Imperial College London

Healthy commuting and turning tides: News from the College

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Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

Choo-choo-choosing your commute (video above)

Leaving the car at home and taking public transport could help more people to hit their minimum daily exercise goals, particularly when catching the train.

In an analysis of public transport use in England, a team led by Dr Anthony Laverty found that more than half (52%) of train users hit 30 minutes of activity per day using public transport, compared with just 21% of bus users.

The team explains that public transport can be a good way to incorporate a little extra activity into everyday life, helping to stave off some of the negative health effects of our sedentary lifestyles.

Listen to our audio news piece on the research below (or listen to the whole Imperial College Podcast episode)

Mighty nanoparticles

A nanoparticleSpecial nanoparticles (on the scale of thousand-millionths of a metre), which have an inner core of one material and an outer shell of another, could harvest light and form new kinds of solar energy technologies.

However, there are a vast number of possible combinations of materials for the core and the shell. Now, researchers from the Departments of Materials and Physics have used computational modelling to calculate the properties of 100 different core-shell nanoparticles.

They discovered that nanoparticles with a core made of materials from the first two columns of the periodic table (so-called alkali and alkaline-earth metals) and shells made of transition metals (such as gold, silver or copper) perform best. The research revealed that the two materials work much better as a team than on their own.

Read the full article: Computational design of bimetallic core-shell nanoparticles for hot-carrier photocatalysis

Accreditation award

Imperial's Finance’s Income team

This week Imperial became the first university to be awarded accredited status by the Chartered Institute of Credit Management.

The accreditation was won by Finance’s Income team (pictured above), who manage billing, credit activities and all money coming into the College, including research grants and student fees. The accreditation is a mark of the team’s work in embedding industry best practice, and commitment to making processes more efficient and effective.

Phillip King, Chief Executive of the CICM, visited Imperial this week to congratulate the team and present them with their award. Eight staff from the team are now going on to study with the CICM.

Unhealthy scepticism?

NHS leafletsMaking sense of healthcare information can be tricky, but can it influence vaccination rates?

A team led by Enrique Castro-Sanchez set out to see if levels of health literacy influenced pregnant women’s decisions to receive vaccinations.

Out of 119 new mothers, 52% received the flu vaccine and 94% had the whooping cough vaccine. Interestingly, however, those who rejected the flu vaccine had higher levels of health literacy.

Dr Castro-Sanchez explained healthcare workers may need to use different strategies for different patient groups, matching the information they offer to the patient’s level of health literacy to reduce negative perceptions of vaccination.

Turning tides

Dr Ralf MartinThe government’s recent decision to cancel the Swansea tidal lagoon project is bad news for the whole economy, according to the Business School’s Dr Ralf Martin.

The first-of-its-kind plant would have harvested electricity from the tides, but policymakers pulled the plug, concerned it would not provide a sufficient return on investment.

But their idea of a return was too narrow, argued Dr Martin. Writing for IB Knowledge, he said the “solutions to problems that might have arisen during the lagoon’s construction and operation could have inspired people in different industries, encouraging broader economic activity, which in turn would have contributed to higher economic growth” across the UK.

Read the full blog: Tidal power brings in more than just jobs and electricity

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