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    Essays on the economic valuation of wildfires

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    This thesis studies changes and differences in safety preferences as revealed by the housing market through the capitalisation of wildfire risk into property prices. To explain changes or differences in property prices, we implement the hedonic price method using high-quality geographic information system data on utility-bearing attributes specific to the property and its location. For this purpose, we focus on Western Australia during 2010-2019, a region of high wildfire risk with recent policy changes. CHAPTER 1 studies the near-miss effect of wildfires, i.e., the impact of a wildfire disaster on the area free from damage but subject to information effects. These information effects may alter households’ risk perception depending on their experience during the event. The wildfire disaster that we analyse is the Waroona Fire of 2016. To identify the near-miss effect, we rely on the use of difference-in-differences and a multidimensional near-miss area defined by proximity to the burn scar and receiving warnings during the fire event. Our findings suggest that the proximity treatment effect is positive due to a risk reduction effect from burnt fuel that dominates over any disamenity impacts. On the other hand, the warning treatment effect is negative, suggesting an increase in risk perception due to vulnerability feelings. CHAPTER 2 studies the introduction of wildfire risk maps in 2015, known in Western Australia as ‘bushfire prone area’ maps. These maps were received with surprise by residents and areas mapped as ‘risky’ faced more stringent planning and building regulations. Taking advantage of the sharp boundaries that divide designated from non-designated areas, we use a regression discontinuity design to investigate the price differential for designated properties. We find that properties within bushfire prone areas are sold at a lower price, and results suggest that this discount is moreover driven by a pure information shock that increases risk perceptions, rather than by any predetermined risk perceptions or the more stringent planning and building regulations that apply to new builds. CHAPTER 3 studies preferences for prescribed fires by accounting for its exposure in terms of number of fires and area burnt. Prescribed fires are used by land managers to reduce the likelihood of uncontrollable wildfires, but generate disamenity impacts, such as smoke haze and road closures. These fires also face strong opposition from conservationists. Using property fixed effects and controlling for wildfire exposure, we find a positive preference for prescribed fires, and stronger results for more recent fires, which we attribute to the depreciating nature of risk reducing interventions over time and/or to availability heuristics due to recent fires being easier to retrieve. Our results are also stronger when we use the number of fires, than when we use area burnt, suggesting households pay more attention to the frequency component of risk, rather than consequence. Additionally, properties with no wildfire exposure are sold at a price significantly higher, suggesting perhaps that households’ demand for prescribed fires is higher in the absence of the risk reduction effect of wildfires. Our findings also suggest that the use of property fixed effects is important for an appropriate incorporation of time-constant attributes. Overall, our findings suggest that risk perception updates are capitalised into the housing market, particularly in areas that are wildfire prone, as that of Western Australia; meaning that policy makers do have the potential to alter people’s beliefs about risk. Amid an increasing risk of wildfires across the globe, much more research is needed on identifying misperceptions on risk, tools for correction, and households’ preferences for forest management practices

    ‘Natural piety’ and sentiment: children, landscape and religion in the paintings of William Collins, R.A. (1787-1847)

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    Very little has been written about the work of the painter William Collins, R.A. (1787-1847) despite the fact that his contemporaries considered him to be one of the leading artists of his time. Most of his paintings are unknown to modern scholarship, with the result that an assessment of his significance for nineteenth-century British art has never been properly undertaken. Whilst a number of his contemporaries, such as David Wilkie, William Mulready, Charles Lock Eastlake, William Dyce and John Rogers Herbert have been the subject of detailed examination, and their contributions recognised, Collins has not. This thesis fills that gap in art historical scholarship of the period, first by identifying as many of Collins’s paintings as possible, and then by undertaking a close reading and detailed visual analysis of them. It establishes the links between his painting and the social, literary and religious cross-currents of his time, and demonstrates that Collins was actively involved in the fields of genre, landscape and coastal painting, and that in all these fields he gave children an unusual agency. Between 1838 and 1843, during the first phase of the Oxford Movement, he produced a series of paintings which reflected major Tractarian pre-occupations. During that same period, towards the end of his life, he painted a number of biblical subjects which demonstrate that he was at the forefront of attempts to establish a distinct Protestant approach to religious art. Many features found in his approach were adopted a few years later by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who knew the Collins family well. I conclude that the currently understood histories of nineteenth-century British art need re-evaluation, so as to include Collins’s significant contributions to landscape painting, the portrayal of children, paintings of the coast, and religious art of the period. I also make the case for regarding Collins as a Pre-Raphaelite precursor

    Milton's Hellenism

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    This thesis investigates the Hellenism of the English poet John Milton from his student writings at Cambridge through to Paradise Lost. It explores Milton’s engagement with classical, Hellenistic, Byzantine, and Early Modern Greek texts and it considers Milton’s reading of Greek scholarship and interactions with Greek scholars and Hellenic scholarship. Chapter 1, ‘Milton’s Cambridge Greek’, consists of two sections: ‘Protestant Hellenism at Milton’s Cambridge: A Case Study of James Duport’s Greek Paraphrase of the Book of Job, Threnothriambos (1637)’ and ‘Greek and the “Lady of Christ’s College”: Latin–Greek Code-Switching in Milton ‘Prolusion VI’’. Chapter 2, ‘Milton Among the Hellenists in England and Italy’ considers the role that Greek played in Milton’s correspondence and poetic exchanges with Charles Diodati and Lucas Holstenius; it also considers the nature of Milton’s own Hellenic research at libraries in Rome and Florence during his travels in Italy from 1638–39. Chapter 3 considers the political and polemical roles that Greek texts played for Milton from the mid-1640s to 1660 and consists of three sections: ‘Marshall’s Ignorant Hand: Milton’s Greek Epigram and the 1645 Poems Frontispiece and the First Edition of Langbaine’s Longinus (1636)’; ‘O Soul of Sir John Cheek: Milton and the Legacy of Sixteenth-Century Greek Humanism’; and ‘John Milton, Leonard Philaras, and Early Modern Advocacy for Greece’s Liberation from the Ottoman Empire’. The final, fourth chapter explores the influence of Greek texts—ranging from the Homeric epics and the fragmentary Epic Cycle through to Byzantine and Early Modern Greek texts—upon Milton’s design of Books 1 and 2 of Paradise Lost

    Dinuclear Lanthanide(III) complexes for light emitting surfaces and plasmonic nanomaterials

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    Lanthanide(III) luminescence is extremely valuable for the development of optical devices. The long luminescence lifetimes, high photostability and narrow and characteristic emission peaks of lanthanides(III) are accompanied by low molar absorption coefficients, demanding sensitisation from light harvesting units via the antenna effect. In addition to careful ligand design, nanostructured plasmonic materials can enhance lanthanide(III) luminescence and overcome some of the most common limitations of luminescent materials and particularly near infrared (NIR) emission, such as poor signal to noise ratios and low quantum yields and brightness. Here, we present novel surface active bis β-diketonatelanthanide(III) complexes for the fabrication of visible and NIR emitting materials. The incorporation of thioacetate units in the ligand scaffold enables the complexes to be anchored on metallic substrates. The characteristic visible and NIR luminescence is retained upon coating on gold (Au) surfaces, and the preparation of a handheld sensing device is demonstrated as a response of the Eu(III) surfaces to F- coordination. Incorporation of the complexes to plasmonic substrates is determined to be an excellent approach for the enhancement of both visible and NIR luminescence. Plasmonic Au (pGold) surfaces, in particular, lead to exceptional resolution and intensity of NIR Nd(III) and Yb(III) emission, driving the progress of lanthanide(III) NIR light to advanced applications. Finally, the complexes are anchored on Au nanoparticles (AuNPs), producing highly emissive H2O dispersed nanomaterials. An alternative approach for the preparation of surface active bis β-diketonates is demonstrated by coordination of functionalised 1,10-phenanthroline units, also optimising the luminescent output of both the complex in solution and on AuNPs

    Discovery of selective saccharide receptors via Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry

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    The diagnosis of various diseases and pathological conditions can be accomplished by screening and detecting glycans in cells. Certain glycans serve as excellent biomarkers, being related to cell malfunctioning, while other structurally similar glycans perform completely different functions and are naturally present in healthy cells. Despite the theoretical feasibility of using glycans as biomarkers for early disease detection, our current inability to discriminate between them limits their use. One promising approach to distinguishing between glycans is targeting their dissimilarities in saccharide chains. However, designing selective receptors for saccharides is challenging due to the complexity of these molecules. Their vast diversity, the fact that they exist in many interconvertible forms, their lack of recognisable functional groups, or the fact that they are normally heavily solvated in aqueous environments have made the design of receptors for saccharides a challenge that has kept the scientific community busy for the last 35 years. Although there have been ground-breaking discoveries in the field, improvements are needed to enhance our disease detection and risk stratification tools. To address this challenge, we employed a technique known as Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry (DCC). DCC enables the self-formation and self-selection of the best possible receptor for a given target from a pool or library of potentially good ligands. DCC has been effective for creating receptors for biomolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, but its use for discovering sugar receptors is less explored. In this work, we filled this gap by implementing DCC for screening common saccharides (glucose, galactose, mannose, and fructose) using small, simple, and inexpensive building blocks. Our results indicated that molecule 2DD, which consists of a benzene ring with 2 units of amino acid aspartic acid derivatives connected in positions 1 and 3, is the best receptor in a library of very similar structures for the saccharides glucose, galactose, and mannose. For fructose, molecule 1P, a benzene ring linked to just one unit of the amino acid phenylaldehyde, was appointed as the best receptor. The differential behaviour of fructose can provide insight into the relatively unknown processes behind molecular recognition of sugars. Molecules 2DD and 1P, as well as some other library members as negative controls, were then synthesised for further testing and DCC results were then validated by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) and NMR techniques, proving the effectiveness of DCC as a molecular recognition tool for the creation of receptors for saccharides. Moreover, molecule 1P was found to have a high binding constant (Ka_{a} = 1762 M1^{-1}) and selectivity (50-100 times over other sugars) for fructose, which is surprisingly good considering the simplicity of the receptor. A much more challenging approach was attempted by employing short peptides as scaffolds in DCC experiments. The benefits of using peptides are numerous but can be summarised in three bullet points: customisability, flexibility, and easiness in their synthesis. Unfortunately, we encountered many difficulties for the complete functionalisation of the peptides within the Dynamic Combinatorial Library (DCL) and this approach did not yield the desired results before the research project came to an end. However, we believe in its potential and the knowledge that we gained on the topic helped to stablish the foundations on which new research will be carried out in the near future within the research group. In summary, this thesis reports the development of a rapid methodology for the discovery of selective receptors for monosaccharides, employing a library of simple and inexpensive starting building blocks. While this was a proof-of-concept study, it can be scalable to larger library sizes and to target more complex biomolecules, becoming a useful tool that could accelerate the discovery of new molecules with biomedical applications

    Development and application of 3D X-ray diffraction for the study of phase transformations in metallic materials

