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Lincoln Professor talking Sustainable Development in South Africa


Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School and Professor of International Law, has recently attended the third meeting of the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development seminar organised by the Regional African Law and Human Security Programme (RALHUS).

Professor French presented a paper on contemporary case-law on sustainable development, including both international jurisprudence and domestic decisions. He reflected on the significant developments in the case-law, in the field of domestic courts holding States to account on the issue of climate change and, internationally, in developments on the legal principle of due diligence.

Nevertheless, Professor French cautioned against a wholesale endorsement of recent case-law, noting the recent decision of the International Court in the joined cases of Costa Rica v Nicaragua / Nicaragua v Costa Rica (2015) and creeping legal formalism. Thus he left the workshop with a question; are we seeing a maturity in the environmental jurisprudence or is there risk of sterility in the guise of meeting specified procedural steps?

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Improving Healthcare Commissioning for Probation: Mapping the Landscape

Health services


Healthcare services available to people on probation and how they access them will be examined as part of a new research project. The project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme, aims to tackle relevant issues identified by the researchers in consultation with probation workers and service users.

Researchers say better healthcare could help increase the number of people successfully completing community sentences and could potentially reduce the rate of recidivism, while also saving the NHS substantial sums of money by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.

The study, led by the University of Lincoln’s Dr Coral Sirdifield and Professor Niro Siriwardena, with colleagues from Royal Holloway, University of London, will address three key areas: the best way of providing healthcare to achieve good health outcomes for probationers; how healthcare is currently delivered to probationers, for example by probation services, through local partnerships, or through clinical commissioning groups; and what data is already available that could be used to measure and improve probationers’ health and the quality of their healthcare.

The team of researchers will carry out a literature review of the existing studies, conduct national surveys, examine written policy and procedure documents, and conduct telephone interviews with senior members of probation and health services.

Lead investigator, Dr Coral Sirdifield from the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “There are more than 200,000 offenders on probation in the UK, and they are often deprived, vulnerable and have complex health needs such as mental health, or drug and alcohol problems, compared with the general population.

“Many probationers are not registered with a GP, or only access healthcare during crises. To reduce health inequalities, we first need to understand how healthcare is provided to probationers, and how its quality can be measured and improved.

“This is important because providing better, evidence-based healthcare will improve probationers’ health, increase their chances of completing probation, and could potentially reduce their risk of reoffending. There are potential cost savings to the NHS by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.”

The grant bid was put together following consultation with probation workers and service users to ensure the research would tackle relevant issues. Those probation workers and the service users will be on the project steering group and will help develop information resources, carry out interviews, and share the findings of the study. The funding is just under £150,000.

The findings will be shared with all participants, relevant organisations and policy makers as a toolkit, and submitted to relevant journals for publication.

For more information on the project, visit the Community and Health Research Unit website

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University of Lincoln Hosts Society of Academic Primary Care Regional Conference



The Community and Health Research Unit and University of Lincoln hosted this year’s Trent Regional SAPC Spring sapc_lincoln1Conference at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel on Brayford Wharf in Lincoln. The conference included delegates from the Universities of Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester and Sheffield and all over our region presenting and learning about the latest in primary care research and educational through orals, posters and workshops.

The conference keynote speakers were Chris Burton, Professor of Primary Care and Head of the Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care at the University of Sheffield, Aneez Esmail, Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester and Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor at The BMJ. The conference was chaired by Professor Niro Siriwardena, Professor of Primary and Prehospital Healthcare and opened by Professor Sara Owen, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln. Professor Burton, new in post at Sheffield, gave the first keynote in place of Professor Nigel Mathers who was recovering from illness. Everyone wished Professor Mathers well for his convalescence and return to health.

Professor Owen’s opening talk focussed on the rapid development and expansion in science and health research and teaching at Lincoln. Chris Burton’s opening keynote focussed on ‘Complexity’, commonly used, misused and sapc_lincoln2misunderstood in healthcare and research. He described the mathematics of complexity as he had applied it in his research to issues such as frequent health service use and how these were described by ‘heavy-tailed’ or log-log distributions.

There followed a series of excellent morning oral presentations, workshops and posters. Before lunch, Professor Esmail gave another outstanding keynote, ‘The problem with patient safety – challenging orthodoxies’ He certainly did challenge the conventional approach to patient safety and described how conventional attempts to reduce harm, in particularly using a target-driven approach, could lead to poorer outcomes and how it was necessary, even important, to accept some risk for better outcomes.

