Reporter 432, 1 March 1999

News in brief

Ask the gene team if it's all that it seems

The Reporter is planning a feature about the issues surrounding the genetically modified food debate in the next issue. This will largely be based on a forum at which the University's leading plant biologists and geneticists will discuss their views.

University staff are welcome to contribute to this debate. The Reporter will be present and is happy to raise any questions University staff may have on the subject.

Please email any questions to by Friday (March 5) or fax them to 233 4125.

Carbon kings to kick out the carcinogens

Advanced carbon components for the aerospace and steel-making industries will be made cleaner and cheaper by a new project in the materials department. Brian Rand and Steve Appleyard are leading research on the £2.5m European project to develop high quality materials using high pressure supercritical fluids.

The new environmentally-friendly techniques will also extract the carcinogenic benzene-based contaminants from the materials.

The three-year project is being carried out jointly with the Spanish University of Alicante and six industrial partners, including former ULIS company Express Separations.

Book it out yourself

The first library self-issue machine in Leeds comes on-line today (March 1), enabling staff and students borrowing books to avoid queueing at the desks. The automated unit in the Edward Boyle library issues a receipt detailing the book's return date.

Physics student Peter Davis was the first to try out the new system.

Popularity no-contest

Leeds is once again the most popular university in the country with prospective students, according to UCAS data reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement. Both the number of home and EU students and total number applying to study at Leeds is more than for any other institution.

As at 12 February, 37,932 home and EU students had applied to come to Leeds, an increase of 1.6 per cent on this time last year. The next highest number, 33,984, was recorded at Nottingham.

Meanwhile, focus groups have been set up to look at radical changes to the admissions system, whereby applicants will apply electronically for university places after receiving their exam results.

Admissions officers and schools representatives have been invited by the CVCP to consider how a post-qualification admissions system would work.

A CVCP working group will then formulate proposals for testing by schools and universities. "We need to be sure that any new system will be a real improvement and will not present serious practical difficulties," said group chairman Professor Sir Brian Smith.

Physics fun day

The physics and astronomy department is throwing open its doors to the general public on March 13. Visitors to the department open day can see inside lasers, learn about black holes and can even test if their diamond rings are genuine. State-of-the-art microscopes allowing individual atoms to be seen - and even picked up and moved around - will also be demonstrated.

The open day is part of the SET week celebration of science, engineering and technology at the University, and is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

Fala inglês?

The language centre has signed a three-year agreement with the Brazilian University of São Paulo to help develop three campus centres promoting the teaching of English. Language centre staff will deliver annual workshops on topics including computer-based learning. The resource and information centres are three of a limited number in Brazil, and offer a focus for the teaching of English in the local region. Brazilian student Karina Makiyama recently received a certificate for her attendance on the language centre's target course.

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