By bringing together research projects from across the faculties, the University is able to make a real contribution towards the solution of some of the world’s most pressing problems.
- Food Security Warwick’s contribution ranges from crop research to the sociological study of food availability and access. A particularly interesting project in the School of Life Sciences has focussed on producing water efficient seeds that will help in conditions of drought.
- Research into global governance looks at how we manage the many complex relationships in our 21st century world that cut across national boundaries – trade relationships, for example, or those engendered by the United Nations or the G8. Working on this problem are researchers in the Business School and the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation; the latter has just been awarded £7.97 million by the European Commission to head up an international, multidisciplinary research team examining ‘Europe in a multi-polar world’.
- ‘Trading Eurasia 1600-1830’ - This has been funded by a European Research Council Grant of 1.5m euros enabling a team led by Professor Maxine Berg (History). This will look at the links between Britain and Asia that were of the utmost importance to the development both of the UK’s industrial revolution and to the reorganisation of manufacturing in China and India to cater for this new European market. As such, it will make an important contribution to another of the University’s overall research priorities – ‘Connecting Cultures’.
There is a wealth of research taking place in our four faculties - Arts, Science, Social Sciences and Medicine. Recently, however, some Warwick research projects have attracted particular attention in the UK and overseas media:
- Mediaeval masons’ marks: research by Dr Jenny Alexander (History of Art) on the construction of mediaeval churches has focussed on the use of Masons’ marks, made on blocks of stone as part of the construction process, enabling instructions to be transferred across the building world at a time when literacy was confined to a very few. Could this ancient system be taken up by the flat pack furniture industry, ending the sometimes impenetrable instruction booklets that often accompany them?
- The dangers of short sleep: research in Warwick Medical School has found an ‘unequivocal connection’ between short sleep and early death: people who sleep less than six hours per night are 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who sleep for six to eight hours every night.
- The second Warwick Commission: the Warwick Commission was conceived as a way of drawing on the expertise of Warwick scholars to address issues of global importance. The second Warwick Commission (2009) used the scholarship of our Department of Politics and International Studies, along with other world experts, to study the reform of the international financial system in the wake of the global crisis. Its report continues to inform the on-going international debate on this subject.
- The world’s first Formula 3 racing car to be built with sustainable materials: constructed by researchers in Warwick’s School of Engineering and WMG, its biodiesel engine is powered by
fuel made from chocolate and vegetable oil, its steering wheel derives from carrots and its body work from potatoes. It has performed very successfully on the racing track!
Investing in the Research Infrastructure
Over the past few years, Warwick has invested heavily in improving the research infrastructure, both in terms of building and equipment:
- In 2007, the International Digital Laboratory was opened – a pioneering building housing digital equipment for multidisciplinary teams researching manufacturing, cognitive systems, medical informatics, electronics fabrication and nanotechnology.
- The University’s new interdisciplinary science building is on target for completion in the autumn of 2011. This is a state-of-the-art joint research building for Physics and Chemistry, focussing on analytic and material science research.
- The £3.7 million NMR Centre gives the University an ability unrivalled in the UK to carry out research using NMR spectroscopy.
- The Medical School’s new Clinical Trials Building allows researchers to develop rapidly growing work on the performance of new drugs and physical therapies.
- The new Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology is currently under construction, enabling research at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology.