University of Leicester in the News, December 2011
Archaeology in the News
Dr Rob Ixer, associated with our Department of Geology, has identified the precise source of the stones making up Stonehenge, thanks to a research partnership with Dr Richard Bevins from the National Museum Wales. The researchers have traced the famous rocks to a distinctive outcrop in Pembrokeshire, North Wales. BBC News, The Independent, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Times of India, Belfast Telegraph, NY Daily News and the Leicester Mercury all reported the story. (National Museum Wales Press Release)
Professor Clive Ruggles, associated with our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, became involved in a high-profile debate about whether or not Stonehenge should be lit at night. Professor Ruggles is an expert in archaeoastronomy, and argued that restoring Stonehenge to its historic state included restoring its historic sky: unlit and untouched by light pollution. The Guardian and the BBC both covered the story, and Professor Ruggles appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. (Read more on the University Newsblog)
The BBC reported on the success of the Burh to Borough archaeological project carried out by the School of Archaeology and Ancient History in Wallingford. Professionals from the University started the project with the help of the Wallingford and Archaeological Society, which aims to chart 1,200 years of history in the Oxfordshire town by digging 100 pits in back gardens and open spaces. You can read more about the Burh to Borough project on the School's website.
The University in the National Media
BBC News reported on the founding of a new National Space Academy, run by the National Space Centre with support from scientists at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, and the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire. The Academy will help teachers use space as a theme in their core lesson plans, getting students engaged in space science and encouraging them to pursue subjects such as maths and engineering.
The Guardian ran a feature about universities changing their marketing strategies in light of rising tuition fees. Richard Taylor, our director of corporate affairs, was interviewed for the piece, giving his views on the changes universities are making in the way they brand and market themselves and their courses.
The Daily Mail reported on findings that suggest immigration into the UK is driven by open borders and not economic prospects. The University of Leicester took part in the research along with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the findings were published in the Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society.
Emeritus Professor Ken Pounds of our Department of Physics and Astronomy was interviewed for a story in the Guardian about China's plans to send a manned mission to the moon. Professor Pounds gave his opinion on China's late (but ambitious) entry into the space race, saying that it could be "game-changing".
Experts from the University's Department of Media and Communication were present at the Guardian's "Reading the Riots" conference on 14 December. Dr Farida Vis discussed some of her research findings into the role of social media in the recent disturbances in Britain this summer.
A Guardian report on the Higher Education Network looked into ways of improving course evaluation at UK universities. Alex Nutt, our Academic Affairs sabbatical officer at the Students' Union, was interviewed for the story and gave his views on the need to focus on the quality of the student experience.
An opinion piece in the Telegraph discusses the merits of modern architecture, and recommends the University's Engineering Building for Grade I listing by English Heritage. The building was designed by James Stirling and James Gowen in the 1950s.
Professor Carol Hedderman of our Department of Criminology was interviewed by the Guardian for an article about regional variations in rates of reoffending. Professor Hedderrman gave her views on the role of social deprivation in driving reoffending, and how local authorities can help deal with the issue.
Dr Gaia Garino featured on the BBC TV programme Rip Off Britain, where she discussed interest rates on loans from high street banks. The show was filmed partly on campus.
An international study led by the University has challenged current medical opinion on the way lungs grow. Researchers from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation collaborated with the University of Nottingham to measure the size of alveoli - the tiny air sacs that make up the lungs. Their findings indicate that our lungs can continually grow new air sacs; scientists previously believed our lungs stopped developing new alveoli by the age of three years. The story was covered by Medical Xpress, Medical News Today, Daily RX and Mediplacements news, and locally by the Leicester Mercury. (University Press Release)
Scientists at the University, working with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), have made an important breakthrough that could lead to new drugs that help lower 'bad' cholesterol in the body. Professor John Schwabe and his team in our Department of Biochemistry studied an enzyme called IDOL that helps the body remove 'bad' cholesterol from the blood. The story received wide coverage, featuring in News Medical, Medical Daily, Science Codex, Medical Xpress, HealthCanal, Newstrack India, Zee News, South Asia Mail and Med India. (University Press Release)
The Los Angeles Times featured an article about autism and the prevalence of undiagnosed autism amongst adults in the USA. The piece cited work by Professor Terry Brugha of our Department of Health Sciences, who investigated undiagnosed autism cases in the UK and found many adults who had the disease but were unaware of it.
Professor Ellen Annandale was asked to give her views on a new Spanish study showing women report being in worse health than men because they suffer more chronic illnesses. Professor Annandale of our Department of Sociology discussed the reasons why woman are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic conditions such as arthritis or mental health problems, for a story that featured in Scientific American, msnbc, Live Science and My Health News Daily.
