Monthly news bulletin issue 7/2015

Prof. Richard CleggWelcome once again to our next edition of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation newsletter. It’s an important mechanism to keep our research community and other stakeholders informed of what we’re planning and doing. So, I hope you find it useful and informative. As always, please contact us directly or follow up the stories on our website if there’s anything you’d like to know more about. In this edition we’ve got a real cross section of news covering nearly every area of our strategy. We’re able to announce some major research grants in the areas of nanotechnology and big data, which have been a long time in their formulation. About 80% of the Foundation’s grants are via directive calls for proposals which are based on the Foresight reviews we sponsor and publish. To date we have completed two of these, in the areas of nanotechnology and big data, which have culminated in the grants. Others are in the pipeline in the areas of resilience engineering, and structural integrity.

Good reading
Richard Clegg

Project on the future of LR’s archive gets an official name

Lloyd’s Register holds an extensive archive of documents related to its history stretching back centuries. Excitingly, the Information Centre has recently embarked upon a new project to generate a vision for this great resource and how it can be protected and utilised  for future generations. This new project has been aptly named 'Project Undaunted'. The output will be a long term vision and plan covering the storage, conservation and digitisation of the archive. ‘Undaunted’ was chosen as the project’s name because it is the name of the ship for which we have the earliest records of classification in London. 

Undaunted planFeeding into Project Undaunted will be the pilot digitisation project that the Information Centre has been running for about the past year with funding from the Foundation. This is looking at how  some of the unique, precious material that is held in the archive can be made available online for the use of the general public. The archive collection dates from 1834 onwards and consists of survey reports, ship plans and correspondence. The pilot project is focusing on a subset of 'first and famous' ships, which includes noteworthy ships from the 19th century onwards. Building on the pilot project, the Information Centre has already started the somewhat herculean task of estimating the numbers and sizes of the various 800,000 documents held in the archive, to help quantify Project Undaunted. 

To learn from other great libraries and heritage collections around the world, the Information Centre is planning a conference on the future of digitisation in archives, with speakers accepting invitations to present to members of the heritage digitisation community and discuss current trends and future possibilities. The effort to engage potential end users, such as those at the conference, in the project planning and discovery of the collection is ongoing and the response from social media, surveys and blogging channels continues to be encouraging. 

To keep updated about Lloyd’s Register’s digitisation project, follow: @LR_InfoCentre, visit our blog: lrdigitisation.wordpress.com, or visit our webpage: Lloyd's Register's Digitisation Project

Excellent conversation

The Foundation has awarded a grant to The Conversation, a news and analysis website where every article is a collaboration between an academic expert and a journalist. The Conversation seeks to unlock the vast pool of research contained within academic communities and explain to the general public the big issues facing society. The site publishes articles from 20,000 academic authors from 1,000 universities worldwide, including every university in the UK. Readership is over 11 million and over 80% content is re-distributed through the world’s leading reputable publishers through a Creative Commons licence.

This grant enables us to meet our charitable objective of enhancing public understanding of risk. Our grant of £180,000 will support a dedicated editor over three years, and work on specific projects relevant to the Foundation. It will provide training for our researchers to write for public audiences, virtually and through workshops, and create new opportunities for engagement with the public. Collaboration ensures that facts are reliable and accurate, and articles evidence-based, insightful and helpful.

We are excited about this new partnership to disseminate the research we fund to different audiences, stimulate debate and, through independent, authoritative voices, to equip the public to make informed decisions about safety, science and society.

Comments invited: structural integrity and systems performance, and resilience engineering

The Foundation is working on two new foresight reviews to help guide our future funding and we would welcome your input on these documents.  The deadline for comments is 14 August 2015.  

Prof. Michael Bruno, Dean, Schaefer School of Engineering and Science at the Stevens Institute of Technology, has led the review of resilience engineering. To find out more about this review and how to take part in the consultation see our website here.

The review on structural integrity and systems performance is being led by Prof. Michael Fitzpatrick, Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing  and the LRF Chair in Materials Fabrication and Engineering at Coventry University. You can find out more on our website together with links to the draft report and consultation response form here

Our Foresight reviews support our strategy on excellent scientific research and the acceleration of the application of research. Following these consultations we will publish Foresight reviews of resilience engineering and structural integrity and systems performance which will inform our grant giving in these areas.

Foundation establishes grants in nanotechnologies

Following the publication of the Foresight review in nanotechnology: the next industrial revolution, the Foundation has awarded grants to three international consortia. 

Designer nanomaterials assembled from individual atomic planes:   

This work aims to create prototype nanomaterials with designed functional properties through the assembly of atomic planes from a variety of bulk crystals. Such materials could have a broad range of safety applications across many industries including flexible optoelectronics, energy harvesting, gas separation and water desalination. The Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim from the University of Manchester is leading the consortium that includes the UK National Graphene Institute, Harvard University, National University of Singapore, ETH Zurich and the Japanese National Institute for Materials Science.

Nanotechnology in sub sea power infrastructure:   

Exploring the potential of copper/carbon nanotube metal matrix composites in the fabrication of electrically conductive materials with enhanced properties for use in subsea power transmission applications. Professor Sir Mark Welland from the University of Cambridge is leading the consortium that includes the National University of Singapore, Texas A&M University, The Institute of Occupational Medicine and Kaneka Holdings. 

International doctoral consortium in nanotechnology: 

This consortium will build an international cohort of doctoral students to build capability and knowledge in the application of nanotechnologies to support safety of life and property, addressing the areas highlighted in the Foresight review of nanotechnology. It will bring together international experts and industrial stakeholders and build on shared capability held in physical infrastructures such as labs, test facilities and specialist equipment. Dr. Themis Prodromakis from the University of Southampton will lead the consortium which will be built through a series of open calls over five years. If you would like to join the mailing list for these calls please email Themis

Nano grants

Left to right: Dr. Themis Prodromakis, Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Mark Welland, the consortium leaders, presented their proposals at a seminar in the Foundation’s London office in February 2015.

Grant to Alan Turing Institute confirmed

Earlier in July the Foundation’s Board of Trustees confirmed its decision to offer a £10 million research grant to the Alan Turing Institute for a programme on data-centric engineering.   This follows the publication of the Foundation’s Foresight review of big data and a conditional grant offer made in December 2014, see here for further information. We will be able to say more about this award and the important work the Foundation is doing in the sphere of data-centric engineering in our next newsletter.

Seafarer’s mental health

Neil Ellis from the LRF-funded centre at Cardiff University doing leading-edge research into the welfare of seafarers, gave an invited talk in China at the prestigious China Maritime Forum, Seafarer’s mental health: A review of the effect of accommodation design on mental health and well-being of seafarers on cargo vessels. The synopsis of his talk is as follows.

Despite an acknowledgement within the maritime industry that mental health problems are increasing, obtaining accurate figures on levels of mental health problems is difficult. Even when data is available there are often many questions about the accuracy of such. There is however much research onshore about the factors within the built environment that are associated with poor mental health. The China Maritime Forum presentation examined factors of the built environment on board ships that are of potential concern for the mental health of seafarers, and looks at the findings of a survey of accommodation on-board ships conducted by the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) in relation to these factors. One obvious factor is noise. Research ashore suggests that even at moderate levels noise can cause serious psychological and bodily effects. The findings of the survey were concerning as nearly two thirds of seafarers indicated that they were disturbed by noise in their cabin. Research also suggests that levels of light may significantly impact on mood and well-being. The survey results found just over half (52%) of seafarers were unable to control light levels in their cabins. A view of nature may have a positive effect on health and well-being, however 27% of seafarers indicated that the view from their window was partially blocked or restricted. Physical separation of the vessel from those ashore may also have consequences for seafarers’ mental health. Social support has been shown to have a positive effect on health and well-being, but the majority of such is provided by family and friends. When seafarers were asked about communication facilities on board these were often found to be lacking. For example, 61% of seafarers indicated they had no internet access. Thus, in conclusion the findings from the SIRC survey seem to suggest that seafarers are often unhappy with many of the features on-board ship that may have negative implications for mental health.