The 'Lothian Lugs' project was part of the Carnegie UK Trust, Engaging Libraries programme and is a collaboration between West Lothian Libraries and Heriot-Watt University. Our main focus is to listen to our communities to explore how we can share cutting edge research with them, and how they can help shape future research.
Professor Alan J. Gow told us 'Heriot-Watt University is delighted to be taking our partnership with West Lothian Libraries to this next stage of delivering an exciting and informative 'Borrow a Researcher' programme of events. The events will open the doors for local communities to hear about and be involved in research, and we are keen that the programme is very much led by the needs of our neighbouring communities. We look forward to developing this collaboration further, because as well as the public learning more about our research, our researchers will also be learning from you'.
The first step in exploring how we share research with communities was to actually start the conversations! In March 2021 we reached out to our communities and asked them to complete the Lothian Lugs Community Survey. The response was fantastic with 595 completed surveys received! We also asked for volunteers to take part in Community Focus Groups and 210 local people aged 16-63 across all areas of West Lothian put their names in the hat to take part.
Please click on the links below to view the survey results:
- Lothian Lugs Community Survey Results
- Lothian Lugs Young Person's Survey Results - Secondary Education
- Lothian Lugs Young Person's Survey Results - Non Education
We held 5 focus group meetings over the summer, which led to some inspiring conversations about research and universities - What is research? What do universities do? How can we find out more?
Many interesting themes and topics emerged, allowing the team to shape an exciting programme of events we're calling 'Borrow a Researcher'. Events will take place in West Lothian libraries throughout September and October and are specifically tailored to public interests. Events will explore subjects such as brain health, body representation, social interaction, robotics, artificial intelligence and many more!
We would like to thank everyone that completed the surveys and participated in the focus groups, the teaching staff at St Margaret's Academy and the More Choices More Chances (MCMC) Keyworkers, whose help in setting up these focus groups was invaluable.
Heriot-Watt University is a global University situated across five campus locations: Edinburgh, Orkney, Galashiels, Malaysia and Dubai. As well as being home to a large student population, Heriot-Watt University also conducts ongoing and innovative research across a broad range of areas, from psychology homelessness, economic development, to robotics and medical technology.
At Heriot-Watt University, Psychology research can be split into three core areas:
· Cognition, Brain and Behaviour
· Lifespan Health and Wellbeing
· Work, Society and Environment
Some of the core research focuses on how to keep your brain sharp as you get older, helping people age in a healthy way and exploring ways in which we can nurture our brains as we age. They also explore things such as how we perceive our own bodies - investigating bodily awareness, posing questions such as 'how do we know where our hands are if we close our eyes'?
We work with a whole range of people of different ages and backgrounds to make sure our research is useful and relevant. Some researchers also look at how changing things in the environment people work in could help improve productivity and wellbeing at work.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, issues surrounding Psychology are inherently linked to wellbeing across the life span. Heriot-Watt researchers explore health-promotion activities and healthy ageing to further our understanding of health and wellbeing. They also investigate behaviour in the workplace and interventions which can be used to support workplace performance.
To learn more about Psychology research at Heriot-Watt, visit:
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The National Robotarium, a world-leading centre for robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), is currently under construction on Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus. The Robotarium is a research partnership with the University of Edinburgh, with scientist, engineers, social scientists and psychologists working together to develop ethical robotic and AI technologies.
This world-leading facility will promote entrepreneurship and drive forward early-stage product development, playing a significant role in supporting the UK's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sustainability and future proofing are key research areas across Heriot-Watt University, with many of the researchers exploring the ways in which we can transition towards NetZero* and a decarbonised future.
With scientists across a range of areas working together (e.g. physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists etc) the research extends from deep-sea exploration, mitigating landslide risk in areas such as Sao Paulo, and reintroducing oysters to the Dornoch Firth. Our researchers explore human impacts on marine mammals, reducing emissions of C02, alternative forms of sustainable energy - and much more!
The Lyell Centre on our Edinburgh campus is one of Europe's leading centres in Earth, marine and ecosystem sciences. The Lyell Centre enhances Scotland's research base and supports its innovation strategy through socially and industrially relevant research. Fundamental and applied research combines with innovative technology to find solutions to the global challenges facing our planet from the deep sub-surface of the earth to the polar regions. We also have the school of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society which spans a broad range of research fields addressing economic development and societal equity.
*NetZero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach Net Zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. The UK became the world's first major economy to set a target of being Net Zero by 2050.
Find out more about Net Zero research
Further research centres:
- The UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC)
- Research Centre for Carbon Solutions
The Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) was established with a mission - to use world-class research to help drive change for people affected by extreme disadvantage.
I-SPHERE is among the UK's top social and housing policy research centres. The researchers within the centre have a broad variety of externally funded research, working with governments and charities to understand the issues and drive forward change.
Their research explores a broad range of subjects, including housing needs, affordability and access, housing policies, poverty and destitution, welfare systems, and homelessness amongst others.
Through the research I-SPHERE aims to:
· Drive forward policy/legislative change to improve the lives of society's most vulnerable
· Help governments/charities target funds effectively
· Set the parameters of local/national/global academic and policy debate on extreme disadvantage
Find out more about Heriot-Watt University research in these short video clips: