The 2015 review of the year


A bionic eye, a graphene lightbulb, a poetic new Chancellor and a general election – The University of Manchester celebrates a year of incredible news coverage charting 12 months of world-changing discovery, fascinating research and debate-shaping comment. Please enjoy our round-up of the best, below.


The University’s team of humanitarian and medical experts returned from West Africa where they were dispatched to battle Ebola. Astrophysicists mapped the Universe and David Beckham compared fathering notes with the Victorians as sociologists revealed that the hands-on dad is not a new phenomenon.


The Whitworth reopened its doors to rave reviews on Valentine’s Day following a £15m transformation; the opening night included a collaboration between artist Cornelia Parker and graphene pioneer Sir Kostya Novoselov. Research into the active sex lives of the over-70s, by expert in ageing Dr David Lee, reached millions of readers around the world and clinical vision scientist Dr Neil Parry shed some light on #TheDress – a gold-white/ blue-black dress that almost broke the internet. Professor of reproductive biomedicine John Aplin discovered a possible cause of IVF failure in women and the University welcomed its newest staff member – ‘Eve’ the robot scientist.


The country tuned in to watch a spectacular solar eclipse live with Professor Brian Cox from Jodrell Bank and graphene enjoyed a lightbulb moment. The National Graphene Institute marked its official opening and the British Election Study kicked off a powerful series of releases in the run up to the 2015 general election by revealing that the Tories’ record on key policies could be seen as an electoral liability. Sociologist Dr James Laurence delved into the effects of the recession with research that explored how being ‘laid off’ leads to a decade of distrust.


The world cast its eyes back to ancient history as archaeologists defied ISIS militants to uncover antiquities in Iraq and a team of specialists revealed the dark secret behind 70 million Egyptian animal mummies. Professor Angelia Wilson set out her stall as a leading voice on US politics as Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for the White House. Scientists revealed how our body clocks can tell the time by the colour of the light.


University of Manchester political experts were among the country’s leading commentators as the country prepared to go to the polls, offering almost daily punditry in the press and on TV and radio in the run up to, during and in the aftermath of the general election. Dr Rob Ford was in the BBC bunker on election night, Professor Jane Green was one of the faces of ITV’s coverage and Professors Andrew Russell and Colin Talbot, plus colleagues, featured extensively across radio and TV.

Elsewhere, a medical student underwent extreme revision when they saved a neighbour’s life, palaeontologists identified Britain’s oldest sauropod dinosaur from a fossil bone discovered on the Yorkshire coast and archivists in our John Rylands Library uncovered unseen footage of the Dunkirk evacuation. Scientists made an important discovery that could enhance treatments to halt immune system attacks.



Poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE was announced as the next Chancellor of The University of Manchester, winning the election and polling over 7,000 votes. A new £28.5m state-of-the-art centre for researching cancer opened its doors and research using thieving puppets demonstrated the sometimes unseen caring side of toddlers. Scientists revealed how mould can yield biofuels. And as the EU and Greek debt negotiations reached a drawn-out climax, so in demand was professor of politics Dimitris Papadimitriou that he appeared on BBC Breakfast twice in a week as well as across other news outlets.


Professor Paulo Stanga led the world’s first implant of a bionic eye, implanting a device to convert video images from a miniature camera installed in pensioner Ray Flynn’s glasses. The Whitworth was named Art Fund Museum of the Year. A group of scientists revealed how our sense of smell evolved from cave-man times and the University library digitised the Elizabeth Gaskell collection.


Researchers developed a board game to educate African midwives in an effort to cut childbirth mortality and mathematicians revealed how having happy friends can help a person through depression. Research from the British Election Study revealed that last year’s Scottish referendum effectively finished off Labour’s hope of winning in Scotland in May’s general election.


Europe was shaken to its core by the migrant crisis – University experts were interviewed internationally as the story unfolded. The University strengthened its commitment to addressing global poverty and inequality with the creation of Europe’s largest dedicated institute - the Global Development Institute.


President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China visited the National Graphene Institute – the first visit of any Chinese president to the city. The University set a CPR world record, environmental scientists tested VW engines for diesel emissions and Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, was appointed Honorary Professor of Criminal Justice. Professor of energy and climate change Kevin Anderson hit out at ‘wildly optimistic’ IPCC results and Egyptologists debunked the theory that a snake bite killed Cleopatra, claiming a cobra or viper would have been too large to slither unseen into the queen’s palace.


A Manchester team developed a heat activated ‘grenade’ to target cancer, the world’s ten most dangerous volcanoes were identified, the University announced free education for more than one million people around the globe and research using fruit flies led to a breakthrough that could stop epilepsy in its tracks.


Education experts revealed, in a hard-hitting piece of research, how the government’s bedroom tax is harming children’s ability to learn at school. The British Election Study released new data that provides a closer match to May’s general election result than the pre-election polls which failed to forecast the Tories’ win and research by midwifery lecturer, Alison Cooke, found that using olive and sunflower oil on baby’s skin can weaken natural defences.

Thanks to all the journalists around the globe who have covered The University of Manchester this year and to all their readers, viewers and clickers who have enjoyed finding out what our experts have to say. Here’s to a ground-breaking 2016.

From The University of Manchester Media Relations Team.

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