University of Leicester in the News, 1 - 24 January 2012

Posted by fi17 at Feb 06, 2012 11:20 AM |
A regular review from the Press Office of coverage of the University in the media

History and Archaeology

A 2,000 year old Roman helmet unearthed near the Leicestershire village of Hallaton returns to the county this month after experts at the British Museum spent ten years piecing the helmet back together from hundreds of metal fragments. The helmet, along with a hoard of Roman coins, was discovered by a local man and excavated by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services with the help of local volunteers. The helmet will be on display at Harborough Museum until July. The news of the find was covered by The Guardian, the Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, Culture 24, and locally by the Lutterworth Mail, Harborough Mail and Leicester Mercury. (Read more about the exhibition on the University's newsblog)

The BBC reported on the planned excavation of St Ann's Well in Nottingham, a historic site believed to have been a healing spring and local meeting point. University of Leicester archaeologists produced the initial desk-based assessment of the site, which until this month was covered by a local pub. Now the pub has been demolished and a full-scale archaeological dig will take place in the area.

University of Leicester Department of GeneticsHistory meets biology as Dr Turi King of our Department of Genetics embarked on a new study to trace Britain's Viking ancestors. Dr King was in York this month to collect DNA samples from men with Viking surnames, as part of her research into the genetic origins of the British people. The study will feature in an upcoming BBC programme The Great British Story. Local papers York Press and Middlewich Guardian featured the story.

National Initiatives

The University received £2.4million in funding from the European Commission for a new project that will investigate ways to use space and information technology to reduce traffic and harmful emissions in cities. The initiative - led by Professor Alan Wells - involves scientists from De Montfort and Nottingham Universities, as well as universities across Europe, and hopes to find greener ways to manage traffic in urban areas. The BBC reported on the launch of the project, along with EurekAlert, The Engineer, bdaily Business Network, Cordis News, Fleet News, Earth Techling, and PhysOrg. The Leicester Mercury attended the launch and featured an article with a picture of Professor Alan Wells. (University Press Release)

Sports Medicine IllustrationThe University is also involved in new Sports Medicine centre, announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to coincide with the Olympic Games later this year. The centre will be purpose-built on Loughborough University campus and will research sport and exercise injuries, as well as conditions linked to lack of exercise such as diabetes. BBC News, the Leicester Mercury and Capital FM reported on the new centre and mentioned Leicester's involvement. (University Press Release)

Vice-Chancellor Sir Bob Burgess has been appointed the new chair of the board of trustees for NatCen, the National Centre for Social Research. He takes over from Dame Janet Finch in February this year. Research Live and the Leicester Mercury reported on the announcement. (University Press Release)

National News Features

A piece in the Economist analysed the thieving habits of burglars andTheft. Source: Wikimedia Commons noted that thefts of CDs and DVDs have fallen dramatically whilst thefts of computer equipment have risen - a reflection of the dropping market value of CDs and DVDs. The article posits burglars as 'consumers' with a fair idea of the market value of the items they steal. Dr James Treadwell of our Department of Criminology was interviewed for the article.

An article in Medill Reports Chicago looked at the influence polling station location can have on voting preferences, especially polling stations placed in churches. The article cited studies into the suggestive effect of environments, including a study by our School of Psychology.

Space and Astronomy

An article in io9 examined China's efforts to join the space race and landSpace Race. Source: NASA an astronaut on the moon. The University's Professor Ken Pounds of our Department of Physics and Astronomy was interviewed for the piece, and gave his opinion on the significance of China's efforts and their likelihood to succeed.

A paper by David Boulderstone of our Department of Physics and Astronomy has explained the physics behind the 'Death Star' space station in the famous Star Wars movies, and answered the key question: could the Death Star really destroy an entire planet? Boulderstone's answer is yes, and this fun piece of news was reported by the Smithsonian blog, io9, Universe Today, PhysOrg and Astrobiology Magazine. (Read the original research paper online)

Stargazing. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, European Space AgencyThe University organised four public talks to coincide with the BBC's Stargazing LIVE programme, all of which were publicised on the BBC's events website. You can read more about the lectures on the University's newsblog.


