January: Study reveals long time scale of recovery for marine sea fans and other species
A team of scientists from the School of Oceans predicted that Pink seafans, Ross corals and white sea squirts could take up to 20 years to recover after an area of seabed, the Lyme Bay Special Area of Conservation, was closed due to scallop dredging in 2008. The scientists sampled Lyme Bay at the time of the change-over and resampled the sites in 2017. Former Professor Michel Kaiser said “The time-scale of recovery appears to be directly linked to the reproductive strategies shown by the different species in Lyme Bay which provides an invaluable sensitivity to fishing and other activities in other conservation areas.”
February: Bangor researchers contribute to advancing dementia research strategy
On February 21st Dr Gill Windle and Emeritus Professor Bob Woods were involved in the publication of the first ‘dementia research roadmap for prevention, diagnosis, intervention and care by 2025’. This was undertaken by the Alzheimer’s society task force which hosts some of the UK’s lead clinicians and researchers in Dementia. The roadmap sets out goals and recommendations to advance dementia research and inspired articles published in the Guardian discussing why dementia research must study care as well as a cure.
March: Bending light
Dr Liyang Yue of the School of Electronic Engineering reported on a new way to produce a curved light beam which has sparked interest throughout the field. The new type of curved light beam, names as the “photonic hook” could be important in future applications such as being used to trap or move particles in microfluidic on-chip devices or enhance terahertz signals for communication and imaging and may be applicable to guide electric arcs such as lighting.
April: Conservation through religion? Scientists confirm that sacred natural sites confer biodiversity advantage
New research showed that sacred natural sites play an important role in conservation. A multidisciplinary team, led by the University of Ioannina, including Bangor University started efforts to systematically prove this. The project THALIS-SAGE working in the region of Epirus, North-western Greece, an area that hosts numerous sacred groves that are protected for religious reasons has shown that, though these areas are small their biodiversity is persistently higher than nearby control sites.
May: Obese people enjoy food less than people who are lean – new study
Hans-Peter Kubis the director of the Health Exercise and Rehabilitation group at the School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences researched the differences in enjoyment between ‘obese’ and ‘lean’ people when eating. The study showed that emotional motivation in connection with cravings seems to be more influential in eating decisions in obese people than in healthy weight people.
June: ‘We’re working on a more accurate pollen forecasting system using plant DNA’
The Bangor University Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) PollerGEN project team worked on new methods to detect airborne pollen from different species of allergenic grass. The team applied environmental genomic technologies and a UK plant DNA barcode library to identify complex mixtures of tree and grass pollens from a molecular genetic perspective. These methods are being used as an attempt to redefine how pollen forecasts are measured and are reported in the future.
July: Pristine Antarctic fjords contain similar levels of microplastics to open oceans near big civilisations
With increased global sampling efforts have exposed that microplastic dispersal is worst that first thought. Microplastics have been found throughout the water column, sediments and marine animal diets, and even as far south as the pristine environments of Antarctica. Bangor senior lecturer in Marine Geology, Dr Katrien Van Landeghem joined a a multidisciplinary research team known as ICEBERGS to gain a better understanding of how the environment and organisms evolve in newly emerging and colonising habitats in Antarctica. Upon their time there, microplastics have not been found in the Antarctic fjords until now.
August: Widespread giant African cobra revealed to be five distinct species
A research paper, led by herpetologist Dr Wolfgang Wüster, revealed that what was thought to be a single widespread cobra species, the Forest Cobra, is actually composed of five separate species. Two of these species, the Black Forest Cobra and the West African Banded Cobra, were new to science and are first identified in this paper. The study applied DNA techniques which found enormous differences between different specimens of the presumed Forest Cobra.
September: Golf: the neuroscience of the perfect putt
Research undertaken by Dr Andrew Cooke, a lecturer in Performance Psychology for the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, identified a “brainwave” that can predict golfing success. In a study where expert and novice golfers hit 120 puts it was observed that the activity of a brainwave at the frequency of 10-12 Hz, recorded before the backswing, could clearly distinguish putts that went in the hole from those that missed.
October: We tracked coral feeding habits from space to find out which reefs could be more resilient
A collaboration between the University of California and Bangor University utilised a global satellite to measure the responses of corals on how much food is available on a reef. Variations in coral feeding habits is still misunderstood and the influence of food availability in the wild, this new approach has allowed for new insights. It was revealed that living corals in a food-rich environment will consume more food, this challenges the current understand of how corals survive.
November: Chemsex and PrEP reliance are fuelling a rise in syphilis among men who have sex with men
Dr Simon Bishop, from the School of Health Sciences, addressed factors that may explain the current syphilis epidemic which disproportionately affects men who have sex with men (MSM). The increased use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug used to prevent the transmission of HIV, as a replacement for condoms and the rising trend of chemsex, the use of recreational drugs to increase sexual pleasure, can be attributed to the increasing prevalence of syphilis.
December: £1.85m study to investigate microbes “hitch-hiking” on marine plastics
Bangor University began collaborating with the University of Stirling and Warwick on a new £1.85 million project to investigate how marine plastics transport bacteria and viruses and the impact that they have on human health. A team from the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Ocean Sciences are analysing the behaviour of microplastics that have entered the coastal waters through waste water treatment works, in a bid to understand their full effect.