A report by the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers (BINOCAR) found that one in 50 babies in the UK is born with a birth defect. BINOCAR is chaired by Professor Elizabeth Draper of our Department of Health Sciences, and their findings revealed regional variations and inconsistencies in the recording of birth defects. HealthCanal, Medical Xpress and Med India all covered the story. (University Press Release)
A study by our Department of Biology into parasitic worms that infect fish found that the worms grow four times faster in warmer waters and can even manipulate the host fish's behaviour. The findings suggest that global warming could affect the balance between fish and parasites, with potentially devastating effects on stickleback populations. The story was covered by BioScholar, MedIndia, Science Codex, the Leicester Mercury, and speciality news outlets such as Fish Information & Services, TheFishSite.com and Fish Channel. (University Press Release)
Society and Media
Researchers from our Department of Media and Communication were involved in a study led by the University of Manchester that looked at how the social media site Twitter was used to spread - and knock down - rumours during the recent English riots. The Guardian commissioned the piece and published the findings, including a quote from Dr Farida Vis, who was involved in the research and attended the Guardian's Reading the Riots conference to discuss the research. The story was also covered by HealthCanal, Bioscience Technology and locally by the Leicester Mercury. (University Press Release)
A study by Dr Ruth Page of our Department of English into the way women are shaping the use of language on social media was reported in various outlets internationally. The study found that young women are better at being social on social media sites, often using expressive language and linguistic flourishes such as emoticons. Truth Dive, USA Today, USA Today Healthy Perspective and News.com.au all covered the story. (University Press Release)
A collaborative study between our Department of Health Sciences and the Universities of York and Nottingham revealed the successful formula for encouraging the public to install smoke alarms in their homes: education, free or low-cost equipment and home safety inspections. Their findings were reported by Medical Xpress and Press Zoom. (University Press Release)
The year ended on a high note, with Professor Derek Raine of our Department of Physics and Astronomy being awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours lists. The Leicester Mercury reported on the award, along with other Leicester locals recognised in the lists. The Independent, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph all published the full list of recipients. Read more on the University Newsblog.
Taiwan News and Focus Taiwan both published an editorial discussing the importance of monitoring the happiness of a country's population. The pieces cited research from the University published in 2006, which produced a World Map of Happiness comparing happiness indexes globally.
The University has provided equipment for India's first national astronomy satellite Astrosat, due to be launched in 2012. A delegation from India came to collect the equipment in December, and the event was reported in the Leicester Mercury as well as Space Daily. (University Press Release)
Professor Panicos Demetriades of our Department of Economics was interviewed extensively in December about the Eurozone crisis and the current economic crisis in Greece. As well as interviews with local Greek radio and newspapers, he was interviewed by local radio in Cyprus and by BBC Radio Leicester.
Space Daily also reported on the launch of NASA's new Curiosity probe to Mars. Academics from our Space Research Centre will be among the first to study images and data sent back by the probe, and Dr John Bridges attended the launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (University Press Release)
Our Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Douglas Tallack contributed a First Person opinion piece for the Mercury, discussing the benefits of the University's academic link with educational centres in Kurdistan (a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq). In another First Person column, Professor John Benyon spoke of the success of CULN - the Colleges-University Leicester Network - which over the last ten years as improved access to higher education through collaboration with local colleges and schools.
Professor Mark Jobling of our Department of Genetics was interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester about forensic techniques used by the police, following on from the findings in the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
A new project run by the University called the Space Ideas Hub aims to help local small and medium business owners benefit from expertise in the space science and technology industry. The launch of the scheme was reported by the Leicester Mercury and in the Midlands Business News. (University Press Release)
The public fundraising appeal to help finish and equip the new Cardiovascular Research Centre continued to receive positive coverage in the Mercury, with a full-page piece telling the story of a local man who has benefited from cardiovascular research and encouraged people to donate to the appeal. ("Support £1m appeal so more people like me can be saved")
The Mercury reported on the discovery of a 'Christmas Day Burst' - a massive gamma ray burst detected on Christmas Day last year - and included an artist's impression of the event. The burst was studied by scientists in our Department of Physics and Astronomy, including Dr Kim Page, who was 'on call' last Christmas and received the first notification of the gamma ray burst. (University Press Release) In another space related story, a visit by former NASA astronaut Professor Jeff Hoffman also received positive coverage in the Mercury. (University Press Release)
The efforts of University of Leicester students to collect and wrap toys for the local Toys on the Table campaign featured in the Mercury, with a picture of students Daniel Tinkler, Ashni Haria and Alex Williams wrapping gifts that were distributed to needy children across the county in the run up to Christmas. (University Press Release)