Scientific question: Can quantum effects in three-spin systems be used to vastly amplify the sensitivity of radical reactions to weak magnetic fields? Synopsis: Radical pair reactions are sensitive to weak magnetic fields. Remarkably, this is the result of truly quantum effects, which operate under conditions where the corresponding classical effects would be entirely negligible. This phenomenon likely underlies animal magnetoreception and has been discussed in the context of potentially adverse health effects related to weak magnetic field exposure. Often these effects are small, particularly for the magnetic field intensities encountered in our everyday surroundings. Understanding how these effects can be inherently amplified is the most pressing puzzle of quantum biology. Hypotheses: Recently, one of us has proposed an additional reaction pathway as part of the avian magnetic compass that acts to vastly amplify magnetic field effects (MFEs). This new mechanism relies on the spin-selective reaction of the usual radical pair with another, external, radical, which we refer to as a scavenger. As a consequence of the chemical Zeno effect, this process could provide unparalleled magneto-sensitivity. This project aims to afford the first experimental evidence of this amplification process. To this end, we will adapt a transient absorption spectrometer in Geneva to accommodate magnetic field-dependent measurements. This will allow us to detect directly the predicted peculiarities of MFEs in self-assembled three-radical systems. While we will only be able to realize a proof-of-principle realisation within this project, our efforts will allow us to collect pilot data for larger grant applications.
This project aims to develop research and postgraduate teaching collaboration between staff in the Exeter Climate Systems (XCS) research centre (led by Prof. Stephenson) and the The Climate Change Impacts and Risks in the Anthropocene (C-CIA) team at U. of Geneva (led by Prof. Stoffel). The two climate centres are world-renowned for their work on climate hazards and extreme events, which are addressed using different disciplinary skill sets: mathematical modelling of weather and climate at XCS and climate change impact assessments at C-CIA. There is therefore much synergy to be gained by closer interdisciplinary collaboration between the two centres.The benefit of such collaboration was clearly evident in the very high impact publications created when Profs. Stephenson and Beniston last collaborated in EU projects PRUDENCE and ENSEMBLES from 2002-7 (in which Prof. Stoffel was a senior researcher back in time). Several ongoing projects at C-CIA have already been identified which could benefit from mathematical involvement from XCS: atmospheric rivers (and impacts over the Iberian Peninsula), polar vortex splitting and flooding over Europe, extreme rainfall events over Pakistan and Indian Kashmir in 2010/4, plus some more local, radar-based assessments of heavy precipitation and hail events in the Bernese Alps, reconstructions of volcanic cooling over the CE, in addition to climate change impacts in the Alps.
The Geneva-Exeter Renaissance Exchange (GEREx) will provide a forum for collaboration between the two universities in an area of mutual strength: the literature and culture of early modern England. More specifically, it will build on shared specialisms in early modern drama, the digital humanities, and book history. At the heart of the exchange will be a pair of events held six months apart. In November 2018, a delegation from Geneva will travel to Exeter to share both their current research and ideas for future projects under the umbrella of the Centre of Early Modern Studies, who will organise a symposium. In May 2019, the same will happen in reverse. Each delegation will include both junior and senior scholars, from doctoral students to full professors, and will deliver its message in a variety of forms—from short academic papers to lectures and workshops. The aim of the exchange will be to lay the groundwork for more sustained collaboration in the future, in teaching as well as research, and in print as well as in person. The first tangible outcome of this collaboration will be a joint proposal for a panel or seminar at a major international conference, with the topic to be agreed at the first symposium in November. The second symposium, in May 2019, will focus on exploring possible sources of funding for joint future projects.
Our understanding of human gait (the manner of walking and running) has been predominantly developed through biomechanical analyses using linear mathematics. However, both experimental and robotics fields have identified that an epistemological shift towards understanding the nonlinear dynamics inherent to our biological system is mathematically, theoretically and practically more fruitful. Specifically, nonlinear dynamics methods are used to explore and understand pattern stability, transitions between states, and deterministic and stochastic processes at different spatio-temporal scales during gait. It is likely that alterations in these nonlinear characteristic of biology are particularly pertinent in pathological movement, and provide more relevant indicators of health than classic mechanical measures. Therefore, in understanding human movement disorders and improving the management of these disorders, a nonlinear approach is key. The aim of this study is to quantify characteristics of the determinsitc properties of oscillations during walking in pathological states, in order to inform translational research. The purpose is to further understanding of the nonlinear characteristics of gait for pathological populations in order to underpin theoretically underpinned diagnoses and interventions. This project is a collaboration Dr Genevieve Williams (UoE), a biomechanist with an specialism in non-linear dynamics, Dr Stephane Armand (UNIGE), a clinical human movement scientist, and Dr Richard Pulsford (UoE) who has a specialism in physical activity monitoring. The team will bring together expertise in nonlinear dynamics analysis, clinical gait, and physical activity monitoring to progress clinical gait analysis and develop world leading translational research in this field.