Sail Magazine 2010


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Transcript of Sail Magazine 2010

The Alumni Office Singleton Abbey Swansea University Singleton Park Swansea SA2 8PP

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Welcome to this years edition of Sail, your alumni magazine.

To mark our 90th anniversary the centre pages take a step back in time with photos and memories sent in from alumni across the globe. This is also the first year that Swansea University has awarded its own degrees. Congratulations to all new 2010 graduates reading Sail for the first time! We would be grateful if you could spare some time to complete the enclosed Alumni Survey to ensure we continue to enhance our services to you. And please dont forget to inform us of any change in address so we can keep you up-to-date with all the news from Swansea. We hope you enjoy reading your magazine.

02 04 06

News in brief

World-leading research at Swansea

08 10 13

Branching out

Swansea Alumni help Swansea students branch out in India

A life less ordinary

Lifesaving to rowing

Alumnus Jonny Owen tells of bands, bust-ups and BAFTAs

An interview with the talented Dani Perks

Alumni memories

Alumni reflect on their time at Swansea

Postgraduate studyand Alumni memorabilia

+44 (0) 1792 295156


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Swansea University researchers develop all-natural alternative to pesticidesA project led by Professor Tariq Butt, who heads one of the leading insect mycopathology (insect pest control) teams in the UK at Swansea University, has developed a naturally occurring, sustainable alternative to pesticides. This development could not only help to preserve the environment, but could also dramatically reduce costs for farmers. The project, completed last year, was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under the Horticulture LINK programme, the main government vehicle for sponsoring industry academic applied research in horticulture. The project involved a variety of partners from different sectors, and focused on the problem of vine weevils and western flower thrips, insect pests that destroy numerous important crops worldwide, causing damage that could potentially run into hundreds of millions of pounds per annum. The new approach would significantly reduce the impact on human health, the environment and pesticide resistance. Professor Butts teams development of the fungal biological control agent (BCA) Metarhizium anisopliae for the control of vine weevils and western flower thrips in horticultural growing media has yielded highly successful results. Professor Butt, who is based at Swansea Universitys School of the Environment and Society, said: We concentrated our efforts on identifying a fungus that occurs naturally in soil, and that is a natural pathogen to the pests. The team discovered that a certain strain of the fungus, Metarhizium, is deadly to vine weevils and western flower thrips. Applying the fungus to the crops growing media, such as peat, coir or bark, we discovered that we could control the subterranean stages of these pests, and thus contribute significantly to the overall pest control strategy. The team used Metarhizium combined with only 1% of a conventional chemical pesticide achieving control comparable to the chemical used at the full rate, therefore reducing chemical inputs by 99%. By combining the Metarhizium with a species of nematode (or roundworm), which is also parasitic to vine weevil larvae, they achieved almost total control equalling a huge environmental success. Metarhizium has now been registered in Europe with Novozymes, the world leader in bio-innovations. Swansea alumnus Dr Paul Sopp, of Fargro Ltd, a company that markets specialist horticultural products across the UK, said: The potential of Metarhizium to control thrips and vine weevils is a significant step forward in the control of both pests. Professor Butt added: The success of the project is great, and will potentially change the nature of vine weevil and western flower thrips pest control. The benefits are far reaching not just for those with organic farms or nurseries but also for conventional growers, offering an effective, environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals.

Dr Paul Sopp

I graduated with a BSc in Zoology from Swansea in 1982, having chosen the University because of the applied entomological content of the course. I completed my PhD at Southampton University before joining the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute to work on the application of entomopathogenic fungi, including Metarhizium for pest control. Twentyfive years since I first worked with Metarhizium we will finally see it available to UK growers as a biopesticide. It is great to be able to work with my former University in developing this product, first as Chair of the LINK consortium that funded some of the development and now in commercialising the product. I joined Fargro Ltd in 1990 to establish an integrated pest management business within, what was then, a general horticultural supplies business. I am now Managing Director of a 16m horticultural business supplying crop protection, fertilisers, composts and even energy to UK horticulture, although my first love is still the biological pest control business.

Building for the future: research highlightsthe richard Burton Centre for the Study of walesThe Centres research agenda recognises and respects the ways in which Wales can be regarded, understood and valued within the UK and within global contexts. In 2005 Richard Burtons personal papers were donated to the University, and now form a central part of the Richard Burton Archive.

glaciologyThe Universitys internationally renowned Glaciology Group specialises in understanding the processes that regulate glacier dynamics, flow instabilities and surging, and glacier fast flow. Outcomes of the Groups GLIMPSE research project will lead to better predictions of the future of the Greenland ice sheet, and the rate of sea level rise.

Bridging the gaps grant brings researchers togetherFunding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is enabling Swansea academics to work together across six major research areas to build a programme of activities that will stimulate creative thinking, across disciplines. The grant, worth 790,239, is the largest award from the EPSRC Bridging the Gaps scheme in 2010. The programme aims to dismantle institutional and cultural barriers to cross-disciplinary research, to deliver high-quality projects directed towards the physical, economic and social challenges that face us.

world first as newborn receives xenon gasSt Michaels Hospital, Bristol, became the first hospital in the world to successfully deliver xenon gas to a newborn baby (pictured top left) in a bid to prevent brain injury following a lack of oxygen at birth. The pioneering technique was developed by Dr John Dingley, consultant anaesthetist and Reader in Anaesthetics at Swansea Universitys School of Medicine, and Marianne Thoresen, Professor of Neonatal Neuroscience at the University of Bristol.

Centre for nanoHealthSwanseas Centre for NanoHealth (CNH) is a unique European facility that will enable the transfer of nanotechnology into healthcare for early intervention and screening of diseases: from laboratory to bedside. CNH is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Universitys Schools of Engineering and Medicine. It seeks to make significant breakthroughs in the early detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Black Vine Weevil

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a life less ordinaryActor, Producer and Swansea alumnus, Jonny Owen spoke to Gemma Williamson about bands, bust-ups and BAFTAsHi Jonny, you were in the 90s band the Pocket Devils, what made you go from musician to actor? I still love music and continue to write songs as well as acting. Our band was offered a record deal while I was studying History at Swansea. I took a year out to go to New York but the band members fell out so I returned to University to finish my degree. A director had seen me in the band and invited me to audition for a Welsh drama series called Nuts and Bolts. I got the part and it all went from there! My lecturers were so supportive and let me take my finals as re-sits; I took ten exams in five days but just managed to get a 2:1. what is your greatest achievement? My proudest moment was being given a Sons of the Coalfield honour in 2008; its an engraved Tower Colliery miners lamp in honour of my grandfathers work in the 1960s and has pride of place on my mantelpiece. youve worked with some big name actors, have you ever been star-struck? I have worked with some great actors but I think I get more tongue-tied meeting my sporting heroes. I interviewed Ryan Giggs for ITV Wales and met Diego Maradona at SportAid which was amazing. the film A Bit of Tom Jones? recently won a welsh BaFta. Can you tell us about that? It was incredible to win the award and very surreal at the same time. When we made the film we had no idea it would be so popular. The DVD recently went on general release and has sold thousands of copies; we could not be happier about the response its had. How did the internet comedy series Svengali come about? is it true its based on your own experiences in the music industry? It is personal; my manager was called Dixie although not quite the same as the character in Svengali! We came up with the idea of doing a series on YouTube with the aim that it would be comm