Faculty Christmas Conference centres on research impact

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The Faculty of Science and Technology held their annual Christmas Conference in the Management School on Tuesday 15th December.
As well as presentations from each of the faculty’s eight departments two external speakers addressed the conference and a poster competition for postgraduate students and contract researchers was held.

The theme this year was research impact, currently a subject of much debate amongst scientists. In keeping with the theme each departmental presentation included a description of the impact the speaker’s work had.

The poster competition, judged by departmental and external speakers, gave an opportunity for postgraduates and early-career researchers to present their own work. Over 100 posters were submitted with 55 being selected for presentation at the conference. First prizes of £200 were awarded in both categories with a runner up prize of £100 for postgraduate students.

Katie Turnbull of the Department of Communication Systems and Jamie Adams from Engineering won first and runner up prizes respectively in the postgraduate category and Ruth Miles of Psychology was the contract researcher winner.

During the afternoon the external speakers, Lesley Thompson, Director of the Research Base at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Paul Hubbard, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England), presented their organisations’ views on research impact.

A Government plan to significantly reduce funding for research considered worthless was criticised by scientists last October. Over 200 academics signed a statement opposing plans for funding to become conditional on ‘perceived economic and social benefits’ on the grounds that many scientific discoveries came out of research that would not have been possible under such criteria.

The EPSRC, however, feel that as research is ultimately funded through taxes it is important the public understand its value. They have recently introduced impact plans that all researchers must fill out when applying for funding bids in order to demonstrate the value of their work.

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