Monday, 9 February 2015

Interdisciplinary Research ‘Sandpits’


As part of the Kent’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, the University is funding three interdisciplinary research ‘sandpits’.

Sandpits are residential interactive workshops that take place over three days. Having a period of time to work with others, to focus on broad issues, test ideas and assumptions and develop interesting solutions to difficult problems is a rare opportunity in today’s academy, and goes back to the founding interdisciplinary, collegiate principles of the University.

As well as building on its interdisciplinary past the sandpits will open up the University to its collaborative future. Two of the sandpits will be open to Eastern ARC colleagues from UEA and Essex; the other will invite colleagues working in independent labs and pharmaceutical companies across Kent and the south east.

The sandpits will be led by the same team that runs similar events for the Research Councils. As well as academic colleagues there will be guest speakers, stakeholders and others who will inform and provoke discussion. More information and a call for participants will be published shortly, but in the meantime the focus and dates of the three sandpits are given below. If you want more information get in touch with Phil Ward.

Who Wants to Live to be 100 if..?
6-8 May 2015
Devonport House, Greenwich
10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old, and this number is expected to rise to 19 million by 2050. Within this total, the number of people over 80 is growing even faster.  There are currently three million people aged more than 80 years and this is projected to almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050.  Many researchers agree that what we are seeing now is a celebration of extending healthy ageing, but with it comes a fear of frailty, dementia, and disability in later life. Do these fears ‘trump’ our wish to live long? What limits do we set on longevity, and how can we ensure that reaching 100 is not to be dreaded?

The Past of the 21st Century City
17-19 June 2015
Devonport House, Greenwich
The 21st century is set to be the age of the city. In preparing for the future, the long history of urbanisation is often overlooked. Spanning some 6000 years, this global development left us with a rich record of scenarios and outcomes of urban cultures, comprising an enormous variety of both impressive achievements and catastrophic failures. Seeing 21st century cities as the culmination of a long-term ongoing process, how can we learn from past trajectories of urban development? What roles could, and should, the past play in designing and innovating for future-proof cities? How can we inculcate and improve visions of future cities with knowledge of preceding scenarios? Or is the urban past truly ‘all ancient history’?

Living Pathways
Date and venue to be confirmed, but it will be held locally in late June.
Living things are complicated. Whether one considers individual molecules, cells, tissues or living beings, their complete structural and functional properties, and the pathways that link them and how they interact and regulate processes, are difficult to fully comprehend. Considering further, how these properties change with time and how they alter when things go wrong, the sheer volume and variety  of data required to describe a living entity grows enormously.
How can we best measure, describe and quantify these fundamental properties of life? How do we gather together the data obtained in a coherent, useful way? How can we then visualise and display these data in a way that fully engages both researchers and interested lay observers?

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