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Past Projects 2014/15

Pacific Climate Change Scale
Rebecca Lesher (Social Anthropology)

Rebecca worked to research and describe how low laying Pacific atolls are effected by rising sea levels, soil erosion, salination, forced migration and population resettlement. The research resulted in a set of A3 posters which were displayed on the Byre Theatre staircase from 10th – 12th June. The visitors to the Byre could ascend/descend the stairs while conceptually following the relative height above sea level of several locations in the Pacific deemed most susceptible to the effects of climate change.
Report: Pacific Climate Change Scale (PDF, 881 KB)

Permian-Triassic mass extinction; geochemical record of Earth’s greatest kill event (Mettan et al., in prep)
Michael Van Mourik (Earth and Environmental Sciences)

Mikey worked with ancient sediments collected from Greenland, which represent an exceptionally high-resolution record of ocean conditions during the world's greatest mass-extinction event. He prepared the samples for their chemical composition to be determined by the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer housed in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He quantified the total amount of iron and aluminium in 30 samples, which are shown in the figure along with other data generated by the study.  Mikey’s iron data (the “FeT" of FeHR/FeT in column 3) provide key evidence of water-column oxygenation prior to the extinction event, with a transition to low-oxygen concentrations during the extinction event itself. His aluminium data (column 8) suggest that the source of detrital sediment changed intermittently during the period studied, perhaps as a result of massive erosion and landslides after all the trees and plants abruptly died.Van Mourik graph

Investigating the impact of changes in atmospheric CO2 on tropical reef building corals
Louise Cameron (4th year Marine Biology student) and Emma Butler (2nd year Geology student)

Louise and Emma worked on a project to investigate the impact of changes in atmospheric CO2 on tropical reef building corals. This is a long term project, funded by NERC,  in which we have cultured corals for over a year over a wide range of CO2 atmospheres reflecting past conditions, e.g. the low atmospheric CO2 concentrations found at the Last Glacial Maximum, and future high atmospheric CO2 scenarios. We are examining how the change in CO2 affects key metabolic processes in the coral particularly photosynthesis and calcification. Both Louise and Emma worked in the coral culturing laboratory in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences on aspects of aquarium husbandry.

Small heads of Porites spp. corals in the coral culturing facility at the University of St. Andrews.

Digitisation of the Cypriot Archaeological collection
Sophia Mirashrafi (Classics)

In the summer of 2015 we were most fortunate to have been able to employ Sophia Mirashrafi to undertake a programme of 3-D scanning of objects from the Cypriot Archaeological collection through the Undergraduate Research Assistant scheme.

In the past few years we have been working on digitising the collection, using laser scanning to create 3D models of a selection of the artefacts. This work has been conducted as part of student projects (particularly that of Cathy Cruickshank, a postgraduate student in museum studies) and we have been very pleased with the results which have demonstrated the potential of our approach. As part of the on-going research project Sophia began to use different methods of making the 3rd images through photogrammetry.
Report: Digitisation of the Cypriot Archaeological collection in the School of Classics (PDF, 391 KB)

Classics jug

Teaching Materials Auditing Software
Tom Dalton (Computer Science)

The School of Computer Science operates a long-established process for storing and archiving teaching materials, and publishing them to students. One file server (staff resources, or 'staffres' for short) holds source versions of lecture slides, coursework specifications etc, and any administrative notes, within a dedicated folder for each module. All staff and PGR tutors have access to this server. Another server (student resources, 'studres') is accessible to students; it contains published teaching materials for each module, usually as PDF files. Staff can publish materials to students by copying the appropriate files into a particular folder on staffres, from which they are automatically copied to studres.

This system works very well, and has the attraction of being simple, with a user interface that is very easy to understand. However, problems arise from the fact that the process relies on many manual actions. While most staff are diligent in keeping materials up to date, it is easy to forget from time to time. There is also, inevitably, little consistency in the way that materials are organised within each module folder.

Tom Dalton's project investigated techniques for automatically auditing the materials on staffres and studres. He designed mechanisms for an administrator to define what types of materials should be present on the two file servers, how they should be named and organised, and when they should be present. He also prototyped an initial version of the software that can perform regular automatic checks based on this specification. The results of these checks can be viewed in web reports, or emailed automatically to the administrator or relevant lecturer if a violation of the rules is detected.

The software produced during the research assistantship will be trialled in Computer Science during 2015-16. It is hoped that it will make life a little easier for coordinators and lecturers, while improving the quality of materials available to students.

Teaching Files Audit Tool


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