Recent Submissions

  • Measuring the impact of incorporating case study presentations into applied biomedical science placement workshops for trainee biomedical scientists

    Bashir, Amreen; Dudley, Kathryn; Rana, Karan S.; Wilkins, Kayleigh; Pallett, Ross (Frontiers Media, 2024-02-20)
    Introduction: Successfully completing the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) registration portfolio is essential to becoming a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered Biomedical Scientist. In the West Midlands, a unique collaboration between four universities (Aston, Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Keele) and local NHS Trusts supports student placements and portfolio development. The universities support Training Officers in delivering components of the registration portfolio through the delivery of eight combined placement workshops. These have been designed to align to the IBMS registration portfolio and help students meet the HCPC Standards of Proficiency. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a redesigned workshop where students generated and presented medical case studies to peers, academics, and training leads. Materials and Methods: The three phases of the case study intervention included a pre-intervention survey, academic-led sessions focussing on medical case presentations and delivery of the presentation followed by a post-intervention survey. Results: Analysing survey responses pre- and post-intervention, students demonstrated enhanced confidence in their understanding of clinical conditions (p<0.0001), connecting lab findings to diseases, and in delivering a case presentation to their peers (p<0.001). Students reported an increased confidence in structuring case presentations and their critical thinking ability (p<0.0001). All students agreed engaging with the case study workshop improved their ability to communicate knowledge of scientific concepts orally. Thematic analysis revealed that the case presentation deepened students' understanding of multidisciplinary teams. 98% of respondents agreed patient communication should be integrated into Biomedical Sciences courses and 85% would like to see case study presentations embedded into the curriculum. Discussion: Combined placement workshops are an integral part of the Applied Biomedical Science placement journey. Case study presentations are clearly a valuable teaching and learning tool to nurture and develop key transferable skills and competencies in conjunction with Biomedical Science expertise. The collaborative approach in the West Midlands effectively prepares graduates with essential pathology knowledge, skills, and a completed IBMS registration portfolio. This study highlights a successful framework for a collaborative partnership with local NHS trusts that has allowed the completion of numerous pathology placements and could be adopted by other universities delivering accredited Biomedical Science courses.
  • Parenting through place-of-care disruptions: a qualitative study of parents' experiences of neonatal care

    Cupit, Caroline; Paton, Alexis; Boyle, Elaine; Pillay, Thillagavathie; Anderson, Josie; Armstrong, Natalie (Wiley, 2023-12-18)
    Introduction: Neonatal care is complex, involving multiple people and technologies within a community of care. When preterm babies are cared for far from home and/or transferred between units, the whole community of care (and particularly parent participation) is disrupted. Although previous studies have captured subjective experiences of parents, there has been little research exploring the material practices undertaken by parents as a consequence of place-of-care decisions, or the social organisation of those practices. Methods: As part of a wider study exploring optimal place-of-care, semistructured interviews were conducted between July 2018 and October 2019 with 48 parents (36 families) with one or more preterm babies (born at 27–31 weeks gestation) cared for in a neonatal unit in the last 12 months. Findings: We highlight parents' labour-intensive and stressful work to: (1) parent in the neonatal care community (an oversight role that goes beyond contemporary notions of ‘involvement’); (2) create continuity amid place-of-care disruptions; and (3) adapt to the managerial logics of neonatal care settings. Our analysis focuses on the work generated by managerial systems that organise place-of-care decision-making and other efficiency-focused practices. Parents are absorbed into negotiating institutional systems and diverted from routine parenting activities. Conclusion: Those involved in the organisation and management of neonatal care should take account of how managerial systems impact parents' workload, ability to participate in their baby's community of care and, ultimately, on the wellbeing and development of babies and their families. Patient or Public Contribution: The OPTI-PREM study embedded parents' experiences of neonatal care into the research, through a discrete workstream that employed qualitative methodology to capture parents' experiences—as reported in this paper. The OPTI-PREM project was also supported by a Bliss volunteer parent panel, which was involved in designing and overseeing the research. Bliss ‘champion[s] the right for every baby born premature or sick to receive the best care by supporting families, campaigning for change and supporting professionals and enabling life-changing research’ ( A representative of Bliss is a co-author of this manuscript, and a parent representative (named in the Acknowledgements) provided feedback during its preparation.
  • Acoustic metamaterials for sound absorption and insulation in buildings

    Arjunan, Arun; Baroutaji, Ahmad; Robinson, John; Vance, Aaron; Arafat, Abul (Elsevier, 2024-01-31)
    Despite the emergence of acoustic metamaterials with superior sound absorption and transmission loss, their adoption for building sound insulation has been limited. Sound insulation design in buildings is still informed by the acoustic performance of conventional materials, where the mass law contradicts light weighting when it comes to acoustic design. In any case buildings close to noisy environments such as motorways, railway lines and airports still suffer from significant low frequency noise pollution. Although the limited working bandwidth of acoustic metamaterials is a major issue limiting its application, combining meta-units that interact at various frequencies alongside multi-layer conventional solutions can deliver superior sound insulation in buildings. The review put forwards acoustic metamaterials, specifically emphasising superior sound absorption and transmission/insertion loss as critical properties for effective building sound insulation. The paper reveals a variety of acoustic metamaterials that can be adopted to compliment conventional sound insulation approaches for acoustically efficient building design. The performance of these metamaterials is then explained through their characteristic negative mass density, bulk modulus or repeating or locally resonating microstructure. The review is also extended to air transparent acoustic metamaterials that can be used for sound insulation of building ventilation. Lastly the prospects and challenges regarding the adoption of acoustic metamaterials in building insulation are also discussed. Overall, tuneable, and multifunctional acoustic metamaterials when thoughtfully integrated to building sound insulation can lead to significant acoustic comfort, space-saving and light-weighting.
  • In the lab with the Kardashians: how Kardashian-linked research finds its audience

    Taylor, Michael; Areia, Carlos; Jones, Meredith; Burton, Kath; Brien, Donna Lee (Routledge, 2024-06-28)
  • The role of smart cities in managing the COVID-19 outbreak in India

    Renukappa, Suresh; Suresh, Subashini; Shetty, Nisha; Gandhi, Lingaraju; Abdalla, Wala; Yabbati, Nagaraju; Hiremath, Rahul (Emerald, 2024-12-31)
    Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic has affected around 216 countries and territories worldwide and more than 2000 cities in India, alone. The smart cities mission (SCM) in India started in 2015 and 100 smart cities were selected to be initiated with a total project cost of INR 2031.72 billion. Smart city strategies play an important role in implementing the measures adopted by the government such as the issuance of social distancing regulations and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, there is no research reported on the role of smart cities strategies in managing the COVID-19 outbreak in developing countries. Design/methodology/approach This paper aims to address the research gap in smart cities, technology, and healthcare management through a review of the literature and primary data collected using semistructured interviews. Findings Each city is unique and has different challenges, the study revealed six key findings on how smart cities in India managed the COVID-19 outbreak. They used: Integrated Command and Control Centres, Artificial Intelligence and Innovative Application-based Solutions, Smart Waste Management Solutions, Smart Healthcare Management, Smart Data Management, and Smart Surveillance. Originality/value This paper contributes to informing policymakers of key lessons learnt from the management of COVID-19 in developing countries like India from a smart cities’ perspective. This paper draws on the 6 Cs for the implications directed to leaders and decision-makers to rethink and act on COVID-19. The 6 Cs are: Crisis management leadership; Credible communication; Collaboration; Creative governance; Capturing knowledge; and Capacity building.
  • Changes in secondary metabolite production in response to salt stress in Alcea rosea L.

    Sadeghi, Arezoo; Razmjoo, Jamshid; Karimmojeni, Hassan; Baldwin, Timothy; Mastinu, Andrea (MDPI, 2024-01-31)
    The effect of three levels of salinity on physio-biochemical traits in 10 Alcea rosea (hollyhock) varieties were evaluated. It was observed that salt stress increased both the total phenolic content (TPC) and total flavonoid content (TFC) in some varieties and decreased them in others. The greatest increases in both TPC and TFC were recorded in the Saman variety (104% and 62%, respectively) when cultivated under severe salt stress, indicating that this is the most salt-tolerant variety amongst those tested. The most abundant phenolic compound recorded was ellagic acid, and the phenolic compounds that showed the greatest increases in concentration due to salt stress were p-coumaric acid (87% in the Isfahan variety) and chlorogenic acid (142% in the Mahallat variety). Salt stress was also shown to decrease the production of diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) in all varieties. The highest concentration of DPPH (133%) was recorded in the Shiraz 1 variety, grown under conditions of severe salt stress. Salt stress also increased the mucilage content present in the petals, leaves, and seeds of some of the selected varieties. These data suggest that the selection of salt-tolerant varieties of hollyhock for direct cultivation or for use in future breeding programs is feasible.
  • The effect of dose, settling time, shelf life, storage temperature and extractant on Moringa oleifera Lam. protein coagulation efficiency

    Shah, Ahsan; Arjunan, Arun; Manning, Georgina; Zakharova, Julia; Andraulaki, Ioanna; Batool, Maryam (Elsevier, 2024-01-17)
    The study explores green chemistry to purify drinking water using Moringa oleifera (MO) Lam. seeds. This is done by investigating the coagulation efficiency of MO seed extracts for treating moderately turbid water. The research reveals the influence of various factors such as dose, settling time, shelf life, storage temperature, and extractant (water and 1 M NaCl solution) on the coagulation efficiency of MO Lam. protein. The MO seed protein extracts (MOPE) dissolved in tap water, and 1 M NaCl solution was characterised for their performance at ambient temperature and 4 ℃. Within 3 h of MOPE treatment, the turbidity reduced by 90–93 % without significantly altering pH and total dissolved solids (TDS) or electrical conductivity (EC) of the treated water samples. Although the dose rate was found to increase with the storage time, the optimum Moringa oleifera dose was 30–50 mg/l. Overall, the refrigerated MOPE in NaCl offered an extended shelf life, exhibiting good coagulation for up to 7 days compared to 3–4 days for the non-refrigerated variant.
  • Geometrically nonlinear coupled adjoint aerostructural optimization of natural-laminar-flow strut-braced wing

    Ma, Yiyuan; Abouhamzeh, Morteza; Elham, Ali (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2022-12-18)
    Novel aircraft concepts employing ultrahigh-aspect-ratio wings, such as the strut-braced wing (SBW) configuration, are promising ways to achieve the next-generation sustainable and fuel-efficient aviation goals. However, as the wing aspect ratio increases, the wing increasingly exhibits more flexibility, higher deformation, and geometrically nonlinear behavior that cannot be accurately simulated by conventional sizing methods and typical linear structural analysis models. This paper establishes a framework for SBW aircraft conceptual design, conceptual optimization, and aerostructural optimization. The presented aerostructural optimization method hasmedium-fidelity and physics-based features.Ageometrically nonlinear structural analysis solver and a quasi-three-dimensional aerodynamic solver are coupled for the aerostructural optimization of composite natural-laminar-flow SBW aircraft. A medium-range (MR)-SBWaircraft is initially designed and optimized in the conceptual design stage. A gradient-based aerostructural optimization is performed using the proposed tool for minimizing the fuel mass of the initially sized and optimized MR-SBW aircraft. The optimization results in a more than 10% reduction in fuel mass, a more than 8% reduction in aircraft maximum takeoff mass, and a more than 30% reduction in wing and strut structural weight by optimizing the wing box structure, the wing planform, and the airfoil shape while satisfying the constraints on structural failure, wing loading, and aileron effectiveness.
  • Prediction models for distortions and residual stresses in thermoset polymer laminates : An overview

    Abouhamzeh, Morteza; Sinke, Jos; Benedictus, Rinze; Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology (MDPI AG, 2019-10-11)
    This paper reviews predictive models developed for the development of residual stresses and shape distortions during the manufacturing of thermoset polymeric/composite materials. Different sources that produce residual stresses and shape changes in the laminated panels are described and reviewed. An overview is presented on the characterisation and predictions of the phenomena resulting in residual stresses. The focus will be on the models accounting for the parameters during the cure cycle of the thermoset composite materials published in the literature from 2005 until 2018. The material types covered here range from thermoset adhesives, full composites, and fibre metal laminates. Furthermore, selected works are reviewed on the reduction of the shape changes and residual stresses of composites and fibre metal laminates consisting of thermoset polymers.
  • Aerostructural optimization and comparative study of twin-fuselage and strut-braced-wing aircraft configurations

    Ma, Yiyuan; Abouhamzeh, Morteza; Elham, Ali; The University of Wolverhampton, Department of Engineering, Telford, U.K. (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2023-12-09)
    The ultrahigh-aspect-ratio wing (UHARW) concept is a promising configuration to achieve future sustainable aviation goals. Twin-fuselage (TF) and strut-braced-wing (SBW) configurations are characterized by smaller structural bending moments and shear forces in the wing and are promising concepts for realizing UHARW designs. This paper addresses the aerostructural optimization problem of TF and SBW configurations with UHARW by using a coupled adjoint aerostructural optimization tool, which is composed of a geometrically nonlinear structural solver and a quasi-three-dimensional natural laminar flow (NLF) aerodynamic solver. The optimization results show significant improvements in fuel efficiency and performance for the TF and SBW aircraft, with fuel mass reductions of 13 and 10%, respectively, compared to the corresponding baseline aircraft designed in the conceptual design phase. In comparison to the original reference aircraft A320neo, the optimized TF and SBW have 48 and 31% lower fuel weights, respectively. The NLF range of both upper and lower wing surfaces is expanded during optimization. The optimized SBW configuration has a wing aspect ratio of 26.01, while the optimized TF has a wing aspect ratio of 20.74, indicating that the SBW concept is more conducive to realizing UHARW design compared with the TF configuration studied in this work. The optimized TF aircraft has a lighter fuel weight and gross weight compared to the optimized SBW aircraft, which is because the TF aircraft has a lighter operational empty weight, including a lighter fuselage structural weight, landing gear weight, etc., whereas the top-level aircraft requirements are the same for both aircraft, including range, payload, and cruise Mach.
  • Viscoelastic modelling of fibre-reinforced thermoplastics in hygrothermal circumstances

    Abouhamzeh, Morteza; van Dijk, Yannick L.M.; Grätzl, Thomas (Springer Nature, 2022-09-12)
    Thermoplastics are favourable to the automotive industry due to their recycling possibility. Carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) are passed through the automotive paint shop. The imposed thermal loading presents a challenge to implementing economically feasible CFRTP in body structures. The present study provides a simulation approach to analyse the anisotropic viscoelastic deformation behaviour to assess this scenario. Validation experiments were conducted by optically measuring the out-of-plane displacement of dry and moisture-saturated specimens subjected to a simulated cathodic dip painting-dryer. Preliminary lay-up assessment for the automotive painting process is deemed possible due to the good agreement between simulation and experiments.
  • Navigating flood resilience: challenges, solutions, and lessons learnt from the Dominican Republic

    Reynoso Vanderhorst, Hamlet; Pathirage, Chaminda; Proverbs, David (MDPI, 2024-01-24)
    Recent unprecedented events worldwide, such as floods in Dubai, recurring heavy rainfall in Santo Domingo, and abrupt temperature changes in the United Kingdom (UK), underscore the tangible impacts of climate change. In response to escalating threats from natural disasters, global communities prioritise resilience and effective disaster management systems. This paper addresses best practices for managing abnormal floods, laying the foundation for the next generation of preparedness and mitigation plans. Focusing on flood risk in Santo Domingo, the study employs the Community Disaster Resilience Framework, conducting a workshop with over 100 stakeholders from government, private, and academic sectors. The assessment spans physical, economic, environmental, and social aspects, revealing common challenges in infrastructure upkeep, public awareness, urban planning, drainage, and economic disparities. The paper proposes technological solutions like predictive maintenance and smart drainage systems, emphasising the potential for implementation. Recognising the importance of community involvement and preparedness, insights from the United Kingdom guide initial steps in strategy development. The conclusions advocate for collaborative efforts among government, academia, and society to navigate the complexities of disaster management and community resilience, ultimately proposing a framework to address these challenges. Further research is suggested in expanding online platforms for disaster risk reduction education in the Caribbean region.
  • Genome-wide identification and expression analysis of the C2H2-zinc finger transcription factor gene family and screening of candidate genes involved in floral development in Coptis teeta Wall. (Ranunculaceae)

    Duan, Shao-Feng; Zhao, Yan; Yu, Ji-Chen; Xiang, Gui-Sheng; Xiao, Lin; Cui, Rui; Hu, Qian-Qian; Baldwin, Timothy; Lu, Ying-Chun; Liang, Yan-Li (Frontiers Media, 2024-01-22)
    Background: C2H2-zinc finger transcription factors comprise one of the largest and most diverse gene superfamilies and are involved in the transcriptional regulation of flowering. Although a large number of C2H2 zinc-finger proteins (C2H2-ZFPs) have been well characterized in a number of model plant species, little is known about their expression and function in Coptis teeta. C. teeta displays two floral phenotypes (herkogamy phenotypes). It has been proposed that the C2H2-zinc finger transcription factor family may play a crucial role in the formation of floral development and herkogamy observed in C. teeta. As such, we performed a genome-wide analysis of the C2H2-ZFP gene family in C. teeta. Results: The complexity and diversity of C. teeta C2H2 zinc finger proteins were established by evaluation of their physicochemical properties, phylogenetic relationships, exon-intron structure, and conserved motifs. Chromosome localization showed that 95 members of the C2H2 zinc-finger genes were unevenly distributed across the nine chromosomes of C. teeta, and that these genes were replicated in tandem and segmentally and had undergone purifying selection. Analysis of cis-acting regulatory elements revealed a possible involvement of C2H2 zinc-finger proteins in the regulation of phytohormones. Transcriptome data was then used to compare the expression levels of these genes during the growth and development of the two floral phenotypes (F-type and M-type). These data demonstrate that in groups A and B, the expression levels of 23 genes were higher in F-type flowers, while 15 genes showed higher expressions in M-type flowers. qRT-PCR analysis further revealed that the relative expression was highly consistent with the transcriptome data. Conclusion: These data provide a solid basis for further in-depth studies of the C2H2 zinc finger transcription factor gene family in this species and provide preliminary information on which to base further research into the role of the C2H2 ZFPs gene family in floral development in C. teeta.
  • Musicians in the marsh: a new species of music frog (Anura: Ranidae: Nidirana) from Arunachal Pradesh, India

    Boruah, Bitupan; Veerappan, Deepak; Das, Abhijit (Magnolia Press, 2023-11-15)
    We describe a new species of ranid frog of the genus Nidirana from northeast India based on morphological, molecular and acoustic evidence. The new species is phenotypically distinct from its congeners by a combination of morphological characters: body robust with SVL 46.5–59.1 mm (n= 3) in adult males and SVL 60.6–66.0 mm (n= 2) in adult females; a pair of subgular vocal sacs and two patches of nuptial pad on the first finger in adult males; toe tips slightly dilated and oval; circum-marginal grooves present on all toes; dorsal skin with scattered small tubercles. A pale cream-coloured mid-dorsal line from the snout tip to the vent is present. Phylogenetically, the new species differs from its congeners by a genetic divergence of 3.4–8.0% and 7.7–12.4% in 16S and COI genes respectively. Furthermore, the new species can be differentiated from its congeners by its advertisement call, which consists of two different types of notes, call duration (0.58–0.92 s) and dominant frequency of the call (473.7 Hz). The discovery of a new species validates the presence of the genus Nidirana from India and emphasizes the importance of exploring specialized habitats such as marshlands, which are often overlooked.
  • Enhancing the fire-resistance performance of composite laminates via multi-scale hybridisation: A review

    Dalfi, Hussein Kommur; Jan, Khayale; Al-Badri, Alaa; Peerzada, Mazhar; Yousaf, Zeshan; Parnell, William; Morrison, Neil; Bari, Klaudio (SAGE, 2024-01-09)
    Fibre-reinforced composites laminates (FRCLs) are employed in various applications such as in marine, aerospace, automotive, and civil industries due to their lightweight nature, design tailorability, and superior specific mechanical properties. However, they possess extremely low flame resistance mainly due to the inherent flammability of the polymer matrix. Various treatments have been applied to improve the fire resistance of FRCLs. In particular, hybridisation (fibre hybridisation and polymer hybridisation) is an important technique which is becoming very popular to enhance the thermal performance and flame resistance of FRCLs. This article is a comprehensive review of the recent developments that broadly cover the improvements in fire resistance of composite laminates via multi-scale hybridisation; the characteristics of thermal decomposition of FRCLs have been presented to comprehend the need for flame retardancy. Approaches for improving the fire resistance of FRCLs and thermal stability, both in polymer and in fibre systems, are discussed. Enhancing the fire resistance has been significant through additives to the matrix, use of flame-retardant modified fibres at interfacial regions and by way of multi-layered hybrid laminates besides hybridization at fibre, yarn and layer level. Finally, a review is presented on the modelling of fire resistance of composite laminates by considering thermo-mechanical models for the prediction of decomposition and failure of laminates at elevated temperatures.
  • Identity of the holotype and type locality of Rhabdophis leonardi (Wall, 1923) (Colubridae: Natricinae), with notes on the morphology and natural history of the species in southwestern China

