YIP–Your Ideas to Practice: Shaping the next generation of humanitarian engineers

While technologies have evolved throughout human history and arguably helped propel us forward, one constant has held us back: our compulsion to compete for resources instead of cooperating in their sustainable management. There are very few resources as necessary as water; it’s no coincidence that we look for signs of water first when searching for extraterrestrial life.

Here on Earth, technological advances have ironically helped fuel a climate crisis that risks escalating inter- and intra-state water conflicts. Such conflicts have historically impacted the socioeconomic development of societies and nations. Beyond cross-state wars over water sources, disputes over water resources can arise within a society, such as between industries and agriculture, urban and rural populations, or different ethnic groups.

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Brightening the Covenant Chain: Shining a light on the power of Indigenous diplomacy

There is a concerted effort in various Western countries, notably the United States, Canada, Finland, Australia, and New Zealand, for governments to better recognise the voices and rights of Indigenous peoples. While these geographically separate peoples have diverse and contrasting histories, their historical experiences have common themes, including colonisation, dispossession, and systemic disadvantage. A group of researchers based at the University of Hull in the UK is fostering new perspectives that hold promise to strengthen future intercultural relations that recognise deep histories of Indigenous diplomacy.

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(The main image is taken from the interactive map 'Movement and Common World in

AI as a dual-use technology – a cautionary tale

Few countries were scarred more by a quantum leap in military technology during the Second World War than Japan; the atomic explosions that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly 80 years ago are still seared into the nation’s psyche. So, it is unsurprising that the country is wary of academia giving research impetus and energy to military technological development, even if it encourages dual-use technology with broader benefits to society. Artificial intelligence (AI) is too attractive a game-changing technology for powerful countries not to consider its use in military conflict, especially if it has spinoffs during times of peace. One of Japan’s most respected computer science and engineering researchers is urging caution.

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A special bond: How equine-assisted services help families impacted by domestic abuse

For millennia, humans and horses have enjoyed a special relationship. Recent research shows that working with horses can improve human mental health and well-being. Professor Ann Hemingway is part of a multidisciplinary team that has demonstrated that equine-assisted services can improve outcomes for families impacted by domestic abuse and mitigate the conditions that fuel it, and believes that the benefits of such an intervention could be delivered through virtual reality technology.

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Memento Mori: A comparative analysis of gendered language in the face of death

‘If you want evidence of women’s inferiority to men, just listen to how they speak – they always sound so indecisive and weak-willed.’ Such a comment may seem laughable, but its distorted logic has been a cornerstone of gender-based discrimination for centuries and, unfortunately, in some cultures, prevails. While it’s arguable that within human communication, women adopt styles that differ from men, difference is not a defence for stratification and discrimination.

If you dig deeper into those differences, as Dr Senka Majetić has done, you will find a remarkable depth of nuance that not only takes a heavy hammer to such outdated notions but offers a light to those examining others feeling the brunt of discrimination.

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Leaving a legacy of ill health: The trans-generational effects of smoking

The dangers of smoking to those who light up are incontrovertible. We also know, through research, that second-hand smoke poses threats to the health of others near smokers and has encouraged restrictions on public smoking. Policing private spaces, such as homes and cars, is nigh impossible, meaning children of smokers can still be directly exposed to the same dangerous chemicals and toxins that smokers inhale. However, there is emerging evidence that children and even grandchildren may be affected by cigarette smoke they never inhaled but was instead inhaled by their parents or grandparents, decades before their birth.

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Shaking our understanding of uncertainty

Uncertainty certainly makes life interesting. Without it, we’d be locked in a repetitive experiential loop. Because the future, by its very nature, is yet to unfold, what it holds for us is largely unknown. For example, we know we will die, but when and how are largely a mystery. However, the future is unavoidable and must be confronted; how we do that, and the frame of mind we employ to do so are the research reserve of those examining the psychology of uncertain situations – when prediction is impossible. It is a field of study with its fair share of dark corners, including how to operate more efficiently in the face of uncertainty. A new research is helping point a light in that direction.

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Respecting unity and diversity: Towards effective multidisciplinary research

To those in the corporate sector, academia may not seem a particularly competitive environment. The truth is that in academia, highly prized resources such as funding are coveted, and hierarchies exist, determined mainly by academic output with the eye on cementing scholarly authority and academia’s version of job security: tenure.

However, at the same time, academia’s strength lies in collaboration. This is especially true when we look to academics for guidance in addressing the world’s most complex societal, environmental, and public health challenges, such as poverty, climate change, and obesity. Such insight is impossible without multidisciplinary collaboration that requires significant knowledge sharing by researchers. Collaborations can last years, demanding significant time and input.

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Mentorship: Sparking a sense of wonder

There are probably few better ways to kindle within students a connection with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics than by exploring the vast and beguiling laboratory that is our natural world. While valuable modes of information transfer, school classrooms and the media cannot beat complete immersion in a subject of study, and nature is bountiful in that regard. However, there is a way to add extra energy to the learning: if the subject under scrutiny has meaning. The outcome is transformative learning.

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Paying the price of the lack of diversity in US healthcare

At first glance, there is a glaring lack of diversity in the United States’ healthcare workforce. Look deeper, and the dilemma takes on a far more disheartening form. Despite continuous efforts spanning over four decades, there seems to be little shift towards representative parity between the healthcare workforce and the nation it must serve. If anything, things are getting worse. This lack of parity is a significant bulwark to effective healthcare. Professor Christina Goode of the Western University of Health Sciences in California, USA, has identified contributing factors to this dilemma. It is a highly complex state of affairs, and making the necessary shift will require substantial changes beyond that to the country’s education system.

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