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Our impact – University of Reading

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Our impact

The quality of research at the University of Reading is highly regarded nationally and internationally. Our desire to create knowledge that benefits society drives our active and diverse research agenda to make a real difference to the pressing challenges facing the world today, such as climate change, food security, health and sustainable environments.

Here are some of the areas in which we are making a lasting impact.

Climate change - adapting to a different world

cracked earthPredicting weather and climate is of paramount importance to communities which are trying to adapt to long-term changes. Much of the world's supply of staple food crops, such as rice and maize, is produced in the tropics. Many of these tropical regions can experience large changes in weather and climate from year-to-year, making food production highly vulnerable.

Studies by researchers in our Walker Institute for Climate System Research provide further evidence that the effects of climate change could begin to be felt sooner than has been previously suggested, meaning the developing world could have to adapt to the reality of changing climate faster than expected.

Food security - feeding the world

beeWith the world population growing rapidly, the demand for food production will double in the next forty years. This raises serious concerns about food security - how will we produce enough food to feed ourselves in the future? Our diets are full of foods which depend on bee pollination. Researchers from the Department of Agriculture have examined how important insect-pollinated crops are to UK agriculture and how much of this work is done by honeybees. There is evidence that honeybee hive numbers are in a long-term state of decline in many developed nations. As insect-pollinated crops are likely to become increasingly important to UK agriculture in the immediate future, this research will help direct new developments in effective pollination management at a field and landscape scale.

Health - tackling the world's most serious diseases

cannabis leavesGroundbreaking research from the University could reduce the number and severity of seizures for epileptics. Successful results from recent studies have shown that three different non-psychoactive cannabis extracts can significantly reduce seizures and human trials are due to start soon.

Epilepsy affects around 1% of the global population and approximately 30% of people with epilepsy have seizures which are not controlled by conventional anticonvulsant drugs. Moreover, these drugs are associated with significant motor and cognitive side-effects that adversely affect the quality of life of individuals dependent upon their daily use.

Sustainable environments - helping build a better future

power linbesThe University of Reading has been at the forefront of research into sustainability and the environment for many decades.

Mathematicians are helping to develop a 'smart' power distribution system to prepare the street-level electricity grid for a low-carbon future. Experts at the University's Centre for Mathematics of Human Behaviour are providing the analytics and modelling expertise behind a new £30m pilot project funded by energy regulator Ofgem.

The project is designed to find new ways of managing the existing power grid, in a future where electric cars and micro-generators become more common, and a greater fraction of total energy consumption shifts towards electricity.

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