Five researchers from the School of Mathematical Sciences have been invited to display their posters at this years STEM for Britain 2018 competition at the House of Commons. The overall aim of STEM for Britain is to encourage, support and promote Britain's early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians who are an essential part of continuing progress in and development of UK research and R&D. STEM for Britain will take place on Monday 12th March 2018 and prizes will be awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicate high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience.
Elizabeth Holden "Promises, promises: Using Maths to aid tissue engineering design"
Tissue engineering, a term coined in the 1980s, describes the highly multidisciplinary field concerned with the creation of functional tissues. Since its inception, it has held the promise of unleashing significant benefits to society, including tissues and organs for transplant. Despite all its potential, much is still left to be realised due to the difficulties of nutrient transport in three-dimensional tissues.
One method is to use a printed porous structure or scaffold on which to grow the cells. Its network of interconnected gaps allows culture medium to be forced through, carrying nutrients to the cells throughout. We use a mathematical technique, multiscale homogenisation, to derive equations which describe the growth of the tissue, the uptake of the nutrients and the flow through the scaffold. These results can be used to inform the design of scaffolds and bring tissue engineering a step closer to delivering on its promises.
Linda Irons "Mathematical modelling of asthma"
Asthma is a chronic lung disease affecting more than 1 in 12 people in the UK. During an asthma attack, the airways in the lung become highly constricted (bronchoconstriction), making breathing difficult. Bronchoconstriction can be reversed in healthy individuals by taking deep inspirations (DIs) but the reversal is either temporary or not seen in asthmatics; understanding the reason behind this could be key to future therapy. With this aim, we have developed biomechanical models of airway smooth muscle cells and their adhesion to their surroundings (the ECM), which occurs via a type of protein called integrins. We study how mechanical strains due to tidal breathing and DIs may affect cell-ECM adhesion, which will influence the resulting level of bronchoconstriction. Initial results identify integrins as a promising target for further study.
Paul Knott "Why doesn't the world look quantum?"
Why do everyday objects such as tables and chairs look so “normal”, despite the fact that they are made up of quantum mechanical particles, such as atoms and electrons, that themselves have extremely bizarre and counter-intuitive properties? In my poster I will explain how we have used abstract mathematics to solve such a problem, reconciling our understanding of reality with the obscurities of quantum mechanics.
Claire McIlroy "3D Printing Under the Microscope"
3D printing has transformed the way we approach manufacturing. Since direct measurements of molecular structure during printing prove difficult, my poster will present the crucial need for a new mathematical approach to practical printing problems, such as improving the mechanical strength of printed parts.
Emily Mitchell "Winter wheat production in England and Wales: A new look using Extreme Value Analysis"
Winter wheat is the most widely grown crop in the UK, both in terms of total surface and annual production. With the current land restrictions in place, the UK needs to adopt a strategy to improve efficiency of its use of cultivated land to ensure ample food resources can be provided to a rising UK and global population. It is therefore of great interest to understand what exactly drives wheat yields, not only for these reasons, but also because the identification of factors having a significant positive or negative influence on wheat production might carry over to different crops. Our research wishes to address this question, by using the wealth of information contained in the results of the Farm Business Survey over the past decade (2006-2015). Past approaches in agricultural science have described yields using standard central techniques; by contrast, our work tackles this problem from the resolutely different point of view of Extreme Value Theory.
Posted on Thursday 25th January 2018