News in Brief - 2020
The first inklings of the impending COVID-19 pandemic were in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. By imposing very strict lockdown measures and rapidly building huge emergency hospitals, the epidemic in China was controlled. By analysing data on case numbers in mainland China, Chinese mathematicians working with NRI’s Professor Bob Cheke calculated the effective reproductive number for the disease and how this changed in relation to different mitigation measures from 10 January to 6 March 2020.
Graduating students from NRI at the University of Greenwich would normally be welcomed warmly into the lofty grandeur of nearby Rochester Cathedral for the formal ceremony. Families and friends file in to take their places on the wooden pews and there would be an expectant hush as the Professors and University grandees resplendent in floor-length gowns, assumed their places on the raised dais facing the congregation.
Emmanuel Taiwo left Nigeria in 2013 and boarded a plane for the very first time, to come to the UK and study at NRI. His first impression was that the UK was cold in temperature, but warm in welcome. Emmanuel took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communication’s Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about his experience.
In response to the announcement of the proposed merger between the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, NRI highlights the importance of continued international development work to help improve the lives of vulnerable people all over the world.
Ana Cristina left Mexico City to follow in her father’s footsteps and study for a Master’s at a university in the UK. As a mature student who’d been passionate about food and science from an early age, Ana embraced the lifestyle at NRI and quickly bonded with her much younger housemates. Ana took five minutes out of her day to Skype with Communications Officer Linden Kemkaran on what she learned, and what she’s doing now.
Technology development carries a great deal of risk. Processes are often lengthy and resource intensive, with the chance that even after substantial investment, the final prototype may not operate as intended. NRI has embarked on an exciting new partnership with Latin American-based innovative software provider, ESSS – Engineering Simulation and Scientific Software, and CADFEM – ESSS’s partner in the UK. It heralds a new era in which NRI scientists will be able to test prototype agri-processing machines virtually, before going to the expense and effort of building them.
Bernard Essel came to NRI in 2015 to study for an MSc in Sustainable Environment Management. Originally from Ghana, he grew up with a fascination for technology and a dream of becoming a civilian airline pilot. Bernard took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, on how he now spends his days flying, but not quite in the way he’d imagined.
Gloria Adeyiga left Ghana for the first time in 2009 to study in the UK at NRI, for her Master’s in Natural Resources Management. A big believer in gender equality, Gloria now spends her time back in Ghana working on land restoration and encouraging more women to become actively engaged and share their expertise. Gloria took five minutes out of her day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer Linden Kemkaran to describe how she is making a difference.
NRI’s Professor of rats, Steve Belmain, is part of a team recently awarded £2 million to investigate rat control and management and to reduce the transmission risk of several rodent-borne diseases, particularly plague, leptospirosis and typhus.
Mark Parnell is a veteran of NRI. He first donned his lab coat in 1990 to work as an invertebrate pathologist, went on to complete the first Masters course in Sustainable Agriculture run by NRI and is now NRI’s Commercial Manager. A childhood dream of being a weatherman almost became reality, but he turned down the Met Office to pursue a career in biological sciences. Mark took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about what he’s learnt during his 30 years at NRI and how, if given the opportunity, he wouldn’t change a thing.
With many of us now unexpectedly confined to our homes, our priorities are changing fast. The absence of a daily commute and a desire for fresh air means that gardens and balconies have taken on a new importance, in that overnight, they have become the only truly safe and accessible outdoor spaces for many people.