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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Biological Sciences climbs 15 places for research impact in the Research Excellence Framework 2021

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences has excelled in their REF results released today, which have shown a great improvement in their overall score, consolidating their position in the UK.

Turtle swimming by reef

The School’s Biological Sciences impact ranking climbed 15 positions from REF2014 to equal 13th place, placing the School overall at the 22nd position in the UK.

Professor Richard Pickersgill, Head of the School said, “We are a locally anchored University with international outlook, and our result is a significant achievement for all our academic staff as well as our technicians, and professional services staff working together to deliver high quality education and research.

I am very proud of our achievements, which has been forged by the strong community that we have.”

Commitment to environmental and social justice

The School’s REF performance is set in the context of its commitment to research and educational excellence, coupled with an unrivalled commitment to environmental and social justice and social mobility.

Specifically, our impact case studies demonstrate how we use research to address environmental challenges and alleviate poverty to create a fairer world. Examples include Prof Christophe Eizaguirre’s research that resulted in empowering NGOs in Cabo Verde to help them reduce illegal poaching of sea turtles in Capo Verde, contributing to dramatic increases in turtle numbers and making this loggerhead turtle population one, if not the largest in the world. Professor Iwan Jones’ work has informed a targeted land management scheme to reduce pollution in Wales and in another impact case developed tools for detecting fine sediment pollution in UK rivers. This work enables the UK to meet its international obligation to improve water quality, hence demonstrating its vital need.

Professor Pickersgill added, “I would like to give a special thanks for all the work conducted to make our society better by using innovative tools in biology, ecology and genomics; for the world leading papers, external grant income, PhD completions, impact, recognition, and all the evidence, contributions and metrics that supported the submission.

It has been a tremendous team effort bringing together various elements of the submission and in doing so, given us an opportunity to highlight our strengths, successes, and achievements over the period.”

Commitment to a fairer academia

Over the 7-year period between the last two REFs, the proportion of female and BAME academics in Biological Sciences increased threefold. This success stems from our increased diversity of talents, and is a testament to our unrivalled commitment to creating a fair academic system, where everybody can find their place.

Queen Mary’s overall results

The success seen in Biological Sciences is paralleled at the University which has been ranked joint 7th in the UK for the quality of its research. Across the University, 92% of Queen Mary’s research was assessed as internationally excellent or world-leading, cementing Queen Mary’s status as one of the best research-intensive universities in the UK.

Colin Bailey, Principal of Queen Mary said, “Today’s results are a testament to our outstanding community of staff, students and alumni, and demonstrate the strength of our research across all three of our faculties. These results are a true reflection of our commitment to research excellence, and to ensuring the impact of our research affects people across the world. Congratulations to everyone!”

The Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the Government-led process for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.

The full results are published at 



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