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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

World Environment Day – How Queen Mary research is helping to protect the planet

For World Environment Day (5 June), we take a look at some of the groundbreaking research from across Queen Mary's Faculty of Science and Engineering that is helping to improve global understanding of environmental challenges, restore ecosystems and support sustainable development.

group of people holding the earth next to a wind turbine

World Environment Day. Credit: elenabs/

Saving a vital tree

Professor Richard Buggs and his team from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, have discovered genetic variation that makes some ash trees resistant to the deadly fungal disease, ash dieback.

Using their findings, the team were able to design a genotyping array that helps tree breeders throughout Europe to propagate trees resistant to the disease. It’s hoped this work can help restore diseased woodlands and in turn, protect other species that depend on ash trees for their survival.

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Sustainable fashion

A collaboration between researchers from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science and multi-award winning accessories brand Elvis and Kresse is helping to drive forward sustainable innovation within the fashion industry.

Funded as part of a £1.2m R&D funding award from the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) programme, the project will see Queen Mary support Elvis & Kresse to create metal fixtures, such as buckles and zips, from recycled drinks cans, providing a green solution for recycling the millions of aluminium cans that litter UK public spaces each year. 

About the project

Impact of Covid on air pollution

A recent study featuring Dr Sukhpal Singh Gill from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science has found air quality improved across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers utilised Google Earth Engine as a cloud computing platform to analyse state of the art high resolution satellite datasets, and created an app for easy visualisation. This helped provide faster calculations and interpretation of the data, and allowed the study to record results from across the world.

The findings support the conclusion that air pollution across the globe is man-made, and will serve as a testbed for climate sensitivity to chemical species in the atmosphere. It is hoped the findings can also be used by policy makers in various countries adversely impacted by air pollution around the world. 

Read our news story

Designing ‘greener’ energy systems

Researchers from Queen Mary’s School of Mathematical Sciences have created a database of measurements from existing global power grid systems that will help develop new power systems capable of meeting changing demands, such as the move towards renewable energy sources.

Whilst new policies, technologies and business models are being implemented globally to meet these new requirements, it is also important to learn from existing energy systems. The researchers suggest their openly published data and statistical analysis, provide a great source of information for those working on the control and design of power grids worldwide.

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Delivering the Battery Revolution

Queen Mary, in collaboration with the National Battery Research Institute and the British Council, are running a pre-COP26 climate challenge workshop on ‘Delivering Battery Revolution: Reducing The Drivers of Climate Change in Indonesia’.

This virtual workshop, due to be held on 12-14 July 2021, will explain the causes and the role that Indonesia has on climate change, locally and globally, across different economic sectors, as well as the social and economic impact that climate change will have on Indonesia.

About the Climate Challenge Workshop

The National Battery Research Institute was established in 2020 and co-founded by Professor Alan Drew, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy’s Centre of Condensed Matter and Material Physics and the Director of the Materials Research Institute at Queen Mary.

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