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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).


SLS students represent University of Warwick at Botanical University Challenge

The room was full of tension and enthusiasm on Wednesday 16 February as Warwick’s team, Pistils at Dawn, entered this year’s Botanical University Challenge (BUC). Pistils at Dawn fought well in the closely run competition, coming 11th out of the 18 institutions that entered. Only 4 points separated Pistils at Dawn from the top eight teams, which went on to compete in the finals on 23 February. The Challenge organiser, Dr Jonathan Mitchley sent team Pistils at Dawn “huge commiserations for such a close shave” and told the team to “be proud, very proud” as they were the first ever team to enter for the University of Warwick.
 
Co-captains Jamie Pike and Annabelle de Vries, along with Andy Gladman, Stefania Luca, and reserve Andis Gyori László, were quizzed on a broad range of botanical subjects including botanical literature and art, plant identification, and national flags! The team hopes to enter again next year, with eyes set on top place. You can see how well you fair and meet the teams by visiting the BUC YouTube channel.

Mon 28 Feb 2022, 16:31 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Event Faculty of Science

“The future of women in STEM is bright but not secure”: Warwick climate scientist

Four female climate scientists from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — who are currently pursuing postgraduate studies in Life Sciences thanks to ‘Women in STEM’ scholarships between the University of Warwick and the British Council — share their experiences and reflections on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022.

Press release (11 February 2022)


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


The Vegetables of Christmas Future

If you think about a traditional Christmas dinner, there’s turkey with pigs in blankets, or maybe you prefer a nut roast. But the rest is vegetables. A large proportion of our plate should be covered in vegetables, and the standard winter varieties, like carrots and sprouts, are grown very successfully in the UK.

But will this always be the case? Climate change is bringing with it new challenges as well as making known pests and diseases more difficult to tackle. Scientists at Warwick's Crop Centre, are working to understand the pests and diseases of the some of the UK’s major crops and developing new resistant varieties, using traditional plant breeding and genetic expertise.
Read the Knowledge Centre Article (1 December 2021)

Mon 06 Dec 2021, 11:29 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Article Faculty of Science

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."


Prof Murray Grant selected as Leading Light for Kindness

Murray GrantCongratulations to Professor Murray Grant, Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security, who has been selected by an external panel as one of the 2021 Kindness and Leadership Leading Lights in the UK. The awards recognise 50 leaders driving positive change through the power of kindness.
Find out more

Mon 22 Nov 2021, 11:05 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Faculty of Science

CTP programme for Sustainable Agricultural Innovation - funded PhD project opportunity

John Clarkson in lettuce fieldThe UKRI and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has awarded a Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) grant to a consortium led by G’s Growers Ltd. The CTP programme for Sustainable Agricultural Innovation (CTP-SAI) is a groundbreaking partnership between leading businesses, charities and research providers to offer outstanding training for the agri-food sector.

Through this programme, the University of Warwick is offering a PhD enabling the successful candidate to gain a wide range of experience in conventional and molecular plant pathology and also of microbial community analyses through next generation sequencing approaches. This PhD is a unique opportunity to blend research techniques from lab to field and work with one of Europe’s biggest lettuce producers. The project on 'Integrated control of Fusarium wilt of lettuce in relation to pathogen and microbial community dynamics' will be supervised by Professor John Clarkson (SLS) and Dr Helen Bates (NIAB).

The deadline for applications is 8 April 2022.

Find out more about the project


Vacancy - Assistant or Associate Professor in Plant and Crop Science

Applications are invited for an Assistant or Associate Professor in Plant and Crop Science to join the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick.

Closing date 14 October 2021.

Find out more

Fri 17 Sep 2021, 13:31 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Faculty of Science

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


BBC Gardeners' World Magazine features Crop Centre PhD student Andy Gladman

Andy GladmanAs part of a monthly series featuring the eight finalists in the 2020 BBC Gardeners World Magazine Gardens of the Year competition, Andy Gladman, a Crop Centre PhD student and his Leamington Spa ornamental allotment are the subject of March's edition.

The six page article plots his journey,' driven from a lifelong passion for plants', especially kniphofia, echinops, verbena and buddleas and the set back of living in a top floor north facing flat, in transforming an overgrown allotment plot in 2018 from 'a field of couch grass and bindweed' to an 'astonishingly vibrant and drought tolerant garden'. With his interest in plant diversity there are 'around 100 cultivars of kniphofia (red hot poker') that he has been trying to accumulate and is planning on applying for a National Collection status for these and his echinops (globe thistle).

Working on a tight budget and with using materials that otherwise would go to waste as a very important aspect to him,' seed sowing and recycling have been key'. 'The entire path is made up of pavers from a fellow allotmenteer's old driveway' and both greenhouses, furniture in the summer house and one of the greenhouses and water trough are either secondhand or from charity shops.

Many of the plants are a haven for insects and the bees are everywhere. He noted a lot of butterfly diversity when taking part in the Big Butterfly Count 2020 and believes the allotment holders are pleased with the amount of pollinators his garden attracts to the allotments.

More information - Gardeners' World Magazine, March 2021, pages 72-77.
Andy Gladman is a PhD student with Dr Dave Chandler.


Identified: A mechanism that protects plant fertility from stress

Maize cellsAs temperatures rise due to global warming the need to protect plants from stressful conditions has increased, as stress can cause a loss in yield and cause further impact economically. A consortium led by Professor Jose Gutierrez-Marcos have successfully identified two proteins that protect crops from stress, which is key in safeguarding food production.

Press Release (1 March 2021)


Women in science, innovate in science

To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2021, young researchers at Warwick, including PhD student Rosanne Maguire, were asked about their hopes for their research and the importance of equality in their chosen field.

Article (11 February 2021)

Thu 11 Feb 2021, 11:15 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Interview Faculty of Science

University of Warwick signs agreement with agronomy specialist to bring UK beans to market

Prof Holub in a field holding navy beansThe University of Warwick’s research commercialisation wing, Warwick Innovations, has signed a contract with agronomy specialist Agrii to promote the commercial production of UK haricot beans developed by Professor Eric Holub from Warwick’s Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences. Professor Holub has bred three haricot bean varieties which are adapted for growing in the UK climate and are more suited to standard farm machinery.

“Self-sufficiency in food production is important for reducing human impact on global climate. British-grown beans can help us shift our diets to a healthier future, adding to other UK ingredients to supply the growing trend of flexitarian diets with new markets like Brit-Mediterranean and Brex-Mexican style food.” Professor Holub.

Press Release (9 February 2021)


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)


How do plants from the past protect plants of the future?

The UK Vegetable Gene Bank, on our Wellesbourne campus, is celebrating 40 years of vital work, making sure the plants we all rely on for a healthy diet have a future.

Watch a recent short BBC video on the Gene Bank.

Mon 14 Dec 2020, 10:00 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Video Faculty of Science

New centre puts farmer priorities at heart of innovation research

Warwick has joined forces with the University of Reading, Royal Agricultural University, Harper Adams University and Newcastle University to focus agricultural research where it can make most difference on the ground. The new Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture (CEIA) will see the universities work together to address the gap between scientific research on innovation and real-life farming experience. The centre will focus on how research and development investment can best support innovation to be adopted by farmers.

Press Release (5 December 2020)


Chemical memory in plants affects chances of offspring survival

Professor Jose Gutierrez-Marcos and an international team of researchers have uncovered the mechanism that allows plants to pass on their ‘memories’ to offspring, which results in growth and developmental defects.

Press Release (1 December 2020)


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)


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