Physical Sciences

Spectroscopic standard could help revolutionise the analysis of plastics

Plastic pollution is an environmental catastrophe in progress. 32 percent of the plastic we use escapes into the environment and only nine percent currently gets recycled. Fugitive plastic products often undergo various forms of environmental degradation, which lead to the formation of microplastics. British company Polymateria have developed additives for conventional plastics which facilitate biodegradation if they escape the waste stream. […]

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Education & Training

How joyful dialogic reading jumpstarts early learning

The role of family engagement in children’s early learning is crucial to their future educational prospects. Alice Letvin and Carolyn Saper, who are based in Chicago, USA, developed the ReadAskChat dialogic reading app for families with babies, toddlers, and prereaders. The ReadAskChat app includes a library of short, content-rich stories and prompts for adult readers to stimulate brain-building “serve-and-return” conversations. […]

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Behavioural Sciences

The periphery: Where radical innovation occurs

Gino Cattani is Professor of Management and Organization at the Stern School of Business, and Simone Ferriani is Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Bologna. Both professors have researched creativity and entrepreneurship independently but they’ve come together for a common goal: to solve the Core-Periphery Conundrum. Why is it that resources are concentrated among those who conform, when the […]

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Health & Medicine

Is wood ash a silent killer in sub-Saharan Africa?

Traditional cookstoves fuelled by locally sourced wood are found in homes across sub-Saharan Africa. Some 70% of the population use traditional cookstoves to burn wood, and as a result produce 19 megatonnes of ash every year across the region. The ash is generally dumped nearby or scattered on farmland, but what exactly is in the ash? Quantifying the amounts of heavy […]

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Physical Sciences

Crystal engineering for solid-state molecular recognition

Host-guest interactions in crystalline frameworks can be exploited to selectively and reversibly adsorb molecular species within a crystalline lattice. This process is important in a variety of technological fields, including gas separation, catalysis, trapping of pollutants and carbon capture. Professor Akiko Hori (Shibaura Institute of Technology) is developing chemical approaches for optimising the building blocks of these solid-state systems. Perfluorination […]

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Informatics & Technology

Using drones to map marine litter on Portugal’s coastline

Portugal’s famous coastline consists of hundreds of miles of sandy beaches. It’s no surprise that urbanisation in the region – a result of tourism and fishing activities – has led to the accumulation of marine litter in these areas. But while local organisations focus their efforts on beach cleaning to keep tourist spots looking pristine, nearby sand dunes accumulate plastics, […]

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Education & Training

You are your most important teacher (and what to do about it)

Dr Robert Hahn, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University, Atlanta, describes how learning is an internal dialogue, as we continuously build on the knowledge we already possess in our minds. His synthesis of research shows that your most important teacher is actually yourself. He argues that the classroom that recognises that we can learn how […]

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Biology

How to make a CRISPR cow

Genome editing offers an opportunity to introduce useful genetic traits into livestock breeding programmes. However, it has proven difficult to insert large DNA fragments into livestock embryos using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Dr Alison Van Eenennaam and Dr Joseph Owen, of the University of California, Davis, employed their knowledge of bovine embryogenesis and DNA repair pathways, and the help of a […]

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Health & Medicine

Frailty screening: Doing good and avoiding harm

Ageing populations bring both opportunities and challenges for the economy, services and society. Screening for frailty aims to match the healthcare offered with a person’s needs, circumstances and capacity to benefit. Professors Mary McNally, Lynette Reid and William Lahey from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada, explore the legal and ethical implications of frailty screening to ensure concerns with both doing […]

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Physical Sciences

The Lattice, the Clock, and the Microscope: A Next-Generation Quantum Simulator

Understanding systems of many interacting quantum particles remains one of the grand challenges in physics. Simulating such systems on supercomputers is impossible for more than a few particles, but promising approaches based on quantum simulators are on the horizon. Dr Sebastian Blatt’s team at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics, and their collaborators, have made significant strides to extend the capabilities […]

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