Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Life Sciences News

See our Latest Journal Publications and Film and Audio

Over £20 million government award marks Midlands’ bio-economy strengths

A consortium of Midlands research-active universities has just been awarded research studentships worth over £20 million to build on the Midlands’ already significant bio-economy and success in life sciences and agricultural research.

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership 2020 (MIBTP2020) is led by the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick and brings together a number of other Warwick research departments, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, Aston University and Harper Adams University. The funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council arm of the Government’s UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding organisation. This award will be matched by the universities in the partnership to fund a total of 245 doctoral students (59 per year) over the next 5 years.

Press release


Seed collection conserves genetic diversity of vegetables

Listen to Dr Charlotte Allender discuss the need to conserve the genetic diversity of vegetables, and how this is being done at the University of Warwick's seed bank facility.

Radio discussion (28 Sept 2019)

The Warwick Genetic Resources Unit houses the UK Vegetable Genebank, a globally significant collection of around 14,000 seed samples of a range of vegetable crops.


How close are we to there being a British Baked Bean?

Prof Eric Holub being interviewed by the BBCDr David Gregory-Kumar from BBC Midlands Today reports on the harvest of the first full size field of a new variety of haricot bean bred by Professor Eric Holub for the UK's climate. Watch the report and read the press release

Thu 19 Sep 2019, 10:37 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science TV/Radio Faculty of Science

Warwick rises a further two places to 77th in the THE World University Rankings

The University of Warwick has risen two places to 77th overall in the THE (Times Higher Education) 2019 World University Rankings published on the evening of Wednesday 11th September 2019. This rise is in addition to Warwick’s leap of a dozen places in the 2018 table.


New awards target breakthrough technologies to enhance food security

A recent collaboration between the BBSRC, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is helping researchers potentially advance technology that brings more security to crop agriculture of the future. Dr Stephen Jackson and Dr Jose Gutierrez-Marcos are amongst those receiving funding.

Press release


Phenom UK 2019

On Monday 22 July, researchers from the University of Sheffield, Rothamsted Research and the University of Nottingham attended a networking event at the University of Warwick Wellesbourne campus. The event was organised by Dr Beatriz Lagunas and sponsored by Phenom UK (‘Technology Touching Life programme funded jointly by BBSRC/EPSRC/MRC). In the morning, visitors enjoyed a guided tour around the field research facility including the pathogen quarantine fields, insect pest trial area, the low nutrient field, and the main rotation fields for irrigated trials. In the afternoon, a round table discussion focused on the challenges of field-based phenotyping.

The breadth of expertise amongst participants allowed discussion of ideas for relating aerial spectral imaging of the crop canopy with below-ground differences in soil nutrient/root/microbe interactions. The consensus was that pilot data is needed in a specific crop from small-scale controlled experiments to identify disease signature wavelengths and then move to field phenotyping based, for example using drone-based imaging in collaboration with both the University of Sheffield and Rothamsted Research. The PhenomUK website will provide a useful forum for further discussions. All Warwick people interested in following up the discussions are encouraged to do it through the Plant & Crop Science Theme and to register at the Phenom UK website.

Phenom UK participants standing in a field of haricot beans

Phenom UK networking visit attendants standing in a field of haricot beans (from left to right):
Craig Sturrock (U. of Nottingham), Patrick Schäfer (U. of Warwick), Rob Lillywhite (U. of Warwick), Stephen A. Rolfe (U. of Sheffield), Graham Teakle (U. of Warwick), Gabriel Castrillo (U. of Nottingham), John Clarkson (U. of Warwick), Beatriz Lagunas (U. of Warwick), Guilhem Reyt (U. of Nottingham), Sally Mann (U. of Warwick), Malcolm Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research), Alexander McCormack (U. of Warwick), Tim Mauchline (Rothamsted Research), Rosemary Collier (U. of Warwick), Joost H.M. Stassen (U. of Sheffield), Rory Hayden (U. of Nottingham) and Eric Holub (U. of Warwick).


When and how did we first start to domesticate wild plants?

Professor Robin Allaby talks to CrowdScience on the BBC World Service and explains all.

Listen to bbc.in/2JV7jpV (Interview starts at approx 5:28).


SLS Graduation 2019

Graduation 2019On Tuesday 16 July, graduands from the School of Life Sciences attended the Summer Graduation Ceremony held in Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre. The Head of School, Professor Lorenzo Frigerio, academic tutors and other staff also attended the ceremony. Staff gathered afterwards to meet the graduates, their friends and family, at a buffet lunch in the Rootes Building. Students were congratulated on their achievements and class prizes were awarded.

We wish our graduates all the best as they embark on the next stage of their careers.


Life Sciences welcomes the next generation of scientists

Students working in the lab as part of Headstart courseThis week the School of Life Sciences is welcoming students from across the UK as part of the 2019 Headstart Programme.

Taking place at the Gibbet Hill campus 7– 11 July, the Headstart course provides a university taster course for 16-17 year olds with the opportunity to explore the different biological disciplines taught within the School of Life Sciences. The Life Sciences course enables students to gain experience at a prestigious university prior to making UCAS applications, showing them the different courses and career paths available.

Across the week, students will take part in a wide range of hands-on laboratory experiments and lectures including physiology, microbiology, epidemiology and molecular biology.

Administered by the EDT (Engineering Development Trust), a charitable trust, Headstart provides hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities and taster courses to encourage young people into technology-based careers.

Discussing the summer school’s programme Dr Daniel Franklin, Senior Teaching Fellow and summer school organiser, said ‘The students are experiencing all of the successful teaching elements of our degrees, lectures, labs and importantly one of our excellent tutorials. It is very satisfying to see that they are embracing the different subjects being covered, and clear that the students are scientifically curious. I am really pleased that some of our excellent teaching is giving the students a rewarding time.’

We hope to inspire students to study life sciences at university in the future.

At Warwick we offer:


Thesis Prize Winners

Every year, the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the School of Life Sciences, jointly run a PhD Thesis Prize competition with prizes provided by each. Supervisors are invited to put forward students for consideration.

This year, the winner of the Faculty Thesis Prize is Dr Fábio Henrique dos Santos Rodrigues, who did his PhD with Prof John McCarthy. The thesis title is 'Targeting trypanosomatid translation factor interactions'. The work has been published in a joint first author paper in Nucleic Acids Research.

The winner of the School of Life Sciences Thesis Prize is Dr Jenny Goodman, who did her PhD with Dr Alex Jones. Jenny's thesis is entitled 'The role of Feronia in regulating growth and development in Arabidopsis Thaliana roots'. A methods paper and a middle author paper have already come from the PhD, and two first author papers – including one for PNAS – are in process.


Warwick Ranked in UK Top 10 and World Top 100 by QS

The University of Warwick has been named as one of the UK’s top ten, and one of the world’s top 100, universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Press Release


Construction begins on new hi-tech greenhouse at the Wellesbourne Campus

Work is underway on an innovative new greenhouse research facility at the University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne Campus. The project is a partnership between Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), one of the four UK Agritech Centres funded by Innovate UK, the innovator and developer, RIPE Building Services, and the University of Warwick, which will coordinate research through its School of Life Sciences.

It is the first major construction at Wellesbourne Campus since Warwick acquired the site in 2004. The new greenhouse will also be built in the year the site celebrates 70 years as a national centre of excellence for crop research.

The new structure, named the Natural Light Growing (NLG) Centre, is being built by RIPE using patented materials and construction technology and will allow the full spectrum of natural light through into the protective growing environment. This is expected to increase crop yield and speed of growth as well as improve qualities like taste, plant health and vigour. The beneficial effects of the full spectrum growing conditions on crop plants are not yet fully understood and the greenhouse will act as a demonstration facility and experimental hub to study several crop characteristics.

Professor Richard Napier, Director of Research at the University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are delighted that Wellesbourne Campus has been chosen as the location for such an innovative facility.

“Our academic crop researchers are looking forward to trialling this next generation growing environment to extend our research into crop improvement, the results of which will benefit farmers and growers and ultimately consumers.”

The new structure will be completed this month and officially opened in summer 2019.

Fri 24 May 2019, 10:45 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Crop Centre Faculty of Science

Pint of Science returns next week bringing scientists out of the lab and into your local pub

  • Scientists from Coventry and Warwick universities to appear in city pubs and venues as the world's largest festival of public science talks arrives in Coventry and Leamington from the 20-22 May
  • Talks will cover a wide range of topics including sleep, batteries, space, dyslexia, pollution, plastic and paramedics
  • Coventry to join nearly 300 cities around the world taking part in this global festival
  • Some evenings are already sold out. Tickets are on sale from: pintofscience.co.uk/events/coventry

See Press Release

Examples of talks from Life Sciences

It's in your genes - 20 May 7:30-9:30pm - a series of three talks, including:

Dr Robert Spooner and Professor Kevin Moffat - The DNA Double Act

Who discovered DNA? Well, the double act Watson and Crick - right? Well, not according to Kevin and Robert, who will introduce you to a host of “lesser known” pairs that helped to pioneer the discovery, sequencing and understanding of DNA. Exploring historical events, the 100,000 Human Genome project and beyond; this talk literally has “something for everyone” as genetic research paves the way to personalised medical treatments. Even DNA likes a companion – just look at its structure! So, why not bring a friend and come along to find out more about DNA, and who really did discover it!

Nurturing nature – 20 May 7:30-9:30pm - a series of three talks including:
Amy Newman (PhD Student, University of Warwick) - More than dirt: the hidden world under our feet

Many of us give little thought to the soil beneath our feet but it's vital for all life on earth. Amy's talk will unearth some fascinating examples of the microscopic life that's living all around us. Come along to find out about the microbes which helped to create the first plants to colonise the Earth's surface millions of years ago, and to hear about recent advances in scientific methods which show exciting potential for the discovery of new chemicals such as pharmaceuticals.


A Wilder Future: The Need for a Strong Environment Act - 9 May 2019

Our natural world is in a critical condition. The laws and systems to keep it healthy are failing. More than 60% of plants and animals in the UK are now under threat. One in eight faces extinction.

The Government is currently shaping a new Environment Bill, the first in more than twenty years. It will set out a legal framework for the government’s promise to leave the environment in a better state over the next 25 years. NUS are working with The Wildlife Trusts and WWF to ensure that students and younger generations have their say in this once in a generation opportunity, to set us on a path to restoring nature and securing a just and sustainable future for all.

The Wilder Future evening, at 18:45-21:00 on Thursday 9 May at the University of Warwick, will be an opportunity to hear from leading conservationists and academics and find out what you can do to help achieve nature's recovery.

Keynote speakers include Sir John Lawton, author of the 2010 Making Space for Nature report, and Baroness Parminter, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Dr Rosemary Collier, Academic Lead for the Warwick Global Research Priority on Food, is one of the panel members at this Question Time style event.

Book your free ticket

Thu 02 May 2019, 11:00 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Environmental Bioscience Event

Beer and fodder crop has been deteriorating for 6000 years

Field of sorghumThe diversity of the crop Sorghum, a cereal used to make alcoholic drinks, has been decreasing over time due to agricultural practice. To maintain the diversity of the crop and keep it growing farmers will need to revise how they manage it. According to Professor Allaby and colleagues, different groups of sorghums have ‘rescued’ each other from damage, giving insight into how such crops could be rescued in the future.

Press Release


The milkweed bug’s orange wings and DNA: how insects’ diets are revealed by the genome

Milkweed bugAn international collaboration of researchers, including Dr Kristen Panfilio from the School of Life Sciences, have sequenced the genome of the milkweed bug, enabling scientists to understand at the molecular level what makes the bug, from its colourful development to its toxic diet.

Press Release


Man’s impact on flax evolution more limited than thought

Prof AllabyFlax naturally adapted to new environments rather than by human influence due to a set of genes that enable it to change its architecture according to research led by Professor Robin Allaby.

Press Release


Self-lighting Christmas trees could be the future

Self-lighting xmas treeSay goodbye to tangled up Christmas lights, as self-lighting Christmas trees could be the future thanks to scientists from the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre (WISB) using VR.

Press Release


The evolution of Maize is more complex than thought

MaizeNew evidence reveals that the evolution of Maize in South America is more complex than initially thought, and there was a further geographical area in which partial domestication occurred in the Southwest Amazon - according to an international collaboration of researchers including the University of Warwick, and published in the journal Science.

Press Release


Five things you need to know about soil

SoilAs children we learn that plants grow in it and worms live in it and that's generally as far as we go. But the mix of minerals, water, air, decaying plant and animal matter and countless microorganisms that make up the top layer of the earth's surface is hugely important, not only for plant life, but for all life on earth. In an article for Warwick Knowledge Centre, Professor Gary Bending and doctoral research student Amy Newman tell us five things we should know about soil.

Five things you need to know about soil


Older news