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DMU researchers and alumni recognised for innovation in regional awards


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Tools to support homeless people and help educate learners about parasites and the use of art in healthcare have helped win researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) award nominations.

Three separate projects have been shortlisted at this year’s LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2021.

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In the Innovation in Education and Training category, DMU was recognised for its ‘e-Parasitology Project’; a dedicated website designed to help students and academics in the field of biomedical science gain easy access to a number of learning resources.

Created and developed by researchers at DMU’s School of Allied Health Sciences, and supported by partners at CEU San Pablo University in Madrid and Miguel Hernández University of Elche in Alicante, the e-Parasitology resource has been used to help improve public health standards overseas, including in Sierra Leone, where the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 left thousands of citizens there at risk of disease.

Through e-learning modules on the topic of laboratory tools and a virtual microscope to look in closer detail at high resolution parasite images, DMU scientists have used the e-Parasitology website to train international academics and public health students on how to identify parasites.

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As well as DMU’s nod in the Innovation in Education and Training category, products and services created by current PhD researcher Jane Hearst and alumnus Richard Narayan have also been shortlisted in the regional awards.

Jane, whose PhD research explores the use of arts in healthcare, has been recognised in the University Student Innovation category, for her ‘Aspire To’ book which helps young children to realise that no job is out of their reach.

The book, which Jane wrote after analysing data looking at demographic gaps and representations, is a collection of real-life case studies of diverse leaders and inspiring people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Her aim was to show a broader representation of disabilities, race and gender in career information.

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PhD researcher Jane Hearst

Jane said: “I want children to know, that no job is necessarily out of their reach. In the book I am trying to create something where children can access photographic representations of people like themselves and have access to their stories.

“I want children to be able to see all these different people and that it is possible to excel in a career that doesn’t seem to fit with the narrative of their communities.”

Meanwhile, the ‘Daydreamer Initiative’ – a social recruitment organisation established to tackle homelessness and unemployment – has been shortlisted in the Innovation in Services category.

Set up by DMU alumnus Richard Narayan, who graduated with a BSc in Psychology in 2006, before completing his MSc in Marketing Management last year, the Daydreamer Initiative aims to help people achieve a fulfilling and meaningful role within society by providing them with the necessary support to access food, shelter and employment and maintain a sustainable, financially stable lifestyle.

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DMU alumnus, Richard Narayan

Richard said: "The first stage is to provide food to those in need, ensuring they have the necessities everyone in a wealthy country should be able to access.

“From there, I want to work with local authorities and the referred individuals to secure housing which creates a sense of routine and platform to focus on finding work.

“If they are struggling with other problems such as mental health issues or substance abuse, we put them in contact with support services who can help them to overcome these hurdles. And finally, access to employment opportunities to create long-term sustainability.”

The LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards grand finale will take place on Tuesday 14 September at the National Space Centre in Leicester.

Posted on Thursday 19th August 2021

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