Multimillion-euro backing for research into our future homes, climate and food03 June 2020
Research projects seeking to help future generations cope better with climate change and other challenges have been awarded a share of €530m worth of funding.
Three projects involving experts from the University of Reading were among 147 Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) awarded European Commission funding. They will investigate global issues while providing training opportunities for early stage researchers hosted at Reading.
The projects – CriticalEarth, RE-DWELL and TRANSIT – will respectively investigate how complex maths can be used to predict and avoid damaging climate change, how housing, as a major contributor to climate change, can be made truly ‘affordable’ in environmental, social and economic terms, and how technology can be better used to ensure food is safe to eat.
Professor Dominik Zaum, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at the University of Reading, said: “How we cope with and avoid dangerous climate change, ensuring we can meet growing housing need while still being green, and producing safe and hygienic food for growing populations are all critical issues facing the world.
“The funding awarded to these projects is further evidence of the cutting-edge research taking place at Reading that will help us understand and overcome fundamental problems we are facing, now and in the future.”
The CriticalEarth project involving Professor Valerio Lucarini, Professor of Statistical Mechanics at Reading, aims to better understand tipping points in the Earth’s climate and identify thresholds beyond which irreversible changes would occur. It will focus on how complex mathematics can be used to warn of and avoid damaging climate change.
CriticalEarth, led by the University of Copenhagen, was awarded €4.1m, of which Reading will receive €303,000.
Professor Lucarini has pioneered the use of maths to understand how Earth’s climate will change in future, and how humans will influence this.
His recently-published research used statistical mechanics to predict climate change using a state-of-the-art model. It showed that complex climate models, such as those considered in the preparation of the IPCC reports, can be used flexibly to predict accurately variations in global temperatures as well as oceanic currents. This includes very special climatic features like the North Atlantic ‘blob’, where deep oceanic water forms.
RE-DWELL involves Professor Flora Samuel, Professor of Architecture in the Built Environment at Reading. The project will equip a new generation of researchers with transdisciplinary skills to address the urgent need for affordable housing.
Affordability is normally looked at in solely economic terms. This project will propose an expanded definition of affordability that encompasses affordability for the environment and society. It builds on Professor Samuel’s pioneering work on the mapping and measuring of social value in housing and neighbourhoods.
RE-DWELL, led by FUNITEC in Barcelona, was awarded €3.9m, of which Reading will receive €254,000.
The ITN networks cover nearly 1,400 organisations – including 158 small and medium enterprises – as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme.
TRANSIT is a food safety project involving researchers from eight European countries, including Dr Kimon Andreas Karatzas from Reading. Working with the food industry, it seeks increase the use and sustainability of novel processing technologies that eliminate bacteria in food during processing. The project will lead to development of novel sterilisation processes and the use of electric fields or high pressure. It also aims to increase consumer acceptance of these technologies.
TRANSIT, led by Wageningen University, was awarded €2.6m, of which Reading will receive €508,000.