The University of Bradford is renowned for its research. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) rates 74% of the University’s research to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Academics and postgraduate students from the University have been involved in a variety of important research projects during recent years. Here are five examples which highlight the quality and variety of these projects:
Identifying gender through a smile
Professor Hassan Ugail, director of the University’s Centre for Visual Computing, led a team of Artificial Intelligence researchers in a project to use the movement of a person’s smile to identify their gender.
The research, designed to explore enhancements in machine learning capabilities, required the mapping of 49 landmarks on a person’s face. These points were then used to assess how the face changes as we smile. The team looked at the ‘flow’ of the smile; how much, how far and how fast the points on the face moved as the smile was formed, and used the resulting data to determine the gender of the smile.
The team’s algorithm was tested on video footage of 109 people, correctly identifying the gender of 86% of the subjects. This breakthrough raised a number of future questions for the team, such as how the algorithm will react to the smile of a transgender person, or a face that has been treated with plastic surgery.
Anti-ageing skincare products
Many premier skin-care products from the No7 range are underpinned with cutting-edge research from the University of Bradford.
The University’s Centre for Skin Sciences undertook a research project to help them understand the molecular mechanisms behind the body’s production of melanin – the pigment that causes our skin to tan and produce freckles when it’s sunny. Overproduction of melanin also causes age spots, which lead to consumers spending millions on anti-ageing products to even out their ageing skin tones.
Working with Alliance-Boots, the Bradford team used their research findings to test and measure the success of a range of natural plant extracts that could help regulate the skin’s melanin production.
The collaboration resulted in No7’s anti-ageing serum range being launched in the UK, and then around the world. The success of the project led to the University and Alliance-Boots entering into a partnership agreement to continue working together in the future.
Research from the University of Bradford’s Faculty of Health Studies has transformed policy and practice in dementia care, improving the quality of life for people with dementia across the world.
Researchers from the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies were the first to develop a model of person-centred care (PCC) for people with dementia. PCC focuses on understanding the perspective of the patient and helping them live better quality lives with their condition.
Using the PCC model, the Bradford researchers created a tool to assess how well care is being provided, and show how it can be improved. The tool – Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) – has been shown in trials to reduce falls and agitation amongst dementia patients, and now forms part of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on supporting people with dementia.
DCM use is now widespread – organisations including the Department of Health, the National Audit Office, the Care Quality Commission and the NHS either use or recommend the DCM model. The University was awarded the coveted Queen’s Anniversary Prize for this ground-breaking work in 2015. In 2018 it was listed as one of the Made at Uni ‘100 ways universities have improved everyday life’.
Building community resilience in Bradford
The Bradford riots of 2001 and ongoing tensions between deprived, multi-ethnic communities in the city influenced an important local community research project; the Programme for a Peaceful City (PPC).
The programme was founded by Bradford Social Sciences academics, with the aim of building resilience throughout the city. It hoped to encourage engagement between local community members, as well as with police and the local council, and to apply existing research findings to the community issues. A research hub; The International Centre for Participation Studies (ICPS), was also established to allow community voices to share knowledge and build connections.
The ICPS/PPC’s research findings have since helped change the culture of policing potential unrest in Bradford. They have helped to secure support for grassroots peace-keeping, and have encouraged youth engagement with community resilience efforts. In July 2013, a scheme was launched to bring local activists and academics together to learn about power and participation – a model which could be used in other cities.
Europe’s Lost Frontiers
Deep beneath the North Sea lies a 9000-square-mile landmass known as Doggerland. The area was inhabited and connected the south-east of Britain to mainland Europe, before being submerged by flooding over 8000 years ago.
Until recently, maps of the submerged land were based on little more than informed guesswork. Now, the Europe’s Lost Frontiers (ELF) research team, led by pioneering Life Sciences researchers from the University of Bradford, has led to the recent rediscovery of Doggerland.
The ELF team used cutting-edge technology and techniques including seismic mapping, environmental analysis, sedimentary DNA analysis, and computer simulations to help them create the first detailed topographic maps of the lost land. The team has successfully mapped out the rivers, estuaries, lakes, hills, wetlands and salt marshes of Doggerland – a revolutionary achievement for landscape archaeology.
This ongoing research project continues to innovate in the study of lost environments, ecological change and the development of the human race.
Research degrees at Bradford
Studying a research degree at the University of Bradford allows you to contribute to life-changing discoveries and developments. Find out more about courses, how to finance your studies, and career opportunities.