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  • ItemOpen Access
    Naples between touristification and commoning: the production of the freed space in the heart of the tourist zone
    (De Montfort University, 2023-11) Locorotondo, Martina
    The Southern European city of Naples (Italy) has been shaped by two opposite urban processes over the last decade. One is the phenomenon of touristification, which has entailed the financialisation of housing, the displacement of inhabitants and daily commerce, the privatisation of the public space, resulting in the exacerbation of the current crisis of social reproduction. The other is the proliferation of the practices of commoning by twelve Freed Spaces, and the parallel experimentation with the new municipalist experience. This work contributes to Critical Urban Studies providing a first socio-spatial analysis of the production of freed space by the Commons in relation to (and in the face of) the tourist city. An ethnography based on a Decolonial Feminist epistemological approach and embedded in the making of the Commons found that the freed space is constructed as opposed to, but intertwined with, the space of the tourist city. The everyday spatial practices of commoning give space back to the functions and subjectivities displaced by tourist zoning, remixing and recomposing them. Whereas the tourist city forms isolated subjectivities, the Commons construct new bonds of solidarity, building a social infrastructure capable of confronting the current crisis, and pushing back the new enclosures of touristification.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Examining the Determinants of Financial and Operational Sustainability of Microfinance Institutions in Ghana
    (De Montfort University, 2024-05) Sambian, Robert Makila
    This thesis results from an extensive investigation into the intricate relationship between two pivotal determinants: operational and financial factors and their impact on the sustainability of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Ghana, with particular emphasis on microcredit pricing as a moderating factor in the hypothesized relationships, drawing on a sample of 270 MFIs. The first determinant involves financial factors, encompassing some key elements of capital structure, specifically capitalization, deposits and availability of loanable funds, while the second determinant is made up of Operational Factors, composed of portfolio at risk, financial technology (FinTech) and staff quality. These variables have been assessed using a 5-point Likert scale and subjected to statistical analysis using Partial Least Squares Structural Equations Model (PLS-SEM) with the aid of SMART-PLS version 4 and SPSS version 26. The thesis adopts a dual theoretical perspective, integrating both the Life Cycle Theory (LCT) and the Institutional Theory. The findings validate eight of the twelve primary hypotheses framed for the study. Firstly, all the financial factors exhibit a positive and significant association with MFI financial sustainability in Ghana. Secondly, one of the operational factors, FinTech, exerts a positive and significant influence on financial sustainability of MFIs, while both FinTech and staff quality demonstrate a positive and significant relationship with MFI operational sustainability in Ghana. Thirdly, portfolio at risk bears a negative and significant relationship with financial sustainability. Lastly, the study highlights the moderating influence of microcredit pricing on the relationships between Capitalization and financial sustainability, as well as between portfolio at risk and operational sustainability. The implications of the study are manifold: Firstly, it emphasizes the necessity for a comprehensive approach, addressing both financial and operational factors, to promote sustainability in the microfinance sector. Secondly, it highlights the inadequacy of the existing minimum capital requirement imposed by the Central Bank of Ghana for ensuring MFI sustainability. Thirdly, it underscores the importance of appropriate microcredit costing and pricing practices, emphasizing the delicate balance required to ensure both the profitability of MFIs and the affordability of credit for borrowers. Specifically, an optimal microcredit price enhances MFI financial sustainability, whereas excessively high microcredit pricing has detrimental effects. This is attributed to the fact that excessively high microcredit pricing amplifies the portfolio at risk metric, raising the default risk and subsequently pushing microcredit prices even higher. This creates difficulties for microloan beneficiaries in repaying, leading to a pernicious cycle of high microcredit interest rates and high default rates, ultimately resulting in the collapse of the MFI. Consequently, policy interventions such as raising the minimum capital requirement, providing a framework to guide MFI microcredit costing and pricing practices and/or imposing microcredit pricing caps among other measures are required to pivot the microfinance industry in Ghana from the perennially high attrition rate to an era of improved financial and operational sustainability.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The effectiveness of the statutory nuisance procedure
    (De Montfort University, 2023-08) Everett, Timothy John
    This thesis critically examines the law and practice around the use of the Statutory Nuisance procedure under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and its equivalent in Northern Ireland. This is a legal procedure that has been developed since the mid-nineteenth century. The aim is to consider its effective use by Councils in dealing with a wide range of housing and environmental problems raised by the hundreds of thousands of public complaints received every year. It also considers whether the courts help or hinder this. It reviews and analyses current legal issues including those arising from the meaning of “prejudicial to health” and “nuisance”, the interaction with other regulatory powers, and the impact of the Human Rights Act. As well as a detailed doctrinal analysis of the relevant legislation and case-law, the research includes online surveys with practitioners in the UK, and detailed interviews with practitioners across the UK and Ireland, which still uses a much earlier version of the same procedure. Interviews of lawyers and others with related expertise were also carried out. The research also reviews the handling of related complaints made to the relevant UK Local Government Ombudsmen in 2016-2020. This gives an insight into the degree of satisfaction with Councils’ use of the procedure. An analysis of the empirical data available is used to contrast what Councils say they do, and what is done in practice. This highlights the level of compliance with the three statutory duties contained in the procedure. The thesis includes recommendations to make the procedure more effective. Despite the age of this procedure and its widespread use, this is the first research that attempts to look at all the relevant strands.
