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Global lecture series

Global lecture series

Our monthly online lecture series showcases some of the most globally impactful research in Life and Environmental Sciences.

In each lecture, our world-class academics will share an area of their research relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.


Watch previous lectures

Accelerating energy transitions: governance and empowerment

Professor Catherine Mitchell and Dr Richard Lowes (Geography)

With energy consumption responsible for around three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, meeting the goals set out in the Paris agreement implies a rapid transition of the energy system away from fossil fuels. This lecture discusses how the global energy transition can be accelerated through the reform of governance and policy processes, and how issues of power and vested interest risk slowing or derailing the energy transition.

Life Below Water: Changing the Soundtrack of the Ocean

Professor Steve Simpson (Biosciences)

Far from being a silent world, our oceans are a rich tapestry of sound. But this soundtrack is rapidly changing at the hands of humans, with devastating consequences for marine ecosystems. But Steve believes it's not too late and that with creative solutions, we can restore natural soundscapes and help save the many animals that depend on acoustics for their survival. Hear how you can support the change in direction and restore a natural rhythm to our oceans.


Climate change and the global burden of crop pests and diseases

Professor Dan Bebber and Dr Muhammad Mohsin Raza (Biosciences)

We discuss climate change and the global burden of crop pests and pathogens (CPPs) on food security and ecosystem management. Dan explains the interactions between plants and their natural enemies, and how they are influenced by environmental conditions. Fundamentally, global warming and climate change could affect CPP ranges and impact.

Why Women don’t Lean in: How context constrains women's career choices

Professor Michelle Ryan (Psychology)

Despite vast improvement in workplace gender equality, there remain marked differences in the roles in which women and men work. As small numbers of women begin to enter male-dominated roles, a new explanation for this inequality has arisen: that remaining gender inequality must reflect fundamental differences between women and men. Central to this analysis is the assumption that the glass ceiling is broken and thus inequality must be due to women’s active choices. Michelle presents an ongoing programme of research that demonstrates that women’s choices are shaped and constrained by the gendered nature of organisational and social contexts and how women see themselves within these contexts.

Skeletal muscle plasticity in humans across the lifespan

Dr Benjamin Wall and Dr Marlou Dirks (Sport and Health Sciences)

Skeletal muscle, our biggest organ, provides the foundation for mobility, metabolism and overall health. Often viewed as a ‘static’ tissue, rather, muscle exists in constant flux, perpetually breaking down and building up. This ‘plasticity' can work in our favour (muscles getting stronger and healthier) or against us (muscles getting weaker and more unhealthy).

The direction and degree of such plasticity is largely determined by: 1) the food we eat, 2) the exercise we (don’t) do, and 3) our age. In this lecture Ben and Marlou discuss modern in vivo and invasive physiology approaches taken at Exeter to research skeletal muscle plasticity in humans across the lifespan.

Net zero: facts, theory, and wishful thinking

Dr James Dyke (Geography)

Net zero has rapidly become a central element in the discourse around human-caused climate change mitigation. National and regional governments along with communities and corporations have declared climate emergencies in which net zero by a specific date features prominently.

In this talk James gives a brief overview of the emergence of net zero and its current role in climate change mitigation. James argues that while motivated by concerns of climate justice and equity, net zero has become co-opted to facilitate a 'burn now - pay later' approach which threatens to overwhelm younger people and future generations with vast economic and technological debts.

The influence of anxiety on balance and walking in older adults

Dr Will Young and Dr Yuri Russo (Sport and Health Sciences)

The field of sports psychology has taught us much about how anxiety can influence the way we control our movements. This presentation is about research attempting to translate this literature to the health-related context of balance and walking in people who have a fear of falling.

Join Dr Will Young as he describes how anxiety-related changes in attention can impact on the way walkers visually scan their environments and plan upcoming actions. This work leads to recommendations for how we might create targeted interventions to reduce excessive anxiety in older adults. The above work in older adults also has clear implications for the development of interventions for people with Parkinson’s, particularly those who experience so-called ‘freezing of gait’ (the debilitating sensation that one’s feet are stuck to the floor). Will Young will describe previous work in this area along with a conceptual model that highlights opportunities for targeted intervention.

Yuri Russo will then present details of a new major project funded by Parkinson’s UK. Based in the VSimulators facility, this project aims to further develop and evaluate one particular therapeutic intervention and also build the infrastructure to develop the world’s largest and most comprehensive open-access database of freezing of gait events.

Chameleons of the sea: colour change and behaviour in a changing world

Professor Martin Stevens (Biosciences)

Professor Martin Stevens, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, discusses research on colour change and behaviour in intertidal crustaceans. Martin shows how these crustaceans use various strategies to hide from predators in a complex world. The lecture also discusses human impacts on these animals and the effects of pollution on their behaviour and physiology.