    Yang, Shi-Jun; Savitzky, Alan H.; Gower, David J.; Veerappan, Deepak; Mori, Akira; Khot, Rahul; Shi, Jing-Song; Ding, Li; Hou, Mian; Xu, Hai-Yuan; et al. (Wiley, 2023-05-02)
    The original description of Natrix leonardi (currently Rhabdophis leonardi) by Frank Wall in 1923, based on a specimen from the “Upper Burma Hills,” lacked important morphological details that have complicated the assignment of recently collected material. Furthermore, although the holotype was never lost, its location has been misreported in one important taxonomic reference, leading to further confusion. We report the correct repository of the holotype (Natural History Museum, London), together with its current catalog number. We also describe key features of that specimen that were omitted from the original description, and provide new details on the morphology of the species, including sexual dichromatism unusual for the genus, based upon specimens from southern Sichuan, China. Rhabdophis leonardi is distinguished from its congeners by the following characters: 15 or 17 DSR at midbody and 6 supralabials; distinct annulus around the neck, broad and red in males, and narrow and orange with a black border in females; dorsal ground color light green or olive; some lateral and dorsal scales possessing black edges, the frequency of black edges gradually increasing from anterior to posterior, forming irregular and ill-defined transverse black bands; eye with prominent green iris; black ventral spots with a red edge, most numerous at midbody but extending halfway down the length of the tail. In southwestern China, this species is frequently found at 1730–2230 m elevation. It has been documented to prey upon anuran amphibians, including toads. A recently published phylogenetic analysis showed this species to be deeply nested with the genus Rhabdophis, as a member of the R. nuchalis Group. That analysis also revealed the existence of two closely related but geographically distinct subclades in the molecular analysis, one of which may represent an unnamed taxon.
  • Designing of drug delivery systems to improve the antimicrobial efficacy in the periodontal pocket based on biodegradable polyesters

    Zięba, Magdalena; Sikorska, Wanda; Musioł, Marta; Janeczek, Henryk; Włodarczyk, Jakub; Pastusiak, Małgorzata; Gupta, Abhishek; Radecka, Iza; Parati, Mattia; Tylko, Grzegorz; et al. (MDPI, 2023-12-29)
    Delivery systems for biologically active substances such as proanthocyanidins (PCANs), produced in the form of electrospun nonwoven through the electrospinning method, were designed using a polymeric blend of poly(L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA)and poly[(R,S)-3-hydroxybutyrate] ((R,S)-PHB). The studies involved the structural and thermal characteristics of the developed electrospun three-dimensional fibre matrices unloaded and loaded with PCANs. In the next step, the hydrolytic degradation tests of these systems were performed. The release profile of PCANs from the electrospun nonwoven was determined with the aid of UV–VIS spectroscopy. Approximately 30% of the PCANs were released from the tested electrospun nonwoven during the initial 15–20 days of incubation. The chemical structure of water-soluble oligomers that were formed after the hydrolytic degradation of the developed delivery system was identified through electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Oligomers of lactic acid and OLAGA oligocopolyester, as well as oligo-3-hydroxybutyrate terminated with hydroxyl and carboxyl end groups, were recognized as degradation products released into the water during the incubation time. It was also demonstrated that variations in the degradation rate of individual mat components influenced the degradation pattern and the number of formed oligomers. The obtained results suggest that the incorporation of proanthocyanidins into the system slowed down the hydrolytic degradation process of the poly(L-lactide-co-glycolide)/poly[(R,S)-3-hydroxybutyrate] three-dimensional fibre matrix. In addition, in vitro cytotoxicity and antimicrobial studies advocate the use of PCANs for biomedical applications with promising antimicrobial activity.
  • The enrichment of whey protein isolate hydrogels with poly-γ-glutamic acid promotes the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of preosteoblasts

    Baines, Daniel K.; Platania, Varvara; Tavernaraki, Nikoleta N.; Parati, Mattia; Wright, Karen; Radecka, Iza; Chatzinikolaidou, Maria; Douglas, Timothy E.L. (MDPI, 2023-12-23)
    Osseous disease accounts for over half of chronic pathologies, but there is a limited supply of autografts, the gold standard; hence, there is a demand for new synthetic biomaterials. Herein, we present the use of a promising, new dairy-derived biomaterial: whey protein isolate (WPI) in the form of hydrogels, modified with the addition of different concentrations of the biotechnologically produced protein-like polymeric substance poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) as a potential scaffold for tissue regeneration. Raman spectroscopic analysis demonstrated the successful creation of WPI-γ-PGA hydrogels. A cytotoxicity assessment using preosteoblastic cells demonstrated that the hydrogels were noncytotoxic and supported cell proliferation from day 3 to 14. All γ-PGA-containing scaffold compositions strongly promoted cell attachment and the formation of dense interconnected cell layers. Cell viability was significantly increased on γ-PGA-containing scaffolds on day 14 compared to WPI control scaffolds. Significantly, the cells showed markers of osteogenic differentiation; they synthesised increasing amounts of collagen over time, and cells showed significantly enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity at day 7 and higher levels of calcium for matrix mineralization at days 14 and 21 on the γ-PGA-containing scaffolds. These results demonstrated the potential of WPI-γ-PGA hydrogels as scaffolds for bone regeneration.
  • Enhancing the assessment and the feedback in higher education

    Gomis, Kasun; Saini, Mandeep; Arif, Mohammed; Pathirage, Chaminda (Emerald, 2023-12-18)
    Purpose Lack of appropriate student support and drawbacks in academic progression signify the importance of enhancing assessment and feedback in higher education (HE). Although assessment and feedback are significant in HE, minimal empirical research holistically explores the best practices. This study aims to address the niche and develop a decisive guideline for enhancing assessment setting and feedback provision within HE curricula. Design/methodology/approach A systematic approach was taken to obtain data for the study: a literature review underpinning the thematic content analysis of study documents, followed by semi-structured interviews. Document analysis contained mid-module reviews/student feedback; rubrics used in assessment; and formative/summative feedback provided for the graded work. Documental analysis informed the key attributes of the semi-structured interview. Interpretive structural modelling (ISM) analysis identified the influence and reliance of each driver. Findings This study revealed 15 drivers – 4 fundamental, 6 significant and 5 important – for enhancing assessment and feedback. The level partitioning from the ISM analysis established that all assessment and feedback needs to be underpinned by the university policy and fed into the assessment regime and marking scheme. This study identified that National Student Survey results were significantly improved due to implementing said drivers compared with the national and sector benchmarks. Practical implications The developed drivers enable the best practices in assessment setting and feedback provision. The level partition diagram can be used as a decisive guideline or a provisional framework in assessment and feedback provision for quality assurance in HE. Originality/value This study is one of, if not the only, to develop a guideline for signposting drivers and their influence and reliance to enhance assessment and feedback in a holistic HE setting. The developed drivers and the level partition diagram bring novelty and add to the current body of knowledge.
  • Best practice for safety management – case of major oil processing country in the Middle East

    Oduoza, Chike F.; Alamri, Reem; Oloke, David (Emerald, 2023-11-15)
    Purpose Deployment of health and safety standards in extremely hazardous work environments such as oil and gas sector, is essential to minimise accidents leaving employees permanently or temporarily incapacitated. The purpose of this research, is to understand why there are frequent accidents in case country's oil and gas sector, with a view to recommend solutions to mitigate problems. Design/methodology/approach Research methodology involved extensive review of the literature to appreciate background, and current research on typical accidents and safety measures taken at oil and gas construction sites to minimise accidents in a middle east country. Interviews, questionnaires and case stidies were deployed to acquire data which highlighted major reasons for accidents occurrence at oil and gas construction sites, and safety tools and techniques that could reduce accident rate if adopted by companies. Findings Findings, showed that oil and gas construction projects in case country were prone to health and safety related risks, challenges and accidents due to failure to comply with standards and legislation. Construction site teams and shop floor staff were rarely involved in development of safety policies, and some had no understanding of requirements and procedures underpinning safety during operations. Research recommended rapid application/adoption of international standards underpinned by ISO 45000 series and staff training at all levels. Deployment of robots and use of machine learning technology were suggested to implement risky tasks in the sector. Originality/value Research was based on rampant accidents occurring in hazardous oil and gas sector in country studied. Enforcement of health and safety standards, and use of modern tools and techniques were recommended to minimise accident rate.

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