University of Reading Research Blog

Going online during a global pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our personal and professional lives in ways that we could not even have imagined just a few months ago. If someone had told me last year that we’d be hosting an online conference with 614 delegates from 64 different countries from Martinique to Nepal, I would have had a hard time believing them. And yet this is what we did at the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism over the course of three days in June.

The COM2020 organising committee welcomed 600 delegates online


Hundreds of elephants are mysteriously dying in Botswana – Dr Vicky Boult explains what we know

Worrying news has recently come to light: hundreds of elephants have been found dead in Botswana, and as yet, there is no clear cause of death. Here, Dr Vicky Boult, post-doctoral researcher and expert in elephant conservation, shares her views on causes that can be ruled out. 

Small dead elephant in national park hwankee, Botswana, circle of life


Archiving Youth Cultures

Pop music and youth cultures can define who you are and where you come from. For a decade, Professor Matt Worley’s research has explored how these youth cultures reflect and shape the broader process of social, political and economic change. Here Professor Worley explains how his own teenage experience of punk culture informs his research and work with the Youth Culture Archive, and has led to an exploration of fanzines as archives of grassroots activism.


Enabling a just transition to England’s new agri-environment scheme

The UK’s decision to leave the EU is seen by the Government as an opportunity to reform UK agricultural land policy. Researchers from the University of Reading and the University of Sheffield are consulting farmers and other key stakeholders, and working with Defra to develop a model for co-designing the new post-Brexit Environmental Land Management system. Dr David Rose discusses the importance of engaging audiences beyond the usual suspects to develop the best possible scheme.


Combating climate change – why investors should keep their shares in fossil fuel companies

As we begin to engage with the climate emergency and the impact of carbon dioxide emissions, calls have grown to stop investing in companies engaged in fossil fuel production – a practice known as divestment. Professors Adrian Bell and Chris Brooks discuss that while lobbying for divestment comes from good intention to combat climate change, it will likely have the opposite outcome.


COVID-19 and grappling with the uncertainties of a ‘new normal’ for researchers

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing significant changes to the ways in which we operate as global development academics and practitioners. This new context requires both creative research methods and a heightened sensitivity in how we work with individuals, households and communities. In this short piece, Alex Arnall, Mike Goodman and Sophie De Pauw reflect on discussions within the Global Development Research Division here at Reading.


Coronavirus: scientists uncover why some people lose their sense of smell

From the first reports coming out of Wuhan, Iran and later Italy, we knew that losing your sense of smell (anosmia) was a significant symptom of the disease. Now, after months of reports, both anecdotal and more rigorous clinical findings, Jane Parker from Reading’s Flavour Centre and Simon Gane, a Consultant Rhinologist, outline a model for how this virus may cause smell loss.


New, low-cost technologies to tackle global challenges – Early Career Researchers at Reading are helping to #shapetheworld

Dr Sarah Needs and Dr Sophie Jegouic, biomedical engineers at Reading, have designed and built a low-cost robot that takes high resolution images of experiments to speed up tests for antibiotic resistance and COVID-19 antibodies. Here, for #INWED20, they explain how they are using open source hardware, 3D printing and a raseberry pi computer to address these global challenges.

Sophie Jegouic
Sarah Needs

Biomedical Technology Lab at Reading


Looting of antiquities has increased under lockdown – here’s how we’re working to prevent this in Iraq

In addition to causing mayhem and misery for most, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has expanded opportunities for illicit looting, theft and dealing in one of the world’s most important resources – its cultural heritage. Here, Professor Roger Matthews explains how priceless artifacts can now be protected from this illicit trade.

Training museum staff in Iraq in how to mark priceless heritage artefacts using SmartWater. Ali Al-Makhzoomi, Author provided


Rocket, arugula, rucola: how genetics determines the health benefits and whether you like this leafy green

Love it or hate it, rocket is popular all over the world. Also known as arugula, roquette and rucola, it’s known for its pungent and peppery flavours. It might look like an unassuming leafy vegetable, but the reasons for its taste, health benefits and whether we like it all comes down to genetics.

Image by HNBS from Pixabay