Our monthly round-up

Wed, 29 Apr 2020 14:19:00 BST

I hope you and your families are staying safe and that you’re managing to juggle the various new demands and restrictions in your life. Even though our campus is largely closed due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot has been happening over the past month across campus and beyond.

First some excellent news: we’ve been ranked, for the second year in a row, as the top UK university for social and environmental impact in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings.

Our annual Making a Difference Awards will be taking place live online on Thursday 7 May as we bring our whole University community together to celebrate the wide range of contributions we are making to society and the environment. Please sign up to this link on Facebook Live to join our staff, students, alumni and friends at the event, which I’m hosting with our Chancellor Lemn Sissay, President Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-President Nalin Thakkar and Chair of the Board Edward Astle.

As we all continue to adjust to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re continuing to work in innovative and inspirational ways to tackle the virus.

Our mathematicians are advising the government on how to best protect the UK population, students are sewing scrubs for NHS workers and our researchers are using their expertise in immunology to better understand how COVID-19 behaves and affects individuals.

The Faculty of Humanities is working with partners from across society to provide practical help and insight on COVID-19 and Professor Tony Redmond has been appointed as Medical Director of NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, the temporary hospital dealing with the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Over 450 medical and social care students are supporting NHS workers with tasks such as collecting groceries and babysitting children. Professor Martie van Tongeren and Dr Hua Wei are leading a study into the role of gig workers and delivery supply chains in preventing disease transmission.

We have adapted a number of our outreach activities, with this year’s ‘Supporting the Supporters’ conference taking place online on Wednesday 6 May. 651 students have also signed up to flagship Manchester Access Programme online webinars in April.

And if you think universities supporting the nation at a time of crisis is new, take a look back at the life of Baron John Stopford, which give an interesting insight into how our research adapted to support the health of the injured population during WW1.

In other news, the 5th Great Science Share for Schools will launch on Monday 4 May, and you can register on their website to receive weekly topics on the theme of Global Sustainability. We have created a new Emergency Hardship Fund, to make sure that our students aren’t left struggling as a result of the pandemic. The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health created a campaign around this year’s World Health Day theme, 'Support Nurses and Midwives', and Manchester Museum curated its ‘Manchester Museum in Quarantine’, to help entertain, educate and spark joy and wonder until the museum reopens.

As tests, therapies and treatments for this novel coronavirus continue to develop, the role of universities like ours has perhaps never been more important to the region and nation that we serve.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility