Credit: University of Glasgow

World Changers in Focus: February

By David Swanson

A deep dive into the world-changing research by Team UofG.

February research projects at the University of Glasgow continue to stand in the tradition of academic excellence. Ground-breaking progress in the fields of climate sustainability, cancer research, net-zero manufacturing and global business strategies present an obvious headline for this edition of World Changers: this university is committed to research which strives for a better world. 

Firstly, this month has seen UofG researchers take part in a collaborative project pursuing solutions to reach urban climate sustainability. The study, entitled “Past, Present, Future: Engagement with Sustainable Urban Development”, seeks to advise 35 European cities with solutions to promote environmental development, and to cut carbon emission rates in the process. Drawing upon 11,000 scientific articles to reveal insights into how urban sustainability approaches have developed over the last thirty years, the authors present a case to maximise the potential of future environmental initiatives. Indeed, they also present evidence to suggest the provisional positive results of their scheme over the next fifty years – both economically and socially. In a world where cities produce over 70% of the world’s carbon emissions, this is welcome news. 

Equally, Professor Biankin’s UofG research team have developed software that can be specifically utilised to analyse mutations related to the early formation of cancer. The pipeline is able to detect a variety of different symptoms with a high degree of specificity, and produce high quality data to aid those who seek to treat it. This can bring comforting news to thousands of families; the collaboration will allow doctors to use a single platform to analyse a variety of mutations at once – and significantly quicken the treatment of the disease. In short, it represents a major step forward in the fight to curb a virus that has taken so much from so many. 

February has also seen UofG researchers develop a new material that could eventually lead to the creation of safer and more efficient car designs. This novel 3D design is advised to be both tougher and lighter than more traditional forms of aluminium, and could directly benefit the automobile and marine-exploration industry. The study – entitled ‘’Impact Behaviour of Nano-engineered 3D Plate Lattices’’ – also brings a particularly positive contribution to lessening global waste; the new design can be partially made from recycling low-cost, reusable plastics already used in everyday items like bottles and cups. Such insights are particularly welcome in a modern world dominated by landfill sites and litter. With hope and effort, we can utilise our consumables to contribute towards a circular, net-zero vehicle economy.

Finally, this month has also seen three UofG researchers nominated as finalists for The 2022 Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. The event seeks to celebrate and recognise the exceptional impact achieved through academic and business partnerships – and signifies the standing that our researchers have in the field of global economics. Among all nominees, Professor Murray Pittock’s contributions towards shaping the national and local tourist industry may particularly stand out. His work on the economic impact of the poet Robert Burns has not only produced two Scottish parliamentary debates on the matter, but also persuaded the Scottish government to commission his research report on the topic. This is welcome news as the country continually seeks innovative strategies to revive the national and local tourist sector.


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