University of Leicester in the News, 1 - 17 November 2011

Posted by fi17 at Nov 23, 2011 04:25 PM |
A regular review from the Press Office of coverage of the University in the media.

History, Culture and Community 

Professor David Mattingly and Dr Martin Sterry of our School of Archaeology and Ancient History reported on the discovery of the ruins of an ancient city in the Libyan desert. The finding generated huge media interest, and was covered by outlets all over the world such as the Guardian, the Observer, the Mirror, Daily Mail, the Times, U.TV, MSNBC, Fox News, USA Today, Newstrack India, Hindustan Times, and the National Geographic. The Leicester Mercury also featured an interview with Professor Mattingly. (University Press Release)

A first person article written by Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) Douglas Tallack featured in the Times Higher Education on 17 November. Professor Tallack talked about his experiences in the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, where Leicester is forging close links with local universities and recently set up a new International English Language Centre. The article was an opportunity to draw attention to the good work being done by the University in a region that is trying to expand its educational provision. The article was also picked up by Kurdish media (University Press Release)

Professor James Chapman

Professor James Chapman, the Universities resident James Bond expert and Head of the Department of History of Art and Film, was interviewed by the BBC on the day details of the latest 007 movie were announced. Professor Chapman contributed to articles on the BBC News website and Gigwise, and was interviewed for the BBC 6 O'clock News. In an unrelated story, Professor James Chapman's new book British Comics: A Cultural History was positively reviewed in the Telegraph.

The Daily Mail and the Sun, as well as a host of regional media, picked up on a story about allotments around Britain. Researchers in our Department of Media and Communication carried out study into the price and availability of allotments, uncovering large regional variations in costs and waiting times. Dr Farida Vis carried out the study with the help of postgraduate student Yana Manyukhina.

Biggest vegetable competition at Aylestone allotments

A piece in the Guardian featured a graduate of Leicester's distance learning MBA degree. The article focused on the benefits of postgraduate business training and the growing number of entrepreneurs studying for an MBA qualification. The graduate interviewed, Shaun McCormick, praised the MBA course at Leicester as a major factor in helping him set up and expand three new businesses.

Professor Julie Coleman of our School of English was interviewed by the Times as part of an article about the use of slang. The piece came as the new Concise Scottish Dictionary incorporates slang terms for the first time.

Science and Research

Supermassive black holesA new theory about the origin of dust clouds surrounding supermassive black holes continued to feature in news articles from around the world. National Geographic featured the story, along with Fox News and its affiliates. The team behind the theory is led by Dr Sergei Nayakshin of our Department of Physics and Astronomy. ABC Science Online, CBS News, Digital Journal, Newstrack India, Zee News and Hindustan Times also ran the story. (University Press Release)

A study by Ross Morrison and Dr Sue Page of our Department of Geography found that biofuels are as carbon-intensive as petrol after analysing greenhouse gas emissions from tropical peatland. The results were reported in Newsroom America, The Engineer, Product and Design Development, Science Codex, Manufacturing Digital, Red Orbit, Oil and Gas Online, TG Daily and Environmental Protection. The findings of the study will influence future policy regarding biofuels, and position the University as a leader and influence in this area of research. (University Press Release)Oil palm plantations on peat

The University's establishment of a new £1.07million centre of excellence in vibrometry continued to gain media attention after its announcement late last month (see last University of Leicester in the News). The Leicester Mercury ran a front page article about the new centre, as well as an editorial that praised the project for bringing new jobs to the area and boosting the local economy. The story included a picture of Professor Sarah Hainsworth of our Department of Engineering, who is the academic lead on the project. Trade press such as Product and Design Development and The Engineer also covered the story. (University Press Release)

Video Domain Technologies (VDT) Direct Ltd's work with the University to develop new security software was featured in the DNCC In Business magazine as well as in the business section of the Daily Express. In the article, VDT's managing director praised the partnership with the University, citing it as the reason behind increased profits and the hiring of extra staff.

Several of the University's technology projects featured in the Engineer, including potential new treatments for tinnitus and the new vibrometry testing centre.

Health and Medicine

Several health and medicine related stories appeared in the news at the beginning of the month, all serving to boost the University's reputation as a world leader in medical research.

New research has discovered key genes and proteins in the kidneys that contribute to high blood pressure. The findings were reported widely by local news outlets, and featured in Medical Xpress, Insciences Organisation, Red Orbit, Bioscience Technology,, Medical News Today, Newstrack India, Times of India and Zee News. The findings represent a huge advance in scientists' understanding of what causes high blood pressure. (University Press Release)

The discovery of a gene that increases the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms was covered by the Guardian and Zee News, as well as specialist medical media such as Medical News Today, MedIndia, Net Doctor and Bioscholar. Matt Bown, a vascular surgeon from our Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, led the international team that made the discovery. (University Press Release)

Professor Kamlesh KhuntiA team from our Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences have recommended that significantly lower BMI and waist circumference cut points for defining obesity are needed for migrant South Asians, in a study published in PLoS One. The story featured on the BBC News, including an interview with Professor Kamlesh Khunti, who co-led the study. Science Daily, Science Codex, Medical Xpress, The Times of India, Newstrack India, Asian News International,, Medical News Today, and Pulse also ran the story. The story also featured on the Health Check radio show on the BBC World Service. (University Press Release)

Research carried out by Dr Natalie Armstrong and colleagues from our Department of Health Sciences (in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University) has found that many women find the experience of cervical smear tests is stressful, embarrassing and humiliating. Their findings were reported by the BBC, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and Female First magazine. (University Press Release)

Research by Professor Terry Brugha of our Department of Health Sciences was quoted in a Nature article about the prevalence rates of autism. Professor Brugha's study into autism in the adult population suggests that rates of the disorder have always been high, and the apparent increase in prevalence is a result of better diagnosis and understanding. (University Press Release)


A psychological study of gang members identified an 'extreme antisocial personality' as a clear indicator of gang membership. The new theory of why people join gangs was proposed by Dr Vincent Egan of our School of Psychology, and the news was covered by Science Daily, Medical Xpress,, US News and Doctor's Lounge. (University Press Release)

Dr Noelle Robertson from our School of Psychology was interviewed by The Guardian for an article about distress and psychological trauma in jurors. Dr Robertson published a paper in 2009 about the subject, and was able to offer her expert opinion.

Local News

Dr Neil Chakraborti of our Department of Criminology was interviewed by the BBC local news after publishing a paper on rural racism, which found that racism still persists in rural areas despite increased acceptance in large cities. You can watch the video on the BBC website.

The Leicester Mercury ran a story about the Leicester Space Centre, which pointed out that "the University of Leicester has been involved in at least one space mission every year for the past 50 years."

On 14 November the Mercury ran a two page spread about Diabetes Day, which mentioned the University's ongoing research into diabetes. Professor Kamlesh Khunti provided a quote for the piece. The Mercury praised the University's efforts to research diabetes and help patients manage their illness, generating positive coverage of the University's medical and research expertise and its impact on the local community.

Project Manager Guy PetersThe Mercury also ran a feature on the development of a new instrument that can detect fake whisky through the bottle. Dr Andy Powell of the Space Research Centre led the project, which applied existing space science technology to the problem of combating fraud in the whisky industry. The article came as the project was nominated for the Food and Drink iNet Most Innovative Research Project prize - which the project went on to win. (University Press Release)

The Percy Gee redevelopment was named Building of the Year at the Leicestershire Property and Construction (ProCon) awards. The Mercury reported on the prizes on 11 November, including a picture of the new Students' Union. They also ran a follow-up piece on 15 November in the Business section.

A visit by the Gruffalo (and the author Julia Donaldson) proved a big hit, especially for local deaf children who were able to attend the event at the University. The Mercury ran an article about the day, including a lovely picture of the Gruffalo and its young fans.