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Plenary Speakers

It gives us great pleasure to announce our renowned keynote plenary speakers for the 2020 annual conference: Professor Emerita Meredith Minkler from the University of California, Professor Glenn Lyons from the University of the West of England, Professor Ian Craddock from the University of Bristol and Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England. The speakers will address the conference theme ‘Ageing and Sustainability in a Time of Transition' in thought-provoking sessions during the conference.

Professor Emerita Meredith Minkler

Professor Emerita Meredith Minkler is a Professor in the Graduate Group, University of California, Berkeley and Professor Emerita, School of Public Health, UCB Fulbright Specialist on community-engaged research (South Africa), Director, Health and Social Behavior, SPH UCB Founding Director, UC Berkeley Center on Aging.

In the 1980s and '90s, Meredith worked with Carroll Estes, Chris Phillipson and others in helping develop and refine a critical gerontology framework that resulted in several books (with Dr Estes) and informed much of her subsequent scholarship. She then led the first major study of the impacts on older women of full-time caregiving for their grandchildren during an epidemic of cocaine use and race-based mass incarceration using a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach. This work, and subsequent national prevalence studies, resulted in a national centre and state policy changes to better address the needs of such carers. Since then, Meredith has conducted numerous PAR studies with marginalized communities that then used findings for community and policy change. She continues to work with low-income older adults to assess and address food insecurity and then drive and implement municipal policies to address this problem. She has published 8 books and more than 250 refereed journal articles over her career, and continues to flunk retirement.

Keynote Lecture - Ageing and sustainability in turbulent times: Perspectives from critical gerontology and participatory action research

This presentation will offer a critical gerontology perspective on ageing and sustainability, with special attention to the roles of growing social and economic inequities, the politics of austerity, increasing older adult diversity, and both problematic and encouraging examples of changes in the built environment to address issues of food insecurity, inadequate transport, housing challenges and other issues of special concern to older adults. We will also explore continuing ageism in the conventional and mass media, and changing professional and societal images of and attitudes toward older adults which may be particularly problematic in the contemporary contexts of the early 21st century. Finally, the presentation will illustrate the role of Participatory Action Research (PAR) with older adults and their communities as a potent means of building on their strengths and partnering to explore older adults' shared concerns, in part by shining a spotlight on the lived experience of some of the most marginalized groups through visual voices and other methods that have helped effect change on multiple levels of the social ecological model, from individual/interpersonal through the community, organizational and policy levels. Illustrations from North America, the UK and other nations will be used to highlight the promise, and the challenges, of such older adult-engaged research and action in these turbulent times.

Professor Glenn Lyons

Professor Glenn Lyons is the Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility at UWE Bristol, helping to equip transport planners to handle deep uncertainty about the future. He was formerly Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) in UWE Bristol's Faculty of Environment and Technology and founding Director of UWE Bristol's Centre for Transport & Society.

Starting from a degree in civil engineering followed by a PhD in applying Artificial Intelligence to model driver behaviour (well before the current fixation with autonomous vehicles), Glenn has devoted his career to understanding and influencing travel behaviour in the context of continuing social and technological change. More recently referred to as a transport sociologist, Glenn has journeyed from engineering into the territories of social science and he believes a socio-technical approach is essential to understanding our current challenges and opportunities. During his career, Glenn has had a number of secondments - bridging between academia, policy and practice and with an increasing focus upon the need for transport planning to evolve in the face of a changing world.

Keynote Lecture - Beyond the ageing motor age – accessing 2050

Look in the rear-view mirror and one can see the once familiar society in which getting about – reaching people, goods, services and opportunities – was centred upon the motor car. A force for economic prosperity and individual freedom (for those able to access and use a car) and one that has had a defining influence on our built environment. While there were unintended and undesirable consequences of our love affair with the car, more of the same has endured. Until, perhaps, more recently. The digital age has collided, and is merging, with the motor age. Whereas once talk was of the rise of car dependence, we now face the rise of internet dependence. Digital connectivity is redefining how, where and when we undertake activities. It has created significant new dynamics for society and for our transport system. We are struggling to come to terms with technological innovation and behaviour change that in turn are spelling deep uncertainty over the future. If the future is ours to shape, what part can we play in stewardship over a better future? How might we be going about our lives in 2050 and what might this mean for an ageing society? This presentation will seek to make sense of future mobility and invite gathered experts in gerontology to respond.

