JournalTOCs – Gaining ground as one of the most talked about ‘Freebies’ on the net

Helping keep researchers up-to-date with information that matters to them, JournalTOCs – the largest free and searchable collection of academic journal Tables of Contents (TOCs) in the world – is now available for license from Heriot-Watt University.

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

Academics, researchers and companies face increasing difficulties keeping up to date with cutting edge research; JournalTOCs pulls together a database of TOCs from academic journals and provides a convenient ‘one stop shop’ interface to their content allowing subscribers to access the latest research in their fields in a convenient and personalised current awareness service.

JournalTOCs was developed at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Computer Based Learning (ICBL) in 2009 with funding from the JISC Rapid Innovation Grants but is now an independent service which, this year alone, has agreed license deals with 8 companies worldwide.

Gary Price, Co-Founder & Editor, Library Journal’s said ‘….JournalTOCS is a powerful alerting tool for use by just about every online researcher. It’s also an excellent example of the work info pros are doing to help organize the web and make it more accessible and useful to everyone. What’s also wonderful is that using JournalTOCS is free’.

Free registration allows users to build a tailored collection of journal titles and receive email alerts when new journal issues are published. Customized versions for institutions allow for more functionality and are available at very economic license rates. This service is especially suitable for research, commercial and institutional libraries, and resource centers worldwide1.

To see how JournalTOCs could help you, please visit

or follow JournalTOCs on Twitter @JournalTOCs

For more information on what Heriot Watt’s Technology Transfer Office can offer, please visit:


Funding for Heriot-Watt to support further industry collaboration

Heriot-Watt has received £1.18m funding allocated to the University to help to build on the University’s already strong links with business and industry.

The funding, which has been provided by EPSRC under their Impact Acceleration Account programme, is part of a £60m funding package announced made by Business Secretary Vince Cable and designed to help support universities’ best scientists and engineers to deliver greater collaboration with industry, bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace, and help them become better entrepreneurs.

Impact Acceleration is designed to support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition, the ‘Valley of death’ between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment: improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

Alan Miller, Deputy Principal (Research & Knowledge Transfer) at Heriot-Watt, said, “We are delighted to have received this funding which will be used to help support those trying to increase the Impact of their research.

“The funding will be allocated on a competitive basis to tie in with the University’s key strategic aims and builds on our £6.5m working with industry project which has, over the last three years, transfered knowledge and expertise to Scottish businesses, benefited the wider economy and fostered partnerships as well as creating 300 private sector jobs and supporting the development of 17 new companies through the Converge Challenge competition, run by the University.”

Launching the fund, which will provide a total of £60m to 31 universities across the UK, the Business Secretary said, “The UK’s scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world, but they need support to take their best ideas through to market. This could be by establishing a successful, technology-driven SME like Space Syntax which I visited today.

“This investment I’m announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth.”

This investment will help Heriot-Watt to continue to work with industry and develop new technologies, some of which, as in the video below, has a direct impact on on people’s lives.

Heriot-Watt scientists hail artificial liver breakthrough – an end to animal testing?

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University are working towards creating the world’s first artificial human livers for drug testing to drastically cut the number of live animals used and get life-saving medicines into the clinic faster.

Alan Faulkner-Jones, part of the Heriot-Watt team, with the new artificial liver cells. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Alan Faulkner-Jones, part of the Heriot-Watt team, with the new artificial liver cells. Picture: Colin Hattersley


Dr Will Shu is leading the Heriot-Watt University team in the £100,000 project. Working closely with Roslin Cellab, the team aims to demonstrate how an artificial liver, created using human cells, could become a new testing platform for drug discovery and development.

The team is working towards creating miniature human liver tissues and, eventually, ‘livers-on-a-chip’, using novel technology that will ‘print’ the cells in 3D onto testing surfaces.

Dr Will Shu said, “If we are able to advance this technique, the medical benefits could be enormous.”

Testing new drugs currently requires large numbers of experimental animals. This work is expensive, time-consuming and is often inconclusive since drugs that pass animal testing usually fail during the even more expensive clinical stages of development, when the first human subjects are used.

Dr Jason King of Roslin Cellab said, “If successful, this technology will enable drug developers to test using human organ models at a much earlier stage. It should highlight drug failures well before they reach the clinic and help target resources towards the most promising new drug candidates.”

