February 11, 2011

Warwick week – Weight loss, postgraduate collaboration, hybrid vehicles and flu pandemics

Why men lose weight quicker than women

When you're about to start dieting, it may seem like good sense to work together with the person you live with. However, this may only cause more trouble, as men appear to lose weight much faster than women. Huge differences in hormones, body shape and fat percentage all make it harder for women to lose weight.

Dr Philip McTernan is associate professor in diabetes and metabolism at the University of Warwick:

The male hormone testosterone and the female hormone oestrogen shape our fat distribution at puberty and continue to during our lifetime. Women tend towards a pear shape, with fat around the hips, while men store fat more centrally around their belly from where excess weight is more easily lost. On top of that, ­oestrogen encourages fat storage, while men have more muscle mass so higher metabolisms which burn ­calories quicker. Women also have a higher proportion of fat compared to men — around 20-30 per cent against just 9­-18 per cent - which their body will strive to preserve. This difference can be understood in evolutionary terms. Men were hunter-­gatherers while women reproduced. For reproduction, there needed to be sufficient fat reserves for any unborn child in the womb to survive the harsh life prehistoric women endured, with periods of little food. Times have changed but our genes have not.

Read more in the Daily Mail >>

Collaboration in English Language Training

As postgraduate students, it is often easy to miss that some of the best knowledge and experience in your area of study can come from the people you pass in your department everyday. PhD students can offer specialist knowledge and skills to MA colleagues, but Dr Richard Smith, Centre for Applied Linguistics, argues that tutors need to actively encourage this 'cross-fertilisation. Dr Smith co-authored a directory of ELT research undertaken at UK institutions published in 2009 by the British Council and is now finalising an updated version, which is due to be released in April:

The involvement of PhD students is going to help them with that transition into becoming researchers. MA students might be participants as interviewees in a PhD student's research. That often happens at a pilot or preliminary research stage, to improve the researcher's interviewing skills before they go into the field. Sometimes MA students are from the country that the researcher is targeting and they can help with translation or with recording interviews. This kind of involvement gives MA students a better understanding of what research is all about. Because the postgraduate community at UK universities is very international, MA students can encounter PhD students who are from their countries and this can create an additional bond. PhD students are often bringing back to departments knowledge that we - the staff who are British - don't have. That current contact with ELT around the world, that we as course teachers may not have, brings in an added dimension of knowledge and experience.

Read more in The Guardian >>

WMG has opened a new facility to develop engines for hybrid vehicles

A unique £2.28m facility has opened at WMG that will be of vital importance to companies developing engines for hybrid vehicles. The unique Vehicle Engine Facility (VEF) is the UK’s only purpose built hybrid powertrain testing facility for the automotive sector that is not owned and operated by an individual automotive company. The VEF facility will give businesses access to the state-of-the-art equipment and research support. The new facility will use two dynamometers with the advanced “Texcel ” control system plus a Robot Driver to allow the testing of various hybrid powertrain designs. The two dynamometers are installed in parallel and can test electric motor,s gasoline, diesel, ethanol and Bio-fuels based internal combustion engines. The VEF will test transmission and powertrain systems, whilst simulating the powertrain components that are not available for test. These tests provide strategies for evaluating the optimisation of the  vehicle’s powertrain and how it will operate in the real world. 

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Director of WMG at the University of Warwick said:

We are delighted to be able to bring the Midlands a facility that will enable the British based manufacturing companies to engage in low carbon engineering, which will be vital in helping manufacturing companies improve products and compete on the world stage in low carbon technologies.

Dr Ralf Speth, CEO Jaguar Land Rover added:

This new facility further strengthens WMG's applied research credentials and we look forward to benefitting from the work undertaken there, especially in the incredibly complex area of significantly reducing vehicle emissions. There is also real potential for further advances in knowledge coming from supplier involvement which in turn generates additional research and results.

Read More in the Birmingham Post >>

Schools should see wide-spread closures during flu outbreaks

Researchers at the University of Warwick have found that closing just a few schools to contain flu outbreaks does little to relieve the pressure on hospitals. Using information from the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic and the recent seasonal flu outbreak, the researchers found that intensive care units would not see any major benefit unless at least half of all English schools closed their doors. But they say although this would be very effective at stopping the spread it would also be costly, disruptive and could even prevent some parents, who work for the NHS, from fighting an epidemic effectively.

Dr Thomas House, Research Fellow at the Warwick Mathematics Institute, said:

In the worst cases short duration, localised closures cannot fully prevent some hospitals exceeding capacity.This means when facing the threat of a severe pandemic a co-ordinated and possibly extended period of school closures may be necessary. Our work supports the decision not to close schools as a control measure during the swine flu pandemic. If a pandemic is serious enough to require school closures, then they need to be well timed and large scale to have much effect.

Read More in the Coventry Telegraph >>


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