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Interdisciplinary Research Sandpits

Interdisciplinary Research Sandpits

13 February 2015

As part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, the University of Kent is organising three interdisciplinary research ‘sandpits’.

These are residential interactive workshops that will take place over three days, and which will be led by Knowinnovation, the same team that runs similar events for the Research Councils. The sandpits will provide opportunities to focus on broad issues and test ideas and assumptions, in the company of academic colleagues, guest speakers and other stakeholders.

Two of the sandpits will be open to Eastern ARC colleagues at the Universities of East Anglia and Essex; the other will invite colleagues working in independent labs and pharmaceutical companies across Kent and the South East. The focus and dates of the three sandpits are given below. Further details and a call for participants will be published shortly, and more information can be obtained from Phil Ward, at the University of Kent.

Who Wants to Live to be 100 if..? 6-8 May 2015, Devonport House, Greenwich

10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old, and this number is expected to rise to 19 million by 2050. Within this total, the number of people over 80 is growing even faster. There are currently three million people aged more than 80 years and this is projected to almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050.  Many researchers agree that what we are seeing now is a celebration of extending healthy ageing, but with it comes a fear of frailty, dementia, and disability in later life. Do these fears ‘trump’ our wish to live long? What limits do we set on longevity, and how can we ensure that reaching 100 is not to be dreaded?

The Past of the 21st Century City 17-19 June 2015, Devonport House, Greenwich

The 21st century is set to be the age of the city. In preparing for the future, the long history of urbanisation is often overlooked. Spanning some 6000 years, this global development left us with a rich record of scenarios and outcomes of urban cultures, comprising an enormous variety of both impressive achievements and catastrophic failures. Seeing 21st century cities as the culmination of a long-term ongoing process, how can we learn from past trajectories of urban development? What roles could, and should, the past play in designing and innovating for future-proof cities? How can we inculcate and improve visions of future cities with knowledge of preceding scenarios? Or is the urban past truly ‘all ancient history’?

Living Pathways June, Kent (Date and venue to be confirmed)

Living things are complicated. Whether one considers individual molecules, cells, tissues or living beings, their complete structural and functional properties, and the pathways that link them and how they interact and regulate processes, are difficult to fully comprehend. Considering further, how these properties change with time and how they alter when things go wrong, the sheer volume and variety  of data required to describe a living entity grows enormously. How can we best measure, describe and quantify these fundamental properties of life? How do we gather together the data obtained in a coherent, useful way? How can we then visualise and display these data in a way that fully engages both researchers and interested lay observers?