The decarbonisation of the transport sector is a major challenge. Biodiesel is a green fuel that could play a significant role in our climate ambitions. To ensure the development of this fuel, Professor Valdis Kampars and his team at Riga Technical University, Latvia, have developed an innovative method for the production of biodiesel. Their process offers advanced biodiesel production from rapeseed oil ‘soap-stock’ (SS), a low-value by-product obtained in the production of refined vegetable oil. Their method requires a shorter processing time and lower energy consumption in comparison with conventional methods of biodiesel production from non-food materials.

Biodiesel is one…


Human activity interferes with the Earth’s carbon cycle through the release of carbon dioxide and through changes in land use. Croplands cover a large proportion of Earth’s surface, but we are still understanding how cropland soils store and release carbon. Dr Jürgen Augustin and Dr Steffen Kolb from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Germany are using an integrated methodological approach to monitoring carbon fluxes in eroded cropland soils and resolve mechanisms regulating them.

The Earth runs on a system of biogeochemical cycles, where water, carbon, energy, and various other nutrients are constantly recycled, moving between sources (releasing…


The transnational recruitment of migrant carers by home care agencies is the focus of research currently being conducted by Professor Helma Lutz, Dr Ewa Palenga-Möllenbeck and Aranka Benazha at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Their research demonstrates how the reorganisation of the welfare state has shaped processes of commodification and marketisation of care work. This has coincided with both the changes in family structures and the liberalisation of migration regimes within Europe, resulting in migrant live-in care being perceived as a simple and affordable solution that still maintains the ideal of familial care.

In Germany, live-in care for senior people in…


Disinfectants are crucial in the fight against infectious diseases. However, it is often unclear which is the best disinfectant for the job. Professor Daisuke Sano of Tohoku University, Japan, has developed culture-independent methods to evaluate the effectiveness of an individual disinfectant, olanexidine gluconate. Prof Sano and his research team suggest that olanexidine gluconate is effective against a wide range of viruses, including norovirus, and works on both human skin and environmental surfaces. This suggests that olanexidine gluconate has the potential to play a key role in infection control.

The importance of keeping surfaces and hands clean to minimise transmission of…


Cyst infection is a common and serious complication of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, which can be difficult to treat and sometimes fatal. However, much is still unknown about this complication. Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) is usually recommended for detecting cyst infections, yet its drawbacks include limited availability, high cost, and radiation exposure. Therefore, Dr Tatsuya Suwabe’s team at Toranomon Hospital devised diagnostic criteria for using the more widely available magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They also conducted a review of antibiotic therapy protocols, and made recommendations for further research, including investigating the association between the microbiome and cyst infection.


Dr Ugo Marzocchi’s research focuses on the main factors that regulate macronutrient cycling in benthic zones, both in natural and artificial settings. His work concentrates on better understanding cable bacteria, which are microorganisms able to mediate electric currents in sediments. Dr Marzocchi is dedicated to understanding the way cable bacteria behave in nature, their metabolism, distribution and geochemical impact, and learn how to use cable bacteria as a bioremediation tool for the degradation of contaminants.

Crude oil, or unrefined petroleum, consists of a mixture of hydrocarbons. It maintains its liquid form both in underground geological formations and when extracted and…


Invasive lionfish in the Gulf of Mexico are a problem needing a solution, but it is challenging to collect the data needed. DNA barcoding can help by identifying prey species from gut contents. Citizen science can also help by producing data while teaching core scientific concepts to student-scientists. Professor Jeff Eble at Florida Institute of Technology and Professor John Pecore, University of West Florida, combined DNA barcoding with citizen science to form a hands-on learning experience for schools in Florida. Over 1200 students have helped to identify 16 native fish species at threat from lionfish in the Gulf of Mexico.


In the waters of volcanic hot springs, there is a heated arms race going on between hyperthermophiles, organisms which thrive at high temperatures and invading viruses. These fascinating single-celled organisms — archaea — have evolved diverse, intricate, CRISPR-Cas systems to eradicate invading viruses. In turn, the viruses have developed complex strategies to evade host defences and to overcome competing viruses. Here, we take a closer look at the research of Professor Xu Peng and Professor Roger Garrett from the University of Copenhagen, who have been exploring the intricacies of this microscopic battle for dominance.

Volcanic hot springs are a geological…


Diseases spread through the bite of mosquitoes are a major health challenge. Dr Berlin Londono-Renteria, at Kansas State University, is exploring ways to predict the likelihood of an individual developing a mosquito-borne disease after they have been bitten. She has found positive correlations between the levels of antibodies against mosquito salivary biomarkers and the risk of disease. Understanding more about biomarkers of disease is important for public health strategies, disease monitoring and predicting future epidemics.

Despite their small size, mosquitos are one of the deadliest animals on the planet. This is because of their ability to transmit pathogens (organisms that…


Production of complex 3D parts in an automated fashion that ensures quality and strength of the final structure can be tricky, especially for parts produced via overmoulding. During overmoulding, a thermoplastic composite is reshaped with the aid of heat and upon injection of a resin, to obtain a new structure. Prof Remko Akkerman from the Faculty of Engineering Technology of the University of Twente and scientific director of the ThermoPlastic Composite Research Center, studied experimentally and through process simulation the strength at interface of thermoplastic composites derived from semi-crystalline polymers, aiming to create novel design tools.

Have you ever seen…

Research Features

Making Complex Science Beautifully Accessible

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store