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On Wednesday 11 January 2023, hundreds of staff, students and members of the public from York joined us for a day of inspirational short talks about the world-leading research happening at York.

Given just 15 minutes each, 15 of our academics introduced their research. Topics this year ranged from feeding the world with crop waste and bugs, single-session phobia treatments for children, limitless clean energy production - and much more...

The talks were grouped together in sessions, followed by a Q&A.

Session one

Our first session tackled head-on the biggest issues facing mankind today. Appropriately titled ‘Tackling Global Grand Challenges’, our researchers considered how we could deal with agricultural waste by turning it into a source of protein - but be warned, Black Flies were involved. We heard about the work to reduce the problems of neurodegenerative conditions afflicting an increasingly ageing population. We know our eating habits need to change if we’re to reduce the food industry’s eye-watering greenhouse gas emissions; and our researchers explained ways to help. Our final talk explained about how we can harness the awesome but destructive power of the Sun, here on a decidedly fragile planet Earth.

Session two

Session two, ‘Creativity, communication and culture’, was a diverse mix of the visual, the audible and the tangible. We learnt about revolutionary new techniques in filmmaking borne out of the Covid pandemic, the University’s fabulous but often overlooked art collection and how it could be a vital tool for enriching public life. Researchers discussed a new way to hear the world in the same way as we can see it on our digital devices. And finally there was a fascinating look at an object that “defined the fast-moving, emancipated woman of the new generation”, the hand-held device that was once as ubiquitous as the iPhone - the powder compact.

Session three

In session three we looked at some of the most impactive issues we face: our health and wellbeing. Researchers explored whether the political landscape actually deepens the exclusions and injustices faced by the most vulnerable. They also argued that we’re not recovering after the Covid-19 pandemic but have entered a state of ‘perpetual crisis’, and considered the impact of this on those living in poverty. Then we learned about how research is helping doctors ensure their patients make the right choices in their own treatment - a cornerstone of NHS policy for the past two decades. The final talk discussed about work to enable children to overcome phobias with single therapy sessions - delivering better results for both the patient and the NHS.

Session four

YorkTalks’ fourth session featured a look at the growth of literary and philosophical societies in the north of England as the first industrial revolution gathered pace. Was the North’s distance from London an advantage rather than a hindrance? Then we heard a richly informed and personal perspective on Vladimir Putin’s fantastical interpretations of 1,000 years of Russian history coming up against the equally powerful history of the Ukrainian Cossak. Finally, YorkTalks concluded with the astonishing story of the 1939 archaeological dig at Sutton Hoo that led to an equally impressive endeavour: to rebuild the site’s most iconic artefact, a full-size working replica of the Anglo-Saxon ship itself.

PhD Research Spotlight competition

This competition is an opportunity for postgraduate researchers from all disciplines at York to demonstrate the value of their research to non-specialist audiences. This year's winners were:

  • Joint first prize: 
    • Josephine Flockton: Tapping into ASMR: The neural mechanism and analgesic potential of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response
    • Megan Wright: Are You an Adult? The psychological qualities of adult development
  • Third prize: Rosario Neyra: Can I help you? Offers of help by craft teachers
  • People's Choice prize: Megan Wright: Are You an Adult? The psychological qualities of adult development


York Ideas

York Ideas is a year-round series of events led by the University of York to educate, entertain and inspire. As a University for public good, based in a city of ideas and innovation, we're committed to engaging with diverse audiences and widening participation in education.

Find out more about York Ideas