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2007 Placements

Placements by School/Department

Agriculture; Archaeology; Biological Sciences; Classics; Geography; History of Art; Law; Mathematics; Museum of English Rural Life; Pharmacy; Students Union; Systems Engineering; Typography.


Focus Groups Aimed at Exploring Public Perceptions of Landscape Value.

This project focuses on the public's willingness to pay for landscape changes resulting from greater consumer demand for healthier foods. The student will help to plan and run focus groups, including note taking, transcription of tapes, data analysis using N6 software, and report writing. Supervised by Professor Bruce Trail, placement student Alexandra Mackay. [Back to Top]

The Effect of Intercropping on Pest Control by Mutli-Species Predator Communities.

Currently there is an active debate in the literature about the benefits of increased species diversity in agricultural systems due to the delivery of ecosystem services. This project will focus on one such service, the biological control of insect pest species by arthropod predators. This research will determine whether diverse predator assemblages do perform better than single-species assemblages in controlling aphid pests, and will test whether this effect is consistent across intercrop and monoculture environments. Supervised by Dr Andrew Wilby, placement student Linda Anglin. [Back to Top]

Development of a Method to Separate and Quantify Protein Fractions in Bovine Milk Using Reverse-Phase High Performance Liquid Chromatography.

A multidisciplinary project to investigate maximising the concentration of bioactive components in bovine milk to benefit human health. The project examines the influence of animal genotypes on the concentration of different proteins and their potential to yield specific bioactive peptides. Supervised by Dr Patricia Aikman, placement student Wendy Smith, Agriculture. [Back to Top]

A comparison of enclosure design on the behaviour of the Ringtailed and Ruffed lemurs at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Currently at Cotswold Wildlife Park (CWP) the Ring-tailed and Ruffed lemurs are in a 'traditional' zoo enclosure. A new Madagascar enclosure is under construction where the public are able to enter into the lemurs' environment. It is hoped that the new enclosure will provide greater enrichment for the animals as the environment will be more akin to their natural habitat. The aim of this project is to assess the extent to which a suitable environment consistent with the species requirements is successfully provided and gain a greater understanding of any effect of changes in enclosure design. Supervised by Jennie Litten-Brown, placement student Charlotte Williams. [Back to Top]


Inner Hebrides Mesolithic Project – Excavations on Coll

Two sites, Fiskary Bay and Arileod, will be evaluated by geophysical survey and trial trenching. The student will assist with the initial preparations for the season: checking, hiring, packing equipment and supplies, and travel arrangements, managing finds and sediment samples including preparation of a database, and supporting a geophysical survey. Supervised by Professor Steven Mithen, placement student Sharon Carson, Archaeology. [Back to Top]

Water, Life & Civilisation Project (Phytolith Analysis).

This is a major project funded by the Leverhulme Trust exploring the relationship between climate, water supply and society 20,000 BC – AD 2100, involving Archaeology, Geography, Soil Science and Meteorology at UoR. Part of this is to establish the impact of irrigation on phytolith formation by experimental crop growing. This information will feed into the wider project ( Supervised by Professor Steven Mithen, placement student Ambroise Baker, Botany. [Back to Top]

Digital Databases & Archives for Publication in Archaeology

As part of a monograph being currently written, a DVD will be included presenting a digital artefact database (including artefact photographs), an archive of site photographs, and the site notebook. The student will prepare this to professional publication standard with tasks including, scanning, creating a photographic database in Access, checking and updating a digital artefact database, and creating pre-defined and user-definable SQL queries. Supervised by Dr Robert Hosfield, placement student Matthew Crane. [Back to Top]

Science at Silchester: Geochemical evidence for the use of metals at Silchester

The project will use x-ray fluorescence (XRF) to investigate metal trends at Insula IX. Soil geochemical work can determine activities at the site, far beyond the initial field observation. This project will focus on samples taken not just from potential metalworking contexts (hearths) but also on samples between buildings in garden and yard areas as well as buildings for which we have no hearth based evidence. Supervised by Dr Sam Cook, placement student Kirsty Bax. [Back to Top]

Biological Sciences

Development of a PCR-Based Assay Technique for the Analysis of Gut Content of the Predatory Rove Beetle Atheta Coriaria

This project forms part of a preliminary study to support a larger research project proposal looking at the environmental impact of using the predatory rove beetle (Atheta coriaria) as a biological control of pests in crop fields. It will develop Polymerase Chain Reaction techniques for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of prey species. Supervised by Dr Andy Wetton, placement student Rosemary Archibong, Biochemistry. [Back to Top]

Effects of Habitat Structure on the Distribution of Bird Species and Community Structure Within an Urban Area

Little is known concerning the effects of habitat characteristics within conurbations on the distribution of species and the structure of ecological communities. This project will analyse existing data on the density of bird species in Bristol looking at how habitat characteristics affect species' distribution and community structures. Supervised by Dr Philip Baker, placement student Victoria Thompson, Statistics. [Back to Top]

Ranging Behaviour of Domestic Cats (Felis Catus) Within an Urban Area

This project will radio-track pet cats within Reading as a pilot to study for the first time in Britain i) home range size and ii) patterns of habitat utilisation by free-living pet cats. Data will be analysed using GIS software. Supervised by Dr Phillip Baker, placement student Sophie Miller, Zoology. [Back to Top]

Physiological consequences of Botrytis cinerea infection in lettuce.

Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that causes major crop loss. It can exist in two forms - the aggressive state is visible (grey mould) but it can also grow in a plant without it ever showing symptoms. Sprayed plants exposed to Botrytis cinerea produce approximately 20% less leaf biomass suggesting the plant suffers in defending itself. They later have cell walls that fluoresce under ultraviolet light indicating that production of secondary metabolites may be produced in response to the attack. It is hypothesised that the plant may also produce less cell wall biomass and more reactive oxygen species in response to Botrytis cinerea attack. The project will investigate this theory by spraying plants of different ages and determining when the effects are strongest. Supervised by Professor Michael Shaw and Dr Carol Wagstaff, placement student Ke Xie, Food Science. [Back to Top]


A study of a classical Athenian vase painter (The Pan Painter).

This study aims to document and analyse several hundred vase paintings attributed or related to the Pan Painter (a red-figure vase painter from Classical Athens ca 480-450 BC) including approach to decoration, form, and function, analysing shapes, styles, techniques and images. The student will source and verify published information for each vase that has been attributed to the Pan Painter or otherwise associated with him. Supervised by Dr Amy Smith, placement student Sophie Burton, History of Art. [Back to Top]


Mapping Elite Networks in London and the South East of England

This explores the links between political elites to see if by identifying links between individuals who occupy important political posts in these regions, that an 'institutional map' can be constructed. Because individuals often belong to more than one organisation, a network of connectivity emerges .... like Face Book for politicians rather than friends. The project will compare the map for the two regions. The student will collect information, enter it into a database and assist with analysis and report writing. Data collection will including web searches, telephoning and emailing to identify the membership of Boards and advisory groups. Supervised by Geography Dr Steve Musson, placement student Lynda Berry, History and English. [Back to Top]

History of Art

Post-Impressionist Exhibition Cultures in Britain.

Two post-impressionist exhibitions held in London in 1910 and 1912 showed the works of C├ęzanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso together under that label for the first time. The project will compile a tabulated chart summarising the works exhibited so that a comprehensive account of all the works can be published. The second stage of the project will involve compiling a list of post-impressionist exhibitions held in Britain from 1910 to 1960, again tabulating the works of art by artist at each of them. The final stage of the project will be compiling a bibliography of writings on post-impressionism published between 1910-1960.Supervised by Dr Anna Gruetzner Robins, placement student Charlene King, History of Art. [Back to Top]


The Legal Regulation of Pregnancy in the Labour Market.

