New Earth-like planet found around nearest star
The discovery of a habitable exoplanet – led by researchers at QMUL's School of Physics and Astronomy - caught the world’s imagination in 2016. The discovery of Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System led to a flurry of international media coverage and launched lead researcher Dr Guillem Anglada-Escude as scientific publisher Nature’s top ten poll of people who mattered in science in 2016.
Saturn’s gravity uncovered by satellite images
In 2016, researchers at QMUL continued to study the gas giant Saturn using the Cassini probe. In November scientists from QMUL's School of Physics and Astronomy were part of an international team to discover minute fluctuations in Saturn’s gravitational field using several thousand images of the planet’s moons. The results could provide a better understanding of the internal structure of the planet, and hopefully answer the question of what lies at the centre of Saturn – whether it has a large rocky core or if its density is much lower.
Future generations of space explorers
Space exploration at QMUL inspired future generations too. A third year Physics student won a place at Russian cosmonaut training centre where the likes of Yuri Gagarin and more recently British astronaut Tim Peake learnt their craft to mark the latter’s momentous visit to the International Space Station. And school kids solved space missions using LEGO in a robotics challenge in June – read more here.
Sexual selection in dinosaurs
Researchers from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences were able to link the function of anatomy, such as horns and head crests, to sexual selection in dinosaurs for the first time. The research on a small sheep-sized dinosaur called Protoceratops received interest from Live Science, BBC Radio 4 Inside Science, and National Geographic magazine.
Goats are cleverer than you think
QMUL research revealed that goats have the capacity to communicate with people like other domesticated animals, such as dogs and horses, and are thus smarter than their reputation suggests. Researchers found that goats respond to people by gazing at them when facing a problem they cannot solve alone, and their responses change depending on the person's behaviour.
The secret lives of bees
2016 was the year of the bee at QMUL – stories about bees learning to pull strings and being in a good mood after eating some good food created a huge buzz in the media. Researchers sought to understand the secret lives of London bees by releasing hundreds of individually tagged bees from the university’s rooftops, in a project that combined citizen science with radar technology.
Professor Sionaidh Douglas Scott received widespread national coverage about her media work on Article 50, which must be invoked prior to Britain leaving the European Union. Her work appeared in The Observer, The Times, The Independent, BBC, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Telegraph.
Professor Penny Green and her team continued to draw attention to the crisis faced by Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Their work during 2016 was covered in major outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Times, The Independent, CNN, ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, AFP, and Associated Press.
Professor Tim Bale wrote about left right alignment in the UK, MPs attitudes to Europe, anti-Semitism among voters, and attitudes of Labour party members. He also wrote many opinion articles in places like The Guardian, The Telegraph, and the New Statesman.
England's oldest printed bible
QMUL researchers used complex image analysis to uncover annotations that were hidden for nearly 500 years between the pages of England’s oldest printed bible. The annotations were discovered in England’s first printed Bible, published in 1535 by Henry VIII’s printer. It is one of just seven surviving copies, and is housed in Lambeth Palace Library, London.
Britain's first audiobook
A QMUL researcher rediscovered the first full-length audiobook ever made: Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novella Typhoon. Recorded on a set of four long-playing shellac records, the audiobook was made in 1935 by the Royal National Institute of Blind People in London for World War One veterans who had lost their sight. Professor Matthew Rubery made the discovery while researching his new book The Untold Story of the Talking Book.
Cancer spread in the body
An early study led by QMUL’s Barts Cancer Institute revealed unexpected insights into how cancer spreads in the body. Their discovery could help with development of novel treatments to prevent metastasis and secondary tumours, and was covered by the Daily Mail, The Mirror, Evening Standard, Wired and International Business Times.
Cervical cancer screening
Researchers from QMUL’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine found that more than two-thirds of cervical cancer deaths had been prevented by screening, and if all eligible women regularly attended screening this would rise to 83 per cent. The research was reported by BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire Show, BBC News Online, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Express and The Spectator.
Testing cells for oesophageal cancer risk
Researchers from QMUL’s Barts Cancer Institute discovered that genetically analysing lesions in the food pipe could provide an early and accurate test for oesophageal cancer. Their study showed that some ‘bad’ cells could be identified early on and prevent the need for repeated endoscopies. This was covered by outlets including The Sun, Daily Mail, Times of India and NHS Choices.
Obesity and sugar content in drinks
Researchers from QMUL’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine found that reducing sugar content in drinks could prevent one million cases of obesity, and prevent around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, over two decades. The news was covered by The Guardian, The Financial Times, Daily Mail, Independent and Daily Mirror.
Call for ban on tackling in school rugby
Around the time of the Six Nations in March 2016, over 70 academics and public health professionals, including QMUL’s Professor Allyson Pollock, wrote an open letter to UK and Irish Governments to request a ban on tackling in school rugby, in order to protect children from injury. This led to global media coverage of the issue, including ABC, BBC News, Reuters, ITV News, CNN and Al Jazeera.
Screening children to prevent early heart attacks
Research by QMUL’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine concluded that children should be screened to prevent early heart attacks. The clinical study involving over 10,000 children suggested that screening children at the time of their routine vaccinations successfully detected inherited heart disease and could prevent about 600 heart attacks each year in England and Wales if the programme was rolled out by public health agencies.
Fifteen years of Living Wage
In 2016, QMUL marked a decade of being the first UK university to become a real Living Wage employer. Research by Professor Jane Wills from QMUL’s School of Geography has provided evidence about the impact of low pay on Londoners since 2001. She has since tracked the progress of the living wage as it has moved from east London to shape national policy debates.
School kids from across London competed to solve the world’s ‘Trash’ problems with Lego, as part of a tournament hosted by QMUL. The event was covered by regional outlets such as East London Advertiser, Sutton Guardian.
Employability initiative wins Guardian award
Festival of Communities
In 2016, QMUL jointly hosted a new two-week festival to celebrate and bring together communities in the east London through a programme of events, covered by East London Advertiser, Bangla Mirror and Kasmo Newspaper.
Launch of Joint Educational Institute in China
QMUL and China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) officially launched a Joint Educational Institute (JEI) in October 2016, offering degree programmes in the Materials Sciences in the northwestern city of Xi'an. The high-profile launch ceremony attended by Dame Barbara Woodward, British Ambassador to China received considerable local coverage, such as in China News and Global Times.
South Asia research university network
QMUL and India’s O. P. Jindal Global University (JGU) signed an agreement to facilitate collaboration between emergent research universities in South Asia for teaching, academic and research activities. The creation of the Association of Emergent South Asian Research Universities (AESARU) was covered by Indian media outlets such as The Economic Times and Business Standard.