Researchers working in the MRC Toxicology Unit at Leicester have discovered a link between poor maternal diet during pregnancy and diabetes in later life. Individuals who experience a poor diet in the womb are less able to store fats correctly in later life, increasing the risk of disease, and even identified a molecule involved in the process. The story was widely reported - The Mirror, Times of India, International Business Times, Chicago Tribune, Yorkshire Post, the Leicester Mercury, and specialist press such as Net Doctor, Mediplacements, Health Jockey, and Food Navigator all covered the findings. (University Press Release)

Research by Professor Paul Symonds of our Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine has found high levels of trust between doctors and cancer patients, but warned that NHS cuts could threaten this beneficial relationship. Medical news outlets such as Science Codex, News Medical, Net Doctor, Medical Xpress, MedIndia, Spire Healthcare, and Private Healthcare UK reported on the findings. The Mirror highlighted the danger of government spending cuts with an interview with a University of Leicester student affected by the cutbacks. (University Press Release)

Victoria Roe, a Masters student in our School of Education, has done anMutism in children extensive study into selective mutism in children and how it affects their educational experience in the classroom. Roe spoke to 30 pupils who cannot speak in class, and gathered their firsthand accounts of how they were treated. Her results featured in an article in the Times Educational Supplement, and the piece also offered advice for teachers in helping mute children in the classroom. (Read the research paper here)


Jon Garland of our Department of Criminology was interviewed for an article in the Irish Times about racism in football. Garland has written extensively on the subject of football racism and gave his comments on recent problems with racism in the sport, which have hit the headlines in the past few months.

FootballIn another football-related story, Emeritus Professor Tony Arnold of our School of Management was interviewed by local press about the proposed stock market flotation of Portsmouth FC. Businessman Joseph Cala is interested in buying the club and floating it on the NY stock exchange to attract investment, but Professor Arnold warned that such a tactic is rarely successful for football clubs. In an extensive interview he talked about the flaws in the proposed scheme, and his comments were reported by local papers such as Bognor Regis Observer, Chichester Observer and Midhurst and Petworth Observer.

Student Success

Student Shanveer Hare has won an award for her volunteering activities at the East Midlands regional Vinspired 2012 V National Awards. Hare runs the voluntary pro bono legal clinic here at Leicester, as well as volunteering with other worthy causes. The prize winners will now be considered for the shortlist for the national award later this year. Local papers such as the Buxton Advertiser, Harborough Mail, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, Bourne Local and Grantham Journal all reported on the awards.

A team of students from our Department of Physics and Astronomy have wonnpower competition winners the npower Future Leaders Challenge for their work on local environmental projects. Students Dave Gray, Andy West, Gediminas Galinis and Owen Littlejohns formed the team Planet on Standby and have organised a host of events and workshops across the University and in local schools, promoting understanding of climate change. They came first place in the npower competition and their prize is a week dog sledding in the Arctic in April this year. US PR wire, Response Source, Webwire and Brink Wire all reported the news. (Read more on the University newsblog)

Local News

The Leicester Mercury reported on a new exhibition currently running at Embrace Arts, the work of a collaboration between artist Mariano Molina and Professor Rodrigo Quiroga, a neuroscientist working in our Department of Engineering. The Art of Visual Perception is a fusion of neurology and art, with fun and humorous pieces looking at how the brain perceives and processes visual stimuli.

Honorary graduatesThe University awarded honorary degrees to Biddy Baxter, the long-serving Blue Peter producer, and astronomer and writer Nigel Henbest. The Mercury ran an article about the Biddy Baxter and her role with the BBC show Blue Peter in the run up to the honorary degree ceremony.

A local woman, Valerie Smith, who suffers from viral meningitis visited theMeningitis visit University's Department of Genetics to learn about new research being carried out into the condition. The visit resulted in a full-page feature in the 'Your Health' section of the Leicester Mercury, including a picture of Valerie Smith in the department with Dr Chris Bayliss.