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Aberystwyth University

Country: United Kingdom
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515 Projects, page 1 of 103
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 1955199
    Partners: Aberystwyth University

    This project will map the global circulation of Welsh slate before, during and after its extraction from the mountains of North Wales and will address the principle research question: How can mapping the global and temporal circulation of Welsh slate provide a greater understanding of the geographical, social, technical and aesthetic legancies and impacts of Welsh slate?

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/E505147/1
    Funder Contribution: 29,061 GBP
    Partners: Aberystwyth University

    The events of October 1962 are generally agreed by historians to be the closest humankind has come to thermo-nuclear war. The Cuban missile crisis (as it is called in the West) is a reference point in any discussion of nuclear crises and crisis management. October 1962 is commonly seen as a turning point in the Cold War and the development of Soviet­ American detente and arms control. Recent research on the crisis has revealed various incidents where nuclear weapons might have been used when political leaders were unaware of what was happening. Greater understanding of organisational and cognitive factors has helped challenge sanguine assumptions about nuclear stability and safety. The project provides a systematic exploration of scenarios, informed or generated by recent revelations. Had nuclear weapons been used by design, by accident or by unauthorised subordinates then political (or military) leaders would have faced decisions about retaliation and escalation. How they might have acted and with what consequences are central to the study. We cannot properly understand the events of 1962 without examination of the risk of nuclear war and moreover, what nuclear war would or could have meant. The literature on the Missile Crisis is extensive and in the last two decades has generated understanding and debate about Soviet and American decision-making (as well as about other European and Latin American participants). Academic enquiry has focused both on high-level policy making and on the operational level. A great deal is now known about aspects of the crisis of which decision-makers knew little or nothing. It has long been recognised that the risk of war in 1962 arose from a potential concatenation of misperceptions, miscalculations, mistakes and misfortune. We now have considerable evidence of such misperceptions, miscalculations and mistakes. The project draws upon this literature as well as cognate studies in nuclear history and nuclear strategy. The methodology of the book is based on systematic and critical use of counterfactuals. All historians use counterfactuals and several scholars have examined the risk of nuclear war in October 1962 in this way. 'Clouds of October' does this systematically by critically evaluating scenarios at each stage of the crisis. These scenarios are devised by adjusting one casual element in what is known about a given situation. What is termed the 'minimum-rewrite-of history' rule is applied as far as possible, where one causal variable is adjusted. Moreover, it is only by means of counterfactual reasoning that we can explore what would have happened if the nuclear threshold had been crossed and decision-makers faced choices about nuclear retaliation and escalation. Counterfactuals are indeed at the heart of thinking about the use of nuclear weapons in the field of strategic studies. The literature on the missile crisis deals only occasionally with the question of how decision-makers would have responded to the use of nuclear weapons, even though this is crucial to understanding the risks and dangers of military confrontation in 1962. The peaceful resolution of the crisis has been taken for granted and western publics desensitised to the risk of nuclear war. The aim of the project is to critically evaluate whether nuclear war could have happened in 1962, and if it had what might have been the consequences.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: BBS/E/W/10963A01C
    Funder Contribution: 1,112,500 GBP
    Partners: Aberystwyth University

    The aim of the project is to enable the matching/ engineering of lignocellulosic feedstocks in which composition and cell wall architecture are optimised for conversion efficiency by biological and thermochemical processes. This work will deliver knowledge of cell wall structure and biosynthesis in Miscanthus as a strategically important energy crop and identify favourable alleles as targets for variety improvement to match feedstock to end use. We will exploit existing genomic resources in models and other grasses to translate cell wall composition knowledge to Miscanthus. High-throughput methods (e.g. infrared spectrometry) and chemical analysis will be used to characterise composition to: generate QTL for cell wall associated traits, test the effect of planting density and harvest time, identify new variation, and assess transgenic manipulations. In addition we will use infrared and micro-Raman spectrometry, and immuno-labelling approaches to explore the linkage between the expressions of specific genes, and chemical composition at the cellular level. We will also investigate the effect of differences in biomass chemistry on pre-processing and downstream conversion. Combined with genotyping, this will enable the genetic dissection of the cell wall in Miscanthus through the identification of QTL, haplotypes and expression markers associated with cell wall composition. We will also functionally test by transgenesis candidate genes. Plants will be phenotyped using a Lemna-Tec facility at Aberystwyth and infrared spectrometry. Collectively these studies will advance our limited understanding of cell wall biogenesis in grasses and enable the genetic improvement of Miscanthus for efficient biomass conversion.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: ST/S000518/1
    Funder Contribution: 339,850 GBP
    Partners: Aberystwyth University