After lunch and viewing of the excellent posters on display, we were treated to further oral presentations and another educational workshop. The meeting ended with our final keynote from Dr Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor at the British sapc_lincoln3Medical Journal, who spoke eloquently about ‘Goldilocks medicine’ and the art of getting medicine right, particularly focussing on the harms of medicalisation and overtreatment. She went onto to talk about the editorial process at the BMJ, while encouraging primary care researchers to submit their studies to the journal.

The day ended with prizes awarded to the best poster, ‘Predictors of postpartum return to smoking: a systematic review’ by Sophie Orton, Tim Coleman, Tom Coleman-Haynes and Michael Ussher of Nottingham University, and the best oral presentation, which went to Michael Toze from CaHRU at the University of Lincoln for his doctoral research presentation, ‘Coming out in general practice: the experience of older LGBT patients’. Flowers, wine and a big vote of thanks went to Sue Bowler for her work organising the conference and making the day such a success, supported by the CaHRU team and members of staff from the other institutions involved.

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Suffrage Science Award for Lincoln Psychology Professor



A psychology professor whose research on childhood development has helped to teach children safe behaviour with dogs has been recognised for her work with a Suffrage Women in Science Award.

Professor Kerstin Meints from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology specialises in the study of infant and child development and human-animal interaction. Her interdisciplinary work has seen the creation of language assessment tools as well as educational tools. The latter are designed to help children and parents behave safely with dogs and to recognise when a dog might be distressed, which can in turn lead to a reduction in dog bite incidents.

She has now been presented with the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) Suffrage Women in Science Award which celebrates women in science for their scientific achievement, their ability to inspire others, and for encouraging women to enter scientific subjects and to stay in those fields.

The award itself is represented through a piece of specially-designed jewellery, a brooch which symbolises the Suffrage movement. The brooch comes in a box with ribbons depicting the three colours of the suffrage movement: green, white and purple. In the UK, those colours were worn by the Women’s Social and Political Union, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.

Professor Meints, who is the director of the Lincoln Infant and Child Development Lab, will keep the jewellery for the next two years before choosing her own nominee to pass it on to. The aim is to create a network of connected female scientists around the world who help to inspire others to enter science, and to stay.

Professor Meints said: “I feel very honoured to receive this award. I will do my very best to inspire, encourage and mentor women in science and to help them to speak up, be visible and reach their goals.

“For the next two years, and beyond, I will dedicate time to supporting colleagues and students through mentoring. I believe that encouragement and a belief that they can achieve what they aim for is vital to succeed.

“Handing on the Suffrage Science jewellery is a vote of confidence by one female scientist for another, and I look forward to nominating the next awardee in two years’ time.”

Professor Meints was one of twelve scientists to receive an award. They were presented on International Women’s Day 2017, to recognise their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others.

She was nominated by previous winner Professor Susan Condor, a social psychologist at Loughborough University whose work addresses identity and prejudice in England. Professor Condor said: “Professor Kerstin Meints’ BabyLab at Lincoln is pioneering innovative work which brings together research on infant and toddler communicative development with knowledge of animal behaviour. Her research on how young children misinterpret dogs’ facial expressions has led to the development of successful educational tools for dog bite prevention.”

The ceremony was hosted by science communicator Dr Kat Arney and took place at the Royal Society in London. It included a discussion which explored boundaries in science, be those by gender, by nationality or by scientific discipline, with three panellists.

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Capabilities pathway questions for service user / carers

Mo Ray, the Research Director for the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln, is conducting a study and would like the feedback of members of the public who are service users or carers for older people. Attached is a feedback form containing a few very short series of questions for the completion of service users / carers in relation to the capabilities for social work with older people. If you are able to spend a few moments of your time to read the attached sheet which details the study, followed by just a few questions we would be very grateful. The deadline for any responses is 25th March 2017.

“My name is Mo Ray and I am the Research Director for the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln. I am a member of a special interest group which has been trying to raise the profile and importance of high-quality social work with older people. The Chief Social Worker for Adults has now asked the British Association of Social Work (BASW) to develop a set of capabilities for social work with older people. They will be developed in conjunction with older citizens, older people who use services, carers and other people such as social workers. 
We have been asked to comment on a number of questions and very much hope that you will be able to take a few minutes to answer them, based on your experiences and views. There are no right or wrong answers. They will be used to inform the initial development of the capabilities.
We are hopeful that BASW will host a forum event in Lincolnshire to launch the draft capabilities in the summer and we will hope to invite interested members to come along to that event.”
We welcome your feedback via email, by either writing your response to the questions on the sheet provided or by sending an email stating the question you are responding to. Responses should be directed to either . If you would prefer to print off the attached and write your response, a freepost return address is available by popping NEA936 on the address line.
Please download the questionnaire here:

Fight or flight? How mental toughness can lead to better decision making under pressure



Witnesses described a “nuclear mushroom cloud”. Snow and dust leapt skyward, thrown up by the large chunks of ice and rock that snapped off Mount Pumori, which rises from a valley opposite Mount Everest.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, killing more than 8,000 people, triggered numerous avalanches in the Himalayas. At the time, Everest Base Camp was a temporary home to the hundreds of climbers, guides, Sherpa and other support crew for the 359 climbers who’d been granted permits to climb the world’s tallest peak that year.

With no chance of outrunning the avalanche as it thundered toward them, climbers sought refuge wherever they could find it: in their tents, behind rocks, and even curled up in a ball on the ground. When the avalanche ended the survivors emerged from what little shelter they could find to a scene of devastation. Tents were buried under ice, and equipment and bodies were strewn across the landscape.

In total, 22 climbers died and more than 60 were injured, making it the deadliest disaster in the history of climbing Mount Everest. Yet, moments after the immediate danger passed, and conscious that climbers were still stranded at camps higher up the mountain, there were those who set about organising a recovery effort.

The varied responses have given researchers deeper insights into the role of mental toughness in making critical decisions in extreme circumstances.
The idea of a mental edge – toughness, grit, determination ­– or that special something that separates elite athletes from the rest has captivated audiences and intrigued sports psychologists. Dr Swann, from UOW’s Early Start Research Institute says mental toughness has become a central topic in sport psychology.

Researchers generally agree that mental toughness involves the ability to maintain focus and make effective decisions under pressure and in the face of adversity.
Dr Swann, with his research partners Dr Lee Crust and Professor Jacqui Allen-Collinson from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, looked to professional mountain climbers to explore the concept.
In the sport of mountaineering, mental toughness is not the bar for success, it’s the minimum price required to play the game. Exhaustion, dehydration, extreme low temperatures and lack of oxygen can cause hypothermia, frostbite and acute mountain sicknesses with symptoms such as severe brain swelling (cerebral oedema) and water in the lungs (pulmonary oedema).

You can view the full article in The Stand

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Former Lincoln Law Student Success


I am currently studying an LL.M in Energy and Climate Law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. I have always had a passion for the environment and a desire to study and live abroad. The course, the University and the city itself are all amazing and I am so happy with my decision to study in Groningen. I have had the chance to meet students from all over the world, be taught by engaging professors and professionals in the energy field and settle into Dutch culture by becoming a fully-fledged cyclist! I cannot thank the University of Lincoln enough for aptly preparing me for post-graduate study and for encouraging and helping me to apply.

When speaking to other students in Groningen, I became aware of the importance of attaining an internship. I did some research into energy and climate related internships and decided to apply to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat. I received an email to state that I had been placed on the internal roster and then a few days later I was offered an internship with Mitigation, Data and Analysis Department. The internship is based in Bonn, Germany and will last for three months over this summer. I am very excited to begin the internship, to gain hands on relevant and practical experience and see how the secretariat operates, especially in the wake of the newly agreed Paris Agreement.

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Telders International Law Moot Court Competition



Congratulations to Lincoln Law School’s Dr Christy Shucksmith who was invited to judge the UK national rounds of the 2017 Telders International Law Moot Court Competition at the University of Liverpool on the 11th March. I was an honour to be involved in such a fantastic competition, particularly as a previous participant in the 2008 national and international rounds.

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How I went from a sports science degree to Lincoln City FC in five years


When sports science students, Matt Page and Toby Ellis graduated from the University of Lincoln, they had a vision: to provide a premium sports coaching service which uses the latest sports science to take athletes and teams to the next level. The enterprising graduates launched their own sports coaching business which among other clients has worked with the city’s giant-killing football team, Lincoln City FC, providing specialist statistical analysis. Here, Page explains how the business is delivering results on and off the pitch.

Sum up what do you do for a living
We do lots of things! We are full time teachers at a special needs school in Grantham, run a sports coaching company called VIRSCO, own a software assessment company for schools called iCoach4Sport and provide statistical analysis for Lincoln City FC.

What does a day in the life of a data analyst look like?
A very long one! A match can take around eight to 10 hours to analyse and it normally takes our Sundays up. On a Monday, we will debrief with Lincoln City, providing a short presentation of key facts, such as minutes per shot, and anything unusual that we have seen in the game.

We have made a calculation which can accurately predict a match result. It is calculated via success rates, touch count, influences on both goals and positional emphasis, such as crossing for a winger. So we keep up to tabs with these to make sure we on the right side of the stats.

If there is a midweek game, our colleagues at iCoach4Sport will help us with the stats ready for Thursday. You will also find us on a match day scribbling down some half-time statistics.

How did you get into it?
We knew manager Danny Cowley was really into the sports science and stats around football. We saw it as a unique opportunity to promote our companies and sent him an email about what we could provide. That night I got a phone call from his brother, assistant manager Nicky, asking us to come in the next day.

How exciting is it to see your hard work being utilised by Lincoln City FC and contributing to their successes?
Very – although we are a bit of an enigma around the club. We like to keep our distance from staff and players as to remain unbiased so we are really only known by a few people! We do find ourselves too busy to appreciate the enormity of the achievement and will probably be boring our grandchildren with the stories of this year. At the moment, the job is not done so we remain concentrated on the task ahead to allow us to assist the team as best we can.

Will you be at Lincoln’s match against Arsenal in the dugout, or watching as a fan?
We actually support other teams but have found ourselves becoming quite attached to the club! Again, you cannot become too embroiled in the emotions of the game in the job we do. We will probably be hidden somewhere during the game behind the dugout.

Since you started your career, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I think we are in the middle of the biggest challenge we have faced. For us, knowing the quality of iCoach4Sport and the stats we provide, it is a big frustration of ours not to be able to fully market the product. However, we are getting a bit more savvy in that department, and Danny and Nicky at Lincoln have been great. So maybe we are in the middle of overcoming it!

How did your degree studies prepare you for a career in the sporting sector?
A massive amount. The staff, equipment and the feeling around a place like the University of Lincoln really make it unique. I have been to many other universities and cannot shout loud enough about how great the place is.

Did you do work experience while you were studying?
We did, and actually we helped former manager David Holdsworth at Lincoln for a week or so. I then worked at the Lincoln canoeing club – the feeling of family in a group of elite athletes has helped me in my approach.

Overall, how was your time at Lincoln?
Excellent! I would not call Lincoln my home if it wasn’t the case. We still have contacts there, too – they help us advertise for jobs and give us lots of advice. We continue to be in contact with Dr Sandy Willmott and Dr Donna Windard – both have always had the time to reply and chat even though I left five years ago.

If you could offer one key piece of advice to students and prospective students on how to achieve their goals, what would it be?
I think for me it is to contact and use knowledge from others to get to know a bit more about a field that interests you. Jobs may seem amazing, but there’s a lot of work involved and unsociable hours in sport. Understand what you want and gather as much information as you can.

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Lincoln Law School’s Dr Nathan Cooper’s visit to The Gambia


Dr. Nathan Cooper visited The Gambia last week as part of a team of three researchers investigating the feasibility of using smart water pumps to improve access to water for people in remote villages.


Nathan interviewed village water committee members in order to better understand the existing socio-legal framework governing local water resources, and to begin to explore the potential implications for this framework of new smart pump technology. One village chief also gave permission for a water pump to be filmed using a motion sensor camera, that documents who uses the pump, when and for how long. This information will further inform the researchers’ understanding of the cultural context in which access to water operates.

Nathan and colleagues were also invited to meet the Honourable Mr. Gomez, the newly appointed Minister for Water, in Banjul. The potential of smart pump technology to help meet the country’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals was discussed at length, particularly in relation to Goal 6a and b and the inclusion of international partnerships and local communities. The Minister expressed his interest in developing ongoing dialogue with the researchers, and in following the success of the smart pump field trials, which will be completed in April.


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