Institute of Advanced Studies University of Surrey

University of Surrey

Institute of Advanced Studies


Past events 2005-2007

Modelling Urban Dynamics

6-7 April 2005

Nigel Gilbert, University of Surrey
Elizabeth Bruch, UCLA

Understanding the way that cities develop is of major importance worldwide, and of great interest to geographers, sociologists, economics and political scientists, as well as to policy makers. However, conventional methods of understanding urban development have not been very successful in dealing with the complexities of urban social dynamics. Recently, new forms of computational modelling, including agent-based modelling, have begun to be used, but as yet there is no agreement about how such models should be constructed or the kinds of task for which they are best suited. This inter-disciplinary workshop will provide a forum for current work in this area, bringing together the leading social scientists, computer scientists, physicists and policy specialists to discuss these exciting developments.

The seminar was also sponsored by EXYSTENCE, the EU Complex Systems Network of Excellence.

Workshop Report

Microbial Systems Biology

14 - 15 JULY 2005

Johnjoe McFadden, University of Surrey
Claudio Avignone-Rossa, University of Surrey

Twentieth century biology has been a triumph of the reductionist scientific approach as the organism was dissected into cells and then into biomolecules. The terminus of reductionist biology was however reached in the late 1990's with the publication of the complete genome sequence of many organisms and particularly the publication of the human genome in 2001.

However, the genome only provides the genetic code., It doesn't tell us how to read the code nor how the genes work together to generate a living breathing organisms. The next step, the task for the 21st century biology, is to reverse the reductionist path and reconstruct the whole organism from the genome. That is the task of Systems Biology. This international seminar will bring together the leading scientists developing Systems Biology to plot its future path and major research challenges.

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Theoretical Aspects Of Pattern Formation

20 SEPTEMBER 2005

Ian Melbourne,University of Surrey
Alastair Rucklidge, University of Leeds
Bjorn Sandstede, University of Surrey

In association with a Newton Institute programme entitled Pattern Formation in Large Domains.

Pattern formation is a wide-ranging subject encompassing areas from fluid mechanics to solid-state physics, and from chemical to biological systems. Pattern formation is also a rich source of mathematical problems, providing interesting mathematical challenges in the field of applied partial differential equations, nonlinear dynamics and bifurcation theory. The formation of patterns in small domains can be studied near onset by a bifurcation-theorectic approach, but the range of validity of the normal form equations shrinks to zero as the domain size increases. The resolution of this issue is to employ a continuum description of bifurcating patterns in unbounded domains. In one space dimension, the reduction to an amplitude equation has been put on a rigorous mathematical foundation. However, similar progress on two dimensional pattern formation is prevented by a fundamental mathematical difficulty: the orientational degeneracy of the plane. This workshop addressed aspects of this problem, and brought together leading pure and applied mathematicians and experimentalists to examine the issues common to a wide variety of pattern-forming problems when these are posed in domains that are large compared to the intrinsic characteristic length scales of the pattern.

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Agent-based models of market dynamics and consumer behaviour

17-18 January 2006

Nigel Gilbert, University of Surrey
Iqbal Adjali, Unilever Corporate Research

Traditional marketing models have usually employed equilibrium statistical techniques and have tended to focus on aggregate variables, such as market share or price elasticity. However the top-down, static and aggregate approach of traditional methods cannot deal with key factors influencing buying behaviour such as the heterogeneity of the consumer population and the role of social networks in propagating word of mouth. As a result, current models in marketing science sometimes use unvalidated assumptions about consumer behaviour and have limited explanatory and predictive powers. The potential of agent-based models for providing better explanations of the dynamics of consumer markets is still, however, in its infancy. The workshop surveyed current work and explored the most promising directions for future research.

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Spatial Audio and Sensory Evaluation Techniques

6-7 April 2006

Francis Rumsey, University of Surrey

The first international workshop on 'Spatial audio and sensory evaluation techniques' was run at the University of Surrey on 6-7 April 2006, organised by Francis Rumsey and Slawomir Zielinski of the Institute of Sound Recording, in association with the Audio Engineering Society's British Section. There were 35 participants, including five PhD students from Surrey and a further five from other institutions. Delegates were drawn from a wide range of countries including USA and Canada (4) and Continental Europe (11).

As a result of the workshop, delegates identified the major issues to be addressed in forthcoming work on the sensory evaluation of spatial audio, in particular the need for broader agreement about attribute definitions and reference stimuli, the importance of separating hedonic and descriptive judgments, the need to take account of listening context and the importance of valid physical metrics for spatial audio quality evaluation. One of the most important academic outcomes of the seminar was the development of a greater degree of interdisciplinary understanding between those 'hard' scientists who might have wished that human variables could be minimised or eliminated, and those who felt such factors were really the key issues of future research. There was an overall plea arising from some delegates for a pragmatic approach to future research that avoided too much obsession with the finer points of methodology, that could be summarised in the words "Let's get on and do it".

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Definition of Best Indicators for Land Use Impacts for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

12 - 13 June 2006

Dr Llorenç Milà i Canals, Dr Sarah J. Cowell, Professor Roland Clift, and Professor Jim Lynch

Modelling the impacts derived from land use into a meaningful set of indicators is of paramount importance in order to guide our actions to reduce these impacts. Despite significant efforts to derive land use impact indicators over the last two decades, there is still no consensus on how to include these indicators in LCA — an increasingly used analytical tool for the environmental assessment of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle.

This workshop, hosted by the Centre for Environmental Strategy, will bring together experts on biodiversity and soil quality impact indicators from all over the world, as well as LCA model developers and practitioners from different sectors, with the aim of defining the best land use impact indicators for LCA. The workshop continues the work developed under the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative within the Taskforce 2 of the impact assessment programme.

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Globalizing Retail — Transnational Retail, Supply Chains & the Global Economy

17 - 18 July 2006

Michelle Lowe, University of Surrey
Neil Wrigley, University of Southampton

The scale and rapidity of the internationalization of retailing, and the emergence of an elite group of retail transnational corporations (TNCs) since the mid 1990s have been surprisingly neglected topics in the social sciences. Yet the impacts of a deluge of retail FDI in the emerging markets of East Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America have been profound, and transnational retailers have also put into place extensive international supply networks of considerable consequence for the global economy.

The interdisciplinary seminar will provide a forum for current research in this area, documenting and debating the rise of transnational retail since the mid 1990s and assessing its broader impacts on global and local supply chains, on labour standards, on the nature of consumer society in emerging markets, and so on. It will pose questions of considerable importance to a range of social science disciplines concerning the organisational challenges retail TNC's face in operating across national and institutional divides, and the developmental consequences of these firms and their supply networks on host economies in emerging markets.

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Biologically Inspired Information Fusion

22 - 23 August 2006

Dr Matthew Casey, Dr Antony Browne, Dr Paul Sowden and Dr Hujun Yin

Our understanding of both natural and artificial cognitive systems is an area of research that is developing into a multi-disciplinary subject with the potential for significant impact. There is considerable interest in how our understanding of natural systems may help us to apply biological strategies to artificial systems, and vice versa. A workshop is to be held at Surrey to bring together researchers from the different disciplines interested in natural and artificial multi-sensory processing. The workshop will focus on how we can improve our understanding of sensory fusion within the context of computational systems that can learn to integrate information.

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Advanced Space Vehicle Control

1 September 2006

Dr Vaios Lappas, Professor Sir Martin Sweeting (both of Surrey Space Centre), Christian Philippe (European Space Agency)

Attitude Control for Space Vehicles has evolved significantly in the past decade. Recent advances in microelectronics, control theory and new space missions have created a new set of requirements, applications and challenges for the control of space vehicles. New space missions, especially those using small satellite will require novel, low cost and low complexity algorithms and hardware for successful control of space vehicles. The seminar will bring international leading scientists from industry, academia and government agencies to discuss and debate different approaches for the design of future, low cost control systems for space vehicles.

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HOX genes in development and disease

23 April 2007

Prof. Hardev Pandha and Dr Richard Morgan (Dept. of Oncology, PGMS)

This will be the first international meeting to focus specifically on this intriguing and rapidly expanding field. Classically studied as determinates of embryonic identity, the HOX genes are also known to play key roles in adult processes such as stem cell determination, and their miss expression is associated with disease states including leukaemia and other cancers. The meeting will provide a forum for experts in these different fields to present their work and to discuss the regulatory and mechanistic overlaps that exist between different HOX functions.

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Audio Description for Visually Impaired People

28 - 29 June 2007

Margaret Rogers and Sabine Braun (Centre for Translation Studies, University of Surrey)

Audio Description is a means of helping visually impaired people to follow TV programmes, films and theatre performances by using quiet moments in the original to provide a description of the actions, the scenery, body language, and other relevant details. AD is the key to improving access to audiovisual material for VIP.

In AD, visual images are 'translated' into text i.e. transferred between 'modes', raising challenging new questions for translation studies, a discipline which has traditionally been concerned with translating messages between languages. This seminar aimed to map out a research agenda for this emergent area that identified key research questions and methodologies, drawing on multimodal discourse analysis, film and media studies, and creative writing as well as analysis of visual content.

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Young People, New Technologies and Political Engagement

24-25 July 2007

Dr Rachel Brooks (Dept. of Political and Policy Studies) and Dr Paul Hodkinson (Sociology)

Against the backdrop of increasing concern about the disengagement of youth from politics and the public sphere, the relationship between new technologies and young people's political engagement and participation is a cross-disciplinary issue of considerable importance not only to academics but to practitioners and policymakers across the world. This seminar contributed to the development of research and theory in this crucial area by providing a forum for scholars from across the world to share the findings of empirical and theoretical work, discuss the policy implications of their research, and strengthen their international and inter-disciplinary ties.

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Sleep, circadian rhythms and cognition: bridging the genotype-phenotype gap

28 – 30 November 2007

Dr Malcolm von Schantz, Dr Simon Archer, Prof. John A Groeger, Prof. Derk-Jan Dijk (Surrey Sleep Research Centre)

Sleep and circadian rhythms have a profound impact on physiology, health and brain function including cognition, learning and memory. Within the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, we have successfully initiated a multidisciplinary collaboration between scientists from different disciplines. We believe that a systems biology approach is needed to further our understanding of how events at the molecular and cellular level can influence complex biological mechanisms such as sleep and cognition. In a meeting of international leaders from key disciplines, we aim to identify the best ways forward for future research towards understanding the interactions between sleep, circadian rhythms and cognition.

Workshop Report