EPSRC : Jennifer Scoular : EP/L016826/1 A major hazard to engineering projects in London are geological features known as drift-filled hollows (DFHs). They are typically cone-shaped depressions in the bedrock filled with sand and gravel. DFHs can be up to 75 m deep and 90 to 475 m wide. They have been encountered on many small- and large-scale engineering projects in London, including the Thames Tideway Lee Tunnel, Crossrail, the Thames Water Ring Main and Battersea Power Station construction. These DFHs often contain water, therefore leading to water ingress whilst tunnelling as well as uneven settlement. The distribution of these features across London is poorly understood, due to their locations only being discovered during engineering projects. Engineers in London do not fully understand how these features formed. One hypothesis is that these features formed during historic glacial periods as pingos. Pingos are dome shaped mounds in cold regions characterised by permafrost. The dome shape is formed by an ice core, which is overlain with soil. The hypothesis is that, when these features melted in London, they were scoured out by rivers fed by glacial meltwater forming the DFHs we observe today. Regions where we can observe modern pingos is the Northwest Territories and Yukon territory of Canada. We propose both a fieldwork and remote sensing approach to test this hypothesis. Firstly, a direct inspection of pingo growth and characteristics of active pingos, followed by inspections of those that have collapsed. This will enable us to better understand if they could have formed in London in the past if the collapsed pingos in Canada share any characteristics with DFHs in London. Secondly, we will use remote sensing data including aerial photography, satellite imagery and digital elevation models, to make a digital map of the location of pingos in the Arctic. The locations may provide clues on factors that effect where they form, including water source for the ice and the type of soil they form under. From these observations, we aim to be able to conclude whether DFHs in London could have formed as pingos and if so, what factors affect their location to improve our knowledge of where to find them in London. With a major tunnelling project currently ongoing in London, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, also known as London's 'super-sewer', knowledge about the location of these hazardous features is of great importance.
The material turn has come late to law, though it has shaped works in anthropology, history, philosophy, and science and technology studies. It is concerned with the roles that non-human objects play in human actions and relationships. We employ the term 'legal materiality' to emphasise that legality is not a determined status, but that legal power varies depending on law's specific techniques of representation, media and institutional settings. Such a materialist approach asks how material elements in legal processes, such as images or software, influence the persuasiveness of evidence or classify certain individuals into target populations. Moreover, a new materialist approach towards law explores the multiple ways in which law acts on different matters across society. Law becomes material by exerting tangible and corporeal effects, such as on the bodies of women, the ill, prisoners or refugees. Such a legal materialist approach entails the view that a full picture of legality is not to be found in legal doctrines and their textual interpretation, but across different objects in society. This calls for supplementing existing approaches to law. For example, a legal materialist approach provides a more insightful analysis of the 2017 executive order issued by the American president that sought to temporarily suspend travel of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Whereas a doctrinal approach addresses the constitutional basis of the order and its interpretation by the judiciary, the lens of legal materiality places this text in the context of its material genesis, mediation and tangible effects: from the placing of words in the order, to the inscription of the president's signature on paper, to its digital dissemination through social media platforms, to biopolitical effects on targeted individual bodies and their ability to move across space. A legal materialist lens would expose the concrete genesis, media shifts, and the differential effects on targeted groups of population of the legal instrument in full. Understanding the meaning and effects of these steps requires critical analysis, drawing upon expertise from the humanities and interpretive social sciences, as well as a sensibility for the specific properties of legal matters: paper, social media platforms, border spaces, and human bodies. To facilitate such interdisciplinary analysis of law's social and cultural effects, we will create a new network of scholars working on legal materiality. The central aim of the network is to build a novel platform for exploring the relationships between legal processes and human and non-human entities. The network will bring people from different traditions in the arts and humanities (including law, history, literature, anthropology, media and science studies) who are working on aspects of law and new materialisms, together with artists and policy actors, to develop novel research approaches. The network will address a range of questions, such as: how do texts and interpretive practices relate to objects, bodies and spaces?; What are the implications of actor network theory and other new materialist approaches for legal scholarship? What are their limitations?; What resources can be drawn from the humanities, the interpretive social sciences and artistic communities to better understand the effects of new technological developments in law? Activities comprise four events, beginning with a cross-disciplinary event and culminating with an international conference. We will foster deliberative public engagement and exchange in the second public event that will bring into conversation academics, artists and activists who have worked on law's material forces, particularly digital surveillance and privacy. Through open exchange and dissemination, network participants will shape research agendas on law's effects within and beyond the academy. It will lay the groundwork for a new approach to law.
BBSRC : Regan Harle : BB/T008709/1 Drugs act by binding to a target protein. Determining the three-dimensional shape the complex between a drug and a protein is challenging, particularly when the protein spans the membrane separating the interior and exterior of a cell. Cryo-electron microscopy allows these structures to be measured experimentally, but often the resolution is too low to aid the development of new drugs. We will combine this technique with artificial intelligence protein structure determination and computer simulations to determine the structures of drug-bound structures with minimal direction by the user but with a level of resolution that had not been possible in the past. I will be trained in machine learning, molecular simulation, and artificial-intelligence protein structure prediction.
BBSRC : Rosie Clover : BB/M011208/1 The ability of some bacteria to counteract the effects of antibiotics (antibiotic resistance) has become an extensive global health issue. Understanding the effects of antibiotic resistance on bacterial growth in the absence of antibiotics is vital. Previous research has suggested that resistance reduces bacterial growth in the absence of antibiotics, leading to the widely accepted concept that suggest a reduction in antibiotic therapies will reduce the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria. However, the majority of this research has been conducted on laboratory organisms. To understand whether reducing antibiotic therapies is an effective strategy, these mechanisms need to be considered in clinical organisms. To address the current gap in research, we will study the effects of resistance to a commonly-prescribed class of antibiotics (fluoroquinolones) in clinical Escherichia coli. Use of fluoroquinolones differs between Canada and the UK. Canada tends to use fluoroquinolone as a common treatment for urinary tract infections, whereas the UK preferentially opts for other antibiotic classes. Yet the rates of fluoroquinolone resistance are similar, making it unclear whether the fluoroquinolone prescribing influences the rate of resistance. In common laboratory organisms, fluoroquinolone resistance is associated with extensively reduced bacterial growth. However, differences in the effects of resistance on growth between laboratory organisms and clinical organisms may explain why resistance rates in clinical organisms are similar despite different rates of prescription. If fluoroquinolone resistance does not reduce the growth of clinical organisms in the absence of antibiotics, this could help to explain why rates of resistance in Canada and the UK are similar despite their different prescribing practises.
EPSRC : Simon May : EP/R513258/1 This Globalink Research Placement should take place at Carleton University in the Autumn of 2020. It will allow the applicant Simon May to spend 12 weeks at the host university and complement the theoretical work in his Ph.D. thesis with explicit computations of matrix factorizations for discriminants of pseudo-reflection groups. It will also allow the applicant to take part in courses and research seminars at the host University in order to establish collaborations with the host supervisor and his group as well as to grow his professional network. The background for this work is the McKay correspondence, that relates three areas in pure mathematics: algebraic geometry, commuative algebra and representation theory of finite groups. Very recently, a McKay correspondence for reflection groups has been established, that relates irreducible representations of finite groups generated by reflections to certain modules over the coordinate rings of the discriminants of these reflection groups. These modules are maximal Cohen-Macaulay modules and can be described by so-called matrix factorizations. The goal of this project is to explicitly compute (in Macaulay2) matrix factorizations for discriminants of pseudo-reflection groups and so obtain insights that can lead to a better understanding of these objects.