Exeter

Exeter University Liaison

PROJECT TEAM: Bertram Brockington, Carol McCullough, Trudi Learmouth.
Administrator: Helen Cleasby
We have members on the Exeter Animal Welfare & Ethical Review Group (Olwen Goodall) and the Social Sciences and International Studies Ethics Committee (Peter Cleasby).

The University Liaison Project Team is not a 'group' like the many groups in Exeter U3A: we are a team working to make a mutually beneficial link between Exeter U3A and 'our' University of Exeter.
We arrange talks by top academics, presentations by research students and help develop research opportunities for U3A members.

These events are open to all Exeter U3A members.
Please note we expect confirmation of bookings to be sent out at the latest a fortnight before the event.

On the 3rd of March 2016, Exeter U3A signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Exeter.
A History of our Project can be found in
Links

FUTURE EVENTS and RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES

For PUBLIC EVENTS at the University please see University Events

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HAMLET IN PARTS: BROADCASTING SHAKESPEARE LIVE FROM THE RSC
A talk by Professor Pascale Aebischer
Wednesday 31st October 2018
2.30pm start, finish at 4pm
Room LT4.1
Queen's
Streatham Campus
(See Streatham Campus map: click on area A and print)

Ever since the advent of NTLive and RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, we’ve been able to go and see the latest high-quality Shakespeare productions in our local cinema. A lot of the publicity for these screenings has insisted on how the experience is ‘live’ and gives you access to the ‘best seat in the house’, thus minimising the difference between watching the shows from the comfort of a cinema armchair and sitting in a theatre auditorium in London or Stratford. This talk offers a behind-the-scenes insight into how a representative broadcast (of Hamlet at the RSC in 2016) was put together. In doing so, I tease out why and how the broadcasts – regardless of the publicity pitches – feel different to theatre-going while giving the viewers access to a performance in a way that feels, if not ‘live’, then ‘alive’ and full of implicit risk and excitement.

To book a place on this event please email us at exe.u3a.uni.liaison@gmail.com stating full name, membership number and a contact email address.
It would be helpful if you include the date of the event in the subject line of your email.

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'ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL: THE SCIENCE OF BRILLIANT COLOUR'
A talk by Professor Pete Vukusic
Thursday 29th November 2018
2pm start, finish at 4pm
Room 106 Harrison Building
Streatham Campus
(See Streatham Campus map:click on area A and print)

The brightest creatures are usually the most eye-catching. For centuries, a range of observers, from young children to experienced scientists, have wondered at the origin of brilliant colours and patterns in certain animals and plants. Now, however, several major research groups, the Exeter University photonics research group included, have begun to understand the extent of ingenuity and engineering expertise with which nature has been controlling the flow of colour for millions of years. The conclusions are forming a remarkable series of lessons in how best to learn and apply nature’s expertise in controlling the appearance of animals.

In biological terms, we find it is the naturally evolved nano-scale structures, that are less than thousandth of a millimetre in size, that generate the most eye-catching optical functionality in the living world. These natural systems are increasingly offering inspiration and designs for our applied technologies. This talk will present an overview of this emerging field of study, as well as several of the exciting recent discoveries that reflect nature’s optical design ingenuity, and the technological purposes to which they are currently being applied.

To book a place on this event please email us at exe.u3a.uni.liaison@gmail.com stating full name, membership number and a contact email address.
It would be helpful if you include the date of the event in the subject line of your email.

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RECRUITING FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANTS

A master's student at the University of Exeter is seeking participants to take part in a study exploring the services and the spaces of care associated with the process of ageing in Exeter. Participants are required to take part in a focus group where they can express their views regarding their experiences of ageing in Exeter. The focus groups aims to be an informal group conversation where the researcher will lead the discussion on issues such as how you navigate services in Exeter, the everyday experiences of ageing in the city, and the importance of particular spaces as you get older. If you would rather not express your views in a group setting, then the researcher is happy to conduct one-to-one interviews. The discussions will be recorded and the data will be used to complete a dissertation that contributes towards an MRes in Critical Human Geographies.

If you are interested or would like more information please contact Lucy Aldridge: la387@exeter.ac.uk

RECENT REPORTS

THE LABORATORY OF SANTORIO: WHEN SCIENCE BECAME HISTORY, 17th January 2018

Dr Fabrizio Bigotti of Exeter University's Centre for Medical History gave a fascinating presentation of his research project to a meeting of some 50 members of Exeter U3A.
Santorio Santorius (1561-1636) was a Venetian physiologist and physician who introduced accurate, standardised measurement into medicine. For example, recognising it wasn't good enough to describe a patient as "cold" or "hot", he devised the first thermometers. He also built weighing scales, hygrometers, accessorised beds, anemometers, even bag-ice for anaesthesia.
Dr Bigotti's project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is to build some of Santorio's instruments from existing drawings and so re-create a Santorio's laboratory. To see precisely how he pioneered the science of measurement will provide an important link between the practice of the Ancients and modern methods.
Martin Sorrell

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CONVERSATION CAFE – An extension of the Family Class
Wednesdays, 7th February, 21st February, 7th March, 21st March

The Conversation Cafes got off to a great start on the 7th February. 18-20 students turned up, with a range of ages from early 20s to 50, and a good mix of male and female. There were 4 U3A members and we had 4/5 students each. At my table I had 4 young men – from China, Japan, Turkey and Kazakhstan – and there were people from lots of other nations and cultures there. A truly global gathering! People were chatting about a wide variety of topics – there wasn’t a preset theme. We ranged from historical features of Exeter, different architectural styles, why the British go swimming in the sea on Christmas Day/New Year’s Day, would we like to go back in time and see how the rich and kings lived, which led on to good National Trust properties to visit in the area! All the students seemed to really enjoy it and there was a general cry of disappointment when Jo announced at 4.30 that it was time to finish! They all said they would return in a fortnight.
Trudi Learmouth

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SCIENCE, POLITICS OR THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING?
ON THE ROLE OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD, 20th February 2018

A talk by Dr Gabriele Galluzzo, Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy.

Forty-six U3A members attended and Dr Galluzzo began by asking, ‘What is philosophy today?’ Our members suggested a rational academic discipline, disconnected from life. Dr Galluzzo agreed and suggested also intense specialisation across a diversified research field and, perhaps, a contribution to public debate.
By contrast, he said, ancient Greek Philosophy (c. 600 BC to 200 AD) was a search for wisdom in the big questions of life. Pre-Socratic philosophers sought a rational and natural explanation of the universe, minus gods and myths. Fifth century Sophists were professional educators charging fees: the art of rhetoric, regardless of truth, was a useful tool in early democracies.

Socrates pursued wisdom and truth about fellow humans through endless disputations, enlightening some and enfuriating others. In a way, the manner of his death granted him non-divine immortality. For Plato and Aristotle, philosophy was a universal science, the theory of everything. Plato used the method of Socratic dialogue and is best known now for his metaphysical and epistemological ideas, while Aristotle is famous for his logic.
Epicurus and the Stoics used philosophy as therapy. Epicurus believed in free will without fear of retribution from the gods. Stoics preached acceptance of misfortune as divine providence.
So, without gods, superstitions, myths, fate, or transmigrating souls, does modern western society find these ancient philosophies attractive? For U3A members, stoicism perhaps?
Elizabeth Franceschini

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PRAYERS, PIGS AND PHALLIC VEGETABLES: MEDIEVAL AIDS TO FERTILITY, 18th April 2018
A talk by Dr Catherine Rider, Senior Lecturer in History.

Twenty U3A members gathered in the Business School on the Streatham University Campus to hear this talk about medieval attitudes to infertility. Infertility was a great cause for concern in medieval times for if there were no children from a marriage, there would be no one to inherit and no one to support the parents in old age. We had a chance to read and discuss two texts, one probably and unusually written by a woman. Many believed that the cause of infertility was a judgment of God or perhaps witchcraft, but there were other theories, some of which seem very up-to-date and others quite fanciful: diet, life-style and anatomical abnormalities might be a contributing factor but also it was proposed that glow-worms could cause infertility in men and bees in women! We also read about many remedies, often involving the reproductive organs of pigs and hares as well as herbs, spices and wine. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and instructive talk which we could have happily continued for another hour or so.
Joyce Burgess

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WHAT DOES OPENNESS IN ANIMAL RESEARCH MEAN TO YOU? 25th May 2018

Professor Gail Davies and Dr Rich Gorman gave a polished presentation to our members and the main part of the session was an interactive exercise that seemed to be part of a large programme - the Animal Research Nexus. This seeks to engage patients, public and practitioners in exploring how to optimise the use of animals that are used in medical research.

I expected an emphasis on justifying the use of animals in medical research but learnt that the project seeks to minimise negative perceptions of research involving live animals by engaging in an open dialogue. The main part of the session was a brainstorm of ideas on how to achieve greater openness. We were all fully engaged with this exercise, which was skilfully handled by a professional facilitator brought in for the occasion (they must have been warned how unruly U3A members can be). In that regard I felt that the project team had extended a considerable degree of 'openness' on this occasion. It was only after the event that I felt that perhaps I had been duped. There was not a single mention or hint during the event of the fear, pain and suffering that animals such as rabbits, mice, rats, monkeys, cats and dogs suffer in the name of medical progress. Nor was there any mention of the various alternatives to animal testing that exist or their advantages and disadvantages. This lack of awareness was reflected in one or two comments from attendees who felt that a single life saved justifies the use of animals in research, whatever it involves. While everyone seemed to be engaged with the presentation, I felt that the session, and we, therefore failed in these important aspects of openness.
Jonathan Peat

We are grateful for the engaged response from Jonathan Peat to this event. The talk was run by three members of the Animal Research Nexus team, who are researching changing social contexts around animal research. One of the changes over the last 5 years is that facilities that do animal research are trying to be more open about the work they do. The aim of our talk was to explore what these moves to openness around animal research, which we illustrated with some case studies, might be mean for members of U3A. As Jonathan’s report demonstrates, this is a complex issue. Questions often intensify as openness increases.

We should emphasise that the aim of our work on the Animal Research Nexus is not seeking to ‘minimise negative perceptions of research involving live animals by engaging in an open dialogue.’ This may be one motivation for openness, but our work is interested in what different people expect openness to achieve, alongside other changes in science and society, rather than promoting a particular view. We also wanted to acknowledge the rich contributions from other U3A members who did talk about the lived experience of animals and the need to explore alternatives.

We will be posting the short report with the full set of U3A members’ responses on how they think it would be possible to improve openness in animal research on our website shortly (https://www.animalresearchnexus.org/). We look forward to continuing debate about what people think openness about animal research is for and how best to achieve it.
Prof Gail Davies

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THE GLOBAL FASHION REVOLUTION: WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? 4th June 2018

This question was the basis of the talk by Professor Ian Cook to twenty-six Exeter U3A members. Ian is a Professor of Cultural Geography and he has been working with Fashion Revolution, a global movement that started after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, that resulted in appalling loss of life among the factory workers. Fashion Revolution is aiming for transparency and safe, fair working conditions in the garment industry, with the question ‘Who made my clothes’ now being asked of brands and retailers by thousands of social media users. Activists have used some innovative means to spread their message, such as slipping notes in the pockets of garments on the racks of retail outlets and, in Brazil, placing giant tee shirts emblazoned with ‘Who made my clothes?’ on statues. Ian’s talk was thought provoking but also entertaining, prompting plenty of questions from the U3A members present.

Ian will be running a free on-line Futurelearn course (MOOC*), Who Made My Clothes? for three weeks from the 25th June for the University of Exeter, which lifts the lid on the global fashion industry. See https://www.futurelearn.com/ courses/who-made-my-clothes.
Maeve Kolitz

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FOOD AND NUTRITION IN GREEK & ROMAN ART, 28th June 2018

This talk was given by John Wilkins, Professor of Greek Culture, who had previously given us talks on Galen's theories, among other topics.

John opened by asking us “What is Art?”, and showed pictures of the Parthenon and Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans. This prompted the start of audience participation, which continued throughout the session. He explained the inclusion of the Parthenon under the topic by talking us through the animal sacrifices there, from which the meat (at least, the parts not dedicated to the gods – luckily the more edible bits) was distributed to the attendees.
He showed us a variety of Classical art, including drinking vessels, plates and the statuary of Polyclitus, before reaching 'taste', a word we use both for in relation to eating and art appreciation.
Trudi pointed out the similarly with 'culture' and 'cultivation', connecting growing our food and artistic refinement.

A very interesting session from Professor Wilkins, whose depth of knowledge never fails to impress, with a high level of contributions from the audience.
Dave Parsons

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AGEING AND THE ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH, 28th June 2018

The University of Exeter Medical School, working in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia to develop research around Ageing and the Environment, brought together researchers (from health, engineering, sport and exercise science, and psychology) and representatives from industry and the older population (represented by U3A, Age UK and other relevant organisations engaged with such population).
Our focus was to consider Ageing and the Environment, exploring four areas of interest: Urban Design; Structures and Hazards; Natural and Sensory Environments; and Social Connectedness.
The ultimate aim of the collaboration is to improve health and wellbeing as we get older in relation to the built and natural environment; the initial objective of this event was to bring together interested people to build links and collaborations that will then develop research ideas and possible solutions to address some of the challenges we face as we get older.
Peter Cleasby and I enjoyed five presentations during the morning, and during the afternoon were invited to work collaboratively in mixed groups, using our experience and creativity to identify research areas relating to the four key areas mentioned above. These will be integrated into future research grant proposals for this highly stimulating research group.
Maggie Teuten

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UNIVERSITY LIAISON FAMILY CLASS VIDEO PROJECT
CULTURE CLIPS – BRITS ON THE BRITS

In August, seven members of Exeter U3A went in front of the camera to record short talks and discussions about various aspects of British, particularly English, culture and life in the UK. Jo Hughes (Insessional Science Liaison and Coordinator of General English, at INTO LLP at the University of Exeter) is building up online video resources as part of the University’s Electronic Learning Environment. Here, overseas students can access independently materials to support their learning of English. Jo wants students to be able to listen to ordinary English speakers talking individually and in small groups about our everyday lives, habits and customs - the sort of thing which we take for granted but which makes us who we are. The aim is to give overseas students some background to our culture and behavior –aspects of which they might find puzzling or different from their home countries. As well as being very useful for their language skills, hopefully the students will find the videos interesting and entertaining, and the information should help to explain some of our ‘strange’ behaviour so that they feel more comfortable meeting English people socially. Amongst other things, students can discover why English people get very upset when anyone queue jumps (try it at your peril), what to expect when they are invited for tea (it’s more than a drink so don’t have a big meal beforehand), and how to take part in a pancake race (remember your frying pan)!
Trudi Learmouth

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RESEARCH INTO AGEING

A group of 20 Exeter U3A members attended a presentation on 23 July organised by Dr Lorna Harries, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University Medical School. Lorna is a highly respected geneticist who has previously given us talks on ageing processes and her diabetes research. This time the focus was on 'cellular senescence.' The first short talk was by Dr Eva Latorre, who explained that one of the biological markers of ageing is the increase in cells becoming senescent. All cells in the body are affected; they no longer divide, fail to support tissues (i.e. they become dysfunctional), and accumulate damage and a cocktail of harmful chemicals. These chemicals can have an inflammatory effect on neighbouring cells, signalling them into senescence as well. All this can lead to age-related disease. Eva told us about some of the specific characteristics within cells which lead to a gradual deterioration over time. However she and her fellow researchers think this may not be inevitable and it may be possible for therapies to be developed to delay the process of senescence.

The second presentation, by Dr Darren Walsh, was ' modelling senescence using mathematical techniques.' The objective is to develop a predictive marker for senescence by taking into account all the known variables and then calculating their rates of change. Using a flu epidemic as an example, dividing the population into three groups 'susceptible,' infectious,' and 'recovered,' (the latter including people naturally immune), Darren asked us in the audience to suggest the information we would need to collect in order to calculate the rate of transition between the groups. The resulting mathematical model can be checked for accuracy against actual known data.

Lastly we had a talk by Dr Harries called 'the splice of life.' The proportion of world population over the age of 65 is set to increase to 59% by 2060 and this will include a huge increase in the over – 80s. There will be a corresponding rise in dementia, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease. Research into these diseases has hitherto looked at different processes or mechanisms thought to cause each individual condition. Now however there is a growing awareness that one process, that of cell senescence, may underly all the 'diseases of ageing.' In young people, any senescent cells are removed by the immune system. In older people the immune system itself is affected by cell senescence and is therefore less effective at removing senescent cells all over the body. The proteins which carry messages from genes into cells are called 'splicing factors' but these reduce with age, thus decreasing the diversity of cell activity. Chemicals called polyphenols have been shown to switch splicing factors back on, and reduce inflammatory markers. Cells are thus regenerated in a healthy way (i.e. not leading to the pathological cell reproduction that happens in cancer).

The aim of the research is to understand which genes are most important in human ageing, and using the mathematical model, to identify individuals at risk of age-related disease. Lorna stressed that she was not talking about extending lifespan, but making our older years healthier if possible. Polyphenols are present in red wine and chocolate, however (sadly) not in the sorts of quantities necessary for cell regeneration! - this therapy will have to be left to pharmaceutical companies to develop, but in the meantime we should all continue eating our brightly-coloured fruit and veg.

Thank you to the Exeter U3A University Liaison Team for another lively, interactive and thought-provoking session with Lorna and her world-class team.
Loran Waite

PUBLISHED REPORTS

The BBSRC have published a report on Bioenergy based on eleven public dialogue events. Members of our U3A took part in one of these on 30th August 2013.
See Bioenergy in LINKS

BLUEBERRY SUPPLEMENTATION STUDY
Dr Jo Bowtell and her team have now published the results of the blueberry supplementation study: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/apnm-2016-0550?journalCode=apnm#.WL7rHNSLTs0 in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. The report also had some good coverage in the media and the team would like to thank everyone who took part for their help.
See Blueberry study in LINKS

More Group Pages
21st Century Biology Anthropology Birdwatching Bridge
Canoeing Centrepoint Choir Cinema
Circle Dance Classical Music Computer Mentoring Convenors Café
Crosswords Current Affairs Cycling Discussion
Discussion Circle Drawing for Pleasure Drawing Techniques Exercise
Exeter University Liaison Food Matters French at the Lodge French Issues and Topics
Gardening Geology German Conversation Hearty Hikers
History History on the Move Italian Italian 2
Italian 3 Language Local History Mah Jong
Mathematical Pastimes Out and About Parlons Francais avec Marie-Claude Patchwork and Craft
Patchwork, Applique & Quilting Philosophy Photography Play Reading
Poetry Quizzes Reading Group III Reading Group IV
Reading Group V Reading Group VI Reading Group VII Room 101
Science + Scrabble Short Weekly Walks Spanish : First Course
Stride Out information Subtitles Supper Club Tennis
Topsham Discussion Group Travel Ukulele Understanding the Weather
Walkie Talkies Walking Group Workshop Singers Writing for Pleasure
More Group Pages
21st Century Biology Anthropology
Birdwatching Bridge
Canoeing Centrepoint
Choir Cinema
Circle Dance Classical Music
Computer Mentoring Convenors Café
Crosswords Current Affairs
Cycling Discussion
Discussion Circle Drawing for Pleasure
Drawing Techniques Exercise
Exeter University Liaison Food Matters
French at the Lodge French Issues and Topics
Gardening Geology
German Conversation Hearty Hikers
History History on the Move
Italian Italian 2
Italian 3 Language
Local History Mah Jong
Mathematical Pastimes Out and About
Parlons Francais avec Marie-Claude Patchwork and Craft
Patchwork, Applique & Quilting Philosophy
Photography Play Reading
Poetry Quizzes
Reading Group III Reading Group IV
Reading Group V Reading Group VI
Reading Group VII Room 101
Science + Scrabble
Short Weekly Walks Spanish : First Course
Stride Out information Subtitles
Supper Club Tennis
Topsham Discussion Group Travel
Ukulele Understanding the Weather
Walkie Talkies Walking Group
Workshop Singers Writing for Pleasure