    The Solar System Physics (SSP) group at Aberystwyth University has research interests extending from the solar interior, through the solar atmosphere and interplanetary space, to Earth and planetary ionospheres. These are important aspects of our solar system, and our study of these environments leads to progress in physics and astronomy, direct benefits to society in understanding the hazards of space weather and asteroid impacts, and other indirect benefits through cross-disciplinary research. A strong magnetic field permeates the Sun's visible surface (photosphere), and dictates the structure of the atmosphere. This is the corona - a hot, magnetised plasma, an interesting environment for physics. Understanding this environment, through observation and models, drives progress on fundamental plasma physics, and leads to the ability to predict solar storms. Models of this complex system remain incomplete or untested, thus many aspects remain unexplained. With advancements in observation, solar physics is on the verge of answering some of these questions. Our research plays an important part in this effort. We know that the solar magnetic field emerges from the interior in strong tubes of closely-packed fieldlines, akin to ropes. These appear as sunspots on the photosphere. We study the behaviour of sunspots as they rotate with the Sun across the visible disk, in order to understand the transport of the magnetic field and energy from the interior into space. As huge solar telescopes are planned and built we must have the necessary software tools to interpret and analyse new data. In preparation, we are creating model spectra of molecules which exist in the relatively cool environment of sunspots. Solar observations of spectral lines from these molecules help probe the sunspot environment, giving constraints on physical properties such as temperature or magnetic field. Part of this effort involves the research input of A-level school students - a rare chance to combine cutting-edge research with the engagement and education of the next generation of scientists. We are dedicated to the development of new data analysis tools that reveal and characterise solar atmospheric events and phenomena. For the first time, our methods have revealed a stream of faint disturbances moving everywhere, continuously through the corona. This provides a powerful new diagnostic that will constrain models and enable the mapping of the intricate coronal magnetic field. Our advanced numerical models are revealing the complex interplay between twists in the magnetic field and plasma flows along the field - ultimately helping us to understand events such as large eruptions that can hit and effect Earth. Our methods have cross-disciplinary applications. For example, software developed by the group to detect and track solar storms has recently been used to improve the diagnostics of microscope time-series imagery of cancer cell growths. Clues to the complex plasma processes in the corona and beyond lie in direct measurements of the solar wind plasma by multiple spacecraft. We are developing new analysis tools to interpret these measurements, allowing a more complete picture of the history of the solar wind as it evolves from the Sun to Earth. This leads to an understanding of the processes that heat and accelerate the plasma near the Sun and to an understanding of what important processes occur in tenuous magnetic plasmas, of broad general importance to physics and astronomy. Observed changes in the lunar surface may be due to impacts, or to lunar internal activity. We have leading processing methods to identify and analyse events. Categorizing large number of events will be achieved with the help of citizen scientists. This effort is important to understand geological processes on the Moon, and from a more practical standpoint, to identify the safest sites for future exploration. Our methods can also be used for other airless planets.

  • Open Access mandate for Publications
    Funder: EC Project Code: 101033286
    Overall Budget: 337,401 EURFunder Contribution: 337,401 EUR
    Partners: Aberystwyth University

    Uncontrolled macroalgal blooms, also known as green or golden tides, is an increasingly frequent global phenomenon and is partly attributed to the increased eutrophication of the marine environment caused by anthropomorphic industrial and agricultural activities. The green opportunistic macroalgae genus Ulva thrives in such conditions and accounts for more than half of global blooms. Various environmental and economic problems have been associated with the occurrence of such blooms; however, if utilised appropriately, the biomass generated from these tides has the potential to be economically rewarding. Ulva spp. have an interesting chemical composition that is predominated by carbohydrates (≤65% dry weight), followed by proteins and lipids. Ulvan, a sulphated polysaccharide consisting of rhamnose, glucuronic acid, iduronic acid and xylose, is the predominant molecule, followed by cellulose. Contemporary research has focused on exploiting the cellulose fraction only, with ulvan, consisting of unique monosaccharides, being overlooked due to the unavailability of suitable saccharification enzymes. Although work on the saccharification of ulvan is gaining momentum, the complete enzymatic breakdown is still a bottleneck. Similarly, the unique monosaccharide composition of ulvan has not been explored to its full potential for fermentation to value-added products. This project, therefore, aims to develop a suitable technology to saccharify both ulvan and cellulose from the biomass and ferment all the monosaccharides present in the hydrolysate to value-added products. Novel and commercial enzymes would be identified and trialled in individual processes for saccharification and fermentation first; with a simultaneous process subsequently optimised to minimise resource inputs and generate minimum waste streams. The developed process would finally be evaluated at a pilot scale to demonstrate its potential to be implemented at the industrial level.