Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap: Travel Call 3 Results

BTG Travel Grants Third Call - Funds Awarded

The Bridging the Gap board granted two travel awards in the third round of calls. See below for an overview of the projects funded.

Designing Effective Intervention Programmes: Introducing Agent-Based Modeling - Dietmar Heinke, School Of Psychology

Prof. Gilbert is a leading expert in the application of agent-based modeling methods to social issues. His direct field expertise falls within the remit of sociological theories and applications. Ours, however, is within the domain of experimental and applied social psychology. We are proposing to bring these divergent epistemological approaches using cutting-edge methods together -- to investigate social issues, which would potentially offer insight into how to design effective interventions to reduce stigmatization for people groups in Britain.

An agent-based model (ABM) consists of independent agents interacting with each other and the environment. The behaviour of each agent is defined by a set of rules, only prominent to each agent. In other words, there is no global “controller” governing the model’s operations. ABM was originally developed as a method in artificial intelligence to solve problems for which traditional monolithic approaches fail, and belongs to a class of formal/mathematical models that have become increasingly influential in understanding human behaviour.  ABMs allow researchers to observe how individual behaviours of agents (microscopic level) result in patterns on the macroscopic level (emergent behaviour). Therefore, the methodology of ABM is expected to be highly suitable for understanding social phenomena.  However, it has been rarely applied to social phenomena to-date.>/p>

As a first step the proposed pilot research will develop an ABM for the buffering effect in the following form: Agents can belong to different “social groups” and each agent possesses a “well-being”-value reflecting the agent’s self-esteem Interactions between agents can be either positive or negative. In turn, these interactions will influence the agent’s “well-being”, e.g. negative interactions can lower the well-being whereas positive interactions raise well-being. The exact nature of these mechanisms will be derived from the theoretical hypotheses about the factors influencing the buffering effect in the different low-status groups. Subsequently, the simulation results need to be validated against empirical evidence. If this validation is successful, an analysis of the ABM’s behaviour can lead to a new understanding of the buffering effect in women.  The proposed pilot research will also examine the origins of the buffering effect in homeless people.

Combined experimental and computer modelling studies of new fuel cell materials - Peter Slater, Chemistry

The aim of this project is to fund a visit to the University of Zaragoza by Dr. P.R. Slater and Dr. A. Orera (University of Birmingham). During the visit, both Dr’s Slater and Orera will present talks on work in materials research at Birmingham. Discussions will be held with researchers at Zaragoza regarding research proposals in four areas :

  • Water incorporation and proton conduction in ceramic oxides
  • Apatite-type electrolytes for application in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
  • Oxyanion doping strategies in fuel cell materials.
  • Biomaterials.
  • In addition, it is intended to collect preliminary data (high temperature Raman studies) to support these research proposals, with a view to enhancing their likelihood of success. Proton conduction pathway in lanthanum barium gallate, deduced by computer modelling (DFT); E. Kendrick, J. Kendrick, K. S. Knight, M. S. Islam, P. R. Slater ; Nature Materials 6, 871-875, 2007