  • ItemOpen Access
    “When I grow up…” exploring the impact of university-primary school interventions on pre-adolescent career aspirations
    (De Montfort University, 2023-06) Toogood, Aaron
    All societies have a higher chance to succeed when the constituent individuals have mutual trust in each other and cooperate to achieve common goals by pooling their available knowledge and resources (Capara, 2004). However, these individuals ‘face incentives to behave selfishly, seeking the benefits of cooperation without paying the costs’ (Brehm & Rahn, 1997, p. 999), these ‘incentives’ lead to or help grow inequality within society. Aspiration erosion, a result of this inequality, begins while still at primary school age (Gottfredson, 1981). Targeted at primary school children, an east-midlands university has voluntary projects that involve direct contact between local primary schools in deprived areas and university students and staff. The specific objective of these projects is that through the interactions, there will be a raising of the aspirations of the young children. The principal aim of this study is to look at the critical process of aspiration development and investigate how career aspirations evolve in young people. Also, whether targeted and specifically designed university-primary school interventions can positively alter that process. A longitudinal study involving questionnaires was undertaken over three years, tracking the same cohort of children from age 8 to 11 years (Year 4 to Year 6) involving four schools from a rural affluent area and inner-city deprived boroughs. A sample of 137 children completed the questionnaires for each of the three years, with a total of 589 questionnaire respondents. This mixed methods approach also contained interviews and document analysis. To give the children involved in the research their voice, pupils conducted interviews between themselves asking questions to build upon the initial quantitative findings; a total of 18 interviews and five focus groups. Findings confirmed prior research that child aspirations are significantly influenced by socioeconomic status, but new in this study are the findings that their level of self-belief and attitude towards education was found to be almost as significant an influence. Further, it was observed that the university-primary school interventions had positive effects on the aspirations of the inner-city children who participated. A factor/mechanism model of child characteristics on career aspiration was identified and developed from the data, which creates a new contribution to knowledge.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Strength and Clinical evaluation of Self-reinforced Polymer Composite Prosthetic Sockets
    (De Montfort University, 2023-09) Nagarajan, Yogeshvaran Ramanathapuram
    The prosthetic socket is essential to the prosthesis because it is specifically created to fit comfortably on the amputee’s residual limb. The advanced prostheses costs maximum of $100k, which means that many of the 35-40 million amputees living in less-resourced nations cannot afford them due to the high cost and shortage of prosthetists. This problem is expected to become even more significant as natural disasters caused by global warming, diabetes and conflicts resulting from wars increase the number of people who need prosthetic devices. Therefore, this thesis aims to develop frugal manufacturing methods to create affordable prosthetic sockets for lower-limb amputees. The study begins with using a 3D scanner and shape analysis toolbox to characterize the correction procedures performed on the residuum cast. Over one-hundred digital scans of the residuum limb casts were obtained during field trials at a non-profit rehabilitation service provider in India. The clinical implications of this research are: (a) the comparison data can serve as training resources for junior prosthetists, (b) it helps prosthetists to identify specific regions that need rectification and assess socket fit. The substitute low-cost socket material and manufacturing technology were developed to fabricate prosthetic sockets using commingled yarn based self-reinforced polymer(srP) composites. The matrix and reinforcement in the single polymer composite are made from the same type of polymer, such as Polylactic acid(SPLA) and Polyethylene terephthalate(SPET) fibres. In contrast, the dual polymer composite has carbon fibre and glass fibre reinforcement with a PET matrix(DCF and DGF). For effective utilisation of srP, a purpose-built reusable vacuum bag and Infrared curing oven were commissioned to produce flat laminates and prosthetic sockets. Considering material cost, socket weight, and strength of the range of socket materials, the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) decision criteria demonstrated that SPLA socket ranks high than SPET, DGF, and DCF. The performance index of SPC and DPC sockets has been proven to be much higher than that of the currently used expensive laminated composite fabricated using resin infusion and additively manufactured sockets. An ISO socket testing campaign revealed that the single polymer composite made from PET-fibre reinforcement complies with the socket strength requirement of 4426 N and is cheaper to produce. Therefore, the final study elucidates the performance of newly developed prosthetic sockets made from the PET single polymer composite in field trials in India. The unilateral and bilateral amputee’s gait performances were recorded with the help of a wearable device during the six-minute walking tests with the newly developed PET and traditional sockets. It has been shown that the amputees using the PET-based sockets showed that they can engage in daily activities without interruptions, reaffirming the functional efficacy of newly developed PET sockets. In addition, the cost per kilogramme of the woven PET fabric used in the socket manufacturing process was only 13 USD, proving that it is an economical and capable material alternative for prosthesis production. The thesis outcome represents significant progress towards achieving affordable and personalised prostheses catering to amputees’ needs in less-resourced nations. This thesis also provides a foundation to fabricate functional prosthetic components, such as pylon foot pieces, with upcyclable and bio-degradable single polymer composites.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Role of Forensic Science in Identifying Missing Migrants in Europe
    (De Montfort University, 2023-08) Johnston, Emma