The project will contribute to a book being published in this area evaluating family-friendly legislation and why the law is failing to protect pregnant workers and parents from detrimental treatment at work. Work will include a review of primary and secondary legal sources in the EU, Australia, Canada and the USA, comparing and contrasting each jurisdiction, and preparing a written report on finding (methodology, findings, citations). You will use databases including Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis. Supervised by Dr Grace James, placement student Rojin Nassereslam, Law. [Back to Top]


Scanning probe microscopy investigations of nanostructured surfaces.

The student will look at an unusual problem - the self assembly of islands on a surface that do not minimise their surface area by forming compact structures. (e.g. water droplets, salt crystals). Chromium islands on tungsten single crystal surfaces form facetted square islands that are hollow. The project will investigate these islands which occur spontaneously, performing experiments to clean the substrate, deposit material, and image the resulting films. Ideally systematic measurements can be made and you will develop a quantitative module of the key physical processes. Supervised by Dr Roger Bennet, placement student Ailsa Sparkes, Physics. [Back to Top]

Inverse Scattering by Convex Polygons

Inverse scattering problems involve reconstructing the shape of an object from knowledge about the scattered field resulting from an acoustic or electromagnetic incident wave. Applications are widespread, including medical imaging, landmine detection, and non-destructive testing. This project will focus on implementing an iterative approach to compute the vertices of a convex polygon using only information about the scattered field, using a recent hybrid algorithm that has been shown to be particularly effective at high frequencies. Supervised by Dr Stephen Langdon, placement student Thomas Holdstock, Maths & Physics. [Back to Top]

Mathematical Modelling of Terahertz Beam Scattering

Terahertz (THz) electromagnetic wave scattering problems involve modelling interactions of a THz beam with a scattering sample. Applications are widespread, including medical imaging and non-destructive testing. Few methods exist for determining the interactions of a THz beam with a scattering sample, but the response can be approximated by a corresponding sum of responses to a range of plane waves. This project focuses on implementing and optimising the approximate representation for some simple test cases and on the use of embedding formulae which express the solution for all plane wave problems in terms of solutions for just a few. Supervised by Dr Nick Biggs, placement student Mark Payne, Mathematics. [Back to Top]

Museum of English Rural Life

Film Cataloguing and Marketing Project.

This project will create footage listings for films taken as part of the Rural Crafts Today project. This is a series of 10 films about rural craftspeople currently at work around England. The listing creation is the first step towards editing these films and making them accessible to the general public. The other part of the project will involve creating marketing materials to promote the recently catalogued film archives in the form of a resource guide for film students/researchers and editing a film to the be shown at the MERL summer spectacular, plus a poster to advertise the collections to prospective students, as well as those in the School of Film, TV and Drama. Supervised by Roy Brigden, placement student William Dew, Fine Art. [Back to Top]

Countryside Issues resource Project

The project will support the design of new teaching and student resources using MERL's library and archive collections for a new 'Public understanding of countryside issues' module for the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. Supervised by Rhianned Smith, placement student Laura Griffiths. [Back to Top]


Drug Design: Synthesis and Analysis of Metal-Based Anti-Cancer Drugs

This project will concentrate on incorporating an alternative metal, namely germanium, within a range of novel and potentially active anti-cancer drugs. The majority of work will be synthesis of the drugs and their pre-cursors (involving organic and inorganic synthetic pathways), but also preclinical work (tissue culture work, in-vitro cell testing) as well as a literature search, and design of synthetic pathways. This project may be particular suited to a student interested in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design. Supervised by Dr Katja Strohfeldt, placement student Sara Massoudi, Pharmacy. [Back to Top]

Exploring Communication Between Hospital Pharmacists and Doctors about Prescribing Problems

