If you missed any of our Wrexham Talks Research lectures, you can catch up here.
Artists engaging the public on environmental and societal issues and why it matters
In January, Professor Alec Shepley delivered the first public lecture of 2024 with a talk on artists engaging the public on environmental and societal issues and why it matters.
Alec kicked off the lecture with an overview of himself as an artist and some of the many global projects he been part of, including Pilot Hole, x-church, Tea Lights, Neon House and the Street Sweeping Residency. Alec also provided an insight into some of the varied reading he has undertaken over the years.
The audience was then introduced to the concept of Art+, Wrexham School of Art’s strategic partnering initiative. Initially set up in 2016 to promote collaborative artistic research with a range of selected partner organisations, with sustainability and preferable futures becoming a strong theme as things progressed. Alec also discussed several research areas that PhDs had been undertaken within the Art School.
Alec talked through the Future Wales Fellowships, highlighting a few of the fellows that he is currently writing a paper on.
The local contemporary art gallery Tŷ Pawb and some of the new initiatives that they are rolling out, formed part of the discussion. Projects include the conversion of a car park into a roof garden (Maes Parcio Creadigol) and the dedication of a gallery space to Arte Útil (useful art).
Alec closed the lecture by touching on current funded projects, which include Ecological Citizens and Public Map Platform and the specific role Wrexham has in the projects. Ecological Citizens is a network plus project to develop a model(s) for a sustainable digital society by looking at ways of empowering citizens. The Public Map Platform project will develop a digital map of Anglesey which reveals data layers on climate, environment, society and culture.
A huge thank you to Alec for a very insightful public lecture. If you have any queries or possible research areas, please do contact Alec Shepley.
Aircraft electrical propulsion with the FAST Fan
On 6 December 2023, Dr Rob Bolam wowed the audience at the second Wrexham Talks Research public lecture. The lecture was titled "Aircraft Electrical Propulsion: Humanity’s Journey towards Net-Zero” and it was delivered with enthusiasm and passion.
Rob and Research Assistant / PhD Student, Jhon Paul Roque have worked together and collaborated with industry to create the world’s first rim-driven fan. The term ‘rim-driven fan’ originated from this research team at Wrexham University and has subsequently been adopted in research projects across the world, reflecting the unique research contributions of our Engineering department.
Rob brought along a variety of models and props to showcase the fan’s engineering and he also played a video clip of the fan in action. The audience was taken on a journey from the very first electrical aircraft flight up to the present day and inception of the FAST Fan. This wonderful feat of engineering is sure to make a massive difference to the world of aeronautical engineering.
If you missed it, you can watch the lecture here; if you have any questions or comments for Rob, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robot pet companions for people with dementia: connecting with 'Companotics' today and in the future
In October Dr Joanne Pike launched the 2023/24 Public Lecture series, with a lecture on robot cats and the influence they can have on people’s wellbeing.
Joanne started with the concept of therapy pets and how various animals are used in various ways to support humans. Attention was drawn to the fact that the wellbeing of both the human and the animal comes into play throughout these interactions and that some people experiencing health concerns may not be in a position to meet the needs of the animal.
Joanne then introduced us to companion devices through the years, from the simple traditional teddy bear to electronic pets such as Tamagotchi™ to the more complex futuristic robot companions.
The acquisition of the robot cats was explained, and Joanne then shared the very personal inspiration behind the research which set out to find out what it was like for people on a journey with dementia to have robot cats in their homes.
An overview of the participants was shared, and the audience was then introduced to Jean and her time with the robotic cat. Without the need for a spoiler alert, we can say that the cat definitely gave Jean a reason to get up in the morning, which was so heartwarming.
Joanne closed by talking through the benefits identified for those with dementia using robotic cats and detailing what she would like to do next with the research. Audience members posed some interesting comments/ questions at the end of the lecture, with one member commenting that is one of the few lectures that they had attended that had been delivered with love.
Thank you, Joanne, for launching the series in style.
2022/23 Past Lectures
Cardiac Rehab: Is a Little Encouragement Enough?
Dr Chelsea Batty
At the beginning of May, Dr Chelsea Batty, Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Physiology presented a fantastically accessible lecture on cardiac rehabilitation. Chelsea began by outlining what cardiac rehabilitation entails, as well as talking about the current guidelines and standards for best practice. Chelsea then led us on an interesting research journey, indicating the worrying lack of evidence and fidelity for most studies, i.e., research finds that most cardiac rehab teams cannot prescribe the correct dose of exercise for patients, and patients are not exercising for the correct duration or at the recommended intensity.
Chelsea spoke of some personal research where they had attempted to further the research evidence, but again, found that the cardiac rehab patients did not have clinically significant improvements in their fitness. The researchers monitored the patients and provided verbal encouragement for half of the fitness sessions, but were not aware of how the other half of the sessions went and therefore could not be sure that the patients were exercising correctly.
The audience posed some intriguing questions about fitness and exercise after the lecture, and a key take home message was that everyone should be exercising more and at the correct intensity for clinically meaningful fitness improvements.
Thank you Chelsea for an enlightening lecture! If you have any questions, you can contact Chelsea at Chelsea.email@example.com.
Victorian Workers' Housing: The Development of the Bye-Law Terraced House
At the end of March, Dr Gareth Carr, Senior Lecturer in Built Environment, presented on Victorian workers’ terraced housing. PVC for Research, Professor Richard Day, opened the lecture by outlining Gareth’s passion for research and the importance of what may seem like an unfamiliar subject matter.
