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University of Liverpool spin out company secures £300k to develop indoor air pollution technology

CageCapture, a new spin out company at the University of Liverpool has secured a total of £298,754 funding from Innovate UK to develop technology which will remove toxic pollutants from the air. 

CageCapture was formed to commercialise a new case based material invented by Dr Ming Liu and Professor Andrew Cooper at the University’s Materials Innovation Factory. They have designed new cage molecule solids that act as a ‘cage prison’ and can capture low concentration pollutants.

The patented technology has been found to capture the most common indoor air pollutant, formaldehyde, at both high and low levels, even in humid conditions. 

Dr Ming Liu said: CageCapture is an exciting new spin out company which has been created to commercialise new cage materials which were developed through our research”. He added: “Our technology has been proven in the lab to be more effective at capturing formaldehyde than current methods and this new funding will help us to take this forward and actively pursue collaborators to scale-up manufacturing of the new material”. 

Charly Loughlin

University of Cambridge removes bird netting

Following fierce public criticism, the University of Cambridge has removed bird netting which was put over 20 trees beside the Whittle Laboratory on its estate. 

A university spokesman said: “The University of Cambridge has decided to begin immediately removing the netting over trees on its estate and accepts that the decision to use nets to discourage nesting birds was wrong. We unreservedly apologise for any upset we have called”. They added, “The netting was put in place in advance of building work during the nest season which requires the trees to be replaced or moved to another spot on our estate”. 

Concerns regarding the nets were mainly focussed on the possibility that birds could become trapped in the netting. The decision to install nets also reduced roosting and foraging space for the birds. 

Chris Packham, a conservationist and TV presenter, called the decision to install nets “absolutely outrageous”. 

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge had already removed some of the netting and vowed that they would return every time it was put back up. 

Activists welcomed the university’s decision to remove the bird netting.

Charly Loughlin

Facilities manager given honorary degree from Oxford University

John Harris, a facilities manager at Oxford University, has been given an honorary degree in recognition of his 50 years of service to the Department of Pharmacology.

Harris started out as a Junior Technician in the Department of Pharmacology Workshop in 1969 and has remained in the workshop ever since. In October 2019, on his 50 year anniversary, the department held a reception for him.

In February, Harris received an honorary MA at the Sheldonian Theatre. He has said: “Everyone made me feel so special on the day”. 

Mr Harris’ work involves managing the workshop and facilities in the building, the design and build of new labs and office spaces as well as making anything from Perspect baths for microscopes to large Faraday cages for researchers in the labs. 

Mr Harris said: “I like it when I have done something and someone is satisfied. I enjoy working with my hands every day. It is an incredibly varied job. I feel very lucky because i can go to all the different labs and solve problems with professors and students- all of them”. 

Charly Loughlin

Amber Rudd ‘No Platformed’ by Oxford University Society

Former Conservative Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was invited to speak about the UN Women’s ‘Draw A Line’ campaign by the UN Women Oxford UK society early this month. The society, however, pulled out half an hour before she was due to appear. 

The invitation was pulled following a vote by the society’s committee. The decision is thought to have been made due to her role in the Windrush scandal. 

Rudd has since said that her treatment was “badly judged and rude”. 

The UN Women Oxford UK society wrote on their official Facebook page: “Following a majority vote in committee, tonight’s event with speaker Amber Rudd has been cancelled”. They added that they were “deeply sorry for all and any hurt caused”. 

The charity UN Women UK distanced itself from the row and announced the student group involved had changed its name to ‘United Women Oxford Student Society’. The charity then added that it would no longer be associated with the student society. 

Charly Loughlin

All exams and assessments cancelled at the University of Sussex

An email sent to students at the University of Sussex has confirmed that no exams or assessments will take place on campus for the rest of the academic year. 

Students were informed that the university will “find ways to ensure you are assessed appropriately but also fairly considering the exceptional circumstances”. 

The email states: “To take into account the changes this week now that we have suspended teaching on campus, almost all deadlines for submitting coursework/assignments and examinations this week will be postponed. There won’t be any exams and assessments on campus for the rest of the academic year, instead assessments will be made using remote means.” They went on to say: “We are very conscious that you should not be impacted by this unprecedented global event and we will find ways to ensure you are assessed appropriately”. 

This decision follows the University’s announcement that all teaching was suspended and online teaching would begin on the 23rd March. The campus is expected to remain open with essential services still being provided. 

Charly Loughlin