Scientia Issue #142
Restoring Earth’s ecosystems and ensuring global food security are two of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. These puzzles are even more challenging in the face of climate change and a growing human population. In this important issue of Scientia, we meet scientists who are tackling these challenges head on. The first half of the issue showcases the work of ecologists and conservation scientists, whose research is informing new strategies to protect and restore Earth’s precious biodiversity. We open this section by speaking with Professor Astrid Groot, President of The European Society for Evolutionary Biology, who explains how evolutionary insights are essential for devising effective conservation plans. Next, we meet many fascinating scientists, each conducting important research in the areas of ecology or evolutionary biology – from identifying the best strategies to protect Louisiana’s wetlands, to exploring how ‘genetic rescue’ can save inbred populations of animals and plants from extinction. In the latter half of the edition, we feature numerous exciting research projects that attempt to future-proof our agricultural systems. From using satellite-based technologies to predict crop failures, to exploring how cover crops can sustainably improve soil health, the scientists featured here are ensuring our future food security, while safeguarding the natural environment.
Scientia Issue #141
This riveting issue of Scientia provides an exciting insight into the future of health and healthcare with a vast array of new discoveries and innovative technologies in medical science. The first section showcases the dedicated efforts of researchers working to improve the prevention and diagnosis of disease across the lifespan. We also meet Nicola Perrin, Chief Executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities in an exclusive interview highlighting their vital work saving and improving lives through research and innovation. In the second section, we showcase the critical work of researchers pioneering the development of new drugs and interventions. We can read of the diverse ways in which the drugs of the future are being advanced, and how improving understanding of underlying disease mechanisms is informing much-needed treatment innovation. The third and final section is focused on the researchers boldly confronting the challenge of cancer. Here, we can read of the inspiring, dedicated efforts to overcome this leading cause of death worldwide.
Scientia Issue #140
This exciting new edition of Scientia celebrates scientists who are driving discovery in Earth science, astronomy, and related disciplines. With only days to go until the launch of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), our first section focusing on climate and atmospheric science is particularly pertinent. Here, we introduce researchers who are advancing our understanding of climate breakdown in all its complexity, including how aerosols are impacting the progression of climate change. Next, our geophysics and planetary science section opens with an exclusive interview with the President of the Association for Women Geoscientists. We then showcase some of the most exciting geophysics research, before venturing beyond our atmosphere to explore the effects of the solar wind on Earth’s magnetic field. We also meet scientists who are exploring strange phenomena on the Red Planet, and those who are advancing the quest to find extra-terrestrial life. In our final section, we explore the mind-bending fields of astrophysics and cosmology. To introduce this section, we have had the pleasure of speaking with Dr Jamal Mimouni, President of the African Astronomical Association, who discusses astronomical achievements in Africa and how the Association supports and advances astronomy research and education across the entire continent. We then highlight three particularly exciting research projects – from advancing our understanding of how the universe evolved, to simulating the behaviour of plasma that exists within the unimaginably vast spaces between galaxies.
Scientia Issue #139
This important issue of Scientia takes an exciting look into the future of health and healthcare delivery across the world. It is with great pride that we celebrate the significant advances that have been achieved in this field, despite the adversity caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our first section showcases the dedicated efforts of researchers working to improve the promotion of healthy living as well as the provision of clinical care and disease prevention through policy development. The second section focuses on the researchers tackling the causes and consequences of poor nutrition, from undernutrition in the developing world to obesity in the developed world. Our third section highlights the work of researchers dedicated to progressing understanding of how we fight infection and defend against disease. We also meet here Professor Colin Garner, founder and Chief Executive at Antibiotic Research UK, and gain insight into the charity’s vital work. Our fourth and final section celebrates the diverse and inspiring work of scientists who are dedicated to the development of innovative treatments and technologies across the broad realms of health and healthcare.
Scientia Issue #138
In this inspiring new edition of Scientia, we are delighted to feature some of the most ground-breaking research findings and innovations across the diverse fields of chemistry, materials science, physics and computer science. Our opening section explores the weird and wonderful world of chemistry. Here, we begin with a focus on chemistry education, before highlighting a selection of research projects in this fascinating branch of science. From developing chemical methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to devising inexpensive strategies for synthesising pharmaceuticals, this section shows how chemistry continuously offers solutions to an array of societal challenges. Next, we report on some exciting developments in the critical field of materials science. In this section, we meet scientists who are creating cutting-edge materials for advanced technologies – from nanoporous membranes that remove bacteria from drinking water, to graphene foam that promotes tissue repair in the treatment of various medical conditions, including osteoarthritis. In the third section of this exciting edition, we delve deeper into the nature of matter. Here, we highlight the latest discoveries and innovations in the world of physics – from understanding how matter behaved in the early universe, to creating gigantic atoms with sizes comparable to grains of sand. Our final section celebrates innovation in computing technology – a field that has completely transformed human society in just a few decades. Here, we introduce researchers who are spearheading tomorrow’s breakthroughs in computer science – from optimising virtual reality technology, to bringing the power of quantum computing to research labs across the globe.
Scientia Issue #137
This riveting and thought-provoking issue of Scientia showcases the work of scientists charting new frontiers in psychological and brain sciences. The brain is, by far, the most complex organ in the human body. It is responsible for our thoughts, what we do and what we don’t do, our external experience of the world and our internal sense of self. It should not, then, be unexpected that conditions affecting the brain can have deleteriously severe impacts on people’s lives. And at the same time, conditions affecting the brain are notoriously difficult to treat. In our first section, we meet the researchers working to ameliorate the negative impacts of adversity and trauma on mental health. From advances in understanding how childhood trauma impacts brain development to recognition of the complex and interacting factors associated with alcohol use disorders, this section highlights critical advancements being made in building brighter futures through scientific endeavour. Our second section showcases the work of researchers unravelling the complex and multifaceted causes of disease. Focussing on neurodevelopmental disorders (such as those on the autism spectrum) and psychiatric diseases (such as schizophrenia), this section illustrates the critical role that genes play in susceptibility for a wide range of disorders and diseases, and how this knowledge can be used to improve diagnosis and treatment. Our final section celebrates recent advances in understanding and treating clinical disorders. From improving the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy to exploring the effects of music on patients with disorders of consciousness, this section highlights how scientific and technological advances are driving cutting-edge insights and informing treatment innovation.
Scientia Issue #136
This special issue of Scientia is dedicated to the scientists working to confront cancer, one of the biggest challenges facing medical science in the 21st century. Although research into cancer has taken place in some form for over 200 years, still to this day we do not have a cure and cancer remains a leading cause of mortality across the globe. The first section in this special issue is dedicated to research on the causes and risk factors that may lead to cancer, with a focus on the need for public health interventions to reduce preventable deaths. Our second section focuses on the work of researchers striving to improve the timing and accuracy of diagnosing cancer. This is a critical area of research because early diagnosis is associated with much better rates of survival than later diagnosis. Our final section is dedicated to the development of treatments for cancer. In acknowledgement of the need to develop a broad range of therapies to cover the whole spectrum of cancer, we meet the researchers dedicated to the development of novel and innovative therapeutics.
Scientia Issue #135
Scientists, engineers, medical professionals and statisticians are all at the forefront of our battle against SARS-CoV-2. As a result, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have perhaps never seemed so important. In addition to eradicating this devastating virus, many other challenges facing society, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, can only be addressed by a strong and diverse STEM workforce. Building a robust STEM community is dependent upon innovative and inclusive education, from primary school to university and beyond. Therefore, this issue showcases an inspiring collection of projects, each seeking to enhance STEM education worldwide. Our first section of the edition focuses on the development and application of innovative teaching methods. Through providing immersive educational experiences, facilitating student collaboration and harnessing technology, the initiatives featured here are ensuring better academic outcomes for students, towards building a strong STEM community. Next, we feature a range of programs that aim to increase diversity in STEM, by inspiring young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue STEM subjects, and supporting underrepresented students on their journeys to successful careers. By enhancing diversity amongst graduates, these initiatives will ultimately lead to a stronger STEM community with greater potential for generating new ideas, and a better ability to take on humanity’s greatest challenges. Each initiative featured in our final section is designed to address a specific societal need – from teaching engineering students how to devise solutions that are socially responsible, to cultivating a new generation of environmental scientists that can tackle climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Scientia Issue #134
While the world’s attention is focused on eradicating COVID-19, we must not forget that unsustainable farming practices and the ensuing biodiversity declines were leading factors in the emergence of this devastating disease. To prevent future pandemics, we must find new ways to feed the human population while also restoring Earth’s biodiversity. Such sustainable agricultural methods have many other positive impacts, including climate change mitigation, improved animal welfare, and reduced social inequality. In this important edition, we meet researchers who strive to improve food production, and those who are finding new ways to boost biodiversity, towards a healthy, equitable and sustainable future for all of Earth’s inhabitants. Our first section in this edition showcases research that seeks to develop fairer food systems. From helping family-run farms to survive in the face of competition from industrialised farms, to developing nutritious baby food from a local and affordable yam in Cameroon, this section highlights a range of inspiring initiatives. Next, we introduce scientists who develop eco-friendly farming practices that can keep up with the demands of a growing human population. In this section, we meet scientists who are working to reduce our reliance on toxic agrochemicals, and others focusing on improving soil health, so that biodiversity can thrive alongside our crops and livestock. Our final section highlights the work of several pioneering ecologists. Here, we feature a selection of promising projects – from predicting the future of Puerto Rico’s forest ecosystems, to investigating landowners’ attitudes towards pollinator conservation, all with the aim of informing new strategies that protect and restore Earth’s precious biodiversity.
Scientia Issue #133
As 2020 draws to a close and we look towards 2021, the importance of innovation and progress in science, medicine and healthcare has never felt more urgent or critical. This important issue of Scientia celebrates the vital work of scientists seeking to improve the health and well-being of individuals across the globe and provides testimony to what can be achieved, even in the most challenging of times. The first section is devoted to the foundational sciences in medicine and healthcare that underpin our understanding of health and disease. The second section highlights the researchers who are working to directly tackle human diseases and disorders with a focus on key medical breakthroughs and scientific advancement. In our third section, we showcase the work of researchers who are focussed on improving women’s health and well-being. Finally, our fourth section celebrates recent innovations in surgical methods and rehabilitation that are dramatically improving patient treatment and care. Each section in this issue takes us on an exciting journey through a diverse range of research that is confronting key medical and healthcare challenges of this era.
Scientia Issue #132
In this exciting edition of Scientia, we showcase some of the latest discoveries and innovations across the interconnected fields of engineering, technology and the physical sciences. To begin, our opening section celebrates scientists and engineers behind recent breakthroughs in medical technology. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, decades of innovation in medical technology have enabled clinicians to save countless lives during this devastating pandemic. From models that predict viral spread, to software that allows us to work from home, computing is also at the forefront of our fight against COVID-19. Therefore, the next section features researchers who harness computing and data science to tackle a variety of challenges – from protecting online privacy, to optimising treatment guidelines for patients with chronic conditions. Our third section introduces researchers working across diverse fields of engineering – from those developing sophisticated robotic assistants to those creating new technology that can predict natural disasters. Next, we report on some exciting developments in the critical field of materials science. In this penultimate section, we meet scientists who are developing new materials for advanced technologies – from nanoparticles for efficient solar cells, to organic coatings that protect metal from costly corrosion. Our final section of this edition showcases the latest physics research, with a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of our physical reality. Here, we highlight a variety of fascinating projects, each dedicated to unravelling how matter behaves at its most fundamental level, while also laying the foundation for revolutionary new technologies.
Scientia Issue #131
This important and timely issue of Scientia showcases the scientists striving to build brighter futures for humankind through their pioneering endeavours across psychology and neuroscience. At the current time, we are facing unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, and meanwhile, the emerging needs of our ever ageing population remain an urgent societal issue. These two topical themes feature prominently in this issue. The first section is devoted to cognitive neuroscience, the study of the relationships between brain and behaviour. Here, we meet the researchers who are shedding light on the fascinating complexities of the brain. Our second section is dedicated to mental health and we feature exclusive interviews with Dr Rozainee Khairudin, President of the Malaysian Psychological Association, and Oliver Glick, Policy Officer at the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. We also meet the researchers who are striving to better understand potentially devastating psychological difficulties and those who are developing ground-breaking interventions to alleviate causes of psychological distress. Our third and final section celebrates recent advances related to neurodegeneration and rehabilitation that have the potential to bring clinically significant improvements to the lives of many. Here, we meet the researchers who are confronting the challenges of ageing, disease and injury, providing an exciting insight into the revolutionary advances in healthcare we may see in the very near future.
Scientia Issue #130
In these challenging and uncertain times, it is with great pleasure that I introduce this captivating edition of Scientia, which showcases a diverse collection of research, on topics ranging from climate change mitigation to stellar evolution. The first section of the edition focuses on our changing climate. In the same way that the coronavirus response must be based on sound scientific evidence, solutions to the climate emergency must be rooted in robust research, to ensure maximum success. Here, we celebrate research groups that have contributed to the strong body of scientific evidence on climate change, and those that are developing effective solutions to mitigate its disastrous effects. Next, our planetary science section begins by introducing scientists who develop new ways to predict other dangers that we face on Earth – from the threat of anomalous solar activity to major earthquakes. We then venture deeper into the solar system, where researchers are gaining fascinating insights into how the planets evolved, and how their atmospheres can help us understand Earth’s changing climate. In the edition’s final section, we explore the mind-blowing fields of astrophysics and cosmology. Here, we meet research groups who are shedding light on how stars and galaxies form and evolve. Our final article touches on one of the biggest questions in cosmology: are we alone in the universe? In an exclusive interview, Mr Pérez Santiago at the SETI Institute describes his new project, which aims to send music representing humanity into space; what a fantastic way to conclude this remarkable edition of Scientia.
Scientia Issue #129
This important issue of Scientia tackles one of the greatest challenges of our time: ensuring global food security and agricultural sustainability into the future. The urgency of agricultural research cannot be understated. In one human lifetime, the population has tripled, from about 2.5 billion in 1950 to a whopping 7.7 billion today. In order to feed this burgeoning population, habitats are continually converted into farmland, with disastrous consequences for Earth’s climate and biodiversity – both of which are in a state of crisis. With about half of Earth’s habitable land already used for human food production, researchers are developing new ways to grow food more efficiently, rather than continuing to destroy wilderness areas. Scientists are also identifying sustainable farming approaches that allow nature to thrive alongside our crops and livestock. Our first section in this edition showcases the latest innovations in crop science and horticulture. Here, we feature a range of exciting projects, from enhancing the sustainability of berry production in Upper Midwest US, to developing microbial treatments to improve the drought tolerance of crops. Next, we focus on eco-friendly approaches to pest management, with a particular focus on controlling invasive insects. This research is particularly pertinent, as the widespread use of chemical insecticides has caused worrying declines in beneficial insect species, such as bees. Our final section in the edition focuses on animal production. Here, we highlight promising projects that aim to make animal farming more ethical, sustainable and safe – from adapting cattle-grazed grassland to increase carbon storage, to finding alternatives to antibiotics for reducing the prevalence of livestock diseases.
Scientia Issue #128
We open 2020 and this critical issue of Scientia by celebrating a diverse range of scientific breakthroughs and achievements that are driving forward health and well-being worldwide. In our first section, we meet the researchers who embrace a basic science approach to understanding how biological processes impact on health and disease, and read how this fundamental knowledge is a vital driver in the progression of human healthcare. In our second section, we showcase technological and methodological advancements that are transforming the diagnosis and treatment of disease. From medical imaging to facial reconstructive surgery, we read how patient care is being revolutionised. Recent advances in drug development are the focus of our third section. Here, we read of the exciting translation of innovation in the laboratory to the clinic from a pharmaceutical perspective, and of cutting-edge innovations in drug treatment and delivery. Our fourth section is specifically focused on one of the leading causes of death worldwide – cancer. We read of the diverse approaches currently being pioneered by researchers who are determined to overcome this global challenge. In our fifth and last section, we meet the researchers who take their scientific pursuits outside the laboratory and clinic, and explore their critical research into health and well-being from societal, policy, and individual perspectives.
Scientia Issue #127
In this critical issue of Scientia, we showcase an inspiring array of projects, each seeking to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education worldwide. Ranging from early childhood schooling to postgraduate training and beyond, this impressive collection of initiatives aims to guarantee a strong and diverse STEM workforce into the future – one capable of addressing humanity’s greatest challenges. Our first section in the issue explores a range of programs that aim to increase diversity within the STEM community. From exposing young people to relatable STEM role models from diverse backgrounds, to creating inclusive environments for underrepresented college students, we discuss several pioneering approaches that seek to widen opportunity and promote achievement in STEM across the broad spectrum of society. In our second section, we focus specifically on new and innovative teaching methods. By encouraging active learning, facilitating student collaboration, and recognising the different needs and abilities of individuals in a classroom, the initiatives featured here are ensuring better academic outcomes for students, ultimately resulting in a stronger STEM community. Finally, we showcase a collection of targeted educational programs, each designed to address a shortage of highly skilled professionals in a specific area of STEM. From inspiring students to pursue careers in sustainable energy, to upskilling the global ocean science community, these pioneering projects are bridging critical skills gaps in the STEM workforce, allowing us to adequately address the growing challenges facing society.
Scientia Issue #126
In this captivating edition of Scientia, we showcase a diverse selection of research achievements across the humanities and social sciences. In the first section of this edition, we take a journey through time, featuring highlights in the field of historical research. Here, we meet several impressive researchers who work to illuminate and understand different aspects of our history, from the evolution of scientific thought in ancient Greece and Rome, to socially inclusive educational systems in Soviet Russia. Our second section explores the fascinating world of linguistics. Here, we showcase a number of exciting research endeavours, from using mathematics to drastically improve speech recognition technology, to investigating the challenges and wonders of multilingualism. Next, we introduce several social scientists who are pushing the frontiers of our knowledge in the fields of economics and politics. By confronting the challenges of our time and developing mechanisms to bring about change, their goal is to improve how our economies, institutions and societies function. Our final section in the edition is dedicated to achieving health equity. Here, we highlight research that strives to close population gaps in healthcare, through understanding and addressing the barriers that under-served communities face when seeking medical care. Through culturally sensitive provider training and accessible screening programs, the research teams in this section are working towards creating a fairer world.
Scientia Issue #125
This important issue of Scientia showcases the vital work of scientists in the field of genetics, the branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity. As a science, the study of genetics is thought to have commenced in the mid-19th century with Gregor Johann Mendel’s experiments in pea plants and his discovery of the fundamental laws of inheritance. Now, genetics is one of the fundamental cornerstones of modern biology, critical in its own right as a branch of science but also with far-reaching implications for other disciplines, including medicine and healthcare. The first section is devoted to the essential study of genetics from a basic science perspective. Here we meet the researchers, who through the innovative development of techniques and methodologies, continue to advance our understanding of the function of genes and the specific mechanisms underlying key genetic processes. From revolutionising how we think about the origin of life itself to solving mysteries such as how our tiny human cells can hold our entire DNA, this section provides an enthralling account of contemporary and cutting-edge research. The second section explores the application of genetics to the advancement of healthcare and medicine. We meet the researchers who are using genetic science to make giant strides forward in tackling some of the biggest challenges of our age, from chronic obesity to cancer.
Scientia Issue #124
In this critical issue of Scientia, we address the two greatest threats that humanity has ever faced: climate change and ecological collapse. As two sides of the same coin, these human-induced global emergencies hold the potential to destroy our societies, unless urgent action is taken in the next few years. Earlier this month (May 2019), the UN released a summary of their upcoming report, which provides the most detailed assessment of life on Earth ever conducted. The findings were terrifying: one million species face extinction due to human activity, while countless others are experiencing rapid population declines. Changes in land and sea use, exploitation of wildlife, climate change, pollution and invasive species were identified as the drivers of this accelerated biodiversity loss. As the third most significant factor, climate change is the focus of our first section in this edition. In addition to ravaging the delicate ecosystems we depend on, climate change directly threatens human civilisation, through increasingly severe and frequent heatwaves, droughts, flooding, mega-storms and epidemics. Here, we pay homage to the scientists who work tirelessly to demonstrate the disastrous impacts of our carbon emissions on the climate. Their research is critical for highlighting the enormity of the situation to governments, who must now take drastic action. The latter half of this edition is dedicated to conserving and restoring biodiversity, using a multitude of different approaches. From documenting currently-unnamed species, so that they can be protected, to eradicating invasive species, the researchers featured here are finding ways to reverse the great damage we’ve caused to life on Earth.
Scientia Issue #123
In this important edition of Scientia, we address one of the greatest challenges of our time – ensuring food security and agricultural sustainability into the future. Here, we feature a broad range of promising research projects – from protecting pollinators to conserving irrigation water in the face of climate change, and from improving soil health to understanding what motivates anglers to target bluefin tuna. Our first section of the edition focuses on crop science, where we introduce a diverse collection of initiatives, each striving to make our cropping systems more sustainable and to improve yields in the face of climate change. Next, we move on to another important consideration in achieving food sustainability – water conservation. As about 70% of all our freshwater withdrawals are used for agricultural purposes, meeting our growing population’s increasing food demands is set to become increasingly difficult in the face of climate change. The subsequent section deals with devising and informing land management strategies to ensure sustainability and restore biodiversity. Here we read about effective approaches to eradicate invasive species, and how different land management practices can help to boost soil health in pastureland. Our final section of the edition takes a different view on food security and sustainability – providing a perspective on the role human behaviour and sociology in these issues. Here, we explore how a thorough understanding of the behaviours both food producers and consumers must be achieved in order to ensure food security into the future.
Scientia Issue #122
This special issue of Scientia celebrates research exploring the inner workings of the human nervous system, with a particular focus on the brain. Here, we meet many dedicated researchers in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and neurorehabilitation, who are progressing our understanding of neuronal and psychological functioning, as well as developing treatment interventions. Our first section in the issue delves deep into the fascinating world of human psychology, where we begin by investigating how the human brain processes and acquires language. We also explore the genetic and environmental factors that put young people at risk for addiction later in life. We then conclude this section with an exclusive interview with MQ: Mental Health, where we can read about the challenges facing mental health research. Our middle section focuses on the latest developments in neuroscience research, where we meet scientists who are unravelling the biological mechanisms taking place within the brain. Importantly, we can read how improving our understanding of molecular and cellular processes in the brain can help us to develop treatments for devastating neurological and psychological conditions. Finally, we move into the specialist field of neurorehabilitation. In this section, we present the work of scientists who show us how understanding the brain from psychological and neuroscientific perspectives can inform treatment innovations in the field of neurorehabilitation. We also meet researchers who combine the latest technologies with an improved understanding of the nervous system to benefit those affected by brain and spinal injury.