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Ideas Lab Talent Bank
We've got brains...  
Need to find an expert? We’ve got specialists from across the University of Birmingham – so if you’re looking for an interviewee, an editorial consultant, or even a presenter, you’ve come to the right place.

You'll need a password to view the videos on this page (but not to listen to the podcasts). We don't bite, so just e-mail us or give us a call (0121 414 7809) and we'll send you the password straight away. Do also ring us if you’d like some suggestions – we’re always putting new experts on the site, so if the person you need isn’t up here, call us and we may know the right person for you. We’re also happy to do a search for someone new just for your programme or series.

We have experts in...

Animal Behaviour, Archaeology, Art History, Cardiovascular Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies, Computer Science, Engineering, Film and Television, Health Psychology, Health and Social Care, Infectious Disease, Intelligent Robotics, Islamophobia, Marketing, Maternal Mental Health, Modern History, Obesity, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Rheumatology Research, Social Policy, and Sports Science.
 
Dr Nick Hawes
Dr Nick Hawes
Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics
 
Dr Amitava Banerjee
Clinical lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine
Dr Amitava Banerjee

Nick is a scientist working to deploy Artificial Intelligence technology on robots, with the aim of producing intelligent robot systems to provide services for future generations. This covers areas such as understanding language, machine vision, automated robot planning, navigation and mapping, and behaviour control. The resulting robots will range from entertainers and cleaners in our homes and offices, to security guards and caregivers in our institutions. 

To achieve this Nick studies tools and techniques for the integration software (creating the software necessary to program and control robots), ideas (ways to connect different AI techniques to each other) and people (putting together diverse teams to work on complex design problems). Nick also has experience in AI characters for games and virtual worlds, having originally trained to develop AI for the games industry with his PhD sponsored by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

A keen science communicator, Nick has presented on the ideas behind his work, and on the impact future AI technology will make on society, for the New Scientist and for Cheltenham Science Festival (as a Royal Academy of Engineering *Engaging Engineers* trainee). He was also part of the London Science Museum's Festival of Robots event in December 2011, which saw him interviewed live on BBC Breakfast.



Ami spends his time between cardiology, research and teaching. His expertise lies in epidemiology and public health, particularly relating to heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. He has a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University and a DPhil from Oxford, and has published on topics from global health and medical education to vascular disease and patent law.
 

Ami has acted as advisor to the Cardiovascular Diseases Division at the World Health Organisation, and is currently Medical Advisor for the Health Impact Fund, a novel proposal to incentivise the development and delivery of new medicines by paying drug companies for the health impact of their medicines. His recent work about the family history of stroke in women with heart disease received worldwide media coverage from Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and the Daily Mail to ABC News and the Times of India.

In June 2012, Ami won the Specialist Factual New Talent Pitch at Sheffield Doc/Fest, with his project 'Heart of a Migrant'. 

Ami also co-writes a popular evidence-based medicine blog, trusttheevidence.net.
FameLab UK - Robot Localisation
Nick Hawes, 2011

Podcast logoRobots - the reality                        Predictor Podcast Ep29, Ideas Lab, 2011

 

Podcast logoValue-based pricing                       Predictor Podcast Ep 20, Ideas Lab, 2011

     
 
Dr Chris Allen

Dr Chris Allen
Specialist in minority communities, discrimination and Islamophobia
   Dr Henry Chapman
   Archaeologist
 Dr henry Chapman

Chris is an expert in Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination, and the subsequent policy implications in relation to security, anti-terror, community cohesion and integration.  


Following 9/11, he co-authored the EUMC’s report into Islamophobia in the EU, which, to this day, remains the largest monitoring project undertaken anywhere in the world into Islamophobia. He also spent three years as Director of Research & Policy at a national human rights agency, and has a strong policy background and experience of working with grassroots communities.

Chris has appeared on many TV and radio shows, including BBC1's The Big Questions, Midlands Today, Sky News, Channel 4 News, Dispatches, Press TV and the Islam Channel, not to mention various radio stations throughout the world.


Away from academia, Chris is a qualified football coach. He’s also been to the toilet in 10 Downing Street, which is usually an interesting conversation starter at dinner parties!

Chris’s new book ‘Islamophobia’ was published in November 2010.

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If Henry looks familiar it may be because you've seen him on Time Team - he's been a member of the team for nearly 10 years and worked on well over 100 programmes. Henry has also worked on shows for Channel Five, the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

Henry's particular specialism is in prehistory, and the relationships between climate, environment and people in the past.   He's currently the Director of the Visual and Spatial Techonology Centre ; Institue of Archaeology and Antiquity.

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Interview with Dr Chris Allen
Copyright Beatriz Prates, 2010

Podcast logo9/11 ten years on - where are we now? 
Predictor Podcast Ep 31, Ideas Lab, 2011


Podcast logoIslamophobia 
Predictor Podcast Ep 10, Ideas Lab, 2010
  'Time Team
Time Team for Channel 4

Screen Test: 'Elumens Dome'
Ideas Lab, 2008


Podcast logoDigital Heritage
Predictor Podcast Ep1, Ideas Lab, 2010
Dr Jackie Blissett 
Dr Jackie Blissett
Psychologist
 
Dr Richard Clay
Art Historian
Dr Richard Clay 

Jackie is an expert in Applied Developmental Psychology. She focuses on the development of emotional eating in children and childhood obesity. She is interested in parent-child interaction and looks at the implications of restricting foods, or using food as a reward.

Jackie suggests that children should not be made to eat all of the food on their plates, as this encourages them to eat in the absence of hunger which increases their risk of obesity.

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Richard is an art historian with a difference - his main area of research expertise is the destruction, rather than the production, of art.  

Richard is Director of the University’s Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub - and he tells us that between 1787 and 1807, Birmingham was the art capital of the world...in purely quantitative terms!

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Podcast logoEmotional Eating
Predictor Podcast Ep 6, Ideas Lab, 2010

  'Art Attacked'
Ideas Lab, 2010 

Screen Test: 'Surviving the Terror'

Copyright BBC, 2008
Dr Nicola Smith
Dr Nicola Smith
Political Scientist
  
   
   Dr Robin May
   Senior Lecturer and Lister Fellow
   in Infectious Disease

Dr Nick Hawes

 

A researcher on male and transgender sex work, Nicola has found plenty of evidence that there are lots of men selling sex and lots of people (both men and women) buying it.

Nicola is particularly interested in the lived experiences of males and transgender sex workers and how those lived experiences are being made invisible in academic, political and legal debates about the sex trade.



 

Robin is a Lister Fellow and senior lecturer in infectious disease in the  School of Biosciences. His research focuses on how fungi, bacteria and other pathogens cause life-threatening human infections.

He is particularly interested in how the 'arms race' between pathogens and their hosts has led both sides to evolve sophisticated mechanisms to manipulate the other.  At the moment, a major focus of his work looks at how some pathogens can turn the body’s immune cells to their own advantage in order to stay ‘hidden’, or travel around the human body, eventually killing their human hosts.

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  Podcast logoInfection 
Predictor Podcast Ep8, Ideas Lab, 2010


'White Blood Cells'
Ideas Lab, 2011
Dr Russell Beale 
   Dr Russell Beale
  Senior Lecturer in Computer
  Science
 
Dr Eliot Marston
Obesity Specialist
 Dr Eliot Marston

Russell leads the Advanced Interaction Group in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. As a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) specialist, his interests range broadly across the border between computing and communication systems and society, with a particular focus on using artificial intelligence in interactive systems, usability and design. He is also Director of the new HCI Research Centre at the University.

Russell is a prize-winning communicator of scientific ideas, has written popular science articles and textbooks (he is co-author of one of the leading textbooks). He has also appeared on various TV and radio programmes, includingSky NewsBBC Midlands TodayBBC Radio WM, BBC Radio 4, Asian News Network and Kerrang!.

 

As BUPA Translational Research Manager for the Centre for Obesity Research, Eliot is responsible for driving new collaborative, interdisciplinary research initiatives, and for working with internal and external partners to develop and promote research excellence in the area of obesity. The Centre brings together researchers from across the whole campus, including medicine, sport, psychology, education, and economics, to address the causes and consequences of obesity, to devise new methods of prevention and treatment, and to evaluate existing ones.

Eliot has a degree in Genetics, a Research Masters in Immunology & Oncology and a PhD in childhood leukaemia research, after which he went on to hold a Medici Fellowship in the commercial application of scientific research. He also runs the pioneering ‘Obesity Ambassadors’ scheme, through which members of the public are involved in the Centre’s work.

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    Podcast logoObesityeas L
Predictor Podcast Ep9, Ideas Lab, 2010  
    

Community Day 2010 
Filmed by Eliot as part of the Obesity Ambassadors scheme 
     
Ideas Lab, 2010
Professor Isabelle Szmigin 
Professor Isabelle Szmigin
Professor of Marketing
 
  Dr Anna Phillips
  Health Psychologist
Dr Anna Phillips 

Based at Birmingham Business School, Isabelle specialises in consumerism, credit and debt issues, alcohol consumption, and issues around the ethics of consumption and responsible business. She is concerned with the stereotyping of consumers and especially older people. She’s also interested in the design and management of services and complaining behaviour.

Isabelle is a rarity in the world of commerce - she actually likes to hear people complain!  She also looks at the tactics companies use to avoid our complaints.

She appears regularly on TV and radio shows including The Politics Show, BBC News, Midlands Today, Costing the Earth and You and Yours 

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Anna is an RCUK Research Fellow and Health Psychologist based in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences. She investigates how factors such as ageing, stress, bereavement, depression and being a caregiver impact our immune system and therefore our health.

For example, she’s researching why older people who have a hip fracture and depression are more prone to infection than younger people with the same injury. She’s also looking into whether vaccinations can be made more effective by giving them at different times of day.

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Podcast logoBinge Drinkingeas L
Predictor Podcast Ep7, Ideas Lab, 2010       
  Podcast logoStress
Predictor Podcast Ep18, Ideas Lab, 2011
Dr Vikki Burns
Dr Victoria Burns
Sports Scientist
 
Dr Matt Bridge
Sports Scientist

Dr Matt Bridge


Vikki is based in Sport and Exercise Sciences. She researches how stress and exercise affect the immune system, and teaches functional anatomy. Vikki believes strongly in the importance of public engagement in science; she completed a British Science Association Media Fellowship, during which she worked as a science journalist at the Irish Times, and she won the National Brain Science Writing Prize in 2006.


Vikki's other area of interest is working with children and young people. Having spent three years as a university welfare tutor, she has experience guiding and mentoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those at risk from dropping out of university. She's particularly interested in helping students develop skills that enable them to succeed at university and beyond.

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Matt’s expertise lies in the areas of sports coaching and applied sports science – how we train sportspeople and how coaching practice can maximise performance. His interests are in the application of sport science to coaching and whether we can identify talent and how we develop individuals; can we spot ‘gifted’ youngsters? How do we nurture and develop all individuals? What allows or prevents individuals from fulfilling potential? These questions are looked at from both world class and personal improvement perspectives.  

Matt has presented his research to various sporting bodies in the UK and Europe, including the Professional Golfers’ Associations of Europe at their annual congress on developing elite players. He has also consulted to the British Olympic Association on coaching and worked with individuals and teams in a variety of sports including golf, cycling and triathlon, and is convener of the Coaching Special Interest Group of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

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Podcast logoStarting at university 
Predictor Podcast Ep30, Ideas Lab, 2011
  Podcast logoSports L
Predictor Podcast Ep11, Ideas Lab, 2010   
as Lab, 2010
 
Professor Karen Rowlingson
Professor Karen Rowlingson
Professor of Social Policy
 
  Professor Kai Bongs
  Physicist

 Professor Kai Bongs

Karen’s expertise lies within the field of social policy and focuses on the financial security of individuals, families and households, including research on: assets and asset-based welfare; poverty, wealth and inequality; social security policy; personal finance (including savings, pensions, credit and debt); and financial capability/education.

She's also Director of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), and a member of the Executive Committee of the UK's Social Policy Association.

Karen's taken part in several live and recorded TV and radio shows, including Sky News, BBC Breakfast, The One Show, BBC1's The Big Questions, and Radio 4's Today programme and You and Yours.

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Kai's work is all about cool and weird. Not him, but the atomic gases he’s torturing with laser beams and electromagnetic fields until their temperature  misses absolute zero by just a few billionths of a degree and they become a big lump of fuzzy "quantum matter". Leading the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre he’s interested in using his atoms as an "analog quantum computer" to mimic quantum phenomena such as superconductivity and superfluidity.

Kai dreams of extending the boundaries of physics to the lowest possible energies, which promises insights into the basic laws of nature but also has an applied side. One example is the ultra-precise atomic clocks, which might lead to better satellite navigation or ensure that future high speed data networks do not get out of sync. Kai's latest endeavour is to coordinate the EU project iSense which aims at portable gravity sensors for uses such as oil, mineral and diamond exploration or carbon sequestration.

 

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Podcast logoMoney
Predictor Podcast Ep5, Ideas Lab, 2010
Podcast logoCold Atom Physics
Predictor Podcast Ep12, Ideas Lab, 2010


Dr Rebecca Stack 
Dr Rebecca Stack
Research Psychologist
 
Dr Jessica Heron
Research Fellow in maternal mental health
Dr Jessica Heron 

Rebecca is NIHR Research Fellow in Health Service Research based in the Rheumatology Research group. Rebecca’s area of expertise is in applying psychology to health, illness and medicine. She has conducted psychological research in the areas of pharmacy, diabetes, and palliative and cancer care, for example finding out about the way that people with multiple illnesses manage their many medicines.