There is growing interest in the cell-printing technique from scientists internationally because 3D cells, such as those being developed by Dr Shu’s team, outperform cells grown in 2D cultures, which until now have been the standard in the drug development sector.

The research is currently funded by the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) INSPIRE programme.

Roslin Cellab is a Roslin Foundation company that offers contract research and is now using human cells to develop liver models for pre-clinical testing.

To read more, please visit the report on the Scotland on Sunday by clicking here.

Coralbots project Heriot-Watt University provides a smart solution for helping to repair coral reefs around Scotland

Extract taken from The Student: Science and Environment article

Alua Suleimenova interviews Dr Lea-Anne Henry, marine ecologist at Heriot Watt University, about her research into coral reefs and the latest reef conservation project: Coralbots.

Coral reefs are often called the ‘rainforests of the oceans’ because they harbour the highest marine biodiversity. Although beautiful, coral reefs are extremely fragile and can be easily damaged by deep-sea practices, water pollution and climate change. They are able to regenerate naturally, but it takes corals decades if not centuries to create reef structures. Fortunately, the new project initiated by the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology at Heriot-Watt University provides a smart solution for helping to repair coral reefs around Scotland in the form of intelligent robots, or ‘coralbots’. The Student spoke to Dr Lea-Anne Henry, marine ecologist and the lead scientist on the project.

How do coralbots work and carry out their mission to restore damaged ecosystems?

We aim to use existing autonomous undersea robotic platforms at the Ocean Systems Laboratory at Heriot-Watt University and modify them as ‘coralbots’. A photographic and sonar survey of the damaged reef will first be performed to create a video mosaic of the reef, and we will visually inspect this to determine where coral fragments should be transplanted. Following this, a ‘swarm’ of five to eight robots will be deployed either from shore or boat. Each robot will follow a simple set of ‘micro-rules’ like the ones bees, ants and termites use to build 3D structures like hives and nests, thus the robots are highly bio-inspired. A lot of work needs to be done to modify manipulator arms on the robots, but this is an exciting challenge for our engineers.

How did the Coralbots Project get started?

Coralbots got started as a collaboration between myself (a marine ecologist) and Professor David Corne (an artificial intelligence mathematician) during a series of workshops hosted by the Heriot-Watt Crucible programme, which also hosted many University of Edinburgh staff and students. The idea of Crucible is to bring scientists from widely different disciplines together to see if there is some common ground that could spawn innovations. We plan to use the Crucible funds we received to develop and simulate the swarm intelligence and computer vision. Future trials of existing robotic platforms are expected to take place in Scotland in the next year. We also hope to have computer simulations ready by the spring for the 2013 Edinburgh Science Festival.

How does the Coralbots project differ from other coral reef conservation techniques?

The unique advantage of Coralbots is that they replace human mediated transplantation. Divers can take weeks to months to transplant fragments, usually from a coral nursery elsewhere, with varying levels of success. These methods can be successful, but humans are limited to the time spent underwater, and they can never achieve reef restoration in the deep-sea where we also have coral reefs like the ones off Scotland. Thus, undersea robotics have a distinct advantage, working 24 hours non-stop with no danger to humans, at least until battery power runs out. Working as a swarm, it also means that even if one or two robots malfunction, the others continue to work.

What are the future prospects of implementing coralbots on a large scale?

The idea of using swarm robotics to restore ecosystems is very exciting, and as far we we know, nothing like this has ever been achieved. But it is easy to speculate that the technology could help re-plant forests or seagrass meadows.

What are the most interesting and exciting outcomes you found for yourself through the Coralbots Project?

The most exciting outcome has been the outpouring of global public support from our television appearances, radio and newspaper interviews, blogs and tweets, so we are starting up a crowdfunding site on the US website Kickstarter to get more funds. The most interesting outcome has been watching the excitement and support given to us across disciplines, biology, mathematics, computer science and engineering.

2012 National Student Survey (NSS) results Heriot-Watt ranked as top university in Scotland


Heriot-Watt has soared up the rankings of the National Student survey (NSS) 2012, the results of which were published today. Heriot-Watt is now ranked Number 1 university in Scotland (up from Number 3 last year) and Number 4 university in UK (up from Number 29 last year).

Now in its eighth year, the NSS measures 23 core criteria of the student experience across 120 UK universities and higher education institutes.

Heriot-Watt University ranked top in the UK in:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Psychology (for the third year running)
  • Planning

Four additional subjects were ranked number two in the UK:

  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Marketing

Heriot-Watt University are in the top 10 for graduate employment in the UK with 94% of our graduates are in full time employment within six months of graduation. Click here to read more.

CERN Director General at Heriot-Watt University – live online

First & only UK talk since the announcement in July of the “Higgs-like” boson discovery.

Professor Rolf Heuer, Director General of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, presented a lecture to an audience of students, academics and members of the public at Heriot-Watt University on 30 August ’12. Prof. Heuer was joined on stage for a question and answer session afterwards by Prof. Peter Higgs, who gave his name to the Higgs Boson of “God Particle”.

The lecture was entitled ‘The Large Hadron Collider: Unveiling the Universe’. This was Professor Heuer’s first and only engagement in the UK following the CERN team’s announcement on the 4th of July of the discovery of a ‘Higgs-like’ Boson. The lecture was broadcast live online throughout the world. Follow the links below to watch a recording.

L-R: Professor Peter Higgs, Principal Professor Steve Chapman and Professor Rolf Heuer

L-R: Professor Peter Higgs, Principal Professor Steve Chapman and Professor Rolf Heuer


Prof. Heuer’s lecture  noted that with the start of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, particle physics entered a new era. The LHC will provide a deeper understanding of the universe and the insights gained could change our view of the world.

The lecture  presented some of the reasons for the excitement surrounding the team’s current work. The LHC is expected to yield insights into the origin of mass, the nature of dark matter, and the existence of hidden extra dimensions. During the colloquium we will hear about this exciting new physics, the first results, and in particular the recent Higgs-like’ Boson discovery.




<<31 August 2012 Update>>

Watch a recording of the event

The lecture was video-streamed live via the University’s website followed by a question and answer session. To find out more about the event, click here:

To go directly to a recording of the talk, click here:


To view the video recording you will need to have Windows Media Player v9 or higher on your pc. Mac users with Mac OS X can use QuickTime with the ‘flip4mac’ windows media components.

Underwater robots to ‘repair’ Scotland’s coral reefs


Underwater robots tasked with saving coral reefs are being developed at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.

Dubbed “coralbots”, they are being designed to work in groups, in a similar manner to bees and ants.

The team is still “training” the software that will control the bots to “recognise” corals and distinguish them from other sea objects…



Nanoparticle risk to food crops

A pair of widely used chemicals in the form of tiny “nanoparticles” have been shown to spread throughout a crop plant or affect growth and soil fertility.


Commenting on the wider toxicity of nanoparticles, Prof Vicki Stone from the Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, said: “Nanomaterials are equally hazardous or conversely equally safe. Effects seem to depend upon their physical and chemical characteristics – this is what scientists are aiming at better understanding, so that in future they can predict toxicity or safety


The start of the end for drug resistant bacteria?

A story on the BBC news website today heralds what may be the start of the end for drug resistant bacteria – and it comes from a Heriot-Watt spin-out company.

Founded in 2000, Aquapharm started life with the PhD research of Andrew Mearns-Spragg, who is the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

Andrew has gone on from Heriot-Watt to achieve significant success, including raising over £10m in equity and grant finance, and winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year 2008 in Health Care (Scotland) prize.

To quote from the article:

Aquapharm’s chief scientific officer, Dr Tim Morley, said: “From an initial screening of a small portion of our natural product library we have identified 16 novel compounds belonging to totally novel and diverse chemical classes.

“The most advanced compound AQP-182 has a promising pharmacological and pharmacokinetic profile which is extremely relevant for the treatment of hard to treat resistant bacterial infections.”

Heriot-Watt Spin-Out Companies

Heriot-Watt has spun out a broad range of companies, in a range of fields including engineering, food & drink, marine and manufacturing. You can find a list of our spin-outs here. And if you’re interested in starting your own successful company, like Andrew – why not check out our sister blog which talks about this, at Converge Challenge?

%d bloggers like this: