REFlections - Reading's research makes a difference to the world
The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) have reinforced Reading's standing as a leading research intensive university.
More than 99% of Reading's research was rated as having an outstanding or considerable impact socially, economically and culturally.
The University of Reading has a global research impact that stretches from North America to Australasia. Reading benefits from an extensive portfolio of collaborators and partners, nationally and internationally. This allows Reading to tackle global problems that affect the quality of life and sustainability of our planet.
Employing research staff that are at the very top of their field and investing in new research centres and technology means Reading is at the forefront of pioneering science and driving innovation. That makes Reading attractive to a wide variety of funders. Between 2008 and 2012 the University received £180m in research income.
Many organisations and institutions have chosen to form strong and long-lasting partnerships with Reading. Within the REF impact case study submissions alone, 244 organisations and institutions were named as having either participated in, adopted or benefitted from our research. These included the United Nations, The Department of Health, GlaxoSmithKline and the British Heart Foundation.
From contributing to societies' needs to influencing national and international policymakers, University of Reading research is making a difference to people's lives. Below is just a small sample of stories that highlight the breadth and depth of Reading's impact.
Developing life-changing treatments for people with hard to treat epilepsy
Professor Ben Whalley (School of Pharmacy) has conducted cutting-edge research showing that non-psychoactive chemicals in cannabis could lead to more effective treatments for people with hard-to-treat epilepsy. CBD and CBDV have the potential to prevent seizures and cause fewer side effects than many existing anti-epileptic drugs. Partners GW Pharmaceuticals began human clinical trials of new drugs containing these chemicals in the United States this year. Read more in the Daily Telegraph's report.
Bringing ancient Rome to life
Dr Matthew Nicholls (Classics) has developed a digital model of Rome which is enhancing the world's knowledge of the ancient city. Virtual Rome allows historians and tourists to experience the wonders of major monuments such as the Colosseum first hand. The model can be used to generate images and animations of the ancient city from any angle and at any time of day or year. Lecturers across the UK are using the model to teach Ancient Rome in an engaging and innovative way. The model has been widely used by the media and Dr Matthew Nicholls won the 2014 Guardian Higher Education Award for Teaching Excellence for Virtual Rome.
Keeping air travel safe and on time
The 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano closed European airspace and cost the global airline industry an estimated $200 million per day. It also disrupted the journeys of 10 million passengers. Experts from the Department of Meteorology have developed models that predict the dispersal of volcanic ash after eruptions, as well as instrumentation that monitors ash clouds during flight bans. The research has played a key role in establishing new flexible emergency procedures that can be evoked across European airspace. This will minimise the economic cost for airlines and reduce flight delays during future eruptions, without compromising the safety of passengers and crew.
Making milk healthier for Marks & Spencer customers
Research from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development has shown that adding oilseed to a cow's diet can significantly reduce the harmful saturated fat found in its milk. Marks and Spencer (M&S) used this research to launch a new low saturated fat milk in October 2011. This product has led to improved diets and reduced associated health risks such as heart disease, obesity and cancer for M&S customers, as well as increased sales for the company. Since 2011, an estimated three million UK milk consumers a year have benefitted from the research which has been covered by media across the globe.