University of Lincoln Wins Queen’s Anniversary Prize – UK’s Highest National Honour for Universities

The University of Lincoln has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work supporting the success and sustainability of the UK’s food and farming industries through innovations in research, education and technology.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is the highest National Honour in UK further and higher education, recognising outstanding work by UK colleges and universities showing excellence, innovation and benefit to the wider world.

First awarded in 1994, the Prizes are granted every two years by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister following a rigorous independent review process by The Royal Anniversary Trust, an independent charity.

The University of Lincoln is one of 22 winners in the 15th round of the scheme, announced at St James’s Palace on 16 November 2023. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes will be presented at a formal Honours ceremony in February 2024.

The accolade recognises the work of the University’s Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT) – a specialist research centre focussed on improving productivity, efficiency, and sustainability across the food chain “from farm to fork”.

Professor Neal Juster, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, said: “We are immensely proud, thrilled and humbled to win the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education – the highest National Honour for UK universities and colleges.

The award recognises the outstanding contribution our research and teaching is making to supporting innovation across the UK’s £100bn agri-food industries.

It also demonstrates how the focus of our research is aligned to the needs of key industries in our region, not only helping businesses to enhance productivity, but also producing skills and opportunities that create prosperity in communities across Greater Lincolnshire.

Winning the Prize is all the more remarkable given our Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology was founded less than a decade ago. It is now recognised as one of the world’s leading centres of R&D excellence in this crucial specialism.

LIAT’s multi-disciplinary team of researchers brings together sector-leading expertise in a diverse range of disciplines, including agriculture, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, engineering, crop science, environmental sustainability, food manufacturing, and supply chain management, among many others.

They are engaged in internationally significant research in collaboration with a range of academic and industry partners, from family-run businesses to multi-national corporations. This industry-focussed R&D includes the development and deployment of world-first automation, machine learning and robotics systems.

The University of Lincoln hosts the UK’s first global centre of excellence in agri-robotics research, Lincoln Agri-Robotics. Along with the University of Cambridge and University of East Anglia, Lincoln is also a partner in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training for Agri-food Robotics (AgriFoRwArdS) – a first-of-its-kind advanced training centre.

Professor Simon Pearson, Founding Director of LIAT at the University of Lincoln, said: “The sustainable supply of high quality, nutritious food is a foundation of successful societies and economies all over the world. The way we produce food is also a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Improving productivity, efficiency and sustainability across the global food chain is therefore not just good business, it’s vital to maintaining food security.

The Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology unites partners from across the food eco-system — farmers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers – alongside world-leading researchers from an array of academic specialisms and institutions to design and deliver impactful, applied R&D for the agri-food industries here in the UK and internationally.   

We are absolutely delighted that this work has been recognised in this prestigious National Honour.”

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of The Royal Anniversary Trust commented: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education are an integral part of our national Honours system, shining a light on the groundbreaking work taking place in universities and colleges across the UK.

All 22 Prize-winners demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact, with many tackling some of the toughest problems we as a society face today. They are to be commended for reaching this pinnacle of achievement in the tertiary education sector. Congratulations!

World Mental Health Day 🌎 💚

Today is about raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change for everyone’s mental health. The theme for 2023, set by the World Foundation of Mental Health, is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.

For more information and help, visit Mind’s Website here.

Within our College of Health and Science, especially in the School of Sport and Exercise Science we are used to discussing the interrelationships between exercise, nutrition and mental health and know how important this aspect of health is to each and every one of us.

We’re delighted to see that UK Coaching, Mind and Sport England have joined forces to develop a new accessible online course, Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity+ to support people to understand factors which affect their own mental health and how to support others in improving their mental health and this has been subsidised so the cost is only £10.

UK Coaching state that the key aim of this course is to help you ‘gain the confidence to support people experiencing mental health problems effectively and learn how to empower positive change and development.’

This month, October 2023, we will be encouraging the University Community to talk about mental health and consider the factors that improve their own mental health and that of others around them. For specific information on foods to support mental health, please contact our Programme Leader for both exercise and health programmes Mistrelle on

Summer Successes

Who else feels like they’ve blinked and it’s suddenly Autumn? Where has Summer disappeared to?

For us in the the College, it’s been a busy few months getting ready to welcome a new cohort of students, organising the bittersweet Graduations (for any Graduates who may be reading this, congratulations! – we will be sad to see you go) and many other exciting events for the coming months…

Throughout the summer, we have heard about ’Summer Successes’ which have come from both staff and students. So grab a drink, make yourself comfy and settle down to read some of our stories. 

What has been your achievement for the summer?

First we heard from Caitlin Pollard, who is one of our Third Year, Sports and Exercise students.

Caitlin interned at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut as a strength and conditioning coach for the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey and Basketball teams. Caitlin also helped the head coach with the athletes in the weight room Monday- Friday; every team trained for 90 minutes a day.

So I know what you’re all thinking, how did Caitlin manage to get the internship? Well during a Strength and Conditioning class, the opportunity was shared. Caitlin then emailed her CV and cover letter to a liaison at IUSCA. Following a successful interview, they placed Caitlin at a suitable university. 

“My main goal was to aid the head coach in training the sports team during their summer season to get their physical fitness up before starting an intense pre-season. This linked to my studies as one module I was most interested in pursuing was strength and conditioning coaching.

By doing the internship it improved my ability to communicate with various people, along with splitting my attention in order to help or notice as many athletes as possible during their training session. I also expanded my training knowledge in different ways to adapt a programme to suit everyone even with injuries.

Overall, I think my highlight was meeting lots of different athletes and coaches to see how training differs depending on who is being trained and how the coach is. Different coaches have different teaching styles and some teams need more help finding confidence in the weight room, whilst others just need encouragement to keep pushing forward.”

Our next student is Emily Needham, who studies Adult Nursing. Emily has just completed a 4 week elective placement in Tanzania at Muhimbili National Hospital. 

We asked Emily about her elective and this is what she told us…

” I had always had the idea I wanted to go overseas for my elective but didn’t really think it would be possible. It was initially difficult to organise, as there were many parts to think about; one of those being the cost. However, the university advised me of the funding through the turning scheme and other grants that the university offered that I might be eligible for. This trip would not have been possible without the funding as I live alone and have to work bank shifts as well as my student finance to pay the mortgage and bills. There were many things to organise before my trip vaccinations, visa, PPE, just to name a few and the university were very supportive and advised me about these.

I was interested to see how the staff practiced with a lack of resources and learn a new language but my main goal was to push myself out of my comfort zone and I certainly did that. I lived in a house of 36 medical students 6 people to a room with bunk beds. I found this hard at times but I met students from all over the world. It was a wonderful experience getting to know everyone in the house. We all went out as a house on a Wednesday and then had a house bbq on a Thursday. It was lovely to see that people who didn’t even know each other could still support each other as a group.

I struggled with culture shock not being able to go anywhere alone due to safety as I am so independent at home and I have never experienced being the minority before but feeling vulnerable due to the colour of my skin made me very aware of how minority groups may feel. Sometimes I felt very out of place. However if you tried to speak to the staff in Swahili the staff were welcoming.

I have become much more resilient during my time of placement, which will aid me as I become a nurse. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and become more confident in myself and my own ability and learnt to just give things a go. I’ve learnt how independent I am and I’m very proud of my self for flying to Tanzania completely alone. My attitude towards life has changed and I feel so grateful for the NHS and the life I have at home. I have also learnt to speak Swahili.

The highlight for me was all the wonderful people that I met – I made friends for life. I made memories that I will cherish forever and I have returned home with a completely different attitude towards life. With more motivation, confidence and drive than I have ever had. I feel more confident that I will be a great nurse and very grateful for the NHS. I also enjoyed visiting 198 year old tortoises on prison island and horse riding on Zanzibar beach.”

Next we heard from Nicole Wells, who is one of our First Year PHD students, who has been collecting data over the summer.

“I have been data collecting over the summer for the first study of my PhD. The project is exploring life skill and positive youth development through sport, and invites 12-17-year-olds who participate in organised sport, and their parents, to complete an online survey answering questions around life skills, wellbeing, and enjoyment of, and engagement with their sport. Whilst many participants have completed the survey remotely, I have also visited a national tournament and a local football academy to invite players and parents to take part in my research.

Although part of my PhD data collection, the opportunity to go out to visit clubs and organisations has come from building on connections within the University. What started out as contacts being passed on, has resulted in growing networks of supportive people and organisations.

The main purpose of this project has been to collect data. From the results of this study, I am hoping to gain a better understanding of what life skills youth already possess, and if there are any links between these skills and psychosocial outcomes, such as their wellbeing, or how much they enjoy or engage with their sports. This forms the initial part of my PhD, through which I am hoping to further explore what role sports play in the development and transfer of life skills in youths, and how this occurs.

One challenge has been getting the desired number of participants to complete the survey (around 300!). It has involved numerous emails, follow ups, meetings and some cross-country travelling to facilitate participation. I am still in the process of data collection – if anyone is involved with groups of 12-17-year-olds I would be happy to hear from you!

I have gained a lot of experience in data collection, from how to go about online data collection from a large sample, to collecting data in person. With each interaction I am learning about what works well in certain settings, and what I can do to improve in future encounters.

My personal highlight was attending a national youth basketball tournament, and being able to interact with parents, players, coaches, physios and more! I also got to watch some great games of basketball.

Our next student is Dhani West, a first year student. We asked Dhani to describe their experience at an internship programme at the University of Washington.

“My internship took place in Washington State, University of Washington with the Washington Huskies American football team, it was a brilliant experience learning so many new technologies and techniques for coaching S&C from the head coach “coach Mac” as well as his assistant coaches who’d do lectures for us after all the coaching work was completed. Playing American football myself helped me fall into place very quickly allowing me to form great bonds with the offensive and defensive players I had at my rack. I was given the responsibility of handling multiple players at your rack, as an intern, it was amazing and allowed another level of experience in coaching that other internships may not have offered especially the level that the huskie athletes are at it was a very big privilege to have whilst I was there. I was accommodated at U-district only a 2 minute train ride from campus which made a lot of convenience getting to the football stadium and back. Normal days had us in the stadium for 6:00am in the morning making me wake up around 5:00am most days. The day would last till around noon which consisted of offensive and defensive weight sessions as well as a conjoined run/agility/conditioning, depending on the day, this allowed the whole afternoon off where I could go explore Seattle, Washington with the other interns. There was 9 other interns with me which made it a very fun experience in and out of work time going on various hikes up mountains exploring beautiful lakes and going to various places for food.

Around a month into my first year in my strength and conditioning programme in sport, as a group we had a talk with Andrew Langford, one of the coordinators from the IUSCA ‘International Strength & Conditioning Association’ who told us about doing a placement for S&C in the US. This interested me from the get go as learning how another country does S&C broadens opportunities especially if you’ve had experience doing international work. He required us to hand him a resume and cover letter only 3 days after talking to us which was short, however if an opportunity is given to me to benefit my degree I’m 100% going to take it. This led onto two interviews with Andrew and the head strength and conditioning coach at where I was going to go (Coach Mac, University of Washington)”

Our final success story is Ian Trueman, one of our Associate Professor within the School of Health and Social Care. Ian’s summer success was working with a company to deliver the European Resuscitation Council.

“I have been a qualified Advanced Life Support (ALS) instructor for about 10 years and have worked with a company to deliver training to the tri services immediate life support training as part of the pre-deployment training for Afghanistan and Iraq. They were approached by the Chinese trade ambassador to deliver ALS to local Doctors and Nurses in Shenzhen and I was invited along to act as part of the faulty.

The aim objective was to introduce the European Resuscitation Council ALS approach as an alternative method of delivering safe and effective Advanced life support during critical illness and specifically cardiac arrest. I have worked as a Nurse Responder for Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service (LIVES) for over 15 years and this links into various workstream both within the University and my teaching and research interests and also other strands of work I undertake outside of the university to keep my clinical skills up to date.

The language barrier is one the largest issues as very few people speak English in this region of China. Teaching with interpreters is very difficulty when you are relying on them to explain difficult to grasp concepts. We found that we had the dilemma of crossing between a translator who spoke good English but didn’t have a medical background or a person with a good medical background but wasn’t as an effective translator as their English was as strong as we needed. We found that a combination of hand gestures and practical demonstrations seemed to be an effective complement the spoken descriptions.

It was fascinating to understand further the Chinese health system and the ALS practice and the regional differences across such a vast country. As is often the way we also took elements of their practice away which has given us food for thought, especially around how to better deliver such training in the future and how to contextualise it to offer greater practical meaning and relevance to the participants.

My highlight of the experience was working with a diverse range of people. China is huge and to have the opportunity to deliver the training in both Shenzhen and Pu’er several thousand miles away was a privilege and a once in a life time experience.”

Grow Your Own Crystals Activity

Do you have what it takes to grow your own crystal? Of QUARTZ you do!

Why not assemble your own science club and try growing your own salt crystal? All you have to do is grow the biggest and brightest salt crystals following the recipe below, adding in your own experimental materials to make them spectacular! It’s as easy as 1,2,3!

The Recipe 

Here’s a basic recipe (don’t forget to add your own ingredients such as food colouring to make the crystals big and bright): 

1. Boil some water in a pan and slowly add salt. Please be careful and ask an adult to help you with this stage (unless you are an adult yourself).

At first, the salt will dissolve very quickly, but as you continue to add more it will eventually collect at the bottom of the pan which means the solution has become super-saturated.

2. Once you have a super-saturated solution, pour this into a glass container so you can easily see what is going on inside. Place it somewhere safe at room temperature.

3. Go away and do something that takes more than a day. For example, you could build a magnificent city like Rome, count to 86401, or walk from Lincoln to Coventry.

4. Go back to look at your solution. You should already see crystals being formed, but they will probably not be full-size yet.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have some nice big crystals!

6. Send us a photo! Make sure to use the #UoLCrystals. 

Additional Tips

  • It might be a good idea to give the nucleation a bit of a head-start by suspending something with a rough surface (like some string) in your solution during steps 3-5. Nucleation is more likely to occur in nooks and crannies of a surface than in the solution itself.
  • You may want to try avoiding the nucleation stage altogether and introduce ‘seed crystals’ to your cooled, super-saturated solution. Perform steps 1-5 above and choose a crystal with a large flat surface as your ‘seed’. Make a new super-saturated salt solution and add your seed immediately before step 3 once the solution has cooled to room temperature.
  • Impurities in the original salt can significantly alter the process. This can make the resulting crystals look more vibrant but can also hinder their formation. Experiment!
  • The shape and surface of the container may make a difference, so you may want to experiment with a few different types.

Want to know the science behind it?

The Science: Nucleation and Growth of Salt Crystals

Any substance that has a highly ordered structure can be considered as a crystal. Typically, these are solid materials in which the atoms are arranged in a periodic and symmetrical manner.

It’s quite easy to form salt crystals at home from normal table salt dissolved in water… but it’s a bit trickier to form large ones! The salt that we add to our food (in sensible amounts) is made up of tiny little crystals. Rather than turn these small crystals directly into larger ones, we must first dissolve the salt in some water to form a salt solution (boxes 1 and 2), from which we can make larger crystals.

This process is split into two main phases: nucleation and growth. The nucleation stage is the appearance of clusters in which a small number of atoms locally assemble in a manner that resembles the arrangement of atoms found in large crystals (box 3). When additional atoms combine with the small clusters, they eventually grow into larger crystals (box 4).

For this process to work, it is important that you have a very high concentration of salt in your solution; the higher the concentration, the more favourable the ordered crystal structure becomes compared to the disordered salt solution. To make your salt solution as concentrated as possible, you must increase the temperature of the water while adding the salt (box 2). This makes what is known as a ‘super-saturated’ solution, which means that the solution contains more salt than it ‘usually’ would (i.e., at equilibrium). It is this supersaturation that is the main driver of the initial nucleation (box 3). If the salt concentration is high enough it becomes more favourable for the salt to form small clusters than to be in solution.

The final stage is the growth of these small clusters into large crystals (box 4). This should be done at room temperature and is a very slow process (it can take days!). Leave your solution in a cool place, away from any disturbances such as washing machines, drum kits, or helicopters.

International Women In Engineering Day

Today we are celebrating the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day.

We’re profiling some of our staff here at Lincoln, who are helping to build towards a brighter future and #makesafetyseen.

Valerie Andrews

First up we have Valerie Andrews, who is one of our Research Associates within our Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology.

 What would you say to anyone thinking of studying or having a career in engineering?

‘Engineering’, it’s just one single word with a plethora of different meanings and applications, it’s often not what you think it will be, but so much more you weren’t expecting. 
Engineering in essence is what you make of it (quite literally in many cases). It’s only limited by one’s imagination and passion, if you have either, or both of those things, then let nothing stand in your way, be diverse, be creative, be unusual, and think outside the box, it’s a subject that thrives on those things. It doesn’t matter who or what you are if you see things and wonder how it’s made or think you can make it better, you think like an engineer. As engineers we strive to make the world a better place, it’s not always about making things, but how we can also adapt, or improve on what we have. If you have an idea – you have the power to make it happen!

What made you choose a career in Engineering?

I chose engineering because I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. I was brought up by my grandmother so when things broke, I’d just fix them. I had a ‘knack’ for it. As I got older I’d fix my cars, do the general DIY and wiring, and would end up in technical roles. I would look at things and see ways to improve them, I just understood how they worked. There’s nothing more satisfying and gratifying than fixing something or improving it, no matter how little, and I guess that’s where I found I had a passion for it. Albeit later in life, I went to college to do a BTEC in engineering and continued to the University. 

What are your professional achievements as an engineer?

Throughout my career, I have worked on a variety of projects. These include researching compostable and recyclable food packaging, creating a habitat for Black Soldier Larvae to reduce food waste, and designing a compact mechanical blueberry harvester that can operate within polytunnels. Additionally, I was part of a team that built one of the first electrified agricultural vehicles with a sprayer body and electric hub. As a team, we also developed a versatile robotic platform that is suitable for various research applications at the university.

Dr Natalie Evans

Next up we have, Dr Natalie Evans, who has recently joined our School of Engineering as an Assistant Technician.

I am proud to be a new member of the technical team where despite not actually being an engineer, I utilise my scientific background and chemistry knowledge to support activities within the department. My experience with safe use of chemicals and equipment as well as COSHH and risk assessment procedures has been useful to contribute to safer working practices in the laboratories. 

Biomedical Science Day

To celebrate #BiomedicalScienceDay2023, we are showcasing some of our Biomedical Science Staff.

First up we have Dr Claire Walker, who is our Senior Lecturer in Immunology. What does Biomedical Science Day Mean to Claire?

“As a Senior Lecturer in Immunology on the Institute of Biomedical Sciences accredited course at the University of Lincoln, I’m often asked two questions. The first is always ‘why immunology” and the second is “well what is so important about IBMS accreditation”? For me personally, few fields hold the potential to transform lives so profoundly as immunology. Ground-breaking discoveries and innovative treatments are reported every month in this extraordinary discipline, from CAR-T cells to gene therapy to cure disease. I can’t think of a single scientist who wouldn’t want to be a part of this innovative work which pioneers a new frontier in medicine. As for why I teach on accredited course, the IBMS is a professional body that represents biomedical scientists and completion of an IBMS accredited degree course is essential to becoming a registered professional who works in a clinical laboratory. The translation of the exciting novel technologies I describe into NHS pathology is entirely dependent on our accredited workforce and I undertook my teaching position here at University of Lincoln to inspire our next generation of scientists to lead the way in this field. Biomedical Science education is a powerful tool for progress in NHS pathology and I feel incredibly privileged play a role in it.”

What Does Biomedical Science Day mean to Michael, one of our Senior Lecturers in Biomedical Science?

“I have been a Biomedical Scientist for 15 years, and being able to share knowledge about my profession with colleagues and the wider public is something that makes me feel visible and valued.

I currently work as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln where we run an IBMS Accredited Biomedical Science course.  It is great to see just how popular this course is becoming, and how many students are aware of the importance of accreditation is to their prospects of becoming a Biomedical Scientist.

I am privileged to work with laboratories across Lincolnshire and beyond, supporting our placement students to work in diagnostic laboratories, gaining the knowledge skills and behaviours required to work as a Biomedical Scientist.

The partnership between the University and the laboratories is vital in ensuring we continue to deliver highly skilled and motivated Biomedical Scientists into the workforce.”

What does Biomedical Science Day mean to Dr Carol Rea, one of our Associate Professors?

“After 8 years of working in pathology and almost 29 years of teaching biomedical science, it means helping provide the next generation of biomedical scientists. I am proud to have helped hundreds of students begin that journey over this time. Initially at the University of Wolverhampton, moving to the University of Lincoln in 2002 to set up the BSc Biomedical Science, in response to local difficulties in recruitment of biomedical scientists. We started with just 16 students, several of whom I am still in touch with and are contributing to the service in a variety of ways. We have grown significantly since then with the current first year being around 130. In that time, we have introduced a placement year, largely placing students locally, an integrated masters to appeal to high achieving students and a foundation year to widen access. A key aim has always been to develop relevant practical skills and to put learning in the context of patient care, using case studies and problem-based learning. This is often in the context of interprofessional learning with other health professionals, emphasising the importance of working in a multi-disciplinary team.”

What does Biomedical Science Day Mean to Sue?

“My name is Sue and I have worked as a Biomedical Scientist for almost 30 years. In my current role as Deputy Manager and Training Officer, I support training in the Blood Sciences department at Lincoln Hospital. This included Trainee Biomedical scientists and students on placement with us to achieve their IBMS registration portfolio.

Being a training officer allows me to pass on my knowledge and to support the Biomedical Scientists of the future.

I am proud to support Biomedical Science Day.”

What does Biomedical Science Day Mean to Rebecca?

“As a new Biomedical Scientist at Lincoln County Hospital, I am very proud to be a part of this day and it is important to recognise the vital role Biomedical Scientists have in the patient pathway by managing and monitoring diseases and even aiding in the diagnostic process, this day helps us do that.

I studied Biomedical Science at the University of Lincoln and completed a placement year at Lincoln County Hospital where I obtained my registration portfolio and gained invaluable knowledge and experience. I would encourage any student that is given the opportunity to take a placement year as it provides brilliant laboratory experience, the chance to complete the registration portfolio and gives a great insight into the everyday role of the Biomedical Scientist.

I am very lucky to work as part of a multidisciplinary team at Lincoln, where we work in Haematology, Biochemistry and Transfusion. As a person who enjoys learning and being challenged, it is a perfect place to work as no two days are the same.

I thoroughly look forward to advancing my career and adding to my knowledge and in time, helping any further students and new staff that chose this rewarding career.”