Knowledge for a sustainable world

Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK, making it the “largest environmental health risk we face today”, according to Global Action Plan, the organiser of Clean Air Day 2021. In this piece, NRI’s Dr Conor Walsh, Environmental Scientist and leader of the new BSc (Hons) Climate Change Programme at the University of Greenwich, explores some of his new Programme's key themes on looking for connections within the energy system, coal production and its role in air pollution, carbon capture and energy supply and demand.

Climate change and the prospect of more frequent droughts in Africa is leaving farmers across the developing world facing an uncertain future and risks of food insecurity. A new €6.3m project was recently launched, to help farmers tackle this growing threat.

At NRI, the University of Greenwich, field trips are an important component for BSc students of Physical Geography, Environmental Science, Biology and our brand-new Climate Change programme. Dr Sarah Arnold, Senior Lecturer in Insect Behaviour and Ecology and Deputy Programme Leader for BSc Biology, explains why field trips are so important for learning.

According to the organisers of World Hunger Day 2021, 690 million people across the world don’t have enough to eat; 98% of the world’s most undernourished live in low- and middle-income countries, and starvation kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. These shocking statistics highlight the complex problem of hunger that NRI continues to address through its work on tackling food waste, food insecurity and finding solutions to help those most in need, access safe, reliable and sustainable food.

Babajide Milton Macaulay grew up in Nigeria dreaming of becoming an architect, but his grades at school were always much higher in biology, so he decided to follow the life sciences path instead. Milton took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about how studying at NRI built a solid foundation for him to reach his career goals.

In March, the very first #EntoCareers event took place to help entomologists map out their future careers. Organized by NRI’s Post-Grad representative, Manuela Carnaghi, and two other PG reps from the Royal Entomology Society, it was designed as a ‘one off’ virtual networking and careers opportunity. However, it was such a success, it may now become an annual event. Manuela takes up the story.

In a paper recently published in ‘Nature Plants’, scientists from Sierra Leone, NRI at the University of Greenwich, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew and CIRAD (the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development), reveal the results of an in-depth evaluation of a ‘rediscovered’ coffee species that has the potential to help futureproof the coffee industry against climate change. NRI’s Professor Jeremy Haggar  - co-author of the paper - takes up the story.

The Natural Resources Institute is delighted to be co-funding a British Council GREAT scholarship for Sustainable Futures. We are looking for a postgraduate student from Vietnam to study on either our MSc Agriculture for Sustainable Development, or our MSc Global Environmental Change programme.

Uche Okpara recently joined NRI staff as Fellow in Climate Change and State Fragility, but he was no stranger to NRI, having completed his MSc here in 2010. He had grown up watching his parents struggle to make a living from their Nigerian small-scale farming and food business which always seemed to be at the mercy of weather patterns, climatic changes and conflict. Uche took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about his ambition to find workable solutions for his parents and many others like them, and how he plans to use his NRI skills to make a difference in Africa.

For National Careers Week, NRI’s Teaching and Learning Leader Claire Coote, tracked down three former BSc students to ask what advice they would give to those considering a career in life sciences. She also asked them to reveal how studying with NRI at the University of Greenwich, helped them get where they are today.

PhD student Lydia O’Meara, was recently awarded a prestigious ECR – Early Career Researcher - development scholarship, from the Nutrition Society of Australia, for her BSc work helping rural Fijians grow, buy and consume healthy food. Now a first year PhD student at NRI, Lydia will use the funding to travel from her native Australia, to Tokyo - Covid-19 restrictions permitting - to present her early PhD results at the International Congress on Nutrition in September 2021. Lydia takes up the story.

If a researcher came to your house and asked you to list every ingredient of every meal eaten by members of your household the previous day, how readily could you provide this information? Perhaps you might forget some items, or feel uncomfortable about speaking openly, not knowing what an interviewer might think of your household’s diet or how they might use this information.