University of Bedfordshire Masters by research degree dissertations

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  • Muscle activity and kinematic differences between a range of hip dominant resistance exercises

    Maddams, George John Michael (University of Bedfordshire, 2022-04)
    The purpose of this study was to compare four commonly used hip extension exercise from a kinematic and muscle activation perspective to try and identify the best lift for posterior chain (PC) development. Twelve males (age: 19 ± 2 years; height: 1.81 ± 0.81 m; body mass: 85.64 ± 10.87 kg) who were injury-free for the previous six months where included in the study. Ten participants (four aged 17 years old: six aged 18 years old) were selected from a 1 XV Rugby Union scholar athlete training group at Oundle School, and were resistance trained (> 1 years’ experience). Two participants (21 years old) where considered experienced at resistance training (> 3 years). All participants took part in a repeated measure, study design, in which they performed four hip extension exercises: conventional deadlift (CDL), sumo deadlift (SDL), hex bar deadlift (HBD) and hip thrust (HT) at 90% one repetition maximum (1 RM) for three repetitions, and 100% 1 RM for one repetition. A 4 x 2 x 2 ANOVA compared muscle activation, knee and hip kinematics and load lifted at two lifting intensities. Results indicated for 100% 1 RM lifting the erector spinae (ES), rectus femoris (RF), vastus medialis (VM), muscle activity and knee peak joint flexion and joint range of motion (ROM) was significantly greater in the HBD compared to the HT. In 90% 1 RM, ES muscle activation was greater in HBD, and RF, for the HBD, CDL, SDL, compared to the HT. Knee joint ROM was significantly larger in the three styles of deadlift for all lifts compared to the HT. Hip joint peak flexion and ROM was significantly greater in the HT compared to the HBD. Lifting at 90% 1 RM showed a greater global muscle activity when compared to 100% 1 RM. In conclusion, the CDL, SDL and HBD would seem favourable for PC development over HT. The HBD would appear to be the superior lift in regarding muscle activation of the PC, however further evidence is needed.
  • How do leaders respond to crisis? a narrative inquiry

    Goalby, Peter (University of Bedfordshire, 2017-10)
    Rare and previously thought of as improbable events by some are becoming more complex interconnected and cascading in nature (Helbing, 2013; Hsu, 2012; Ball, 2011; Perrow, 2011; Coleman, 2006; Beck, 2003). This research aims to learn more about how leaders respond to crisis by using a case study approach and a narrative inquiry methodology. It further binds the findings and analysis by postulating the idea of fluid observations in organisational theory, grounded in narratives. A narrative corpus of nineteen semi-structured interviews were collected and inductive analytical methods applied to the data. The researcher adheres to a social constructionist paradigm and takes a critical approach towards the literature in leadership studies and crisis management. This study provides narrative empirical data from a manufacturing organisation that had been affected by a cascading anthropogenic crisis and natural disaster. Several leadership actions prevented the organisation from entering administration and large-scale investment was attracted. The organisation was considered by some to have recovered from crisis in certain areas. Convergent and divergent narratives were then analysed looking for perceptions of the interpretation of crisis and leaders’ actions. Boje’s (2011) antenarratives were also analysed looking at classifications of antenarratives present in the narrative corpus. The research found multiple examples of convergent and divergent narratives on both leaders’ actions and crisis. Implications for theory were emergent from narrative empirical data relevant to implicit leadership, social identity, diglossic linguistics, psychosocial, social information processing and antenarrative theories. The research is subjective in nature and provides insights based on narratives permeating all strata of the organisation.
  • Game sense, a theoretical model for a practical reality, a discussion with performance and community rugby union coaches

    Hall, James (University of Bedfordshire, 2022-03)
    The study seeks to discover the extent of understanding, opinions, and the utilisation of Game Sense by current senior rugby union coaches’. GS was developed in the mid-1990’s by Thorpe and the Australian Sports Commission (Light, 2013). The Game Sense coaching model places an emphasis on players developing knowledge and skills through the playing of conditioned games (Light, 2006), and incorporates questioning and discussion between players and coaches’ as a key learning tool (Light and Evans, 2013). Six coaches were interviewed for the study. The interviews involved discussions on their backgrounds in coaching, their coaching philosophies, their current practice, their learnings as a coach and their opinions, understanding and utilisation of GS. The Coaches agree that Game Sense is a vital coaching model, but it must be balanced out with other forms of practice, The coaches highlight that both players and coaches may not have the knowledge and ability to perform in a GS session, further, that environment does not enable them to utilise Game Sense. Coaches suggest that coaching does not work with using one model or another and that instead, practice must suit the environment they are in, this results in the coaches adopting the Cafeteria Coaching approach.
  • The role of hedgehog signalling in the biology of eosinophils

