Poverty, whether in the UK or abroad, is not a problem that maps neatly onto a single discipline.

-Effective solutions are more likely when different forms of knowledge are effectively integrated, but unfortunately this sentiment is espoused more often than it is actually practiced.

-BWPI wants to take the interdisciplinary challenge seriously and to be an effective bridge between the worlds of scholarship and practice.

The institute will be staffed by leading researchers working on all aspects of poverty, in both the developed and developing worlds, and will interact closely with government policy makers as well as the business and voluntary sectors.

Professor Woolcock said: "There is broad agreement on the importance of interdisciplinary research, but most of us in social sciences are trained in and assessed by colleagues within traditional disciplines throughout our careers.

-We think receiving a rigorous discipline-based graduate education remains vitally important, but want to create an extended opportunity for those who wish to explore ideas in neighbouring disciplines.

-We will look at poverty both here in the UK and in low-income countries, and hope to attract a diverse range of talented scholars to study these issues.

-Twenty thousand people die every day from poverty-related causes. Fulfilling the goals of BWPI presents a big challenge, but also a big opportunity."

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Parental genes do what's best for baby 

A molecular 'battle of the sexes' long considered the major driving force in a baby's development is being challenged by a new genetic theory of parental teamwork.
Biologists at The University of Manchester say the prevailing view that maternal and paternal genes compete for supremacy in their unborn offspring fails to answer some important questions relating to child development.

In fact, rather than a parental power struggle, the researchers suggest that certain offspring characteristics can only be explained by their theory of genetic cooperation.

"When we are conceived we inherit two copies of every gene - one set from our mother and one from our father," explained Dr Jason Wolf, who led the research in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"But some genes - through a process called genomic imprinting - only use one parent's copy; the spare copy from the other parent is silenced by a chemical stamp."

The concept of imprinting has long puzzled scientists as it appears to undermine the natural benefits organisms gain from inheriting two sets of genes.

If one copy of a gene is damaged, for instance, then the second copy can compensate; imprinted genes lose this safeguard and so are more susceptible to disease. Errors in imprinting have also been linked to cancer and other genetic disorders.

Scientists have argued that the reason some genes only use or 'express' one copy is due to a conflict between paternal and maternal interests.

In the natural world, for example, males would hope to produce large offspring to give them the best chance of survival and carry on their gene line. But large offspring require greater maternal investment, so females will try to impose their genetic stamp so that smaller young are born.

"The idea that imprinting evolves because of conflict between males and females over maternal investment in their offspring has become a generally accepted truth that has remained largely unchallenged," said Dr Wolf.

"But we have shown that selection for positive interactions between mothers and their offspring, rather than conflict, can produce the sorts of imprinting patterns we see for a lot of genes.

"For example, during placental development the maternal and offspring genomes have to work together to produce a functional placenta. By expressing the genes they get from their mothers, the offspring are more likely to show an adaptive fit with their mother's genes; they complement each other and so work better together to produce the placenta."

The findings - published in the world's leading biology journal PLoS Biology - are important because the conflict hypothesis is cited by people working in a diverse range of areas. This new theory is therefore likely to have implications across the biological sciences.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gambar kat Genting Highlands 

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Malaysian visitors to enjoy VIP trip to Old Trafford 

Two young Malaysians are flying over to watch Manchester United take on Chelsea this Sunday after winning a competition with The University of Manchester.

Mooi Yen Nian, 25, a Senior Executive at Bank Negara, and 23-year-old management trainee Aileen Wang Jin Jen will enjoy box seats for the biggest game of the season so far as well as receiving signed United shirts. During their visit, the pair will also tour the University and the Manchester Museum.

Manchester is one of the UK's most popular destinations for Malaysian students, with more than 450 students registered at the University of Manchester last year.

To win this unforgettable trip, the pair entered a contest arranged by the University and the British Council during the Education UK Exhibition held in Malaysia earlier this year.

Mooi said: "This is a dream come true for me; I was particularly interested in a postgraduate course at The University of Manchester but now this is a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget."

Wang said: "I hadn't planned to enter a contest while at the exhibition as I was interested in learning more about further study in the UK, but I decided to give it a go."

Mooi is a graduate of the London School of Economics while Wang earned a Business Computing degree from the University of Staffordshire at the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) in Malaysia. Both are considering a postgraduate course at Manchester.