    Thousands of migrants have died on dangerous journeys, in search of a better life, around the world. We do not know who the vast majority of these individuals are. This leaves friends and family in a state of limbo, not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Despite established forensic processes for identifying the dead, little is being done to identify the missing migrants. The aim of this study was to examine the role of forensic science in identifying missing migrants in Europe. I took a qualitative approach and employed a grounded theory methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders from forensic science, international organisations, academia, civil society and policing. Findings from the data demonstrate that migrants are less likely to be identified than other groups of the dead or missing for a number of reasons relating to the scientific methods being used and the political and social climate. There is also some ambiguity about the term missing migrant itself. I found that the forensic landscape related to the identification of missing migrants in Europe is hugely complex with a large number of actors and a scope beyond the continent. To date, there has been a reliance on the standard Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) mechanism in attempts to identify missing migrants. This process has a strong science focus, particularly towards DNA profiling, but it emerged from the research data that this approach does not translate well to the migrant context. In addition, there are numerous issues with the data relating to missing migrants and a coordinated mechanism for sharing standardised data is required. To make progress in identifying missing migrants, I argue that a truly interdisciplinary approach is necessary. This process must balance scientific and non-scientific contributions, including contextual information, and establish trust between contributors. Drawing on my research findings and the wider literature, I propose the establishment of the European Migrant Identification Centre (MIC) to coordinate efforts on the forensic identification of missing migrants in Europe.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Pedestrian’s Safety and Mobility at Signalised Intersections, and Smart Crossing Decision System
    (De Montfort University, 2024) Shehadeh, Eman
    Pedestrian safety becoming a serious issue, especially in developing nations, wherein higher crash rates have been reported by the World Health Organisation. Despite evidence suggesting lower pedestrian safety at signalised intersections in urban areas, there is a lack of in-depth investigation in most developing countries. Motivated by this need, the first contribution of this research is to present a novel approach that will help developing countries to determine and explain pedestrian crash causes while considering various challenges in these contexts. This was achieved by identifying the significant roadway environment characteristics influencing pedestrian vehicle crashes at signalised intersections in Amman, capital of Jordan. 166 accidents occurred during the period of 2007–2019 at 47 signalised intersections in Amman were analysed. The multilevel Generalised Linear Mixed Gamma regression (GLMG) model is the best fit for the data, indicating significant positive correlations between pedestrian crash frequencies and Annual Average Daily Traffic, pedestrian crossing volume, number of lanes, average lane width, and number of parking sides. Conversely, commercial land use and the presence of public transit facilities showed significant negative correlations with pedestrian crashes. The second contribution of this research is to establish a complementary approach that combines both observational behaviours (by using video recordings) and self-reported behaviours (by using a questionnaire) in order to explore the effects of multiple factors on pedestrian behaviour. This provides a deep understanding of pedestrians’ behaviour and differentiates their risky behaviours, which can aid in reducing the large number of pedestrian crashes and fatalities associated with pedestrians’ mistakes while walking. This was achieved by, firstly, analysing the observed pedestrian crossing behaviours in video records for the 47 signalised intersections based on the changes of pedestrians’ crossing time. The Generalised Linear Model (GLM) is the best fit for the data, indicating significant positive correlations between crossing time and carrying heavy bags, crossing in group, wet road surface, industrial land use, street width, average hourly vehicular volume, and duration of the ‘steady Don’t Walk phase’. Whereas males and rainy weather showed significant negative correlations with the crossing time. Secondly, a self-reporting pedestrian behaviour questionnaire for the Jordanian population (JPBQ) was developed and validated, spanning all ages; indeed, it represents the first valid long pedestrian behaviour questionnaire not only in Jordan but also in the Middle East, to the best of my iii knowledge, and can be used for purposes of pedestrian behaviour research. Additionally, this proposed JPBQ fills the gap found in previous studies in terms of the low reliability of the positive behaviour factor. Thus, developing this valid JPBQ is the third meaningful contribution made by this research. The JPBQ consisted of 40 items describing pedestrian behaviour, whilst the validation study itself included 400 participants. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed a four-factor structure: transgressions, lapses, positive behaviours, and aggressive behaviours for both Long (31-item) and short (20 item) versions of the JPBQ, confirming validity and reliability for each factor. Across the four factors, the highest mean scores that pedestrians reported were for positive behaviours, while the least commonly reported behaviours were aggressive behaviours and lapses. Furthermore, the results of many statistical tests indicate significant behavioural differences amongst participants based on the effects of many variables such as the age, gender, marital status, and walking alternatives. Finally, a concept for a Smart Crossing Decision System (SCDS) that supports the crossing decisions of sighted pedestrians at signalised intersections is proposed alongside its architecture. As the existing SCDSs that have been designed worldwide across targeted blind and visually impaired pedestrians, with lack of such systems targeted sighted pedestrians. My system was designed based on the concept of context awareness that senses different navigation and traffic data, reasons about ability to cross streets safely, and reacts upon it by providing crossing decision to the pedestrian. Additionally, a novel algorithm for the crossing decision process is proposed. This algorithm considers many influencing factors (such as gender, waiting time, weather condition) of pedestrian crossing time which may have an important role in the crossing decision process when comparing the expected crossing time to the remaining green time of a pedestrian signal. This improves outcomes of the process of crossing decision making and adds another degree of certainty.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Beyond the Veil: Revealing the Hidden Qualities of Objects and Spaces through Electroacoustic Audiovisual Experiences
    (De Montfort University, 2023-09) Worthy, Stewart Andrew
    The twentieth century gave rise to rapid developments in science, technology, and the arts. In visual art, a significant step came from the Surrealist exhibitions that started in 1939, which made the transformation of the gallery space as important as the individual works being shown. These exhibitions, along with earlier work produced by Kurt Schwitters, helped lay the foundations of installation art. At around the same time in France, Pierre Schaffer began experimenting with disc and magnetic tape to formulate his theory of musique concrète, helping to create the wider genre of electroacoustic music. This thesis explores how sound installations that combine practice from both visual art and electroacoustic music can reveal hidden qualities in static objects whilst overtly presenting sounds derived from the objects themselves. In doing so, source recognition is more easily achieved which in turn can help those experiencing the works engage with more abstract content. Six original sound installations are presented that help investigate these concerns. Together with the creation of the works is a table of audiovisual transformations that reinforce the link between sound and object by considering what a particular audio process would look like translated into visual form. The creation of the table emerged intuitively at first as the works were created. This situation established an exchange of ideas linked to practice and research. Projection mapping helped provide dynamic content, which animates the static objects and allows both parametric and experiential factors to create audiovisual links in the transformations. The findings offer a detailed insight into how electroacoustic practice can inform audiovisual composition choices. Whilst these all focus on sound installations, there is significant scope for others to adopt and adapt both the broader practice-based methodology and the table of audiovisual transformations for wider audiovisual use.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Speedway Racing in England 1928–1965: Communities, Gender and Modernity
    (De Montfort University, 2024-05) Horley, Barbara
    In 1928 a new sport was introduced into England from Australia which, in the following decades, became so popular that it was regarded by many as second only to football in its following. In 1949 it recorded over 12.5 million attendances whilst 93,000 attended the World Championship at Wembley in 1938. Despite this, virtually no academic attention has been paid to dirt track or speedway racing as it became known. Through an analysis of broadcasting, newspaper, trade press and archival sources, this thesis examines how a professional sport with a largely working-class following established itself in England and goes on to consider the effect that it had on British society between 1928 and 1965. It will consider its influence on communities, ideas of gender, its relationship with the media, and its contribution to technology and ideas of modernity. This thesis will demonstrate how speedway played an important role in the lives of many individuals and communities. It will show how speedway differed from other sports of the time by welcoming women into what might ordinarily be regarded as an archetypal masculine world and how many riders displayed more nuanced styles of masculinity. It will suggest that the amount of broadcast time afforded to speedway did not necessarily reflect the huge following it enjoyed although it was featured in the press at both national and local levels. It will also demonstrate the important contribution made by speedway to motorcycle technology and how it took on the mantle of modernity in an age when speed and technology became important aspects of it. In essence, this thesis demonstrates the enormous impact speedway had on British society and opens up an area which, although hitherto largely ignored, has a lot to teach about British sports and social history.
  • ItemOpen Access
    (De Montfort University, 2023-06) Osunmakinde, Ayodele Olusayo
    This thesis contributes to the literature on the confluence of spirituality and entrepreneurship, meticulously examining the intricate relationship between spiritual capital and the practice of social entrepreneurship within the Nigerian context. Social entrepreneurship is a framework or model that promotes using entrepreneurial means to address social challenges and create a positive social impact that benefits the common good. On the other hand, Spiritual capital embodies a transcendental resource, augmenting an individual's ability to cultivate personal, dynamic, and cognitive values that bear substantial socio-economic implications. The concept of spiritual capital has recently gained attention in social entrepreneurship, with researchers exploring the potential role of spirituality in entrepreneurial cognition, processes, and resourcing. To gain insight into the role of spirituality as a precipitating and underlying source, resource, and force that facilitates social entrepreneurial praxis in Nigeria, this study adopts a qualitative methodology, grounded in constructivist and interpretivist paradigms, utilizing data gathered from semi-structured interviews with social entrepreneurs and their networks within the Nigerian context. This study is framed in the context of effectuation theory and posits that effectuated spirituality, a form of spiritual capital, is a viable source, resource, and force. By examining the relationship between spiritual capital and social entrepreneurship in Nigeria, a region characterized by significant socioeconomic voids and gaps, this study aims to increase the understanding of how spiritual capital facilitates the social entrepreneurial process and outcomes in the context of such challenges. Utilising a selection of social entrepreneurs in Nigeria as the primary unit of analysis, this research examines the interplay between spirituality, capital, and social entrepreneurship, especially within institutionally challenging environments. It further conceptualises 'effectuated spirituality' within the framework of spiritual capital. This study concludes that spiritual capital underlies various social entrepreneurial offerings in Nigeria as an adaptive, iterative, and incremental source, resource, and force that enhances social entrepreneurs’ capacity to generate values, cognition, and actions resonating with their intrinsic spiritual values. The findings of this research carry extensive implications for both policy formulation and practical application, which are elaborated upon in detail within the study.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Pioneering Legacy: Early Women Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland, 1839 -1861
    (De Montfort University, 2024-05) Teanby, Mary Veronica Rose
    The early history of photography in Great Britain and Ireland frequently presents as a predominantly male activity, amateur or professional, with sporadic reference to a limited number of women practitioners. This obscures a large cohort of women who participated in photography from its inception, others assisting or facilitating photography without appropriate acknowledgment. This thesis documents the activities of early women photographers in Great Britain and Ireland between 1839 and 1861, exploring their contributions to photography and wider impact within mid nineteenth-century society. New research confirms key women actors situated within the early development of amateur and professional photography, but through interrogation of photographic histories and prior scholarship in combination with alternative resources including contemporary newspapers, trade directories, census returns and exhibition catalogues, many more geographically defined women photographers have been identified. Eliminating the requirement for image primacy or attribution has enabled a concentration on biographical content, shifting focus from the photograph to the photographer. A significant area of research centres upon the social and legal context framing photographic intersection with societal challenges specific to women. Photography presented new opportunities to contest gender inequality through equal participation in photographic societies, image exhibition in parity with men, and advertising commercial photographic studios in equal but unregulated competition for new clientele. Women’s presence in the new photographic milieu provided new employment for unmarried women, defined as society’s unproductive ‘surplus’, financially supported by the Society for the Promotion of Employment of Women. Similarly, widows avoided penury by operation of a photographic studio following bereavement. Photographic technology was accessible to women across the social spectrum, disrupting an ethos of both class and gender segregation. The thesis explores women’s specific impact on traditional forms of illustration, photographic tuition, and active participation in a community rejecting ‘separate spheres’ ideology by encouraging interchange of ideas within informal social or scientific networks. The thesis concludes that women’s adoption of photography demonstrated their important non-domestic contributions to society, contesting traditional discriminatory mores and advancing photography at the outset of a creative revolution. I argue that British early women photographers are therefore of critical importance to a revisionist account of nineteenth-century visual culture and integral to a more inclusive representation of photographic history.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Signal processing-based bioinfomatics methods for characterisation and identification of bio-functionalities of proteins
    (De Montfort University, 2012-07) Norbert Ikechukwu, Nwankwo
    This research entails sequences analysis using Bioinformatics techniques. The aim is to investigate the biological functionalities of proteins as well as protein-protein interactions. This is in order to understand disease processes; design, assess and compare therapeutic interventions; and develop devices that would help in assessing efficacies of the therapeutic agents. Clinical approaches to are known to be labour-intensive, slow and resource-consuming, and require rationalization. Techniques including Digital Signal Processing-based (DSP) methods such as Resonant Recognition Model (RRM), Informational Spectrum Method (ISM) and Continuous Wavelet Transform (CWT) are engaged. Two top-killer diseases, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Malaria are studied. In an attempt to denature the reported fairly unstable Surface Protein (HIV gp120) so as to deactivate HIV and possibly cure AIDS, it was later found that mutations in the HIV gp120 are linked to its numerous physiological characteristics. Further study on the effects of mutations on HIV gp120 helped demonstrate the mechanism by which HIV progresses to AIDS. Using these bioinformatics approaches, Tropic and Phenotypic associations of the HIV and the relationships that exist between and amongst HIV, Simian Immunodeficiency (SIV) isolates and their host species are identified. African isolates such as the Zairian WMJ1 and the Cameroonian 96CM-MP535 are also found to share common biological functionality with an American isolate SC, suggesting cross-Atlantic transmission. Resistance arising from the exposure of five anti-HIV/AIDS drugs to their target proteins are further assessed. This led to the proposed bioinformatics tool called Computer-Aided Drug Resistance Calculator (CADRC). In addition, binding interactions that exist between Plasmodial and host proteins are predicted. The results help strengthen the fact that the proteins' biological functionalities and interactions are sequence-content-dependent, and can be predicted. Finally, the continuous wavelet transform-based approach is engaged to identify the connecting peptides that separate the helices of the HIV gp41 and its crystallographic product, the 1DF5. This strengthens the reliability of the technique. In conclusion, bioinformatics approaches are found to be rational and appropriate for assessing biological functionalities and interactions, and inventing therapeutic interventions such as remedies for recalcitrant HIV especially when applied to their novel target proteins.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Fusion of Intelligent Control and Acoustic Sensing for an Autonomous Helicopter
    (De Montfort University, 2011-06) Passow, Benjamin N.
    An autonomous helicopter presents a highly complex system that is difficult to control. This thesis introduces two novel approaches to enhance the control of the autonomous helicopter Flyper and to stabilise its flight: Evolutionary algorithm based control parameter identification and tuning as well as acoustic sensing methodologies. Evolutionary control parameter identification and tuning on a real-world system can provide controllers without the need to identify a formal model. This research provides evidence that natural noise and uncertainties force a genetic algorithm to carry on evolving towards more robust controllers even when a fitness plateau has apparently been reached. It is shown that the introduced methodology can produce robust controllers. The intrinsic sound signature of the helicopter is recorded and analysed using a microphone array connected to a base station. Novel techniques are introduced that extract a multitude of information from the sound signature of the helicopter in flight, without the need for on-board sensors that would add to the payload. A hybrid evolutionary and artificial neural network methodology is shown to be capable of training complex estimators. This technique has been used to measure the individual rotor speeds of the coaxial rotor helicopter from its intrinsic sound signature only. Besides the individual rotor speeds, the helicopter's state and its distance and direction from the microphone array are extracted in real-time. This information is fed back to the helicopter and fused with its controllers to further stabilise its flight. Test flights confirmed that acoustic sensing can significantly enhance the helicopter and its stability in-flight. This work demonstrates that acoustic sensing is a valuable asset that is currently little explored and underused in machine sensing and control.
  • ItemOpen Access
    From ‘Inanimate Alice’ to ‘The Mistress of Nothing’: the Novel in Print and Online
    (De Montfort University, 2011-07) Pullinger, Kathleen
    This PhD by Published Works consists of three published works, Inanimate Alice, The Mistress of Nothing, and Flight Paths: A Networked Novel and a supporting thesis, From Inanimate Alice to The Mistress of Nothing: The Novel in Print and Online. All three published works are fiction. The Mistress of Nothing is a work of literary fiction, Inanimate Alice is a digital fiction, a multimedia work that resides online in episodes, and Flight Paths: A Networked Novel, is a networked book, a work of fiction that exists on several digital platforms simultaneously. The Mistress of Nothing is the work of a single author, whereas Inanimate Alice and Flight Paths: A Networked Novel are both collaboratively authored. The thesis forms a critical and reflective commentary on the three published works. It explores the works as exemplars of current writing and publishing practice in the context of the digital transformation of the publishing industry. It demonstrates the sustained research effort that has gone into the creation of all three works, as well as the original contribution to literature these works make. Publishing is changing rapidly, and writing, reading and bookselling are changing with it. Digitisation is transforming the book as an artefact of literary culture. While writers are urged to engage with social media to market their books, storytelling itself is evolving with the new technologies. Over the past twenty years I have produced a series of landmark works in the parallel fields of digital fiction and traditional print fiction, and it is on these works that this submission for a PhD by Published Works rests.
  • ItemOpen Access
    German Architectural Modernism, Spatial Perpetration and the Concentration Camp, 1933–1945
    (De Montfort University, 2023-09) Cretney, Jessica
    This doctoral project examines the extent to which the built environment of Nazi concentration camps is itself a historical source and whether the spatial experiences created were deliberate; it is hypothesised that close connections exist between concentration camps as physical manifestations of Nazi ideology and modernist architectural theories of standardisation and efficiency. Combining architectural theory with historical methodology, this interdisciplinary project explores the theoretical and tangible connections that exist through two case studies. Firstly, Dachau, which functioned as a so-called “model” camp (Musterlager) for the SS and so had considerable influence on the built environment of later camps. How architecture functioned as a significant but imperfect instrument of violence at Dachau is explored through the notion of spatial perpetration. The second case study focuses on Ernst Neufert, an architect who trained and worked with Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus. After publishing his internationally renowned text on architectural standards, Bauentwurfslehre, in 1936, Neufert was recruited by Albert Speer and became the regime’s consultant for standards questions. Together, the case studies demonstrate the interaction between architectural modernism and the regime, most notably through standardisation in construction; it is argued that establishing and replicating ‘norms’ is an inherently political act and, therefore, the role and responsibilities of architects under Nazism require careful reassessment. How intentionality manifests in design is considered alongside the complex interplay of power relations, autonomy and affect in the built environment.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Synthesis of Novel CYP1 Activated Heterocyclic Anticancer Prodrugs
    (De Montfort University, 2011-04) Bhambra, Avninder Singh
    The cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes are critical in the metabolism of endogenous and exogenous substrates. CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 have been found to be over-expressed in tumour cells whilst undetected or present in very low levels in corresponding normal tissue. This presented a novel target for the development of anti-cancer prodrugs, which would remain non-toxic until undergoing metabolism to toxic species by CYP1 enzymes over-expressed at tumour sites. The chaicones have been shown to exhibit effective anti-cancer prodrug activity, but are labile to photoisomerisation reactions converting the potent trans isomer to the less toxic cis isomer. Several heterocyclic ring systems were incorporated across the a,p-unsaturated moiety of the chaicones to produce rigid structures, eliminating the possibility of photoisomerisation occurring whilst maintaining the substituted phenyl groups in a trans like geometry. Lead compounds were identified using an in vitro MTT screening assay against a panel of tumour cell lines characterised for their constitutive or inducible CYP1 expression. These were the MDA 468, MCF7 and MDA 231 cell lines. The non¬tumour MCF10A cell line which has no basal CYPI expression was used as the control. A library of eighteen 3,5-diarylpyrazoles were synthesised. The lead pyrazole DMU 10107 (3-(2,3,4-trimethoxyphenyl)-5-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)pyrazole) gave an IC50 value of 8pM towards the MDA 468 cell line. The MCF7 cells, TCDD induced and non-induced gave IC50 values of 10|iM each. Although the pyrazoles showed plausible tumour toxicity, an investigation into six membered pyrimidine heterocycles was undertaken in an attempt to obtain enhanced cytotoxicities than those observed from the five membered pyrazoles. Therefore, a library of fifteen 2-amino-4,6-diarylpyrimidines was synthesised. The lead amino-pyrimidine DMU 10212 (2-amino-4-(2,4-dimethoxyphenyI)-6-(3,4- methylenedioxyphenyl)pyrimidine) showed significant cytotoxicity towards the MDA 468 cell line with an IC50 value of 0.01 pM. Notable IC50 values of 0.3pM and 0.07pM were also observed towards the MCF7 and MCF7 cells induced with TCDD. The important toxicity seen from the 2-amino-4,6-diarylpyrimidines prompted the investigation of the 2-position of the pyrimidine ring, and to assess the tumour toxicities of the synthesised compounds. The 2-amino-4,6-diarylpyrimidines were converted to produce 4,6-diarylpyrimidones by a one-step conversion reaction using sodium nitrate. The pyrimidone DMU 10313 (4-(2- methoxyphenyl)-6-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)pyrimidin-2-one) showed high toxicity with an IC50 value of 0.07,uM towards the MDA 468 cells and IC50 values of I.811M and 0.5uM towards the MCF7 and MCF7 cells induced with TCDD. A library of nine 2-morpholino-4,6- diarylpyrimidines was synthesised. The lead compound DMU 10405 (4-(2,4- dimethoxyphenyl)-6-(4-methoxyphenyl)-2-morphoIinopyrimidine) gave an IC50 value of lOpM towards the MDA 468 cells. DMU 10600 (4-(2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-6-(3,4- methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-dimethylethylenediaminopyrimidine), showed an IC5o value of 7pM towards the MDA 468 cells and an identical IC50 value of 10pM towards the MCF7 and MCF7 cells treated with TCDD. DMU 10700 (2-methyl-4-(2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-6-(3,4- methylenedioxyphenyl)pyrimidine), a substituted pyrimidine based on the phenyl substitutions of DMU 10212 gave an IC50 value of 2.5p.M towards the MDA 468 cells. DMU 10800 (4-(2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-6-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)pyrimidine), also based on the phenyl substitutions of DMU 10212 showed an IC50 value of 0.08pM towards the MDA 468 cells and equal IC50 values of 0.2pM against the MCF7 and MCF7 cells induced with TCDD. All lead compounds did not show toxicity towards the non-tumour MCF10A cell line. DMU 10212 was selected as the overall lead compound due to the significant tumour toxicities recorded, and for the non-toxicity observed towards the MCF10A cells. Inhibition studies using the known CYP1 inhibitor a-naphthoflavone (a-NF) were conducted to show that DMU 10212 was a substrate of the CYP1 enzymes. The resulting data showed that the cytotoxicity of DMU 10212 was completely eliminated suggesting CYP1 enzymes play an activating role in the cytotoxic effect of DMU 10212. LCMS metabolism studies using isolated CYP1 isoforms were performed showing that DMU 10212 is metabolised to produce four metabolites (Ml, M2, M3 and M4), determined from their individual retention times and molecular masses. The metabolites of DMU 10212 were also found to be generated at a greater rate with CYP1A1 than CYP1B1. Metabolite structures were proposed as CYP1 enzyme reactions are known. The metabolite M2 was synthesised and was identified to be an authentic metabolite of DMU 10212 via LCMS and co-elution studies. Screening of M2 against the tumour cells gave an IC50 value of 0.6pM towards the MDA 468 cells, and IC50 values of 0.6pM and IpM against the MCF7 and MCF7 cells induced with TCDD. In conclusion, DMU 10212, a novel CYP1 activated anticancer prodrug with selective high toxicity towards tumour cells has been identified.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Plug-in your practice: a three-part package for integrating creative digital technologies in Level 3 performing arts education
    (De Montfort University, 2023-01) Bennett-Worth, Stacie Lee
    In the UK, there is a national shortfall in digital performance capabilities of students arriving at higher education (HE) performing arts courses. Formal qualification content in level 3 performing arts courses, have little-to-no reference to digital performance practices or the use of creative digital technologies within the performance making process. With many low-cost, free, and accessible creative digital tools readily available, this research suggests a pragmatic approach to re-envision aspects of post-16 performing arts teaching and learning using such tools to support a shift towards more relevant and fit-for-purpose qualifications. This research bridges the gap between level 3 and level 4 performing arts education through the development of a three-part package for facilitators, that supports a holistic approach to the effective and manageable integration of creative digital technologies in level 3 courses. Developed in response to practice-based research, observations, interviews, and workshop design undertaken between 2018-2021, the original contribution to knowledge is presented where the three parts of the developed package converge. It responds to the shift to more intermedial approaches to performance making reflected in HE performing arts courses while referencing the skills gap also reported in broader creative industries. Part one is a pedagogical framework (SMAR-T framework) that provides a scaffolded approach to teaching and learning in this context through four core pillars: Skills-building, novel Methods, Aesthetic openness, and Relationship building, all supporting the development of Technological sensibility. Part two, is a digital resource (Digital Performance Making: An A-Z for Facilitators – DPMAZ - found at which highlights digital tools, technologies, and spaces through in-action examples, explained context and creative experiments. Part three is a continued professional development (CPD) programme developed in collaboration with University of the Arts London (UAL) awarding body, that provides a support for teachers wishing to integrate or ‘plug-in’ this work into their practice. The research faced limitations in obtaining a broad dataset across diverse cultures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it conducted an in-depth case study over three years, connecting with artists and educators along the way to validate and contextualise the findings.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The use of full-parallax colour digital holography as an artistic medium
    (De Montfort University, 2023-11) Dalenius, Tove Noorjahaan
    This thesis maintains that full-parallax direct-write digital holography (DWDH), or in contemporary shorthand ‘digital holography’, can be successfully used as an artistic medium, as evidenced by my full-parallax, full colour, hologram, Emergence. This hologram visualises the complete structure of the Bulbo-clitoral organ within the body. It was created using Ultimate Holography’s Chimera technology with 250 micrometre hogels and has outstanding colour. It is a cutting-edge work, advancing the field in the context of contemporary artworks, and it paves the way for future research and practice opportunities. The practice-based research leading up to and including the production of Emergence includes examples of experimentation and collaboration. It provides original insights into the practice of creation in the three-dimensional medium of holography, with multi-dimensional interdisciplinary applications in art, culture, anatomy, and science. Taken together, the four new studies presented in the thesis build a background of exploration of the medium of digital holography, in resonance with the various fields of inspiration for the envisioned artworks. The studies explore ideas and give insight into practical workflows, and the thesis identifies and discusses both the opportunities and barriers to using the medium for data visualisation, and to create artworks using elements of data visualisation. Each study comes from a distinct idea with its own motivation and backstory. By detailing an individual artistic journey, the thesis shares the knowledge gained for the benefit of future artists, designers, and researchers in the field. It is intended to make digital holography practice more accessible for future users. The research assists both creative practice and technological development in digital holography both by creating a piece of new work at the frontier of the possible and through detailed disclosure of the processes used to achieve it.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Development of a volumetric solar thermal absorber
    (De Montfort University, 2009-01) Treikauskas, Franz-Dominik
    Thermal collectors are the central part of a solar energy system. Within the collector, the absorber is the most essential component and contributes about 46% to the total costs of a collector. These absorbers are typically based on the sheet-pipe design. Hence, further improvements of the absorber performance are hard to carry out without increasing costs and weight for the collector significantly. Against this background, current absorber designs are investigated and new possibilities are selected, calculated, optimised and experimentally tested. An analysis of former and current absorber designs is carried out. It can be seen, that during the energycrisis more innovative systems were developed, while in recent years the state-of-the-art is based on the sheet-pipe design. A lot of different connections are applied to join the header and riser pipes to the selectively coated absorber sheet. However, weaknesses in manufacturing and operation as well as those regarding efficiency and costs make it hard to improve this design. In an engineering design process the absorber is analysed and together with a requirements list, new approaches have been developed. New absorber materials are suggested as well as absorber design possibilities for fluid and heat conduction. Based on the solutions several concepts are derived, which are evaluated to select the best for further optimisation and experimental testing. In the course of fluid simulation, the chosen concepts are modelled and optimised regarding flow distribution. This approach is novel as former absorber designs lack homogenous flow, or the distribution was optimised experimentally. The simulation results show a more equal flow distribution for the concepts than is the case for the state-of-the-art absorbers. Calculations of the collector efficiency factor show superior values for volumetric absorbers, while typical values are gained for sheet-pipe-absorbers. Infrared, pressure drop and collector efficiency tests confirm the results of simulation and calculation for both the new designs and the state-of-the-art. The developed absorber with corrugated pattern shows a more homogeneous flow distribution and a higher measured collector efficiency factor than typical state-of-the-art absorber.
  • ItemOpen Access
    (De Montfort University, 2024) Al-Mutairi, Musaed Ali
    The use of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) by Kuwaiti EFL students at various educational levels is examined in this thesis. The study focuses on the effects of three learner variables: gender, level of education, and vocabulary proficiency level. Open-ended questionnaires, Semi-structured interviews and diaries were applied to elicit valuable data for this study. Participants included 455 Kuwaiti male and female students aged 15-23 years studying English at the intermediate, high school, and university levels. An additional 40 male students completed diaries and interviews regarding their English VLS. The study identified three approaches participants used to learn vocabulary: discovery, note-taking, and memorisation. Findings revealed differences in the use of VLS by males and females and by students at different levels of education. This study is the first to identify how Kuwaiti EFL students learn vocabulary and provides valuable knowledge for educators on how to best structure language learning aligned with the strategies that students are most likely to use.