Knowledge for a sustainable world

A new study reveals that giving bumblebees a blend of caffeine, sugar and flower aromas whilst still in their nest, before they go foraging, can help them target specific flowers and pollinate them more effectively.

If a black cat crosses your path, does that make you feel lucky or unlucky? If a bird flew inside your house, would you take that as a sign of good things to come or a bad omen? Most societies have perpetuated superstitions around certain animals. While in some cases this can lead to their protection and conservation, in others it can have unfortunate and negative implications for animals associated with bad luck or the supernatural.

Growing Kent & Medway has announced £3 million in R&D grants for projects that support inclusive economic growth and environmentally sustainable practices and innovations.

NRI and the wider Faculty of Engineering and Science of the University of Greenwich are part of the consortium of partners that make up Growing Kent & Medway, an initiative focused on strengthening Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries through research, innovation and enterprise.

Dr Valentine Seymour is a research scientist whose interests focus on the interface between human health, policy and the natural environment. Valentine began her scientific career with a BSc in Environmental Science from NRI at the University of Greenwich. She took five minutes out of her day to chat to NRI’s Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about making the switch from arts to science, and how her idea of bliss is to have a good rummage in a river.

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.