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    Many steel alloy types, both currently in use and under development, exploit a deformation-induced phase transformation to achieve a combined high strength and ductility. As deformation is applied to these alloys, a metastable retained austenite phase transforms to martensite. This process acts as a significant carrier of plasticity, increasing the work-hardening rate and therefore the ductility. The "stability", or resistance against martensitic transformation, of the austenite phase is the main parameter that governs the martensitic transformation rate and therefore the work-hardening behaviour of the steel. In the last few decades, the stability of an individual austenite grain has been shown to depend on a number of microstructural properties, such as the size of the grain, its orientation relative to the loading axis, the alloy chemistry, and the configuration of the grain's immediate crystallographic neighbourhood. A good understanding of how exactly these properties modify austenite grain stability is crucial to the development of accurate models of deformation-induced phenomena, which themselves directly contribute to the design of new and improved alloys that better exploit said phenomena. In the past, austenite grain stability has usually been evaluated for a steel sample either through phase-averaged behaviour, where the stability of the phase overall is characterised, or on an individual grain level, where typically only a few grains are considered. This is primarily due to the difficulties involved with measuring the martensitic transformation in situ at a per-grain level for a large number of grains simultaneously. The recent development of far-field Three-Dimensional X-Ray Diffraction (3DXRD) has enabled such measurements on a range of polycrystalline materials, capturing the grain-level position, orientation and strain tensor for many thousands of grains in situ. However, the 3DXRD technique poses a number of significant challenges related to data analysis and post-processing, both crucial steps that must be carefully implemented to enable detailed measurements of complicated polycrystal samples. In this study, 3DXRD was implemented at the I12 Joint Engineering, Environmental, and Processing (JEEP) Beamline at the Diamond Light Source X-ray synchrotron. Then, the capabilities of the technique were explored by examining how a microstructurally "simple" single phase ferritic steel responds to in-situ tensile deformation on a per-grain level. A number of micromechanical phenomena were investigated, including a small (but statistically significant) grain neighbourhood effect, where the stress state of a central grain was found to depend on the orientation of its immediate neighbourhood grains, a finding never before seen for large numbers of grains in a cubic polycrystal. During this 3DXRD implementation, a sophisticated automated data analysis and post-processing pipeline was developed, that enabled rapid exploration of such micromechanical effects. With 3DXRD implemented and a data analysis pipeline developed, a novel metastable stainless steel alloy system was devised that enabled the exploration of the martensitic transformation at very low applied strains, as 3DXRD is typically limited to ~2% maximum strain. This alloy system was extensively characterised non-destructively in three dimensions with laboratory electron-based and X-ray based techniques, and was used to evaluate both the performance of multi-phase laboratory-based Diffraction Contrast Tomography (DCT), as well as a novel registration algorithm that accurately located two-dimensional planes measured with Electron Back-Scatter Diffraction (EBSD) within the three-dimensional DCT dataset. Finally, the deformation response of the alloy was measured in-situ with 3DXRD at the ID11 beamline of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, coupled with in-situ EBSD scans using an in-chamber tensile stage. Substantial martensite transformations were found even within the ~2% maximum strain window, proving the alloy design was successful and enabling extensive in-situ analyses of austenite grain stability in the bulk material with 3DXRD. Austenite grain stability was found to be influenced by grain size, orientation, and local neighbourhood. Larger grains, grains oriented with {100} close to the loading axis, and grains with more ferrite/martensite-dense neighbourhoods were found to have reduced stability against deformation. The minimum strain work criterion model was also evaluated against the experimental data — it was found to correctly predict the orientation of martensite that formed in the majority of grains, given the parent orientation and macroscopic applied load. Grains where the model failed tended to have reduced levels of stress just before forming martensite, which was attributed to the use of the global stress state by the model as opposed to more granular measurements of the immediate stress field around a grain

    A thematic Catalogue of British String Quartets of the early Twentieth Century and an account of the some of their contexts: 1890-1950

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    Few string quartets were composed in Britain before the late nineteenth century, but from that time until the end of World War 2, the string quartet was one of the most crucial and vibrant genres in British music. The genre developed dramatically on account of promotion at public concerts, concerts at musical institutions, musical competitions, commissions, and the publication industries. This resulted in many British composers (including immigrants) writing string quartets, totalling approximately 600. The thesis documents, describes and contextualises the string-quartet genre in Britain in the early twentieth century. A thematic catalogue provides basic information such as the full titles of pieces (with a work number, where applicable), year of composition and, if applicable, date of first (or first known) performances (live or broadcast), information on recordings of the work, the year of publication and the name of the publisher). Subsequent chapters provide context for the catalogue by investigating institutional history and string quartet repertoires that were performed in public and at musical institutions in London during the early twentieth century, as well as radio broadcasts. Overall the thesis focuses on quantitative approaches and broad trends in the repertory rather than sustained analysis or criticism of pieces by well-known composers, and avoids implicit judgements about value in relation to musical style

    Understanding the experience of ‘brain fog’ in coeliac disease: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

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    This thesis is submitted by Emily May Ahmed in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The thesis is comprised of three chapters. The first chapter is a meta-analysis which aims to provide a current prevalence estimate of depression in adults with coeliac disease, including evaluation of risk of bias factors. Additionally, it includes a brief secondary analysis, within the appendix, describing prevalence and relative risk estimates for other mental health disorders associated with coeliac disease. The second chapter is a qualitative empirical study which uses interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology to explore the complex lived experiences of one of the lesser-known symptoms associated with coeliac disease – ‘brain fog’, in seven participants. Both the meta-analysis and empirical studies have clear clinical implications for the cognitive and psychological support that individuals with coeliac disease should be offered during and after diagnosis. Finally, the third chapter is comprised of two press release documents, which provides an accessible summary of the main findings of both the meta-analysis and the empirical research study