Having recently joined the University of Birmingham, Rebecca is currently working on a project to identify the reasons why people with rheumatoid arthritis delay in seeking help. This is an important area of research, not only because the earlier people seek help for arthritis and receive treatment, the less joint damage and disability they face in the future, but because there may even be a critical window in the first three months from the onset of symptoms during which rheumatoid arthritis can be controlled or even ‘switched off’. Rebecca and the team are working on how to develop the public’s understanding of arthritis and how to encourage people to seek help sooner.

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Jess is an expert in mood disorders triggered by childbirth. Her research focuses on the spectrum of bipolar symptoms that can occur following childbirth, from mild transient elation ('the highs'), which may be followed by postnatal depression, to severe episodes of bipolar disorder or psychosis (often called ‘puerperal psychosis’ or ‘postpartum psychosis’) that require urgent hospital treatment.

Jess is based in the Birmingham Mother & Baby Unit, where she works with a small team of academics and a national network of women who have suffered from episodes of postpartum psychosis, to: raise awareness of these severe episodes, improve their management, and increase the understanding of their causes.

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Podcast logoCatching it early: the critical first weeks of rheumatoid arthritis
Predictor Podcast Ep35, Ideas Lab, 2011
   
Dr Jackie Chappell
Dr Jackie Chappell
Lecturer in Animal Behaviour
 
   Dr James Walters
  Lecturer in Film and Television

Dr James Walters

 

Jackie is an expert in animal cognition. Her research focuses on the ways in which animals (which includes humans) learn how to manipulate objects in useful ways, and how they might predict what will happen if they take a particular action.


She is also interested in the convergent evolution of intelligence in distantly-related species, and through collaborations with other researchers at the University of Birmingham is involved with a wide variety of species including parrots, crows, orangutans, human children, and robots!

 

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James' main area of research is the close analysis of film and television, with examples ranging from Tarantino's Kill Bill to Channel 4's Wife Swap. He's written a couple of books on fantasy cinema, Alternative Worlds in Hollywood Cinema and Fantasy Film: A Critical Introduction, each showing how the weird and wonderful has taken shape across historical, cultural and national borders.

James is also interested in how different critics write about cinema and he recently brought together a host of international film scholars and asked them to write about a single moment from a film of their choice. That research became a book too, Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory, published by the British Film Institute.

At Birmingham, he leads one of the first Masters courses in the country that asks students to make a film for their final dissertation, rather than write one – the Masters in History, Film and Television.

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Podcast logoIntelligence                    
Predictor Podcast Ep2, Ideas Lab, 2010
 
  Podcast logo48 frames per second: challenging our emotional attachment to film
 Predictor Podcast Ep48, Ideas Lab, 2012
Dr Berny Sèbe 
Dr Berny Sèbe
Lecturer in colonial and post-colonial studies
 
 Professor Jon Glasby
Professor of Health and Social      Care
Dr Jon Glasby 

Berny is a Lecturer in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures, Art History and Music. A historian by training, he specialises in comparative British and French imperial history from the nineteenth century until the post-colonial period.

He is particularly interested in the impact of the Empire on metropolitan cultures, the decolonization of North Africa and the Sahara, as well as Franco-African relations since independence. He has also had field experience in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and is happy to comment on political and cultural questions in relation with these regions and their inhabitants.

He is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

Translate to French...

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Jon is Director of the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre.  He specialises in joint work between health and social care and regularly provides analysis and advice on policy. He’s written articles for the Guardian as well as a series of leading textbooks on health and social services.

He is a Non-Executive Director of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a trustee of the Birmingham Settlement and a member of the West Midlands Joint Improvement Partnership. Jon was also named as one of the ‘five ones to watch’ for the future of the social sciences by the Times Higher Educational Supplement.

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    Podcast logoSocial Policy
Predictor Podcast Ep17, Ideas Lab, 2011  
Dr Phil Cox 
Dr Phil Cox
Chemical Engineer
     

Phil researches food processing and food microstructure with the aim of constructing foods which have lower fat or calorie contents, but which are identical to the original versions in every other way. Along with the rest of his research group he’s committed to developing products that can help fight the rising levels of obesity seen globally; a problem Phil believes must be tackled at a population level rather than an individual one. He also looks at ways to make foods that contain less salt, and foods which use less energy in their production and transportation.

Unusually for an engineering department, several of Phil’s students are psychology graduates and not straight scientists or engineers. This is because he’s extremely interested in the potential reactions that consumers might have to his new foods.

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Podcast logoFood                    
Predictor Podcast Ep4, Ideas Lab, 2010 


 
             
Ideas Lab, 2010
   

 

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