Shortlisted entries will be asked to present their posters at an event in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 11 March, as part of British Science Week. Prizes are awarded for the posters in each discipline which best communicate their science to a lay audience, with the best overall poster winning the Westminster Medal.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), supports parliamentarians by providing concise up-do-date reviews on topics that are likely to be debated in parliament in the coming months. POST, which also covers the social sciences, has put out an open call for academic researchers to contribute to policy reviews on a range of topics. Find out which topics will be covered and submit your research evidence to help inform parliamentary debate.
The University of Reading recently took part in a Universities UK (UUK) and ITN Productions film exploring the positive impact that universities have on people’s lives, and on the prosperity of the UK. This short film looks at how we are sharing the benefits of research to address local, national and global challenges.
Research that is helping to save children’s lives in rural India, protecting endangered species in Africa, and opening children’s eyes to science in the UK are among those shortlisted for the University of Reading’s Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018.
Two of last year’s Impact and Engagement Award finalists, Dr Teresa Murjas and Dr Kate Allen.
The awards, which are in their second year, aim to recognise staff at the University of Reading who have achieved extraordinary things by interacting with people in the real world to drive better understanding of research and bring about change.
Sainfoin is a plant that’s been grown by farmers for centuries to feed livestock, but its use has declined in recent decades. Research led by Professor Irene Mueller-Harvey and others has investigated the plant’s bioactive components – tannins. And it’s sparking a revival in its use. Reading’s Dr Sokratis Stergiadis tells us about a recent open day to explain the benefits of growing Sainfoin to farmers.
Sainfoin is a drought-resistant forage crop that fixes nitrogen and helps prevent parasitic worm infections in cattle. It also improves meat quality, helps to reduce methane production in cattle and encourages pollinating insects.
To encourage more farmers to grow Sainfoin and to share the science behind its beneficial effects, researchers from the University of Reading teamed up with staff from Cotswolds Seeds Ltd, Sainfoin’s main supplier in the UK, to host an Experience Day for 50 farmers at Honeydale Farm in Gloucestershire.
Researchers working across national borders feature prominently in the latest group of University of Reading academics to be awarded research funding.
In total, £12.5 million of funds were awarded during the third quarter of 2017-18, to 80 projects across all five research themes at Reading: Environment, Food, Health, Heritage & Creativity and Prosperity & Resilience.
On Sunday (3 June) the University brought together staff, students, and people in Reading for the Big Band Big Lunch. Jeremy Le Lean, communications officer of the Soil Security Programme, explains that research, like jazz, is often best with a live audience.
As a science communicator I attend a lot of events, but not many like the University of Reading’s Big Band Big Lunch. The music and street food vendors gave it more the feeling of carnival rather than science engagement.
Academics have a duty to speak to the media, especially in tragic and complex cases, argues Tom Sheldon, Senior Press Manager at the Science Media Centre.
“How many more Charlies and Alfies must be paraded in front of us before we realise that keeping quiet only makes things worse?”
In July 2017 the story of Charlie Gard, a baby with incurable mitochondrial disease, played out across the media. By April 2018 we all knew the name Alfie Evans, another little boy with another untreatable condition. In both cases the medical teams and the courts agreed nothing could be done. Both children have since died. There’s nothing enjoyable or satisfying about these stories. They are profoundly sad.
Nine months after Charlie Gard, and the rest of us watched as Alfie’s Army demonstrated outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and his parents were locked in bitter dispute with the medical team. For a second time, a battle over the life of a child none of us knew had become major news, and the need for expert voices to be heard in the media and by the public was as strong as ever. Yet with a few notable exceptions, the rest of the medical profession once again failed to show up, allowing misinformation around Alfie Evans to take hold. Nine months after Charlie Gard, and we have dismally failed to learn any lessons.
Elections – national and local – should not curtail academic engagement.
University of Reading academics should remain engaged in public debates, even while elections are imminent in the UK, says Professor Steve Mithen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
This week there are a number of local elections across the UK. This means that government departments and agencies are subject to the so-called rules of ‘purdah’, or pre-election period, restricting what can be discussed in public by civil servants.
The University wants to open up all elements of research at Reading.
But open research is controversial, and there are many different views on it. To some, open research is the future and leads to better studies, more collaboration, and greater impact. To others, it risks giving away your best ideas without clear benefits.
That’s why we need your views now on Reading’s draft Vision for Open Research. You can have your say by completing a short online survey.