University showcases research excellences: Creating a sustainable world

04 May 2021

30 April: The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) Research Exhibition, titled “Creating a sustainable world”, kicks off on campus. The exhibition celebrates UNNC academics’ research achievements by showcasing a variety of research projects on diverse topics including smart cities, innovative materials and bio-diversity, each contributing to at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

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Standing on the shoulders of the University of Nottingham, UNNC has achieved many breakthroughs in research and education over the past 17 years, by bringing together the smartest minds at home and abroad and committing itself to promoting global sustainable development with research innovations. Over the last few years, UNNC has been ranked top in research quality among national universities, according to the database of Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.

Professor Nick Miles, Provost of UNNC, said at the opening ceremony that scientific research is fundamental for a university, and also that sustainability is one of the strategic goals for the University. He hopes that the exhibition would spark ideas and passion amongst staff and students, contributing to the global effort of technology advancement and sustainable development.

The Deputy Director of Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, Jianzhang Chen, emphasised in his speech that sustainable development has always been one of the top priority areas of the government. “We are very pleased to see that the scientific research of UNNC can be closely related and has contributed to all of the SDGs. I sincerely hope that UNNC can be a leading platform in China for gathering international talents, projects and ideas on sustainable development and make continuous contribution to the sustainable development of the world.”

In the Portland Building, the Library and the Sir Peter Mansfield Building, the Research Exhibition displays 31 highlighted research cases, focusing on widely concerned issues such as mitigating the impact of climate change, developing green and sustainable composite materials, utilising digital technology for sustainable cultural heritage and managing sustainable marine systems. Many of them show how the University has successfully integrated international resources to serve the local social and economic development.

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The “Sponge City” led by Dr Faith Ka Shun Chan, a specialist in Environmental Sciences, is such a case tackling SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation. His team has worked with the Ningbo Municipal Government on designing the New East Town Sponge City planning and practice project for delivering better sustainable stormwater management and achieving sustainability goals in Ningbo and other Chinese cities.

An intelligent vessel routing model aiming at SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – is also showcased in the Exhibition. The model is developed by expert in operations management Dr Chandra Ade Irawan and Professor Hing Kai Chan. By optimising the vessel locations and routes, it has effectively solved the operational challenge of offshore wind farms caused by high maintenance costs for wind turbines. This can promote the sustainability of renewable energy for the offshore wind industry.

Another case of SDG 9 features Dr Stuart McDonald’s research, which has focused on creating policies that stimulate the adoption of technologies for sustainable development. Dr McDonald is a specialist in environmental economic policy. Together with his industry collaborator, he is currently working to educate and train farmers to use precision agriculture technology from Israel, and to introduce new types of crops to increase yield for the salt enriched soils.

Targeting SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities – the “Smart eco-cities” project exemplifies how scholars from various disciplines can work together to tackle sustainability issues. In this international collaborative project, Professor in International Relations May Tan-Mullins, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Ali Cheshmehzangi and Dr Linjun Xie, a specialist in Sustainable Urbanisation, undertook a comparative study between European and Chinese cities. Their findings on how countries use technology to enhance the urbanisation process while mitigating the impact of climate change have led to many publications and policy advice.

Besides these above cases, the Exhibition has far more for the audience to explore. The 31 diverse research cases, developed from theory to practice, reveals how the University’s scientific research has achieved solid findings and solved practical problems, targeting at the global challenges of sustainable development.

The Exhibition will last for one month. During this period, there will be a series of research forums for staff and students from home and abroad to share their findings and explore potential possibilities in greater depth. The Startup Weekend in May will invite renowned scholars and experienced experts in the industry to carry out meetings and sharing sessions, promoting the superior experience of global sustainability brought by technological innovation.