Hartpury Research Conference 2023: Making a difference through research and knowledge exchange

Veterinary Nursing
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Hartpury University staff, students, and invited guests celebrated the end of a busy year of research at the institution’s annual Hartpury Research Conference: Making a difference on Friday 14 July.

This was the first conference run in parallel with the Hartpury Sports Business Hub. As a result, the event welcomed external guests that have engaged with Hartpury students through a variety of real world knowledge exchange and consultancy projects. Staff and students were joined by representatives from the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol (Hartpury’s research degree provider).

The conference was headlined by keynotes from Professor Greg Whyte OBE - the preeminent authority on exercise physiology and sports and exercise performance in the UK, and Professor Philippe Wilson - Professor of One Health at NTU and Chief Scientific Officer at Willows Health under NHS Leicestershire. University students and staff also presented an outstanding selection of research from Hartpury’s varied range of subject areas. PhD students were challenged to communicate their project within 3 minutes, an attribute that will no doubt help them to share knowledge with a wider audience in a concise way.

In Professor Greg Whyte’s morning keynote, he explored the rise of ultra-endurance events and charity challenges and the impact of exposure of non-elite athletes to extreme environments. He examined the role of research in the preparation and performance of elite athletes, non-elite athletes, and celebrities at the extremes.

Professor Philippe Wilson, named in Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 listing in 2018 for ‘Science and Healthcare’, used his afternoon keynote to describe his career journey and research interests in areas including human, animal and plant medicine. 

An impressive selection of research and consultancy projects were showcased by the Hartpury Sports Business Hub team. Jeremy Holt (Sport Business Lecturer. Hartpury University) presented ‘The work of the RISE project - a programme framework aimed at individuals not in education aged 16 - 24 to upskill and boost the employability of young people in Bristol’. Bevan Howells (MSc Sports Management student) looked into ‘The impact and effectiveness of the Be Active Wales fund on community clubs’, while Arabella White (MSc Sports Management student) carried out ‘An investigation into female participation levels within golf at the Hilton Puckrup Hall.’

Amongst a range of sports science and performance outputs, Alexander Wilson (PhD) looked into ‘The impact of sport scheduling on sleep duration and social jetlag in student-athletes.’ The research showed that early morning training sessions had a considerable impact on sleep hygiene and made recommendations on ways to improve awareness of sleep importance.

A selection of animal research papers showcased Hartpury University’s specialism in human-animal interaction with Prof. Vicky Melfi’s (Professor in Human-Animal Interactions, Hartpury University) research asking ‘How attached are zoo keepers to the animals in their care?’ Polly Doodson (PhD) explored ‘Animal-visitor interactions in semi-contrived tourism settings’ looking into the impact of ‘meet and greets’ in UK zoos.

In line with Hartpury Agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and agri-technologies, Wing Ng (PhD) presented her paper exploring ‘Achieving net zero through farm level carbon assessment.’ Brian Evans (Agricultural Lecturer, Hartpury University) and Torin Nicolson (BSc (Hons) Agriculture) explored the ‘Impact of different Nitrogen fertiliser application methods on grass yield and nitrogen use efficiency within a UK dairy grazed trial area’, while Aisling Carroll (Equine Science Lecturer and PhD) has been ‘Investigating faecal bacterial communities in pre-weaned Holstein dairy calves and the influence of management events.’

In veterinary nursing, Izzy Riley (Veterinary Nursing Lecturer and Programme Manager) looked into ‘How the waiting room environment impacts canine fear-related behavioural expression’ while Hannah Poulton (BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing Science) showcased her findings after setting out to ‘Investigate how veterinary professionals are affected by companion animal euthanasia.’ Dr Carol Gray (Principal Lecturer in Veterinary Nursing) presented findings from her research ‘Companion animal neutering: Exploring the purpose, process and power dynamics of consent.’

Amid a busy time for Hartpury Equine with its annual summer events in full flow, research from Dr Kathryn Nankervis (Equestrian Performance Research Centre Lead) laid out the ‘Experiences of interdisciplinary working from the perspective of Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitters.’ Fresh from delivering the AllTech-Hartpury Student Conference earlier this year, Dr Kirsty Lesniak (Senior Lecturer in Equine Science) assessed the ‘Prevalence of functional trait and distal limb asymmetries and their effects on equine performance.’

Prof Stephen Draper, Academic Dean at Hartpury University said: “The Hartpury Research and Knowledge Exchange Conference gives us the chance to come together to celebrate achievements in research and knowledge exchange. This year’s theme of ‘Making a Difference’ spoke to our aim of producing and sharing the highest quality research that has real world relevance and impact.

“It was a huge privilege to welcome two truly outstanding keynote speakers. Prof Greg Whyte has reached a level of public communication and engagement never seen before in sport and exercise sciences and Philipe Wilson is Professor of One Health, which will resonate with the real-world challenges facing our industries and indeed our planet. A massive thank you to Philipe and Greg for giving us their time.

“Knowledge exchange is a very important aspect of our work and mission at Hartpury and is particularly complimentary to our applied and industry relevant curriculum. Hartpury punches well above its weight in this area and remains amongst the top UK universities for local growth and regeneration in the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) exercise.”

Often working collaboratively, students and staff remain heavily involved with Hartpury’s research outputs, recognised as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021). These outputs are largely led by a growing cohort of around 30 students studying PhD and DPhil degrees and supported by students on a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Opportunities to present research projects and engage with industry have no doubt contributed to Hartpury’s high graduate employability rates. In fact, 97% of graduates are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity according to the latest data released by HESA as part of its Graduate Outcomes 2023 survey, putting Hartpury first in the South West and in the top 10% in the UK for graduate employability. Hartpury University also ranks 1st in the South West and 6th in the UK for Teaching Quality, according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide for 2023.

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