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Director and actor to get honorary degrees from University of Essex

Film director and producer Stephen Daldry and actor Janine Duvitski are to be awarded honorary degrees. Credit: PA

Acclaimed British film director and producer Stephen Daldry and Benidorm actor Janine Duvitski are to be awarded honorary degrees from the University of Essex this summer.

They are among a dozen people to be honoured by the university in Colchester in July. There will be 15 degree ceremonies held over five days as nearly 4,000 students get their qualifications.

Janine Duvitski is best known for her roles in the ITV series Benidorm as well as One Foot in the Grave and Waiting For God

Stephen Daldry is the director of the Netflix series The Crown and was responsible for blockbuster films such as Billy Elliot and The Hours.


Skin colour impacts football position, Essex study finds

Does the colour of your skin have an impact on your football position? Credit: ITV News Anglia

The colour of your skin still has a big impact on which position footballers play, according to new research from the University of Essex.

It found that players with darker skin were more likely to occupy wide positions associated with athleticism and strength.

Meanwhile, those with lighter skin often filled the central positions - normally thought to require organisation and creativity.

The research is the most thorough investigation of its kind outside of the United States, where the influence of skin tone on playing position has been studied extensively in American football and basketball.

The results showed that although players of a darker skin tone still primarily occupy peripheral playing positions and players of a lighter skin tone central positions, the difference is less prominent than previously reported.

The new study had access to data collated, reviewed, and ratified by Sports Interactive - the makers of computer game Football Manager.

"What sets this research apart is that the research analysed data from 4,515 players, that is, every player in English football's top four professional leagues across five seasons (2010-2015)."

– Lead researcher Dr John Mills

Essex university professor leading research on GM 'wonder-wheat'

A professor from the University of Essex is leading research into genetically modified wonder-wheat made with sprinkled gold dust that could help scientists feed the world.

Professor Christine Raines is the research project's principle investigator. Credit: ITV News Anglia

British scientists, led by Professor Christine Raines, are planning the world's first field trials of a GM spring wheat with added genes to improve yield by enhancing its ability to tap the sun's energy. Tiny gold particles coated with DNA will be used to transport the extra genes into the plant.

If successful, the "proof of concept" study at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire could lead to similar work aimed at boosting photosynthesis in other staple crops such as rice and maize.

"We really do have an impending major food shortage across the globe."

– Professor Christine Raines, University of Essex


An academic and student revolution 50 years on

The University of Essex is celebrating its 50th anniversary. 120 students started at the site near Colchester back in 1964. Since then the campus has expanded and 70,000 from more than 130 countries have graduated.

This past weekend alumni returned to their old haunt to reminisce.

Through the 1970s Essex University hit the headlines for its revolutionary students and protests. It also made news for its pioneering research in social sciences.

ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer reports

Which is the best month to be born in?

New research from the University of Essex has found that children born in certain months of the year are fitter, stronger and more powerful than those born in other months.

Researchers studied 8,000 children and measured their fitness, muscle strength and power.

Published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, the research found that children born in November were fitter and more powerful than those born at other times, in particular those with birthdays in April, May and June.

October-born children were stronger than those born in all other months except September and November.

University offers free lectures

A new series of free lectures is being launched at the University of Essex to give people the chance to hear from its leading academics.

The Professorial Inaugural Lecture series features leading academics who have recently been appointed as professors.

Each talk will be held at the Lakeside Theatre at the University’s Colchester Campus.

Lectures will cover a broad range of subjects including the nature of modern warfare and the transformation of advertising in the 1950s and 60s.

Admission is free but needs to be booked in advance.

Scientists seek to unravel how brain sees 3D movies

Film-goers watch a 3D movie Credit: PA

Scientists at the University of Essex are hoping to work out how we see 3D movies.

The researchers have been awarded a £369,000 research grant to get a better idea of how the brain transforms the flat 2D image into a 3D one using the special glasses.

The research could help 3D movie-makers and designers of virtual reality systems make their products as “real” as possible.

3D film audiences experience a vivid awareness of three-dimensional objects and people because the special glasses present two slightly different versions of the movie to the left and right eye.

The three-year research project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is to determine how the brain interprets these differences.

Dr Paul Hibbard explained: “We know a 3D understanding is achieved by neurons at the back of the brain responding to the different images from each eye to make a 3D model. What we don’t know, and are trying to understand, is how the neurons are achieving this.”

It could also give a better insight into the binocular image differences that our brains respond to, and how it uses these to determine three-dimensional shape. The research could help the development of artificial computer vision , important for robotic and artificial intelligence systems.

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