Gareth started the lecture with a fascinating overview of Victorian courts and how these were created to house the poorest of the population who subsequently became ill from the cramped and often diseased conditions, leading to high mortality amongst the working poor. This led onto the introduction of gradual bye-laws, setting slightly improved standards for house builders to follow that would improve the lighting and ventilation for renters.
Gareth continued to talk about some of the well-known architects and house builders, namely, Richard Owens, who apparently built half of Liverpool! The Welsh had a vital hand in creating the terraced streets in Liverpool today, as well as lots of other public buildings such as chapels, schools, and community centres.
The audience were shown some of the somewhat questionable names of house builders of that century (think Honest Tom and Bob the Liar!), alongside some creative licensing of street naming (after their children). Gareth brought the attention back to Wrexham and ended the lecture with a photo of an Easter egg find - an old door to a Victorian court here in Wrexham. Please do get in touch with Gareth if you have any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surfing the Waves of Compassionate Accountability within Youth Justice Service
At the beginning of March, Dr Tegan Brierley-Sollis, Lecturer in Policing and Trauma-Informed Approaches gave a well-attended lecture on trauma-informed culture within organisations. Professor Claire Taylor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, opened the lecture with high praise for Tegan and her dedication to transforming spaces to becoming trauma-informed.
Tegan began the lecture by describing her own story, which led into an exploration of the key terms surrounding trauma and therapeutic relationships. It was said that service providers often establish therapeutic relationships with the justice-involved youth in their care by providing the core conditions necessary, such as positive regard, openness, and empathy.
Tegan then talked about some of the findings of their research study, and shared some quotes from the young people who were interviewed. It was apparent that by showing the core conditions during the interview, the young people felt able to share some of their trauma stories.
Using the metaphor of an organisation being a living, breathing organism, Tegan outlined vicarious and organisational trauma, which could happen if the right culture was not embedded within organisations that work with traumatised individuals and stories.
The lecture ended to much applause and many questions, the most pertinent being: what shall we do next? To which Tegan answered, ‘don’t be afraid to try new things… and always be kind’. If you never had a chance to ask your question, please contact Tegan at Tegan.email@example.com
Climate Change, Russian Gas, and Energy Bills: A Perfect Storm
David Sprake, Senior Lecturer in Renewable and Sustainable Engineering gave a talk in January about UK energy and climate change. You could hear a pin drop in the lecture theatre as David outlined some startling facts about how electricity bills are generated and how much carbon dioxide other countries are producing.
David began the lecture by outlining climate change and how it came about, focusing on carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. He then showed us how carbon dioxide is rising, notably since the inception of industry. Next, David presented to the audience the different types of energy generation and the pros and cons of each one, leaning heavily in favour of renewable energy resources and describing the initial cost of implementation. This led into a mention of COP meetings, where world leaders gather to address the challenge of Climate Change, with more stark visual evidence that not a lot seems to have changed since the first meeting in 1995.
There was lively discussion after the lecture with many great questions posed to a well-prepared David! But if you never had chance to ask your question, or you want to find out more, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it too much to ask? Engineering creates the infrastructure that enables a civilization: How should engineering rise to the challenges of Climate Change to preserve our continued existence?
Professor Alison McMillan, Professor of Aerospace Technology, gave a talk on December 1st about Transition Engineering, and how we are all responsible for thinking of ways to tackle climate change.
Alison opened by setting the context, discussing how each of us and our varied differences should work together to solve these big problems in society. She then outlined the issues with the way that the aerospace industry and those in positions of power market and communicate potential solutions to the carbon dioxide and climate change problems.
The concept of Transition Engineering is introduced, that is, designing changes in lifestyles and the way we use machines, with examples of transitioning from one type of public transport to another whilst infrastructural changes are made on a large scale. Alison ends with a fascinating appendix on the potential issues with adopting hydrogen as a main fuel source, exemplifying the need for us to go back to the drawing board and work together to find viable long-term solutions.
If you have any questions on the lecture, email Alison at email@example.com
Can academia add value to SME and large businesses? The role of the modern University in supporting businesses with advanced Photonics technology solutions.
Professor Caroline Gray.
Professor Caroline Gray OBE, Professor of Enterprise, Engagement, and Knowledge Transfer gave a fascinating lecture in October about how universities can help the photonics industry to develop and achieve their goals.
Caroline outlined the positive impacts of the Centre for Photonics Expertise (CPE) research group partnership, which was a collaboration between four Welsh universities. Caroline also gave some case study examples of how the CPE has helped businesses to innovate, such as counting tiles for Welsh Slate, inscribing QR codes on Diamonds for Diamond Centre Wales, and UV sterilisation techniques for Space Republic.
If you’re in the photonics and optics industry and need help to innovate or turn your ideas into viable capability or products, contact Caroline at The Optic Centre to discuss your needs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021/22 Past Lectures
'Rose West on the stand: judgements of credibility in criminal trials' with Dr Caroline Gorden
"This lecture will make you think about guilt and innocence in a different way and you may find yourself wondering if perhaps the truth is not what is, but what is agreed on."
'The price of a pint? Can Welsh alcohol policy do good?' with Dr Wulf Livingston.
"Much the same way that Scottish Government wanted to demonstrate their own impact in the world with minimum unit pricing, you can see that the Welsh Government is asserting in its own well-being agenda through minimum unit pricing."