2019: A Year in the News

From headlines about painkillers and climate change to the discovery of one of the hottest exoplanets, and new studies on back pain and cancer treatments, Keele research has made global headlines this year.

Academics from Keele also shared their expert analysis this year on subjects including national and international politics, the environment, human rights, and global health. Our experts have given over 100 TV interviews, hundreds of radio interviews, written over 70 Conversation articles, and been quoted in thousands of press stories, reaching more than 750 million people in total this year - a 20% increase on last year. Read on for our news highlights for 2019.


We kicked off our 70th Anniversary year by awarding an honorary degree to broadcaster Jon Snow. We also had 25 TV and radio interviews on the BBC, Sky News, France24 and TRT World from our on-campus studio, with Dr Jacco van Loon, Dr Sharon George, Dr Gemma Loomes and Emeritus Professor Peter Styles.

News highlights in January included the announcement of a €4million grant to develop low-carbon combustion technology and a £2.4million grant to help reduce the overprescribing of opioids which was published in The Telegraph. January also saw the launch of the Keele Deal | Culture which aims to boost the local economy by £36million over the next decade.

 £2.4 million grant featured in the Telegraph


Back pain research from Dr Simon Somerville and Dr Jonathan Hill from the School of Primary Care and Health featured on ITV Tonight, discussing and demonstrating Keele’s STarT Back treatment tool.

Global health security research from Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner featured in The Telegraph and Keele published a new global study which identified factors behind why older people self-harm.

Dr Gemma Loomes was interviewed live on Chinese TV network CGTN sharing her expert opinion on Brexit, making Keele’s first appearance on the international news programme. Dr Phil Catney also spoke to France24 on Brexit, with both interviews kickstarting a year of commentary from Keele on British politics on TV, radio, digital and print.

Dr Sharon George spoke to BBC News about a proposed tax on fast fashion. Other academics to hit the airwaves in February included Dr Awol Allo, Dr Deirdre McKay and Dr Senthorun Raj, on BBC News, international TV and radio networks, and Channel 4 News.

Dr Sharon George on BBC News


Dr Jacco Van Loon spoke about the Space X Mission on BBC News, France24 and various BBC radio stations including BBC Radio 5 Live. Professor Aristotle Kallis was also interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live about the Christchurch attack, and Professor Nicholas Forsyth on stem cell research that 'cured' a patient of HIV.

Dr Phil Catney and Dr Gemma Loomes carried out numerous interviews about Brexit on CGTN and BBC radio stations.

Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner was invited to the White House to discuss global health security matters with members of the National Security Council and the US Department of Defence, and a research team from the School of Primary, Community and Social Care was also awarded £1.5million to reduce UK sickness absence.


Dr Jacco van Loon speaking on BBC News


Highlights in April included an appearance on CNN by Ella Tennant discussing the historic abdication of the Japanese Emperor, reaching a global audience of millions. Professor Clifford Stott commented on the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests on BBC News and also featured on Sky News discussing racism in football.

A Conversation article by Dr Sharon George and Professor Carolyn Roberts about microplastics was republished by the World Economic Forum and led to an interview live on BBC Radio 4’s prestigious PM programme. Dr George also took part in a live debate on Sky News and featured on BBC World Service radio commenting on climate change protests which alone reached over 1.2 million people.

Also on radio this month was Dr Jon Parker on BBC World Service, Dr Jan Hoole and Dr Helen Wells both on BBC Radio 4, and Dr Gemma Loomes and Dr Jacco van Loon on BBC regional stations.

Articles also featured in the Financial Times and Bloomberg, discussing Keele’s pioneering Hydrogen gas network project and citing it as offering “climate change hope”.


Ella Tennant on CNN 


Keele welcomed Sir David Attenborough to campus - the Comms Team’s highlight of the year! - where he officially opened our new science facilities and delivered our 70th Anniversary Lecture. Sir David’s visit featured in broadcasts on both BBC Midlands Today TV and BBC Radio Stoke. On the same day, Keele became one of the first UK universities to declare a ‘climate emergency’.

Research by Keele’s Dr Gordon Rugg about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript was quoted in The Times, and led to a Conversation article which received over 150,000 reads. The appointment of the Head of Harper Keele Vet School, Dr Matthew Jones, also featured in the Times Higher Education Supplement.

Keele academics also shared their expert comments on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, Sky News and Al Jazeera News.


Sir David Attenborough visits Keele campus


Dr Awol Allo was interviewed six times in one day on three different international TV networks commenting on the violence in Sudan, and also appeared on BBC World Service Radio and BBC Radio 5 Live.

Professor Mamas Mamas was named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers in this year’s Universities UK “Made At Uni” campaign and was interviewed by The Sentinel, featuring on the paper’s front page. Dr Sharon George gave a live interview on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show and took part in a debate on Sky News’ Kay Burley show.

Keele was awarded a prestigious grant to lead a local student mental health project and a research team from Keele’s Primary Care Centre Versus Arthritis was awarded over £2 million to continue its pioneering research.

A Conversation article by Dr Helen Wells and Dr Leanne Savigar was republished in a number of national press outlets, including the Metro and The i newspaper, and led to an interview on BBC Radio Stoke.

Dr Awol Allo on Al Jazeera


Dr Alan Richardson appeared on BBC Midlands Today about his work investigating the potential for using statins in the fight against cancer, which also featured in an article on the BBC News website, and led to an interview by BBC Radio Stoke.

New research on school holiday hunger by Dr Sian Edwards featured on BBC’s Sunday Politics, Midlands Today and BBC News online. Professor Aristotle Kallis was also interviewed on BBC News and the BBC’s regional radio stations, commenting on a speech about extremism made by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

In July, Keele was ranked second only to Oxford for Medicine in the Guardian University Guide 2020, and celebrated six nominations at the Green Gown Awards - a record for the University.

Researchers from Keele published a study working to safeguard global food production against pests, and Keele was awarded part of a £9 million funding for West Midlands healthcare.

Dr Alan Richardson and Dr Sian Edwards speaking on the BBC


Dr Helen Wells delivered her first TV interview live on Sky News’ Kay Burley show sharing her research on road policing.

August saw Keele astronomers detect one of the hottest Jupiter-sized exoplanets ever recorded, our researchers found that antibiotic usage could increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and Keele Business School moved into its new multi-million-pound home.

Other academics on air in August included Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner on Al Jazeera’s flagship programme “Inside Story” discussing the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and Professor Peter Styles commenting on tremors near a Lancashire fracking site on BBC News, Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC News online, and in the Financial Times.

Dr Helen Wells on Sky News


Keele was one of just three UK universities to sign up for the Covering Climate Now media initiative this month, which saw five stories published around sustainability at Keele, including a Conversation article by PhD Researcher Ash Murphy and a video with Professor Zoe Robinson. The Keele Sustainability Bungalow featured prominently on BBC News in a long feature outlining how the building helps to educate our students on sustainability. Dr Phil Catney and Dr Gemma Loomes continued the coverage about Brexit on Sunday Politics, CGTN, France24 and various BBC radio stations.

Keele was also awarded University Enterprise Zone Status and a research team was awarded £1.8 million to evaluate chronic severe low back pain treatment.

Dr Jonathan Parker was invited to speak to Al Jazeera News about the US border wall.

Dr Gemma Loomes and Dr Phil Catney speaking about British politics on various networks


Dr Maria Flood carried out several interviews with TRT World and BBC Radio Stoke commenting on how women are represented in films, and wrote a Conversation article on the new Joker film about the impact of on-screen violence.

Dr Jon Parker has given more than ten interviews on BBC World Service radio in 2019 commenting on US politics, reaching millions of people and leading to other invitations for both TV and regional radio interviews.

Dr Awol Allo was quoted on CNN speaking about the Ethiopian Prime Minister who won the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as on TRT World and BBC World Service radio, and wrote an op-ed piece for Al Jazeera.

A Conversation article by Dr Daniel Allen republished by the Metro and the “i” newspaper led to an interview with the Daily Telegraph, and interviews on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Wales.

Other Keele academics on the air in October included Professor Clifford Stott speaking about racism in football and his ENABLE football policing project with the English Football League.

Dr Maria Flood on TRT World


Dr Andrew Morris featured on BBC Midlands Today about his findings in a BBC investigation into highchair hygiene in restaurants, which was also published on the BBC News website homepage and was in the Top 5 articles across BBC Online that day.

November saw the announcement of a £4.6 million global health research study to put the spotlight on a neglected tropical disease and funding for a global study to improve soil management and achieve food security. The Keele Deal | Health was also launched to tackle regional and national healthcare priorities

Research by Dr Richard Stephens about how swearing can make you stronger when exercising featured on CNN, Fox News and over 50 other US media outlets

Professor Qihai Huang from Keele Business School appeared live from Istanbul on TRT World speaking about China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

A Conversation article by Keele’s Matthew Harris about Amazon fires causing glaciers in the Andes to melt even faster was republished by the Metro as well as by the World Economic Forum, reaching an influential worldwide audience.

Dr Andrew Morris on BBC Midlands Today


Ending our year in the news, Professor Chris Fogwill spoke live to CGTN, discussing the Swiss glacier referendum initiative which is being promoted as part of Switzerland’s action on climate change.

Dr Awol Allo gave three live TV interviews in one day about the Ethiopian Prime Minister being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, reaching millions via BBC News, Sky News, and Al Jazeera.

Ahead of the general election, Dr Phil Catney and Dr Gemma Loomes gave their expert analysis in the Sentinel ahead of polling day. Dr Loomes also provided her expert commentary live to the nation on BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as being a panelist on Al Jazeera’s flagship show “Inside Story”. She is also booked to appear on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show following the results.

Scientists from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences were awarded funding for a major new research project to investigate new methods of disrupting the spread of cancer this month.

Professor Chris Fogwill interviewed on CGTN