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REF2021: Research Excellence

The REF results, released on Thursday 12 May 2022, show 90% of research in the School of Life Sciences has been rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'. This shows the outstanding quality of our research and we are very proud of all the hard work put in by our researchers and postgraduate students.

Find out more about our research

University of Warwick recognised as international centre of research excellence by leading experts
(Press Release 12 May 2022)

About REF 2021
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.
The REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).


Digging for Britain - DNA testing

On 5 January Professor Robin Allaby featured in the BBC's Digging for Britain programme. He discussed the DNA testing of sediment from a Mesolithic settlement located on the seabed of the Solent. The analysis determined what was being eaten by the Mesolithic people. The appearance of wheat, 2000 years earlier than previously accepted was a major revelation.
Watch on iPlayer (from 46:10)


Vacancies - Assistant or Associate Professor in Life Sciences

Two female scientists in the labWe have three positions available for Assistant or Associate Professor to join the School of Life Sciences (SLS). We are looking for individuals who are capable of developing innovative and original research programmes that address current and future challenges in life science, such as environmental change, sustainable intensification, biology of disease, neuroscience, understanding whole organism dynamics or engineering biology.

Closing date: Sunday 16 January 2022.

Find out more


COP26 – reflections on attending as an Observer from Warwick

Hendrik SchaferProfessor Hendrik Schafer shares his reflections on attending COP26:

"When I was asked whether I’d want to be part of the delegation that the University sends to COP26 in Glasgow, I did not have to think about it for long, after all, Climate Change is the biggest challenge that we are facing as global human society. Although I only spent two days at COP, I look back at this as a positive and worthwhile activity.

Despite disappointment about the watered-down COP26 declaration, I think that COP26 has brought some progress overall. There is an increased sense of urgency and political will to start tackling the issue, and although I personally think that we need much faster and more ambitious action, any progress is welcome and significant. Annual submissions of national action plans will hopefully lead to increasing pressure on countries to accelerate action rather than delaying it, but the acid test will be whether actions will lead to a slowdown in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next few years.

Another important milestone is that protection and regeneration of natural ecosystems such as forests, mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass meadows is finally recognised by COP as an important part of the strategy to combat climate change. Those coastal marine ecosystems, which are referred to as ‘blue carbon’ environments are incredibly effective carbon sinks, whose protection will not only ensure a contribution to carbon sequestration but enhance biodiversity and deliver a raft of positive ecosystem services. Nevertheless, there is a need to understand in more detail, how these ecosystems will respond to climate change and to monitor their actual C sequestration. These are research activities that we are in a good position to contribute to with several groups studying relevant environmental processes and trace gases. Another area that is getting more attention is the carbon footprint of agriculture, again an area where we have critical expertise and where SLS researchers can make contributions to the research agenda.

Whilst those are important areas where a more detailed scientific understanding is required, the basic science background of climate change has been clear for too long, with no sense of urgency and too little action. The key question is how we get society to make the changes that are required. I believe that creating a dialogue between citizens, scientists, business, and government at various levels will be vital for driving positive changes. There have been excellent examples at COP26 that illustrate the critical role of positive communication and citizen involvement and how these can lead to the creation of action plans at local and regional level with positive outcomes for local communities. It needs a few success stories that deliver positive change in quality of life and sustainability, which will hopefully increase the roll out of programmes for mitigation and adaptation measures, especially if there is a demand and acceptance from the public for positive action. The University is already looking at opportunities to engage with local community and governments to enhance sustainability in the region.

There is huge potential across the university to be a centre for climate action, going well beyond the research on innovation in the automotive sector, but also in the humanities, arts, economics, and of course Life Sciences."


Professor Hendrik Schaefer is part of expert delegation attending COP26

Hendrik SchaeferEnvironmental microbiologist Professor Hendrik Schaefer is one of 17 University of Warwick delegates taking their expertise to COP26. The university is one of a limited number of institutions to have been granted official observer status by the UN-led conference, which is being hosted by the UK.
Press release (20 October 2021)

Warwick COP26 researchers and academic experts attending announced (28 October 2021)


Arctic Drift: A Year in the Ice - watch the documentary on 16 October

scientists taking ice cores on the MOSAiC expeditionOn Saturday 16 October 2021 at 6:30pm, Channel 4 will be showcasing the documentary 'Arctic Drift: A Year in the Ice', covering the goal of MOSAIC and the science undertaken during the Expedition.

In September 2019, the icebreaker RV Polarstern left her home port in Bremerhaven to sail north. Her goal was to act as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), the largest Arctic Research Expedition ever undertaken, with the collaboration of over 80 institutions from 20 countries, to study both winter and summer processes and relationships between ocean, ice and atmosphere.

University of Warwick SLS scientists Dr Alison Webb, Professor Hendrik Schaefer and Professor Yin Chen, undertook the 'Sea Ice Microbiology and the Role in Cycling of Sulfur' (SIMbRICS) Project during the second half of MOSAiC. Overall, this project, in collaboration with the University of Groningen (NL) and the University of East Anglia (UK), aimed to study the in-situ production of the climate-relevant biogenic gas dimethylsulfide (DMS) and to link this with the diversity of the microbial community.

As the sea ice transitioned from the long Arctic winter, through a short spring to summer of 24 hours of daylight, ice melt created a highly variable environment of meltponds and a stratified surface ocean, which changed again through the onset of autumn. These changes create a high stress environment for the microbiome and the SIMbRICS project is investigating how these changing conditions affect the production of climate-relevant trace gases such as DMS.

Find out more about the MOSAiC Expedition


New research giving insight into the persistence of highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease virus features on front cover of Science Magazine

A major new study, featured on the cover of Science Magazine today (1 October 2021), undertaken by Dr Erin Gorsich and colleagues at The Pirbright Institute, Oregon State University, Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute and SANParks, Veterinary Wildlife Services, Kruger National Park explores the mechanisms at play that enable the persistence of highly infectious pathogens in their host populations, a major problem in endemic disease ecology.
Press release (1 October 2021)

Read the paper


Scholarships available for taught masters starting in October 2021

Scholarships are available for those interested in studying a postgraduate taught masters course at SLS starting in October 2021. Our postgraduate taught (PGT) courses are 1 year full time (or 2 years part time).

School of Life Sciences (SLS) Excellence Scholarships

Up to two School of Life Sciences Excellence Scholarships will be awarded as a 50% reduction of course fees for the 2021/22 academic year. Applicants should have an excellent academic track-record.

Eligible courses:

  • MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing and Business Management
  • MSc Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate
  • MSc Food Security
  • MSc Medical Biotechnology and Business Management
  • MSc Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century

Deadline: 1 June 2021

Find out more and apply

 

Clyde Higgs Scholarships

For 2021/22 up to five Clyde Higgs Scholarships, each worth £6,758, will be offered. This scholarship is available to British nationals only.

Eligible courses:

  • MSc Food Security
  • MSc Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century

Deadline: 1 June 2021

Find out more and apply


Warwick named as one of the world's Most International universities

The University of Warwick has been named as one of the world’s top 20 Most International universities by the Times Higher Education (THE) – ranked 20th overall and 10th in the UK.
Press Release (2 Feb 2021)


Chemical clues in leaves can reveal ash tree resistance to deadly disease

Dr John Sidda, Professor Murray Grant and colleagues, have identified a group of chemicals present in ash leaves which could be used as biomarkers to look for susceptibility or resistance to ADB.

Press Release (11 November 2020)


Could insect manure help grow crops? Warwick and Durham researchers to investigate

The waste from larvae production could be used as a crop fertiliser should commercial insect farms get off the ground in the UK. This is the concept that Rob Lillywhite and researchers at Durham University are investigating as part of a major government-funded project to look at the viability of rearing insects for animal feed in the UK.

Press Release (26 October 2020)


Congratulations to all our students who graduated on 22 July!


Visit the SLS Virtual Yearbook 2020 to see messages celebrating their success.


Breakthrough in studying ancient DNA from Doggerland that separates the UK from Europe

Professor Robin Allaby and colleagues have achieved a number of innovative breakthroughs in analysing sedimentary ancient DNA to reconstruct an 8,150 year old environmental catastrophe in an area that is now covered by the North Sea.

Press Release(16 July 2020)


Double success at Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

The 3MT develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills by challenging students to effectively explain their research in engaging, accessible language to a non-specialist audience.
This year, both winners came from SLS:

  • Congratulations to the winner - Rohini Ajaykumar on 'Studying bacterial resistance for antimicrobial drug development'.
  • And the runner up and popular choice winner - Scott Dwyer on 'Controlling honey bee parasites : will the mites meet their match?'.

Find out more about 3MT 


Global warming will cause ecosystems to produce more methane than first predicted

Research by Dr Kevin Purdy et al suggests that as the Earth warms natural ecosystems such as freshwaters will release more methane than expected from predictions based on temperature increases alone.

Press Release (30 June 2020)


Warwick research part of project investigating newly discovered prehistoric shafts near Stonehenge

Professor Robin Allaby's lab is analysing soil samples from a newly discovered Neolithic structure near Stonehenge, to try and discover its purpose in ancient Britain.

Press Release


A new understanding of everyday cellular processes

Orkun SoyerWe use cells to breathe, to moderate body temperature, to grow and many other every day processes, however the cells in these processes are so complex its left scientists perplexed into how they develop in different environments. Professor Orkun Soyer and colleagues say future research needs to look into the bioelectrical composition of cells for answers.

Press Release


Lockdown staff and students at University of Warwick to help with wildlife surveys

Members of the Warwick community who are living on campus during lockdown have the opportunity to help survey wildlife for a biodiversity project.


Minimum energy requirements for microbial communities to live predicted

Orkun SoyerA microbial community is a complex, dynamic system composed of hundreds of species and their interactions, they are found in oceans, soil, animal guts and plant roots. Each system feeds the Earth’s ecosystem and their own growth, as they each have their own metabolism that underpin biogeochemical cycles.

Professor Orkun Soyer and colleagues have produced a thermodynamic model for simulating the dynamics of microbial communities.

Press Release


Impact of marine carbon on climate change to be investigated by Warwick Scientists

Professor David Scanlan185 scientists won part of the European Research Council’s (ERC) €450 million for Europe’s long-term frontier research, one of which was Professor David Scanlan, from the School of Life Sciences.

Press Release


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