Review of the Year 2017

As we head towards the New Year, we look back at some of our highlights from across University News over the past twelve months…

New Chancellor – Award-winning Irish author, journalist and playwright Colm Tóibín was announced as our new Chancellor in February and officially installed as part of Graduation Week celebrations in July. Colm said he will use his role “to enhance the experience of the students and connect the University’s inspiring work with the city, with society, and with the world outside.” 

Chancellor Colm Tóibín with Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Beer at his installation in July

Podcast launch In March we launched a podcast series with the aim of bringing listeners closer to some of our academic experts, authors and innovative thinkers who are affecting positive change in the world today.

So far we have produced 22 episodes covering a range of topics from artificial intelligence to mermaids and psychopaths. The podcast, which has been downloaded more than 20,000 times, regularly appears in iTunes Top Ten Higher Education podcasts listings and has also featured in The Guardian’s ‘Hear Here’ section.

Superhero success –  An exhibition by Liverpool-born comic book writer and artist John Higgins, opened at our Victoria Gallery & Museum in March. Beyond Dredd and Watchmen: the Art of John Higgins features his original artwork alongside examples of the work that inspired him. The popularity of the exhibition led to an interview with the artist on the BBC Breakfast sofa, and its extension into 2018.

John Higgins also designed the unique, interactive ‘DROAR’ light installation that was projected onto the VG&M as part of our LightNight and Open House celebrations in May.

The DROAR interactive light installation in action

Vets on TV – Our Institute of Veterinary Science came to prime time in May as part of the BBC’s Trust Me I’m A Vet series. Many staff and students from the Institute were involved in the filming, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. As part of the series, Professor Alex German, head of the University’s Weight Management Clinic, ran a unique experiment to work out the best way for pets to lose weight.

Professor Alex German with presenter Steve Leonard

Professor Alex German with presenter Steve Leonard

Election fever – In May and June, our Politics academics were in heavy demand with national and international media following the surprise announcement, and subsequent result, of the snap general election.

When Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to enter into a confidence and supply deal with the Northern Irish DUP following the result, all the stars aligned and our British and Irish Politics expert Professor Jon Tonge began a 72 hour non-stop TV, radio, web and print marathon.

Sunscreen Challenge – As temperatures rose in July, scientists from our Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease revealed that people miss on average 10 per cent of their face when applying sunscreen. The researchers also hit the road with their Sunscreen Challenge, using a UV sensitive camera to let the public test how effective their sun tan lotion application skills were.  The research went on to feature on ITV Tonight: How Safe is a Sun Tan? and This Morning, as well as print and online media across the globe.

Dr Chris Steele discusses the research with presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on This Morning

Goldfish go global – Research by Dr Michael Berenbrink uncovering how goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters captured the attention of the global media in August. Dr Berenbrink’s work was featured on BBC, Sky News, The Economist and New Scientist among others and inspired many a fishy pun, and even a cartoon, in the headlines that week.

Presidential role – Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Beer, began her two-year term as President of Universities UK (UUK) in August. She used her first speech as President at UUK’s annual conference to call on universities to do more to connect with their communities and demonstrate that they are a force for good.

Flagship development – In September construction began on a new £35 million facility for Liverpool International College. The facility, due to open in September 2019, will include a 13-storey accommodation block and a three-storey college building for up to 900 students and is a flagship development in Liverpool Knowledge Quarter’s £1bn Paddington Village district.

Ancestors uncovered  –  A new, free history website  tracing the lives of transported and imprisoned British convicts went live in September. The Digital Panopticon is a collaborative project led by social historian Professor Barry Godfrey and uses digital technologies to bring together existing and new datasets held by different organisations in the UK and Australia.

Francis Abbott was convicted of fraud in 1844 and transported to Australia where he became a renowned astronomer and successful watchmaker

Sensor City opening – In November, Business Secretary Greg Clark officially opened Sensor City, our landmark joint venture with Liverpool John Moores University that brings together knowledge and experience in sensor technology and houses and supports high-tech businesses working on sensor systems and applications.

Honoured by the Queen – The year ended on a high in December as our Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology was honoured with a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its work to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines. The Royal honour followed the Institute of Irish Studies’ announcement in September of the joint patronage of The Prince of Wales and the President of Ireland, HE Michael D. Higgins

The Prize will be officially presented to the University in February 2018 by a member of the royal family at a ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace.

We wish you all a fantastic festive break and a happy New Year. Don’t forget to contact us here in the University News team with your stories for 2018!

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