    Lochhead, Lewis Jake (University of Bedfordshire, 2021-10)
    Eosinophils are central to T-helper 2 (Th2) immune responses and allergy and asthma pathogenesis. Their degranulation in response to allergen is a cause of airway hypersensitivity and remodelling in allergic airway disease. Previous work showed active Hedgehog/Gli Signalling via Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) in the lungs of asthmatic murine models. Murine eosinophils can transduce SHH signals, however functional effects of SHH signalling on eosinophils remain unclear. The aim of this project is to elucidate these effects. Therefore, the HL60 myeloid cell line was differentiated into a human eosinophilic population (HL60-eos) via Sodium Butyrate treatment. HL60-eos cells were cultured in the presence or absence of (1) recombinant SHH ligand or (2) GANT61, a Gli antagonist and therefore Hh signalling inhibitor. Cellular phenotype and genotype were studied via qPCR, ELISA, Flow Cytometry, and cytochemical staining. We found that culture with SHH upregulates EPX and TGF-β expression in HL60-eos cells. EPX encodes Eosinophil Peroxidase, a constituent of eosinophilic granules and responsible for cell damage during degranulation. TGF-β1 encodes the cytokine TGF-β, important for lymphocyte regulation, eosinophil chemotaxis, fibrosis, and wound healing. Further investigation is needed to characterise the eosinophilic response to SHH/GANT61 when immunostimulated, as they would be in vivo during an immune response.
  • Incorporation of Bulgarian folklore traditions and culture into the urban fantasy genre

    Dimitrov, Kiril (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-10)
    In The Soul Beneath I explore the elevated importance of setting in the urban fantasy (UF) genre. My work is based on creative research of the UF genre carried out by reading works of authors such as Cassandra Clare, Ben Aaronovitch and Ilona Andrews. Upon examination of the novels I’ve read, it has become clear that many published UF texts are set in a surprisingly limited number of large cities such as New York in City of Bones or London in Rivers of London. This begs the following question, which forms the basis for the thesis accompanying the creative element: what if an urban fantasy work was set in a non-typical for the genre city? This project aims to present how Bulgarian setting and culture can be incorporated into UF and the effect that can have on the story. Rituals such as fire-walking and spirit scaring were crucial inspirations for the magical element in the creative piece. Throughout the thesis, I discuss what Anastenaria is and how I’ve moulded this folklore tradition into a magic practice. The overarching results of my work reaffirm the great importance of setting, particularly cultural when it comes to an urban fantasy text.
  • The evolving role of social media in customer relationship management (CRM)

    Bello, Aminu Tukur (University of Bedfordshire, 2021-06)
    Research Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the role played by social media channels in customer relationship management (CRM) systems in the airlines industry. Much of the focus in this research is given on the nature of conversations between airlines and their customers through social networking sites, and hence this study explores how airline companies can harness the power of social media as an integral part of their CRM system. Method: This is a qualitative research that has adopted exploratory case study design, where data was collected from social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and researcher observations. Social media platforms of five airlines namely, Virgin Atlantic (VA), British Airways (BA), Emirates Airlines (EA), Easy Jet (EJ) and Spice Jet (SJ) were analysed during the Christmas and End of Year holidays for a period of three years in order to find out the kind of conversations between the airlines and their customers. Data was collected through netnography alongside participant observations, where the researcher travelled to various destinations across Europe and North America in which unstructured interviews with customers were conducted. The collected data was analysed using thematic content analysis and sentiment analysis. Theory: In building the research conceptual framework, various models including the technology acceptance model (TAM), technology task-fit theory (TTF) and Unified Theory of Acceptance and Usage of Technology (UTAUT) were incorporated into the study. Empirical Findings: About 125,808 posts/conversations were collected, while 2,515 were analysed. The airlines were categorised into two categories, where VA, BA, and EA were categorised as full-service airlines, while EJ and SJ were considered to be low-cost airlines. From the results obtained in this study, six categories of the nature of conversations that airlines had with their customers include; customer engagement, customer complaints, response to customer complaints, positive customer experiences, customer comments and customer inquiries/questions. Though the nature of the conversations were distributed evenly between full-service and low-cost airlines, the researcher observed that customer complaints were appearing more often in full-service airlines compared to low-cost airlines; which can be attributed to the high expectations that customers have on full-service airlines. Conclusion: Given the way social media provided real-time interaction between airlines and customers, it was concluded in this research that social networking sites provide effective platform through which airlines can use to improve customer relationship due to the speed of information sharing, as well as the interactivity which facilitates customer engagement.
  • Use of machine learning to reduce false alarms

    Ali, Muhammed Usman (University of Bedfordshire, 2020)
    Machine learning is adopted widely in many sectors including healthcare, automotive and finance where machine learning use cases include disease detection, predictive maintenance, and fraud detection. During 2017/2018, around 40%(226,000) of the incidents attended by fire and rescue service were false alarms. Therefore, this thesis is focused towards the application of machine learning on fire alarm systems data to address the rising problem of false alarms. The fire alarm system on site gathers the data about different events which can be utilised to conduct the experiments with machine learning. Therefore , to address this problem five different classification machine learning models including Logistic Regression, Support Vector Machines, Naïve Bayes Classifier, Decision Trees and Random Forests have been used to experiment with data gathered from fire alarm system. The performance of the different machine learning models is evaluated using different methods such as precision, recall, f1- score, confusion matrix, k-fold cross validation and mean accuracy to find the best suited models for reducing false alarm rates. Experiments were conducted on data gathered from the fire alarm system, 10-fold cross validation results indicated Naïve Bayes Classifier detecting 51 out of 53 Fires correctly but with a high misclassification rate and low mean accuracy of 61%. The remaining four models failed in classifying any fires correctly with 0.00 recall, still achieving overall accuracy in the range of 97-98% due to high imbalance in the dataset. The Cohen Kappa value of 0.0 was achieved by models indicating poor agreement in the decisions made. Machine learning models exhibited better performance on the new test data with incorporated temperature data, models achieved higher recall in the range of 0.70 to 1.00 during 10-fold cross validation as well as higher Cohen Kappa scores in the range 0.73 to 0.88 indicating substantial agreement in the decisions made by the machine learning models. The results on fire system data indicated machine may not be that effective due to poor correlation between the features in the data and high imbalance in the data. However, much better results are achieved by incorporating some additional sensors such as temperature into the fire alarm system data.
  • Nanoparticles based drug delivery platform to improve oral uptake for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

    Kaur, Gurpreet (University of Bedfordshire, 2020)
    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a rapidly progressive chronic neurodegenerative disease, which eventually leads to brain damage. Despite combined efforts of the research community, no fully effective treatment has been identified yet. Drug delivery is a major issue in neurodegenerative diseases due to the complexity of the diseases but the difficulty in accessing targets. A medicine is only effective if it reaches its target. As such, while some active molecules can be demonstrated very efficiently in vitro, side effects and unreachable targets bring delivery at the forefront of drug efficiency. Rivastigmine is one of the reversible Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) Inhibitors, which is used for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia of either AD or Parkinson’s disease (PD). As a cholinesterase inhibitor, its role is to inhibit AChE activity to maintain ACh level by decreasing its breakdown rate, therefore boosting cholinergic neurotransmission in forebrain regions and compensate for the loss of functioning brain cells Rivastigmine has shown some success in improving ACh level in AD patients and also inhibiting amyloid plaques deposition in the brain. It is commercially available in different forms including oral solutions, tablets, and patches but therapeutic regimens require frequent dosing causing fluctuations is the plasma level. Whereas the oral form has been associated with a high incidence of gastrointestinal side effects, the transdermal patch formulation has been shown to have a better tolerability profile but adverse dermatologic reactions remain a concern. In addition, an important safety concern persists with dermal application with the risk of treatment overdose by administering multiple patches at the same time, potentially leading to fatal outcomes. Therefore, the oral form could be safer if its side effects could be controlled. Following initial uptake, crossing the blood-­‐brain barrier (BBB) is another major obstacle to be considered. Due to its hydrophilic nature, rivastigmine efficacy is also restricted by its poor ability to cross BBB. Its bioavailability is reported to be only up to 35%. To overcome these issues, this work has focused on the delivery of rivastigmine, particularly its uptake with nanoparticle-­‐based formulations that can facilitate uptake, protect the active molecule from early degradation, and provide targeted delivery while preventing side effects due to unwanted interactions. Rivastigmine loaded nanoparticles have previously been designed and proven to have numerous fundamental properties that assist their effectiveness such as biocompatibility, lack of toxicity, reduced side effects, and increased tolerated dose of the drug but not effective enough for the treatment. Their enhanced retention time within the systemic circulation and their ability to cross BBB still remains challenging. The novel formulations designed in this study were designed for slow release to prevent cytotoxicity while providing stability and high uptake in GI tract to reach the systemic circulation. Biodegradable composition of these formulations will prevent the risks that may contribute to accumulation of inorganic material inside the brain. As the aim of the research is the successful targeted delivery of Rivastigmine, the first objective of this study was to design an efficient method to monitor and analyse delivery, using UPLC in an analytical set up standardised using in house developed standard solutions. In the second part of this study, several formulations were designed and investigated to improve rivastigmine intestinal uptake, where both negatively and positively charges drug loaded nanoparticles were formulated. In the third part of this work ,a Caco-­‐2 cell duodenal model was used to assess membrane permeability, uptake, and intake of Rivastigmine. Cytotoxicity of nanoformulations was determined by MTT assay showing low toxicity in the case of rivastigmine-­‐loaded nanoparticles. The final results of this study demonstrate that nanoparticle formulations provide a slower stable release of rivastigmine from nanoparticles than previously designed nanoformulations. I addition, some of these formulations provide high bioavailability over both apical and basal membrane, therefore, providing higher intake to target the BBB, with limited unwanted interaction in the intestine therefore limiting the major concern about side effects
  • Survivors coping with a history of child sexual abuse in South Africa

    Karagianni, Andriana (University of Bedfordshire, 2021-03)
    Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is global problem that is found in all societies and cultures. Although there is research exploring CSA in western countries, the literature shows that there is limited CSA research on developing countries, like South Africa which is the focus of this thesis. Incidence and prevalence rates are substantially higher in South Africa when compared to other countries and for that reason, further research is needed for the context of that region. The literature shows that ‘coping’ from CSA plays a significant role in survivors’ lives but it is an area that has not been explored sufficiently in South Africa. To this end, the subject of this thesis is to explore ‘coping’ from CSA in South Africa and to explore ways in which CSA survivors cope with their experiences of abuse. This has been achieved through outlining the existing research on CSA coping in the region with the aim to identify studies that are related with topic; to understand the main learnings for that specific population; and to compare these findings to the strategies of other western countries. The study identifies a number of coping strategies that have been adopted by CSA survivors in South Africa to cope with the abuse. It is also shown that similar strategies have been used by CSA survivors in western countries. The link between coping strategies in the area and the specific cultural characteristics is discussed as well. This thesis makes knowledge around coping strategies in South Africa available, and identifies areas for further research.
  • Homecoming – an Irish ghost story: reflections on the Irish gothic tradition

    Rushby, Elleesa (University of Bedfordshire, 2019-10)
    This thesis and my creative work, Homecoming, aim to explore some of the reasons why the Anglo-Irish were so prolific at writing supernatural and in particularly Gothic fiction during the 19th century, particularly as an expression of their fragile identity within the broader British Empire and in Ireland. Homecoming, while set at the end of WW2, examines a fictional legacy of ‘The Hunger’ on the colonised Catholic Irish, dealing with the taboo subject of cannibalism. Homecoming’s Gothic mode, includes elements such as the uncanny and the family curse, blending The Big House with folklore and storytelling, as an allegory on the dysfunctional relationship between Protestants and Catholics in the uncertainty and isolationism of post-emergency Ireland. The thesis explores how the Anglo-Irish abjected the Catholic Irish out of fear of losing control, manipulating their literary depiction for commercial and political reasons, while robbing them of the agency to tell their own story. It traces the migration of Anglo-Irish Gothic into English Literature, appropriation of the Catholic Irish experience and questions colonial depiction of the colonised. The thesis offers a basis for discussion about the attitudes and behaviours of the characters in Homecoming.
  • The acute impact of breakfast consumption and omission on postprandial metabolic responses in adolescent girls

    Morari, Victoria (University of Bedfordshire, 2019-12)
    Breakfast consumption (BC) frequency declines from childhood to adolescence and is associated with poor metabolic health. This research aimed to analyse whether BC versus breakfast omission (BO) affects substrate oxidation during rest in adolescent girls. Secondly, it examined whether BC vs BO influences postprandial and 5 h glycaemia and insulineamia. Lastly, it evaluated the effects of BC vs BO on Fatmax, MFO, rate of perceived exertion and physical activity (PA) enjoyment during an exercise bout performed 2 h after lunch. Seventeen breakfast consuming girls (13.2 ± 0.7 years old) were recruited. Two experimental trials were completed in a randomised counterbalanced order: BC and BO. A standardised lunch was provided three hours after breakfast (BC) or after breakfast omission (BO). Finger prick blood samples for the analysis of plasma glucose and plasma insulin and expired gas samples for the analysis of substrate oxidation were taken throughout the trials. An incremental 7-stage cycling test was performed 2 h after lunch for the determination of maximum fat oxidation (MFO) and intensity at which MFO occurred (Fatmax). OMNI Scale was used to evaluate the perceived exertion at the end of each cycling stage. PA enjoyment was evaluated after the cool-down using Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). There was a significant main effect of condition (BC vs BO) for fat (p= 0.008) and carbohydrate (p< 0.001) oxidation after lunch. Fat oxidation was significantly higher during BO compared to BC, while carbohydrate oxidation was significantly higher during BC compared to BO. The main effect of condition for glucose and insulin incremental area under the curve (iAUC) (p= 0.509; p= 0.603, respectively) and total area under the curve (tAUC) for glucose and insulin (p= 0.738; p= 0.665, respectively) throughout the whole day was not significant. However, post lunch glucose and insulin iAUC (p= 0.05; p= 0.001) and tAUC (p= 0.05; p= 0.001) were significantly higher during BO compared to BC. There was no significant difference in MFO (p= 0.104) or Fatmax (p= 0.945) between conditions. Physical activity enjoyment was higher during BC vs BO with an almost significant difference (p= 0.055). The main effect of condition for perceived exertion (p= 0.307) was not significantly different. In conclusion, BC resulted in lower fat oxidation and lower second meal glycaemic and insulineamic responses. Ultimately, the findings of this study will assist in understanding further the effects of BC vs BO on adolescents’ metabolism. This may have important implications in prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Data pre-processing techniques and tools for predictive modelling using unstructured inputs

    Maslowski, Przemyslaw (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-07)
    Data is a crucial factor within machine learning, as most of the neural networks and machine learning models are data-driven. A trained neural network can be used to predict new data that has not been seen by the model but under the trained patterns. The performance of the predictive model can vary based on the data that is being used while training. Multiple metrics have been produced after a model is trained to evaluate model performance. However, it is difficult to get an intuitive measurement that indicates if the data pre-processing of a model has been improved or not. Therefore, a constructive performance indicator tool that can be used to intuitively measure the performance of pre-processing mechanisms for a given model, has been developed through multiple experiments with 32 datasets. The experiments are set up by collecting multiple unstructured datasets which are subsequently converted into structured datasets and then evaluated by their modelling performance. The experiment results are used to evaluate the importance of each metric and priorities via weights for contextualising the preprocessing experience within the constructivist paradigm. Furthermore, a set of tools have been developed throughout the project to improve the efficiency of machine learning experiments. The developed set of tools are a part of the main software, which is named as the pre-processing assistant. The pre-processing assistant has been published to the public, and it can be used for preparing, processing, and analysing data. The software tools allow users to manipulate datasets and generate Python scripts to train a predictive model. Also, the TensorFlow framework and its machine-learning algorithms have been utilised to develop Python scripts for training and predicting datasets. The software has been used to effectively carry out the experiments which have helped to configure the performance indicator tool. In the end, the most important metrics have been discovered through various experiments. The experiments consist of training the model with and without data pre-processing techniques. The increase in each metric has been adopted to discover significant metrics. The metrics which improve frequently are estimated to be more critical and have been assigned with a higher weight. The performance indicator has been configured based on the final experiment results, and it can be used by others to measure the performance of a predictive model.
  • A model to offer reliable data transmissions in vehicular ad hoc network

    Jameel, Meharaj Theen (University of Bedfordshire, 2020)
    Vehicular Ad-hoc Network (VANET) is one of the widely used networks across various intelligent transport applications in order to support the autonomous driving, reduce network congestion and overcome any kind of the accidents occurring on the road. This report involves in focusing on the safety applications where the vehicles involve in broadcasting the safety messages that are highly time critical and reliability sensitive. The importance of delivering the broadcasted safety messages of VANET in highly timely and reliable manner has resulted in undertaking this research work. In order to support the reliable delivery of the broadcasted safety messages, this research has developed a model called Reliable Vector Clustering (RVC) which involves in neighbour node identification, vehicle cluster formation and broadcasting the coded data using the network coding method. In order to evaluate this developed model, analytical model developed and simulation studies have been carried out in this report. The analytical model has developed a criterion that helps in choosing the best vehicle as the cluster head node and the simulation studies have compared the effectiveness of the developed method. These simulation studies have revealed the effectiveness of proposed RVC method in improving the packet error recovery probability and packet delivery ratio when compared to the existing methods.
  • Understanding and improving police health and wellbeing: the PHeW project

    Kukucska, Dora (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-06)
    Aim: In the UK it has been reported that over 50% of the police workforce has taken sick leave for mental or physical health issues within the past five years. Bedfordshire Police Force has the fourth highest long term sick leave in the UK due to both physical and psychological health. Method: The study employed mixed methods across four phases of work (1. needs assessment, 2. Baseline assessment, 3. Intervention implementation, 4. Evaluation) to assess the physical health (body mass index, blood pressure), psychological wellbeing (stress anxiety, depression, mood, wellbeing), health behaviours (physical activity, nutrition, substance use, sleep), support needs and factors that influence the health and wellbeing of Bedfordshire Police employees. The study moreover tested the feasibility of brief positive psychology interventions (3 Good Things [expressive writing] Technique and Positive Password Mantras) for a length of 1 month. Results: Stress levels (personal, organisational and operational) and BMI were high in Bedfordshire Police Force employees and significantly correlated with poorer health behaviours. Recruitment to the interventions was low, and attrition over the four weeks was high, suggesting the current approach was not feasible. Interview findings indicated that future initiatives need to 1) Build belief in the support available; 2) Address perceived stigma; 3) Provide timely support; 4) Reduce work-related stress; 5) Make health and wellbeing a priority; 6) Encourage camaraderie and social support, and 7) Support positive coping strategies. Conclusion: There is a clear need and desire for occupational health support within Bedfordshire Police Force to support employees’ physical health and psychological wellbeing. Future interventions should consider employee’s capability, opportunity and motivation to engage and make initiatives easy, attractive, social and timely.
  • The effects of static water immersion and different body postures on the cardiovascular system in healthy participants

    Wing, Natasha (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-10)
    Background: Water creates a hydrostatic pressure on the body when immersed (Bove, 2002). This redirects blood to the thoracic cavity leading to an increase in cardiac output (Q̇), stroke volume (SV) and a decrease in heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) ( Šrámek et al., 2000). The aim of this study was to use echocardiography to report the full effects of water immersion. Method: Sixteen participants were immersed to the neck in waters of 30°C in three postures (standing, sitting and laying) for 20 minutes. BP, HR and a full echocardiogram of the left ventricle was performed. This was recreated on land. Results: SV (14.2%), Q̇ (12.5%), and EDV (7.7%) increased and HR (5%), SBP (11.2%), WS (12.1%) and DBP (13.9%) decreased (all P<0.05) in water when compared to land. Sitting demonstrated the greatest effect on the variables. Conclusion: Water immersion displayed favourable adaptations to the myocardium, this is due to an increase in venous return stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and dilating arteries and reducing BP and HR. These adaptations encourage the heart to work more effectively at a lower rate, improving cardiovascular health.
  • Gods in Spandex: a study of superhero mythology

    Woods, Ryan (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-02)
    This thesis sets out to ask the question: What do mythological themes and archetypal theory reveal about Marvel’s Avengers films? The textual analyses will discuss the work of pioneering psychologist Carl Jung. The work of mythologist Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey will also be scrutinised for his links to Jung’s theoretical framework. Through Jung’s theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious, arguments will be made to the relevance of his theories as a valid form of film analysis. An argument will also be made for the heroine’s journey and how this differs from the male hero’s journey. Jungian film studies is an increasing growing area of academic interest. (Hockley, 2018). Current research covers many aspects of film analysis but there is a gap within the study of the superhero genre. This thesis sets out to bridge that gap through the use of Jungian psychology and the application of mythological motifs. Through structured case studies and parallels drawn from world mythology this work makes a strong case for the rich psychological and mythological material found in Marvel films.
  • An investigation into the use and development of essential oils and natural fibres for health and wellbeing

    Da Costa Lopes, Ana (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-05)
    This research considers how essential oils might be impregnated in a variety of materials towards the development of clothing and substrates that may promote wellbeing. Towards this end, it was necessary to gain an understanding of the importance of essential oils in health and wellbeing, to ascertain how much impact it may have when embedded within fabrics used for fashion. Therefore it was necessary to understand a variety of components and properties of essential oils in historical and contemporary use, to understand how these might impact aspects of people‘s health in today's lifestyle. For instance, could essential oils within a given material enhance mood and physical health and wellbeing? It should be noted that within today's society, there is evidence of negativity on the use of natural herbal remedies used medicinally. This research does not wish to ascertain that essential oils are a cure-all, rather than essential oils may be viewed as palliative and used as supportive remedies when captured within a material or piece of clothing. However, this research does give value to the effectiveness of traditional applications, and ancient remedies in studies and testimonies of its efficacy, the psychological effects of smell and how different aromas have importance in people's life. This research seeks to find a solution and problem-solve methods and techniques to create a potential for developing, palliative clothing with embedded essential oils to improve and enhance life quality. The methods used for fabric and essential oil experiments progressed using the creative processes of design in a particular fashion, where experiments include playful prototyping, of clothes and accessories as wellness tools to promote health and wellbeing. Exploring a wide range of fabrics and materials from 'manmade' to sustainable and natural fibres, there were some innovative findings. Final experiments revealed composites of latex with natural materials; one main ingredient being eggshells; these were seen to have a pronounced potential to be the perfect carrier for essential oils, maintaining odour and longevity. Through the tests, this new material has shown various properties that include flexibility, porosity, breathability, resistant and consistent extension of odour.
  • Evaluating approaches to improve upon a Leap Motion-based hand-gesture recognition system

    Chase, Stephen Ricardo (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-09)
    The research proposed in this thesis aims to utilise feedback gained from user testing to evaluate and present viable approaches to improve the self-made Marionette Project while maintaining its core principles. These improvements should primarily allow for users to identify hand gestures efficiently while minimising the number of incorrect hand gestures performed. Analysing various studies throughout the period of the initial Marionette Projects conception and implementation. It was noted that research in human machine and human computer interaction focused on a few prevalent topics, the most common being sign language, and generic gesture recognition. The implementation of these predominate topics focused typically on one of two implementation types; vision or image-based approaches as seen in Cho et al.’s research which looked into implementing a low-cost vision-based gesture recognition system based on the FPGA approach (Cho et al. 2012) or the device-based approaches utilised in Khambaty et al.’s conference paper into “Cost Effective portable system for sign language gesture recognition”. While both studies look at implementing “low-cost” or “cost-effective” solutions they both tackle it from different standpoints. Khambaty et al.’s study looks at it from a monetary perspective presenting the developed system as a cheaper means of providing daily communication as opposed to the cost of hiring an interpreter (Khambaty et al. 2008), which while successful, still puts the product out of range of the general consumer. While Cho et al.’s study focuses on the reduction of computation costs by process the recognition of gestures through the use of the FPGA approach (Cho et al. 2012). This focus on one section of “cost” lowering in implementations has left room for research that provides both a monetary reduction allowing for the implementation to be consumer-friendly and a computational reduction allowing for faster and quicker recognition while still maintain accuracy. Additionally, with a larger focus being placed on visual based implementation, but solely in the realms of sign language and generic gesture recognition as a means for human to human communication it provides a gap in the field to test the plausibility of these implementation types for other uses, like machine control. As such, the initial Marionette Project aimed to find a cost-effective means of producing firstly, an effective but innovate hand gesture recognition system that could be utilised to control a range of robotics but in particular a mechatronic hand. The Leap Motion controller was implemented into the project, to test the viability of a low-cost consumer-grade product as a means to manipulate robotics. Utilising the Leap Motion controller also provided notable innovation as most published studies incorporating the Leap Motion Controller focused almost exclusively on the identification of various forms of sign language. In the thesis, three crucial feedback points garnered from the external testing process in the original Marionette Project, and are presented and utilised to shape the work implemented throughout this research in the form of minimum viable requirements listed below: 1) improving upon the accuracy of the hand gestures recognised by users through the use of real-time gesture confirmation system. 2) mitigating the amount of incorrect hand gestures performed when stopping the system. 3) Allowing for the support of more dexterous robotics though more complexed gestures In the thesis four approaches main approaches are presented, the first of which looks into the first minimum viable required, while the second, third and fourth approaches are created and evaluated as a means to fulfill the second and third minimum requirement points. By utilising the Spiral methodology, the implementation of each approach primarily followed the pattern of: Planning, Risk Analysis, Engineering and finally an Evaluation phase. The planning phase looked at the original feedback provided by the user as well as any relevant iterations implemented prior, to detail aims and requirements for the current iteration/spiral. After which, additional research was then carried out into hardware, software components as well as, additional published research papers. After this stage, the implementation or engineering phase would then be carried out. This primarily would look to implement each identified requirement for the iteration. Once these requirements were implemented the evaluation step would then be performed. The evaluation process consisted of two parts; an internal evaluation and then an external evaluation. Internal evaluations focused on developer testing, and consisted of standard logic, user flow and selected edge case testing. If no issues were found in this testing process the second stage of evaluations, external evaluations would then take place. External evaluations saw the implemented work tested by volunteer users under given scenarios, to generate more user results and feedback. However, in the event that problems were found during the internal evaluation process depending on the severity of the problem an additional mini-iteration could be added to an existing iteration as seen in section 4.3.4 or in the case were larger problems are identified and the approach needs to be altered an entirely new iteration with the listed spiral approach steps would be carried out as seen with approaches, three and four in the thesis. From the approaches detailed in the thesis, the first approach provided a viable means to improve upon the accuracy of hand gestures recognised by users, though the incorporation of real-time textual confirmation appearing onscreen while the user interacts with the system. The incorporation of this implementation showed an average increase of 28% in gestures recognised and identified by the user. Additionally, the fourth approach detailed in the thesis provided a means to improve upon limiting the amount of incorrect gestures performed by the user showing an overall 20% decrease in the number of incorrect reported hand gestures. It was concluded that the first approach presented an ideal implementation for clear improvements for the recognition of performed hand gestures and showed a 28% average increase in hand gesture recognised and identified by users. Additionally, the fourth approach was seemingly well-received by testing participants as a means to limit the number of incorrect gestures being performed when users removed their hand from the Leap Motions field of vision lowering reports of incorrect gesturing cause by the system by 20%. However, while both approaches implemented within this research was viable for the completion of the first two feedback points provided by users from initial testing, the third point was not achieved. As such, it would be ideal to provide extra research to find a plausible and novel solution.
  • Adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse: abused parents' accounts

