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Division of Science

Head of Division: Dr Ben Jones

Our programmes are innovative, industrially relevant, challenging, and draw on the professional and research expertise of our staff.

The Division of Science houses staff with expertise across biology, chemistry, medicine and physics and their applications. It focuses this expertise on to a range of investigative subjects such as biomedical science and forensic science. The programmes focus on the scientific principles, application and project management to equip our graduates with key skills to meet contemporary challenges.

The life sciences sector in Scotland is one of the most rapidly growing in Europe. It is worth in excess of £3 billion to the Scottish economy. Within Dundee, the sector accounts for 16% of the local economy, with strong growth forecast over the next few years. To sustain growth, a supply of highly qualified graduates able to operate within both the public and private sectors are required.

The relevance of the life sciences courses is ensured by our research and our close links with industry, the life sciences sector, local NHS hospitals and the wider healthcare community. Students often have the opportunity to take placements in industry, and relevant, often paid, supervised work experience.

Our forensics students make extensive use of specialised crime scene simulation areas - Rankin House suite, and a Bank of Scotland branch - our microscopy suite and our range of analytical laboratories. These facilitate students’ education and first-hand experience of scientific analysis, and enable the application of this within a criminal/civil investigation context.

Our Programmes

The Division of Science offers BSc (Hons) Forensic Sciences, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science/BSc (Hons) Applied Biomedical Science and BSc (Hons) Environmental Science and Technology undergraduate degree programmes.

These are accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), and approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). An IBMS accredited BMS degree is required for employment as a trainee biomedical scientist in the NHS, and leads to the position of becoming a Biomedical Scientist.

A feature of our programmes is the high degree of engagement with the professional world, through laboratory and project work, work placements, field visits and programme input from industry professionals.  Our crime scene scenarios have been designed by former police and government officers.

Research

Research in the Division stems from fundamental science and its applications. Research is frequently collaborative across the University, with, for example, microbiology, ecology and physiology links to Food, Engineering and Sport.  This is reflected with our strong contributions to the University’s overarching themes of Environment, Society and Security and to the recent national Research Excellence Framework assessment, making Abertay the most research intensive modern university in Scotland, according to a Times Higher Education analysis of the REF2014 results. 

The division pioneers novel use of 3D and 4D visualisation techniques, from macro to nanoscale, including X-Ray Computed Tomography and Atomic Force Microscopy for applications including cancer research. Our forensics staff are a strong force in fingerprint research, including working with police forces and the Home Office and contributing to government, policing and research best practice guides.  Recent forensics work includes tracing illicit drugs, detecting fingerprints on polymer banknotes and holistic approach to crime scenes, linking into the University’s Security theme.

For more details of staff research output please see the University research pages.

Programmes

Our undergraduate degree programmes are innovative, industrially relevant, challenging, and draw on the wide professional interests and research expertise of our staff. Abertay is the most research intensive modern university in Scotland (according to a Times Higher Education analysis of the REF2014 results). We attract funding from a range of agencies, including Tenovus, Carnegie Trust and the Royal Society and UK research councils such as the Natural Environment Research Council and the Medical Research Council. This means our undergraduate students get to work alongside internationally recognised experts conducting cutting edge science at the forefront of knowledge as a key part of their honours programme. As well as being offered a 12 weeks Hons project embedded with these expert research groups our students also get the opportunity to gain valuable experience during work placements with Abertay research groups.

A major feature of our programmes is the high degree of engagement with the professional world, through laboratory and project work, work placements, field visits and programme input from industry professionals.  We are excited about a major new investment in our teaching laboratories and analytical equipment that will enhance our ability to deliver our highly practical degree programmes. The new laboratories feature the very latest AV technology which enable teaching staff to deliver a bespoke and interactive laboratory experience in each of their classes and allow students to engage in collaborative, thought provoking learning.

Programmes on offer within the Division of Science are:

These are accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), and approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). An IBMS accredited BMS degree is required for employment as a trainee biomedical scientist in the NHS, and leads to the position of becoming a Biomedical Scientist. 

Biomedical Sciences

The life sciences sector in Scotland is one of the most rapidly growing in Europe and is worth in excess of £3 billion to the Scottish economy. In Dundee, the life sciences sector accounts for 16% of the local economy. Our biomedical and environmental science and technology degree programmes provide highly qualified graduates able to operate within both the public and private sectors to sustain growth and reputation in this sector.

Our biomedical degree programmes are highly practical, and our students experience first-hand a wide range of laboratory and statistical approaches that they will need to succeed in the workplace.

At Abertay we have close links with industry, the life sciences sector, local NHS hospitals and the wider healthcare community. This means our students are offered a highly relevant degree programme. Students also have the opportunity to take placements in industry, and, often paid, supervised work experience.

The Biomedical Science degree is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), and approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). An IBMS accredited BMS degree is required for employment as a trainee biomedical scientist in the NHS, and can lead to the position of becoming a Biomedical Scientist. We are proud of the high employment and further study rates of the students who take both our Biomedical Sciences degree programmes.  Our students have their own BioSciences Society. To find out more about their activities, click here or go to the Facebook page.

Environmental Science and Technology

There is no better time or greater need to study environmental sciences and learn about the opportunities to make a difference to real life problems. In 2016 we launched launch an exciting new BSc (Hons) Environmental Science and Technology undergraduate degree programme at Abertay in 2016–17, not just for students with an interest in environmental science but also for students who seek to use their general interest in science (biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics) to make noticeable contributions to a sustainable future.

The EST degree is an interdisciplinary programme, which focuses on globally important environmental challenges and solutions to environmental problems. Our students will gain a deep understanding of environmental processes will be combined with innovative engineering and technology applications, and will be supported by our research strengths in environmental science, engineering, systems modelling, and data handling.  The EST degree programme will provide highly qualified graduates able to operate within industry, government and consultancy, as well as academia.

Forensic Sciences

Our forensic science students make extensive use of specialised crime scene simulation areas (Rankin House suite, and a Bank of Scotland branch), microscopy suite and range of analytical laboratories. Our crime scene scenarios have been designed by former police and government officers.  Our students therefore gain cutting edge, realistic first-hand and practical experience of forensic investigation and scientific analysis. These facilitate students’ education and first-hand experience of scientific analysis, and enable them to use their skills in an authentic criminal/civil investigation context. The forensic science degrees are accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS).

Research

Our Research and Commercial activity

Abertay is the most research intensive modern university in Scotland (according to a Times Higher Education analysis of the REF2014 results). We attract funding from a range of agencies, including Tenovus, Carnegie Trust and the Royal Society and UK research councils such as the Natural Environment Research Council and the Medical Research Council. Our research contributes across the University’s overarching research themes of Environment, Society and Security. The composition of staff expertise in the Division of Science means our work spans a wide range of disciplines across fundamental science and its applications. Our relatively small size facilitates collaborative research projects across the University, creating a unique and distinct research profile. For example, our microbiologists, ecologists and physiologists work closely with colleagues in Food, Engineering , Sport and Arts, Media and Computer Games. Our staff supervise 12 PhD students and 3 Masters by Research students, who are based in the Graduate School.

More information about the research we do can be found below, or for more details of staff and student research output please see individual staff profiles, accessed through the University research pages

Visualisation

Our researchers use 3D and 4D visualisation techniques, from macro to nanoscale, including X-Ray Computed Tomography and Atomic Force Microscopy for applications including cancer research, neuroscience, engineering and forensics.

Forensics

Our forensic science staff are a strong force in fingermark research. We work with police forces and the Home Office and contribute to government, policing and research best practice.  Recent forensics work includes tracing illicit drugs, detecting fingerprints on polymer banknotes, and detecting fingerprints on feathers to identify wildlife crime.

Biomedical and life sciences

Our biomedical sciences staff are teasing apart the molecular mechanisms of male infertility, neuromuscular aging, investigating novel therapeutic targets for spinal cord injury, the processes underlying cancer development, and the way in which pollutants impact on humans and wildlife. We’re also involved in the development of novel drugs against cancer and cardiac hypertrophy.  Our work on microbes trying to understand their molecular ecology, surfactant production and antibiotic resistance spans fields as diverse as soil and water ecology, agriculture, and medical and veterinary medicine. Our genetics research uses next generation sequencing approaches to find out more about the underlying causes of hypertension and sight disorders.  We also have staff working in the field of bioethics, which underpins much of the work in life sciences.

Facilities

Currently we operate two state-of-the-art μCT systems. Both operate using X-ray tomography processing and were designed in collaboration with X-Tek Group. The μCT Laboratory is air-conditioned with a secure entrance facility.

CT @ ABERTAY offers expertise in capturing and quantifying the interior 3D structure of a wide range of materials. Using high resolution x-ray tomography coupled with VGStudioMax, the industrial standard for 3D visualisation we are able to capture the interior structure of materials, quantify pores, defects, bone architecture and predict and measure a wide range of functions.

CT @ ABERTAY is part of the School of Science Engineering and Technology, and thus has an growing team of experienced and successful experimentalists supporting its activities.