    Resolving the liver sinusoidal endothelial phenotype in health and disease

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    The burden of liver disease is continuously increasing globally, and this emphasises the need for the development of therapeutics. In order for this to be achieved, potential cellular and molecular targets need to be identified. Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) play a key role in maintaining liver homeostasis and their dysfunction drives liver disease pathophysiology and this role needs to be further elucidated. In order to identify phenotypic differences in LSECs in health and disease, a combination of analytical techniques such as immunohistochemistry and qPCR was applied on human tissue specimens. To confirm whether these changes are recapitulated in vitro, I isolated LSECs from human healthy and cirrhotic tissue specimens for the establishment of culture model of human LSECs. Validation of functional and phenotypic characteristics of LSECs in vitro was carried out using immunocytochemistry and qPCR. Furthermore, the development and optimisation of a super-resolution imaging protocol for the visualisation of LSEC fenestrations was performed. Altered expression and downregulation of scavenger receptors in LSECs was identified in diseased human tissue specimens compared to healthy specimens and this confirmed capillarisation of sinusoidal endothelial cells in liver disease. Expression of scavenger receptors and key regulatory molecules was maintained in LSECs in vitro. The phenotypic changes in LSECs identified in liver tissue specimens were partially recapitulated in LSECs in vitro. The application of pharmaceutical molecules for the enhancement of nitric oxide (NO) signalling in LSECs revealed an altered genotype in healthy and cirrhotic LSECs. Finally, fenestrations were visualised on the LSEC membrane using the developed super-resolution imaging protocol and improvement in LSEC porosity following the application of sildenafil citrate. Hence these findings emphasise the relevance of appropriate culture models and imaging approaches to study phenotypic changes in LSECs in relation to disease and highlight the therapeutic potential of sildenafil citrate in improving LSECs porosity

    Investigating the role of complement in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia in previously healthy pregnant women, and in high-risk groups.

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    Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a leading cause of obstetric morbidity and mortality. Certain groups of women, including those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and those of sub-Saharan African (SSA) ethnicity, are at particularly high risk. There remains no definitive treatment other than expedited delivery of baby and placenta. Previous studies suggest a role for complement dysregulation in the pathogenesis of PE, but results are often conflicting, and it remains unclear whether changes in circulating complement concentrations reflect a general heightened inflammatory state in PE or are directly associated with placental complement-mediated injury. This thesis tested the hypothesis that PE is associated with excessive complement activation within placental tissue, with concurrent complement activation within the maternal and fetal circulation, and that groups with a high prevalence of PE, and of PE with severe features (women with CKD and women of SSA ethnicity) would exhibit a greater degree of systemic complement activation. Three arms of research were conducted, and I report: • In a cohort of previously healthy women, PE was associated with significant placental complement deposition, associated with concurrent changes in maternal and fetal circulating complement markers (reduced maternal properdin and C4, and elevated maternal and fetal Ba). Placental C4d deposition was strongly correlated with maternal properdin and C4, suggesting that those patients with the most excessive changes in circulating markers of complement activation also have the greatest extent of placental complement-mediated damage. • There was no evidence of excessive complement activation in the maternal circulation in superimposed PE in a cohort of women with CKD. However, raised Ba levels were associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with CKD. • There was no evidence of excessive complement activation in PE in a Ghanaian cohort of women of SSA ethnicity when compared to healthy pregnant controls. However, pregnant women of SSA ethnicity did have significantly elevated levels of C5b-9, serum free light chains, and immunoglobulin G, when compared to the UK-recruited cohorts; suggestive of a baseline elevated inflammatory state. The results suggest that inhibition of complement activation is a potential therapeutic target for certain groups of women with PE. However, PE is a heterogenous syndrome and additional pathophysiological mechanisms may contribute to the development of disease in women with CKD and women of SSA ethnicity


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