Interdisciplinary blog

acoustic bubble

Multidisciplinary Research Week 2013- Success

May 7, 2013
by Alison Simmance

The University of Southampton sprang to life during the 17-22nd March when over 1050 attendees joined us for the 3rd annual Multidisciplinary Research Week.

This year’s week long celebration was built on the best cross-disciplinary science and arts from the University of Southampton’s staff and students with a packed programme of talks, hands-on science demonstrations, exhibitions, debates and a film screening. We were also joined by key external speakers who brought insights into policy applications and cutting edge research in relation to our University Strategic Research Groups.

See the full programme here.  The energy and intellectual alchemy of the week certainly inspired ‘ideas worth spreading’ and far exceeded our expectations. Thank you to all our speakers, demonstrators, supporters, volunteers, digital champions, sponsors and attendees for enabling this annual cross-disciplinary event at the University of Southampton to be a huge success.

The week in numbers– see the statistics from MDR Week 2013 below or in the MDRWeek 2013 Final Statistics Flyer.

Blog posts about all our events at #MDRWeek will be coming shortly! Watch this site for news.

Did you miss MDR week 2013?

See all our multimedia outputs online now!





Did you miss TEDxSouthamptonUniversity 2013?


  • 23 events (incl. 2 exhibitions and 1 interactive art session) from 17-22nd March 2013.
  • 1057 actual attendees (approx. 10% external).
  • First TEDx at the University of Southampton- tickets sold out; new website; IBM sponsorship; 15 speakers; >1000 hits so far on YouTube.
  • Prof Mohan Munasinghe– Vice Chair of IPPC/Nobel Prize Winner 2007 (BBC Radio Solent Broadcast & future collaborations).
  • First formal celebration of the World Water Day 2013 (150 attendees).
  • >70 people attended the ‘Litmus Project: Science & Poetry Exhibition’.
  • >120 people attended ‘Question Time: The Brain & Society’, (incl. 40 6th Formers)
  • 15 people created an eco-friendly bag from 60th Anniversary campaign banner material at ‘Be a Green Shopper’.
  • Collaborations: UoS Science & Engineering Festival, WSA, WUN, IBM, Google, Marwell Wildlife, three 6th Form Colleges.

First year that social media was used!


MDR Week 2014- Your Views

We are now already planning next year’s research week and welcome any suggestions for a possible theme on this. If you have an interesting cross-disciplinary project/initiative or idea and/or wish  to get involved in other ways then please contact us:


Full details available at:


Share your experience with us on Twitter #MDRWeek @Multisoton


MDR Week: Blog no 6- Your Brain at the Cocktail Party

March 14, 2013
by Jessica Monaghan

Join Dr Jessica Monaghan to discover how innovative research can improve performance of hearing aids and automatic speech recognition in challenging environments at the event ‘Your Brain at the Cocktail Party’ on Tuesday 19th March. An insight into this exciting and multidisciplinary research field can be found below.


Your Brain at the Cocktail Party



  Dr Jessica Monaghan


I am a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr Stefan Bleeck at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and Dr Matthew Wright from the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.

(ISVR). I am interested in how the brain enables us to understand speech in challenging environments such as cocktail parties, restaurants and bars, how this ability breaks down when you lose your hearing, and how we can apply our knowledge of the healthy auditory system to enhance speech processing and speech understanding by machines.

I will be talking about the brain’s remarkable ability to segregate different sounds from each other, presenting some of our research on how we can use computer models of the auditory brain to de-noise speech automatically. Using examples of everyday listening tasks, I will discuss which features of sounds are most important for separating speech sounds that originate from different sources.

Hearing and communication are fundamental aspects of our humanity. Hearing research is a multidisciplinary field, combining expertise from anatomy, audiology, signal processing, acoustics and neuroscience. Understanding how the brain processes complex sounds is important if we are to restore communication abilities in those with impaired hearing, and this requires collaboration across a range of scientific disciplines. This knowledge will also benefit our understanding of how to improve automatic speech recognition by computer software, especially in challenging listening conditions.




For the latest news and events about the Multidisciplinary Research Week 2013, visit our Multidisciplinary Research website:

or follow us on Twitter @MultiSoton #MDRWeek



MDR Week- Blog no 1- Keynote Lecture: The Acoustic Bubble by Professor Tim Leighton

March 11, 2013
by Timothy Leighton

Join Professor Tim Leighton for the keynote Lecture: The Acoustic Bubble on Wednesday 20th March to hear how acoustic sensors can also locate reserves of gas in the seabed. An insight into this exciting and multidisciplinary research field can be found below.


Insights into ‘The Acoustic Bubble’- having fun with curiosity…. and curiosity with fun.

By Professor Tim Leighton


I am interested in the way sound travels through liquids, and liquid-like materials, such as the atmospheres of Venus and the Gas Giant planets. I am particularly interested in gas bubbles underwater, because these are the most powerful acoustical entities that occur underwater. Gas bubbles injected underwater sound notes – the smaller the bubble, the higher the note (just as a large wineglass emits a deeper note than a small wineglass when tapped with a spoon). Listening to these notes allows the measurement of bubble size. But like any object that can produce sound, bubbles vibrate sympathetically when sound of the correct pitch is projected at them: they emit notes in response, and can even implode (just as a certain voice can ‘ring’ and shatter a wine glass). An imploding bubble can damage its surroundings. This needs to be controlled as sometimes damage is desirable (as in ultrasonic tumour treatment) and sometimes it is not (e.g. during ultrasonic foetal scanning).

I was asked to talk about how we use the sounds emitted by bubbles to locate gas leaks underwater. These can be either from naturally-occurring reserves of gas in the seabed, or be leaks of gas from undersea gas pipelines, or from carbon capture and storage facilities. However, as soon as I start talking about bubbles I wander off topic and I am bound to cover such questions as ‘what does a waterfall sound like in space?’ and ‘do dolphins think nonlinearly?’

Whenever sound in liquids is an issue, bubbles become an important and difficult consideration, so to work out the implications of the fundamental bubble physics I do, I must follow through to other disciplines. This means gaining expertise in other fields myself, and working with experts: with chemists in working out how to use sound with bubbles to make cold water clean as well as hot (so saving on electricity bills); with archaeologists to look at how sonar can be used to look at wrecks buried in muddy seabeds; with oceanographers with examine the possibilities of storing atmospheric carbon in disused oil reservoirs in the seabed; with medics to work out what is the safe level of ultrasound to give a pregnant woman… that sort of thing. Providing it is fun, and rigorous, I will get into that field.

Multidisciplinary Research Week could be seen as making contacts for new funding opportunities, and these are important, but I see it primarily as having fun with curiosityand curiosity with fun.




For the latest news and events about the Multidisciplinary Research Week 2013, visit our Multidisciplinary Research website:

or follow us on   Twitter @MultiSoton #MDRWeek