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Ben Coleman, Chris Wyatt and Jo Mills

23 June 2021, 4:21 UTC Share

Influencing, Engaging, and Adding Value: Impact and Innovation at the University of Wolverhampton

At the University of Wolverhampton, we are passionate about making a positive impact on our students, our local community and beyond.

From pioneering research into brain tumours to shopping habits in the 19th century, the University of Wolverhampton has a growing research community that fosters a spirit of enquiry and a thirst for discovery. All of our academic schools have areas of research strength, overseen by our established Research Institutes and Centres, many of which work closely with industry on large-scale projects. In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), our efforts in research were recognised with a Ł2 million investment – testament to dedicated, hardworking staff, and a mark of the University’s constant drive for discovery and innovation – while the results of REF2021 are not yet known, we have increased our portfolio being submitted, including two new Units of Assessment and 38 impact case studies, many of which speak to our research’s effects on policy and society.

At the University of Wolverhampton, we are passionate about making a positive impact on our students, the places we are based, our local communities and beyond. Through collaboration and multi-disciplinary projects, our researchers contribute to public debate, create solutions to local, national and global challenges, and preserve and promote cultural works of international significance.

Across the University, scholars within our Research Centres and inter-disciplinary Research Institutes work closely with commercial and civil society partners in a wide range of research and translational projects. From realising intelligent infrastructures to sustainable construction, from the arts in criminal justice to exercise as medicine, from presenting the self in cyberspace to creating cultural networks, and from designing for people with dementia to new discoveries in diabetes research – impact and policy engagement sits at the heart of all our activities.

Examples of our research impact include:

Big Data – The Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group has developed a computer programme to assess whether social media posts contain positive or negative sentiment, and how strong that sentiment is. The project is now being developed to be applied to real life situations such as how transport authorities can change road layouts based on drivers’ levels of stress.

Emotional Eating – Emotional eating is eating in order to create or change an emotion in some way. Research at the University of Wolverhampton is seeking to help people create strategies for regulating their emotions without relying on eating habits.

Brain Tumour Research – Our dedicated Neuro-oncology Research Centre at the University of Wolverhampton is leading the way in identifying the genetic causes of brain tumours and the treatments to deal with them.

In 2020, we set up a Policy Impact Task and Finish Working Group to explore approaches to facilitate public engagement, identifying appropriate partners and stakeholders, and developing skills in developing relevant documentation. To date, we are looking to establish 12 specialised sub-groups within this structure, covering subjects as diverse as vulnerable communities, countering climate change, and trust in public institutions, and we are also developing strategies to ensure that opportunities and requests are effectively communicated to the most appropriate members. We also note the need to be mindful of how research areas may intersect with a policy area, and/or whether capacity might be achieved through networking with external groups.

By advancing knowledge, and bringing together excellence and innovation, we challenge perceptions and seek to change the world for the better. More information on our impact from research can be found in our research publications: Research Matters – showcasing our research successes and news from the sector, and The Wolverhampton Briefing – our new quarterly update on our vital research activity.

Ben Coleman, Chris Wyatt and Jo Mills are Research Impact Officers at the University of Wolverhampton.

We are a dedicated team within the research services department focusing on research impact and policy engagement, working with colleagues across academic schools and professional services as appropriate, and since our appointment we have sought to increase understanding and engagement with research impact throughout the organisation, predominantly through a holistic approach of educating new research staff and students, while also providing individualised, specialised support as necessary.

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