Research round-up

Oxford Brookes is committed to research with real-world impact. Here is a round-up of some recent research at Brookes.

How we feed children in early infancy could impact on eating habits later in life

Dr Cristina Costantini, Lecturer in Psychology, was the lead author for a study which investigated the relationship between the way mothers feed their babies and the babies’ willingness to eat.

Psychologists from Oxford Brookes and the University of Portsmouth found that parental feeding behaviours may have an impact on infant food acceptance early in childhood. The findings of the study showed that being in rhythm with the baby as well as understanding the signals of refusal helps babies to eat willingly.

“The transition between milk feeding and solid feeding can be a delicate process for both mother and infant. Understanding parental feeding behaviours and how these behaviours relate to their child’s willingness to eat will allow researchers to identify the risk factors for potential feeding problems or negative eating habits later on in childhood and adulthood.” Dr Cristina Costantini

The study involved 37 mother-infant pairs who were video-recorded during mealtimes one week after the beginning of weaning and when the baby reached seven months old.

Indonesian songbird faces imminent extinction

Researchers have found that three species of black-winged mynas are on the brink of extinction due to large numbers having been illegally extracted from the wild. The team estimate that over 10,000 mynas are being sold every year in Indonesian bird markets, at a retail value of close to 1m USD. There are as few as 500 of the birds left in the wild.

Research explores Jack the Ripper and what the murders tell us about society

Professors Anne-Marie Kilday and David Nash recently wrote for BBC History Magazine on Jack the Ripper’s identity and what he tells us about society’s greatest fears over the past 130 years. The article was published in August 2018 which marks 130 years since the first of five murders in the Whitechapel area of London.

There has been much speculation as to the identity of the killer and the crimes still continue to horrify and intrigue to this day.

“The Ripper murders attract people because they feature an enigmatic murderer with an unbelievably catchy and graphic nickname and they were, most importantly of all, unsolved.”

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday

A dedicated webpage on Oxford Brookes’ research related to Jack the Ripper, and courses which involve studying the history of crime, can be found on our dedicated minisite

Improving the energy efficiency of UK homes

Through his work as the Director of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development and the Low Carbon Building Research Group, Professor Rajat Gupta leads cutting-edge research on addressing the gap between designed and real building performance, using socio-technical building performance evaluation methods.

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy wants to transform the construction sector by creating safe, healthy, affordable and efficient buildings using the latest digital manufacturing techniques. The challenge is to support the industry to adopt new technologies and help to construct buildings with half the lifetime carbon emissions.

Earlier this year, Rajat was academic lead on a collaborative research project with industry. Funded by Innovate UK it’s aim was to develop an innovative insurance-backed warranty for new housing. The warranty is designed to create commercial incentives for the construction sector to design and build houses that perform sustainably.

Following on from this project, Rajat’s latest research has found shortfalls in the thermal performance of new-build housing. Together with Dr Alkis Kotopouleases (Research Fellow) he analysed data from the UK Government’s National Building Performance Evaluation.

Their analysis considered air permeability, thermal transmittance and whole house heat loss amongst Passivhaus (a standard for energy efficiency where buildings require little energy for heating or cooling) and non-Passivhaus dwellings. The results showed that Passivhaus homes performed considerably better across all metrics, especially for air permeability. The study provides evidence for improving the fabric thermal performance of new housing.

Rajat will be leading a nationwide research project on building performance, sponsored by the Building Performance Network, which will build on this latest study.

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