Prescribing problems are common in hospitals; hospital pharmacists have an important role to play in preventing these but not all interventions made are accepted by doctors, and in some cases interventions are misunderstood and patients harmed as a result. The project will look at factors to make communication easier and pharmacists' experiences of where communication has gone wrong. The student will complete a literature review, administer a survey questionnaire, enter data into SPSS, analyse this, and prepare and present a written report. The successful candidate will be a co-author on a peer reviewed pharmacy journal article. Supervised by Dr Rachel Howard, placement student Akhuac Dhieu. [Back to Top]

Formulation Development and Tabletting of Nancrystalline and Amorphous Drug/Polymer Complexes

The aim of the student project is to develop a simple tablet formulation for drug/polymer systems (and other appropriate excipients) and characterise these tablets to test this hypothesis that drug dissolution characteristics will be affected by this process. Supervised by Dr Claire Rawlinson, placement student Ruth Botting. [Back to Top]

Evaluation of Dendrimer Binding to Model Lipid Membranes

The aim of this project is to compare how different PAMAM dendrimers interact with model membranes (lipid monolayers) and to establish a correlation between these results and dendrimers biological behaviour/toxicity. The project is largely lab-based. PAMAM dendrimers (different generations and carrying different end groups) will be tested in membrane mimicking systems (lipid monolayers) using a variety of complementary physico-chemical techniques (surface pressure measurements, FTIR spectroscopy). Supervised by Dr Rebecca Green, placement student Joshua Howgego. [Back to Top]

Synthesis, Characterisation and evaluation of novel non-permeable excipients for cosmetic formulations

This project will develop novelpolymer conjugates to be used in dermal preparations (in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations). It will synthesise polymer conjugates using a modelpolymeric carrier. It will be 90% lab based and develop synthetic chemistry and analytical chemistry skills as well as permeability testing methodologies. Supervised by Dr Francesca Greco, placement student Luke Banbury. [Back to Top]

Students' Union

Perceptions of and engagement in student representation through the Course Representatives scheme at the University of Reading.

The Course Representatives Scheme has been running for 4 years and the project will review the impact of the scheme to consider its further development and potential to increase effectiveness. Work will feed into the University's Learning and Teaching strategy, as well as the Quality Assurance Audit due next year. Supervised by Stefan Kelly, placement student Steven Jarman, History. [Back to Top]

Systems Engineering

Using Gestures to Create Music: An interface for People with Motion-impairments.

Playing music using traditional instruments can be difficult for people with motion-impairments. Offering new ways to play and create music, technology offers new possibilities for making music creation more accessible. This project investigates the use of gestures to create audio output and will use a existing proof-of-concept system in the School. Supervised by Dr Faustina Hwang, placement student Benjamin Clark, Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics. [Back to Top]

Adaptive user interfaces for design of online assessments for international and dyslexic students.

This placement will investigate the influence of interface design on computer-based assessments for these students. This project is the pilot and will look at how neural networks and intelligent agents can be used to adapt, in real-time, the visual characteristics and navigation facilities of a computer screen, based on recognising a given set of reading characteristics. The student will programme an adaptive interface(s) based on given typographic, graphic and interaction variables including those recommended by the student in Typography. Supervised by Dr Rachel McCrindle, placement student John Becic, Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics. [Back to Top]


Visual and interaction design of online assessments for international and dyslexic students.

This investigates the influence of the interface design of computer-based assessments on international and dyslexic students and uses these findings to develop adaptive interface tools. (See also "Adaptive user interfaces for design of online assessments for international and dyslexic students" placement in Systems Engineering). The aim is to identify typographic and graphic variables and interaction variables that have most effect on reading from screen for these readers. You will design interfaces and help carry out experiments, particularly propose design solutions, help recruit volunteers for the experiments, set them up and run them and then record, back up and summarise data. There will be liaison with computer science. The results will be used to support a funding application. Supervised by Dr Mary Dyson, placement student James Dunford, Typography. [Back to Top]