28 Projects, page 1 of 6
NERC: Jessica Cleary: ES/P000681/1 Using qualitative interviews with participants involved in criminal justice interventions, collected in Québec (Canada) and Scotland prior to the exchange, this project will explore what national level characteristics and processes impact individual's ability to stop offending. Research into criminal desistance - the exploration of how and why people refrain from criminal behaviour long term - has gained increasing attention both in academia and policy in recent years. Most notably, in some international contexts the growing awareness and prioritisation of desistance research has influenced political strategies, institutional aims and objectives, and criminal justice practices. Despite the growing importance of understanding pathways to desistance; there remains a significant gap in empirical research examining the impact national-level variations have on individual's likelihood of reoffending between countries. Indeed, many significant mono-cultural studies have contributed to knowledge on desistance which allows secondary analysis across nations. However, direct international comparisons cannot conclusively be drawn for a number of reasons. For example, researchers will have inevitably designed different research questions, sampling criteria and analysis strategies. Therefore, a rigorous comparison of the role national-level variances contribute to the processes of desistance remains relatively unknown. This project, will compare a number of nation level factors to examine whether they shape processes of desistance from crime. The proposed factors are: national characteristics (such as, population size and imprisonment rates) involvement and prioritisation of different societal institutions (including, social work and education) cultural and religious beliefs economic systems (for instance, provision of national welfare support and conditional benefit systems) This study will not simply ask 'why do people stop offending?' but rather critically interrogate how national level characteristics and processes, societal institutions, cultural and religious beliefs and economic systems impact desistance in Scotland and Québec. In doing so, this project will identify which interventions and wider social, cultural and economic processes most markedly influence desistance in such a way that national variations will begin to be accounted for in theoretical explorations of how and why people stop offending. Methodologically this study will generate comparative profiles of the two datasets to allow a number of outcomes to be compared at a national level including: obstacles overcome, any re-offending, de-escalation and/or acceleration in offending, desires to desist, and general improvement in objective and subjective well-being. Rigorous comparative analysis will be possible since the same interview questions will have be asked to both the Canadian and Scottish participants during the data collection phases. Additionally, analyses will also examine country-level comparisons regarding each cohort's social and personal circumstances, their usage of time and space, feelings about citizenship and inclusion, formations of 'self', and experiences of stigma and victimisation. To combination of both theses stages of analysis will enable both the interplay of personal and societal factors and their influence on the participant's ability to stop offending to be examined. Finally, a crucial element of this project will be to write up the findings from this international study into two journal articles. To maximise the impact of these outputs the two papers will focus on two distinct aspects of desistance: individual-level factors and structural-level variables. Additionally, the dissemination plan for this project also includes presentations at research group meetings and academic conferences, as well as producing lectures for teaching modules in both Scotland and Québec.
EPSRC : Andrew Bage : EPSRC/3202/R83279 The pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries are dependent upon the construction of novel molecular structures to target new medicines and agrochemicals. One of the most generally applied and used methods to do this uses arylboronic esters building blocks. Therefore an extensive library of arylboronic esters is needed and the easy ability to continually increase this library is essential. The greater the library, the greater the potential for novel chemical structures. Arylboronic esters are currently prepared by a two-step process which is inherently wasteful and practically challenging. The direct production of arylboronic esters by C-H borylation is far more economic and has the potential to become a staple reaction, particularly for the medicinal chemistry and agrochemical industries. Currently, rare, toxic metals, typically iridium and rhodium, are used as catalysts for the C-H borylation reaction, but the reactions suffer from limited selectivity. This project will introduce broad-scope and selective boron-based catalysts for C-H borylation to give arylboronic esters. A boron-based catalyst would offer orthogonal reactivity and remove the need for exhaustive catalyst removal, as boron is far less toxic than the heavy metals currently used. The Fontaine group is the world leader in boron-based C-H borylation reactions. They have developed a series of stoichiometric and substoichiometric boron species that are capable of activating aryl C-H bonds to further reaction. The Thomas group has shown stoichiometric boron species can be transformed into catalysts by utilising the 'boron-boron exchange' mechanism. This mechanism shows impressive versatility and is vital to catalyst regeneration. Boron-boron exchange has been used to prepare alkyl- and alkenylboronic ester products and it will be applied to arene C-H borylation in this project. Initially, stoichiometric C-H borylation will be used to probe the efficacy of the boron-boron exchange mechanism for C-H borylation. This will include isolating reaction intermediates and directly observing exchange and catalyst regeneration. Subsequently, we will develop catalytic reactions using the fundamental knowledge gained. Optimisation will focus on functional group tolerance and the targeting of arylboronic esters of significant interest to the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. Ultimately, this project will showcase boron-boron exchange as a versatile tool for developing industrially-relevant building blocks and give a system that will rival current industrial methods for C-H borylation.
In this project, the team of researchers will address the problem of autonomous robotic grasping of objects in challenging scenes. We consider two industrially and economically important open challenges which require advanced vision-guided grasping. 1) “Bin-picking” for manufacturing, where components must be grasped from a random, self-occluding heap inside a bin or box. Parts may have known models, but will only be partially visible in the heap and may have complex shapes. Shiny/reflective metal parts make 3D vision difficult, and the bin walls provide difficult reach-to-grasp and visibility constraints. 2) Waste materials handling, which may be hazardous (e.g. nuclear) waste, or materials for recycling in the circular economy. Here the robot has no prior models of object shapes, and grasped materials may also be deformable (e.g. contaminated gloves, hoses). The proposed project comprises two parallel thrusts: perception (visual and tactile) and action (planning and control for grasping/manipulation). However, perception and action are tightly coupled and this project will build on recent advances in “active perception” and “simultaneous perception and manipulation” (SPAM). In the first thrust, we will exploit recent advances in 3D sensor technology and develop perception algorithms that are robust in challenging environments, e.g. handling shiny (metallic) or transparent (glass/perspex) objects, self-occluding heaps, known objects which may be deformable or fragmented, and unknown objects which lack any pre-existing models. In the second thrust, autonomous grasp planners will be developed with respect to visual features perceived by algorithms developed in the first thrust. Grasps must be planned to be secure, but also provide affordances to facilitate post-grasp manipulative actions, and also afford collision-free reach-to-grasp trajectories. Perceptual noise and uncertainty will be overcome in two ways, namely using computationally adaptive algorithms and mechanically adaptive underactuated hands. An object initially grasped by an accessible feature may need to be re-grasped (for example a tool that is not initially graspable by its handle). We will develop re-grasping strategies that exploit object properties learned during the initial grasp or manipulative actions. Overarching themes in the project are: methods that are generalisable across platforms; reproducibility of results; and the transfer of data. Therefore, the methods proposed in the two thrusts will be tested for reproducibility by implementing them in the different partner’s laboratories, using both similar and different hardware. Large amounts of data will be collected throughout these tests, and published online as a set of international benchmark vision and robotics challenges, curated by Université Laval once the project is completed.
The Arctic is changing rapidly. One of the clearest changes is a reduction in the extent and thickness of summer sea ice. The loss of ice is predicted to increase in the coming years as a consequence of climatic warming. There may be no summer sea ice in the Arctic by 2030. Critically, the ice acts as a shade to sunlight and as it retreats it exposes open water to illumination causing a rapid increase in the growth of marine plants (phytoplankton). These plants use up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and are therefore an important component of Earth's climate system. Once formed, the phytoplankton become food for herbivorous zooplankton who are able to transport this source of carbon to deeper waters where it is excreted and buried in the sediments. This process, called the 'biological pump', transfers carbon from the atmosphere and locks it away. It is important that we understand the relationships between ice, phytoplankton, zooplankton and carbon and these relationships can be simulated in models of biogeochemical cycles. The critical link in this chain is the herbivorous zooplankton. They have a particular behaviour called 'diel vertical migration' (DVM) which is a prominent feature of many marine ecosystems. The animals move quickly tens to hundreds of meters vertically around dawn and dusk in migrations that comprise the most massive periodic shifts in biomass on Earth. The classical view is that DVM occurs as a trade off by individuals between food acquisition and predator avoidance. Zooplankton move upwards to feed at night into the nearsurface where primary production occurs. Here, under the cover of darkness, the risk from visual predators is minimised. This upward/downward migration redistributes carbon fixed by photosynthesis near the surface to deeper waters, and may remove larger quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere than would otherwise be the case, reducing the rate of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. Studying zooplankton in the Arctic year round is difficult because of access and ice cover. One successful technique for recording DVM behaviour uses an instrument called an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). Many ADCPs have been deployed in the Arctic over the last decade to measure currents but the acoustic signals also record zooplankton migrations. Usually these data are only analysed to understand the ocean currents within the localised region where the instrument was deployed. We are at a critical time in Arctic research where we must take a wider, 'pan-Arctic' view of marine processes. We propose to work with international groups to collate, process and archive the ADCP data, creating a unique resource for studying DVM. The regular, rhythmic behaviour means that we can use numerical techniques (circadian rhythm analysis) to quantify how strong and regular the migration behaviour is and relate this to the biological communities that are present, the level of illumination and the amount of sea ice cover. We will use this knowledge to improve models of how zooplankton transport carbon, through their faecal material, to depth. Understanding zooplankton DVM is important for many reasons. Quantifying DVM behaviour will allow us to improve our ability to predict how changes in sea ice might alter changes in the way carbon is captured and stored in the productive Arctic seas. It will give us a greater insight into how and why animals undertake such regular migrations and how the timing of these migrations is controlled. By relating the acoustic data with species data we will be able to understand the role of zooplankton in Arctic ecosystems and this is of particular importance if predictions on the effect of plankton-dependent fish species are to be made.
The overall objective of the ROAM project is to investigate and demonstrate the use of the orbital angular momentum (OAM) modes of light for communications and networking. Two are the primary objectives. The firs objective is to exploit the use of OAM modes in optical fibres as a disruptive means of increasing optical fibre transmission capacity for short-reach high data density applications. A transmission testbed utilising OAM multiplexing and wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) dimensions will be demonstrated. The target will be a 10x or more capacity increase by employing 10 or more OAM multiplexed channels over a conventional WDM system. The combination of 10x OAM states with 16 wavelength channels will provide a total of 160 multiplexed channels. Full compatibility with legacy technologies will be demonstrated. Speciality fibres will be employed to support OAM modes transmission in the range up to 2 km. The second objective is to exploit the use of OAM domain as a switching resource in conjunctions with the wavelength domain to significantly improve the scalability and the power consumption of the switches in data-centres applications. A 10x improvement of the scalability of the data-centre switches will be targeted with the study and development of an OAM-based switch compatible with the WDM layer. A switch exploiting 10 OAM modes and 16 wavelengths as switching domains will be implemented. The developed two-layer switch will enable a more than 10x reduction of power consumption/Gb/s with respect to the current commercial switches. OAM switch configuration time of 100 ns will be demonstrated, with 8x improvement with respect to commercial switches. The project goals will be enabled by integrated high performance OAM components build on silicon photonics technology. ROAM consortium is composed by three universities, two research institutes, and two large companies, with the required knowledge and infrastructures to satisfy the project objectives.