Professor Rod Coombs, Manchester's Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, said: "We are delighted to host both Mooi and Wang in Manchester and provide them with all they want to know about our postgraduate courses."

Dr Tim Westlake, Director of International Development, said: "Our winners will discover that they can receive a first class education at our campus, but also how living in Manchester is a stimulating, exciting experiencing thanks to its multicultural nature."

The competition also saw consolation prizes awarded to Woon Da Qiang, 19, Hoo Long Pin, 21, and Darryl Connel Chew, 19, now a first year Law student at Manchester. The runners up receive exclusive Manchester United merchandise signed by the first team, courtesy of Manchester United Football Club.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Watching TV Can Improve Parenting And Child Behaviour 

Watching television parenting programmes like ITV's Driving Mum and Dad Mad really can help improve parenting skills and modify children's behavioural problems, according to a study at The University of Manchester.

Watching television parenting programmes like ITV's Driving Mum and Dad Mad really can help improve parenting skills and modify children's behavioural problems, according to a study at The University of Manchester.

The six-part series followed the progress of five families whose children showed clear behavioural problems through Professor Matt Sanders' "Triple P-Positive Parenting Programme," which provides guidance on parenting skills which promote good behavioural and emotional adjustment.

In "The Great Parenting Experiment: The role of the mass media in preventing anti-social behaviour in children," clinical psychologists Dr Rachel Calam and Professor Sanders himself studied a sample of the 4.2 million parents tuning into the first series in Spring 2005. Funded by the Home Office's Respect Task Force, the team assessed how much watching the programmes actually helped parents at home.

Dr Calam said: "This is the first national experiment to monitor parents working alongside a "TV info-tainment" series and trying out the techniques shown. We wanted to assess whether, by adopting the ideas suggested, mums and dads were able to improve their children's behaviour and reduce their own stress levels.

"465 parents completed an assessment of their children's behaviour, parenting practices, confidence as a parent, stress levels and family circumstances before the series, which was repeated 12 weeks after the series started and again six months later. Parents who just watched the series and those given additional "enhanced support" reported significantly fewer problems with both their children's conduct and their parenting practices after 12 weeks.

"Over 40% of the children who had had severe behavioural problems at the beginning of the study showed clinically-reliable changes in behaviour, and moved into the "normal" range on measures of disruptive behaviour.

"The parents also reported higher confidence in their ability to manage behavioural problems; 45% of them saying they were very much less likely to over-react to difficult behaviour."

The parents receiving the enhanced support showed fewer problems at the 12-week point in terms of child behaviour problems, parenting practices, and parental conflict, but both levels of intervention proved effective at reducing levels of parental distress and conflict and modifying children's behaviour problems.

Professor Sanders said: "Across the board, parents' sense of their own effectiveness significantly improved, with parents reporting clinically-significant increases in confidence in dealing with difficult behaviours and situations (like bedtimes and taking children to the supermarket). The level of improvement in children's behaviour was unrelated to the initial severity of the child's conduct problem, with children who had the most severe problems at the beginning doing just as well as other children with less severe problems.

"The improvements associated with watching the series were maintained after six months, and it is extremely encouraging to see that so many parents benefited from it. Our findings indicate that the media can be used constructively to provide parenting information and advice in an entertaining way, and can bring real positive outcomes to both parents and children."

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Terrorist hotbeds 'a fantasy', says researcher 

Research at The University of Manchester has found that Muslim terrorists are no more likely to come from towns and cities with large Muslim populations than anywhere else.

Dr Ludi Simpson and Dr Nissa Finney from the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research analysed media reports to map the location of suspects charged under UK anti-terror laws.

They found that against popular perception, the proportion of Muslims who have been charged under terrorism laws is no greater in areas with large Muslim populations - such as Newham or Bradford, than anywhere else.

According to the research, the chance of a Muslim being charged with terrorism coming from an area like Bradford is 1 in 25,000.

That, says Dr Simpson, is a similar figure to places with smaller Muslim populations such as Leeds and Bournemouth, where there is a 1 in 24,000 chance.

Dr Simpson said: -We looked at the 75 cases of Muslims charged under anti-terrorist legislation outlined in the media from 2004 to the present day, where we know the place of residence.

-Their location is spread pretty evenly across all the places Muslims live and it's not in any way restricted to areas where there are large Muslim populations.

-The CrownProsecution Service were reluctant to provide a more comprehensive list - which is why we have used media reports in the Guardian and BBC Online.

-But we've made an application under the Freedom of Information Act which will hopefully allow us to carry out this research in more detail.

He added: -When politicians who want to tackle terrorism target ethnic minorities according to the area they live, it's a very destructive thing and not based on reality.

-The authorities should focus on direct information about terrorist activities and not go by innuendo.

'Branding a particular area as a hotbed of terrorism is immensely damaging and creates prejudice and fear. It's just a fantasy.'

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Manchester's virtual University opens - for primary school children 

THE CHILDREN'S University of Manchester is an exciting new website aimed at children aged seven to 11, combining learning with fun.

Linking the research and teaching of The University of Manchester to the Key Stage Two (KS2) national curriculum, the website gives pupils a fascinating insight into the background and work of leading academics.

Available online at www.manchester.ac.uk/childrensuniversity, the website officially launches on 20 November, when representatives from Greater Manchester primary schools and other delegates will meet academics involved in the development of the website and find out more about the project, at a lunchtime launch event at The University of Manchester's Whitworth Hall.

Nancy Rothwell, Vice-President for Research at the University, who will open the event, said: "The Children's University is a fantastic project, and really important for the University as a whole. We have committed to engagement with our local community and with wider participation. These are not areas in which we pay lip service, but real goals with real commitments, because we see real benefits."

The website has been developed by staff across the University, including astronomers, linguists, dentists, textile historians, psychologists and KS2 specialists in the School of Education, as well as student volunteers. Pupils, teachers and parents at local primary schools, and ICT Co-ordinators at Manchester City Council's Children's Services department, have also provided valuable feedback and input.

Six subject modules have been created so far, with more planned for the future. Each is introduced by a member of University staff and contains interactive learning materials; educational games and quizzes; informative videos; useful links, and downloadable resources. The site can be used for whole class teaching with a whiteboard, or for group, individual or homework sessions.

The six modules are: 'The Earth & Beyond', with Dr Tim O'Brien, Jodrell Bank Observatory - School of Physics & Astronomy; 'Teeth & Eating', with Professor Liz Kay, School of Dentistry; 'Micro-organisms', with Dr David Moore, Faculty of Life Sciences; 'Talking Textiles', with Jennifer Harris and Andrew Vaughan of the University's Whitworth Art Gallery; 'Word Classes', with Professor Kersti Borjars, School of Languages, Linguistics & Cultures, and 'Brain Awareness', with Dr Ellen Poliakoff, School of Psychological Sciences.

Alan Cross, Lecturer in Education at The University of Manchester, uses the website when training teachers and teaching pupils. He said: "The reaction of teachers and pupils is always the same: they love the graphics, the quizzes and the input from academic researchers. Teachers immediately recognise The Children's University of Manchester as a very useful resource, which links well to the curriculum."

Sarah Grimwade, a teacher at Whitemoor Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham, said: "The Children's University is a fantastic site, with well thought out resources. I am really impressed! As an ex-research scientist, and now a primary teacher in Nottingham, I am pleased to see The University of Manchester really supporting us in getting children passionate about science."

While the website will benefit primary schools across the UK, the University is particularly keen to ensure that Greater Manchester schools use it. Teachers Jonathan King and Anna Morgan from Ravensbury Community School in Clayton, a deprived area of Manchester, have been extensively involved in the piloting and testing of The Children's University. Jonathan said: "The website is really interactive, great for the children to use, very visual and very child friendly. They were able to use it instantly."

The University's Manchester Leadership Programme, Careers & Employability Division is managing the development of The Children's University. Director of the division, Jane Ratchford, said: "We are very excited about the launch of this innovative website, which promises to be a fantastic, fun resource for children, teachers and parents across the country. It represents The University of Manchester's commitment to working with schools and communities in order to encourage greater public understanding of science, arts and humanities, and to increasing awareness of the benefits and opportunities that higher education can bring."

Available online, a touchscreen version of The Children's University has also been installed at the Jodrell Bank Observatory Visitor Centre.

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