Research

The College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering integrates research across three academic schools: Natural Sciences, Ocean Sciences, and Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. Making this link between environmental science and engineering places us in a strong position to develop the multidisciplinary research required to tackle some of the greatest global grand challenges in sustainability. In recent years we have made substantial investments in buildings and equipment, alongside strategic staff appointments, in order to achieve this goal.

Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF)

More than 75% of the research submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 by the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering has been rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. This places the College in the top 25 amongst UK universities in each of three subject areas: Environmental Science, Agriculture and Electronic Engineering. Research strength is growing rapidly in the College with its quality rating in Environmental Science increasing by 20% since the 2008 assessment, the 5th highest increase of any UK university, which now places the College in 16th place for its “research power”.

Strategic research priorities

Environmental sustainability is one of the strategic research priorities of Bangor University. Our work to address this priority is underpinned by fundamental research in the biological, chemical and physical sciences of natural systems. Our strategy is to link this theme to the engineering of complex dynamic systems, modelling and optoelectronics, especially in the area of energy, and to the social sciences, especially in the area of conservation. To structure this programme the College’s research is grouped into eight complementary and overlapping themes:

Integration of catchment, coastal and shelf-sea processes

This research links processes from land use via catchments to estuarine and coastal environments. The dynamics of marine systems are researched to understand their role in past and contemporary climate change, and the potential for marine renewable energy generation, through our major SEACAMS project. Our research integrates physical oceanography, sediment dynamics and ecosystem processes.

Ecosystem conservation and natural resource management

Our research integrates fundamental and applied science, with marine, wetland, forest and agro-ecologists working with biogeochemists, modellers and social scientists to address threats to biodiversity by climate change, habitat loss, over exploitation and invasive species. This links closely to our research on ecosystem functions and services, and specifically the environmental impacts of land use change, agriculture and fisheries. A major applied theme is bio-based renewable materials, including timber, composites, packaging and food ingredients.

Biogeochemistry and biotechnology – environmental microbiology and enzyme chemistry

Biogeochemistry research spans soils, freshwater and marine environments, and is closely linked to the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which shares the Environmental Centre Wales with the College, on the University’s campus. Our environmental microbiology research ranges from the function of organisms in the rhizosphere and sea ice, tree pathogens, human pathogens in the environment, and extremophiles. The latter underpins our new Centre for Environmental Biotechnology, which integrates genomics with enzyme and metabolite chemistry.

Molecular ecology, evolutionary biology, animal physiology and behaviour

Our research integrates the fields of genomics, physiology and ecology to explore the interactions of individuals, populations and species with the environment. Major research topics include: evolution in fish, reptiles and plants, with foci on speciation mechanisms and on snake venom; environmental DNA (eDNA); bird navigation and migration; crustacean hormone function; mammalian behaviour.

Next generation sensors, communication and electronic devices

From your car through to smartphones, the modern world relies on electronics, sensors and the communication between them. Research at Bangor University extends from nanometre scale semiconductor devices to sensors for biomedical applications. We explore large scale optical communication systems which enable data to be transferred at 40 Gigabytes per second.

Big data and artificial intelligence

Our research covers machine learning, pattern recognition and practical applications. We conduct research in areas such as data visualisation to enable display and interaction with large datasets. Our complex real-time systems simulation research is applied at Europe’s largest pump storage facility.

Nuclear Futures Institute; materials for extreme environments and predictive modelling

The establishment of the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University is the result of £6.5M investment from Welsh Government through its Sêr Cymru programme. This has led to the creation of two research groups: one in materials and the other in predictive modelling. New facilities for manufacture and characterisation of advanced ceramics, alloys and composites have been commissioned.

Chemistry

Our research targets a wide range of applications and draws on a number of different branches of chemistry: inorganic and polymer materials chemistry, including nanomaterials; chemistry at the life sciences interface, including diagnostic devices, natural products extraction and synthesis, carbohydrate chemistry and drug delivery; analytical and environmental chemistry.

Research partnerships

We have longstanding research partnerships with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and National Oceanograhy Centre, and with Aberystwyth University. We have a growing collaboration with the Universities of Lancaster and Nottingham, and other partners, through the NERC Envision Doctoral Training Partnership and STARS soils Centre for Doctoral Training. Our research links with Imperial College London are being strengthened through the Nuclear Futures Institute.

Research marked by an interdisciplinary approach

Our research is marked by an interdisciplinary approach which is vital to tackle the pressing and complex challenges that face the world’s population, including global environmental change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and unsustainable use of natural resources. This is integrated with our research into the development of new technologies to address these, and range of other societal, health and industrial needs. We have a strong record in knowledge exchange between researchers and stakeholders in the areas of policy and practice, which has led to our research having a high level of impact.

A notable feature of the College’s research is the high reach and significance of its impact on the economy, welfare, society, public policy, international development, industry and the environment.