    Bell, Rebecca (University of Bedfordshire, 2018-09)
    Adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse (APVA); is an adolescents utilisation of "a pattern of behaviour that uses verbal, financial, physical or emotional means to practice power and exert control over a parent" (Holt, 2013, p. 1). As well as causing psychological damage to the parent and child it is a growing social problem which is largely absent from within both academic and social policy domains (Miles & Condry, 2014). This study sought to contribute to existing literature by examining parents’ accounts of APVA shared within online forums to identify themes of issues of significance to them via a thematic analysis (Braun & Clark, 2006). Data comprised thirty-two archived message ‘posts’ written by twenty-three (71.8%) mothers, four (12.5%) fathers, and five (15.6%) step-fathers describing the abuse that they experienced by their adolescent (93.3% male, 13.3% female). Findings formed three themes; the ‘emotional turmoil’, the ‘need to explain’, and ‘fractured relationships. The themes are discussed in relation to wider literature and recommendations for further study are suggested to address limitations.
  • Myo-Electric Sensor system for precise robot control

    Rana, Khaqan-Jim (University of Bedfordshire, 2019-11)
    Robotic prosthetics has been a field of great interest in recent years and much work has been conducted in the various disciplines that it consists of. Among these disciplines is the research on sensor technology which used to enable control of such prosthesis through muscle activation. Responsiveness and accuracy is vital to implement a functional sensor system for prosthesis, as such this thesis will present the research and development of a sensor system used to control a robotic prosthesis as well as a feedback system which compares the position of the robot fingers and the intended movement in order to correct the servo motor position. These sensor systems are developed to produce precise robot control of prostheses without causing amplification errors. The research will discuss the suitability of different sensors for the sensing of the muscle activity of the user and sensors for the development of the feedback system and describe their implementation and processing. In addition to this, different configuration of sensors and code will be employed and compared, so that the most suitable configuration is found, which is the configuration that is responsive to the muscle activation of the user, eliminates noise and prevents amplification errors, and enables movement of analogue manner rather than digital in order to create a natural feeling control of a prosthesis which imitates the intention of the user. Furthermore, the cost of commercially available robotic prostheses are expensive, making it inaccessible to lower-income users and people within conflict zones who are in need of such technology, thus the research will focus on using inexpensive components and material to lower the production costs in order to raise the accessibility of robotic prostheses to people in conflict zones and countries of low income. This research shows that the implementation of the proposed sensor system and feedback system indeed enables analogue mannered, responsive and accurate control of a robotic hand while preventing amplification errors, and the use of commonly available components and low-cost material is a viable option.

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