Professor Ian Craddock

Professor Ian Craddock is Institutional Lead for Digital Health at the University of Bristol working across six faculties, Director of the flagship "SPHERE" centre (funded at £16M from 2013-2021 by EPSRC) and Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Health & Care. He has funding from EPSRC, H2020, MRC and NERC and served for 5 years on EPSRC's Strategic Advisory Team for Healthcare Technology. He is a REF 2021 panel member for Computer Science.

He did a PhD in numerical analysis of differential equations sponsored by the Ministry of Defence, then ran a large project on radar for humanitarian landmine detection before forming an award-winning collaboration with medical physicists on breast cancer detection. He worked in Industry for 7 years as Managing Director of Toshiba's corporate Research Lab in Bristol, responsible for a portfolio of both internal and collaborative communications, IoT and smart city research.

Keynote Lecture - Future Digital for a Future Ageing Population 

The challenges of ageing populations will inevitably need us to be inventive and creative in the way that we apply new technologies. On the one hand those technologies are being developed very quickly (and this talk will provide some examples) but on the other hand the adoption of new technology is often a highly complex intervention that is sometimes not sufficiently well informed by different disciplines, by health and social care professionals, informal carers and older adults themselves. This is especially the case in early-stage research, which is often poorly connected to real-world applications. Ian will present both some exciting technologies and some wider challenges about responsible innovation, the training that we give technology developers working in this space and opportunities for participatory research.

Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly

Praminda Caleb-Solly is Professor of Assistive Robotics and Intelligent Healthcare Technologies at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (UWE Bristol) and Academic Advisor at the HealthTech Hub. She held a joint post with Designability, an assistive technology SME and charity located at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, as Head of Electronics and Computer Systems for the past four years.

Praminda holds a BEng in Electronic Systems Engineering, MSc in Biomedical Instrumentation Engineering and a PhD in Interactive Evolutionary Computation. Her recent portfolio of Innovate UK, EPSRC, AHRC and EC funded projects include designing and evaluating socially and physically assistive robotics and IoT sensor-based intelligent technology to support older adults with ageing-related impairments, working in partnership with care providers. She is currently running an Assistive Robotics in Healthcare Demonstrator as part of the Assuring Autonomy International Programme. Her research covers safe, accessible and collaborative Human-Robot Interaction, Sensing and Intelligent Activity Recognition, Adaptive Machine Learning Systems and Multimodal Interfaces for people with accessibility needs. She has over 70 academic publications which cover machine learning and human-robot interaction, and recently and co-authored the EPSRC UK-RAS white paper on Robotics in Social Care.

Keynote Lecture - Assistive Robotics in Social Care - Designing a Connected Ecosystem to Support Independent Living

Praminda will discuss her group's recent research, which involves investigating different ways in which robots and smart technologies can assist people with age-related disabilities and long-term conditions, as well as their carers, in providing support for activities of daily living. Using machine learning to interpret contextual information from sensors instrumented into the home, together with information about past activity, as well as the user's current physical and emotional state, assistive robots can be enabled to interact in a more socially intelligent manner. However ensuring user acceptance, effectiveness and efficiency of these technologies requires employing participatory design approaches that are inclusive, involving a diverse range of end-users, their formal and informal carers, therapists, clinicians, care providers and other stakeholders. Praminda will share experiences of using a range of person-centred methods for co-designing the technology. She will also provide insight into people's perceptions and experience of these technologies, highlighting potential barriers, constraints and criteria for acceptability and evaluation.