The Herald Higher Education Awards are delivered in association with the University of the West of Scotland, whose Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Craig Mahoney, said: “The quality of work being done within Scottish higher education is astounding and I would like to congratulate all institutions for their fantastic work and submissions.”
Along with the overall, Higher Educational Institution of the Year honour, the University of Glasgow took home the Enhancing Student Learning Award for the Closing the Feedback Loop project; Campaign of the Year for The Simpsons Campaign; and Innovation Technology Excellence Award for the Vires project.
The university also won the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community Award for ‘Chasing the Waves’ – a unique theatre project that connected communities with the inspiring research into Gravitational Waves which included a team from Glasgow. A diverse team of collaborators led the project: Glasgow Science Festival (GSF), University of Glasgow scientists, writers, actors and musicians.
By employing an innovative delivery style for science-engagement – musical theatre – the project sparked an interest in science among new audiences. The entertaining but enlightening show blended comedy and music, making complex research accessible. Quirky highlights included a ‘LIGO’ dance, black-hole doughnut analogies and even 1970s disco.
The Research Project of the Year Award was presented jointly to biologists from the Centre for Cell Engineering at the University of Glasgow, and gravity wave physicists from the University of the West of Scotland.
Currently undergoing research trials at the University of Glasgow, Nanokicking uses nanovibrations which create new bone cells by turning on switches within stromal cells in the laboratory so new bone cells can grow.
Bone is the second most transplanted tissue behind blood, but there are major challenges in the supply of bone graft for clinical procedures. This research has focused on developing a new bioreactor system to meet this demand: this unique system converts adult stem cells into osteoblasts (bone building cells) using a method which is cheap, scalable and free of chemical induction factors that can potentially have harmful side effects within the body.
Instead the researchers mechanically stimulate cells using extremely precise nanoscale vibration. This is an entirely new discovery within tissue engineering, which has been enabled through technology typically found in gravitational wave research. In addition, they have engaged with surgeons and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), which will enable this novel bone graft technology to be tested on a person within the next three years.
Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Health and Life Science’s Learning Development Centre won the category for Academic Support Team of the Year.
The Learning Development Centre recently helped develop the certificate, diploma and BSc. programmes hosted by GCU and the Scottish Ambulance Service into an MSc-level programme for the Ambulance Academy. This is a unique contribution to higher education as this is the only provision of technician and paramedic academic training within Scotland.