Resources and People Power

Learn how our academic staff are providing expert comment in the media to increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19.


Latest updates

Schoolboy teaches French on YouTube during COVID-19

Date: 21 May 2020

Doctor Emmanuelle Labeau, senior lecturer in French language and linguistics, and her son have set up a French YouTube channel to teach kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The channel was set up by Aleksandar who goes to St Mary's CoE, Selly Oak, in response to Covid-19 to help his classmates keep up with the language whilst learning from home.

Aleksandar, who is the star of the videos and does most of the narration, covers a wide variety of topics in French, with the aim of using ordinary activities to practice the language and learn new phrases.

Under the guidance of his mother (or ‘Maman’), Aleksandar has produced videos which include the classification of animals, making banana bread and an experiment on how to make a rainbow. Some of his videos have now amassed hundreds of views with over a hundred subscribers to the channel.

The video tutorials are being used at Aleksandar’s school to help fill the gap of French class whilst pupils are at home: “I started this channel because we are in lockdown, without our usual classes, so I thought I could help by trying to teach my friends on YouTube” says Aleksandar.

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Is inflammation the link between dementia, cancer and coronavirus?

Date: 19 May 2020

Dr Duane Mellor, senior lecturer at Aston University and expert on diabetes, says the epidemic of fatty liver disease in Britain is caused by excess energy from a poor, sugar-laden diet being stored as fat in the liver, and a lack of access to outdoor space for people to exercise. 

He fears that bored, locked-down adults are risking more weight gain by drinking extra alcohol — a hidden source of sugar — and eating more snack food.

“After this is over, we need to have a careful think about how to make our country healthy for all of us,” he told Good Health — not least in anticipation of a probable second wave of Covid-19 in the autumn.

Read the full article in the Mail Online

How manufacturers can survive this period of radical change – move into services

Date: 18 May 2020

Professor Tim Baines, Director of The Advanced Services Group, and Doctor Ali Ziaee Bigdeli, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Services Innovation, discuss how manufacturers can survive this period of radical change by moving into services.

“Change, a 1985 paper argued, can be characterised as a “punctuated equilibrium”: long periods of relative calm and small incremental alterations that are interrupted by brief, but radical, seismic shifts. COVID-19 means that we are now living through one of those revolutionary moments.

But that also means that there is an opportunity to look at things in a new way. For the past 20 years, we’ve been conducting research and advising manufacturers to compete through services – activities aimed at solving customers’ problems – rather than simply just pushing boxes out of the factory. “

Read the full article on The Conversation

Working from home? Why detachment is crucial for mental health

Date: 5 May 2020

Wladislaw Rivkin, Lecturer in work and organisational psychology, explains why you might be finding it tough and how 'detachment' can beat stress.

Read the full article in The Conversation 

COVID-19 shows us that collaboration will be crucial to tackling big business challenges in the future

Date: 5 May 2020

Professor Michael Butler, professor of organisational analysis and development, discusses how COVID-19 could accelerate the development and spread of new collaborative models.

He says “Open strategy could significantly change innovation processes because within it businesses acknowledge what they do not know, especially during uncertainty, and so reach out to various stakeholders who help with supply chain inputs to decision making and future preparedness.  But key to successful collaboration is a combination of factors, leading change, but also an inclusive and productive culture which needs to be underpinned by revised reward systems and promotion paths to embed partnership.”

Read the full Article on Forbes online

It can’t cure COVID-19, but sunlight was long seen as having healing powers

Date: 30 April 2020

Ilaria Scaglia, Lecturer in History, reveals the little-known story of the Swiss doctor who popularised the healing power of the sun to treat disease. 

Read the full article in The Conversation

How to boost UK productivity after coronavirus

Date: 28 April 2020

Jun Du, Professor of Economics, discusses how the UK economy will need to make serious changes to some long-term productivity issues.

Read the full article in The Conversation 

Turkey is facing its own coronavirus crisis – so why is it sending medical supplies to the UK?

Date: 22 April 2020

Yaprak Gürsoy, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, explores why Turkey has sent medical supplies to 30 countries across the globe when they are facing their own crisis. 

Read the full article in The Conversation 

Aston Professor of Optometry provides online support for eye-care professionals

Date: 7 April 2020

Professor James Wolffsohn hosted a webinar for over 1,500 eye-care professionals where he explained what they need to know about the COVID-19 virus and how it affects contact lenses. Copies of the webinar are available from James Wolffsohn.

Business focus: how some small firms are on the up despite coronavirus lockdown 

Date: 2 April 2020

Corporate giants like Tesco and Amazon are obvious winners but, some small firms are also enjoying a boom, notching up sales figures they could have only dreamt about. 

Mark Hart, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Research Centre and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, said: It’s gloomy out there, but there are some great businesses getting on with it and having phenomenal growth.

Read the full article in The Evening Standard 

The Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) was established in 2013 to provide high-quality, independent research and analysis to inform government policy on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is jointly run between Aston and Warwick Business Schools. Learn more about the Centre

The economic fallout that COVID-19 could have for business: BBC WM interview with Mark Hart

Date: 2 April 2020

Mark Hart, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Research Centre and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, discusses the economic fallout that COVID-19 could have, and warns that between 75,000 – 100,000 jobs could be lost as thousands of smaller firms struggle with cashflow.

Listen to the BBC WM interview

Could universities’ COVID-19 response help us be more inclusive?

Date: 2 April 2020

Dr Hannah Bartlett, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, discusses whether the new way of teaching and learning online in response to COVID-19 could encourage the HE sector to be more inclusive.

Dr Bartlett said: “As universities contemplate the steps they can take to support students through the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus has been on digital platforms, online learning and video conferencing. As disruptive and worrying this period is for students and staff, I wonder whether in the longer term there may be a positive impact on the inclusivity of practice across the sector.”

Read the full article.

Expert advice for businesses dealing with COVID-19 in new podcast series

Date: 25 March 2020

Aston Business School has launched a special series of podcasts in which SME owners will provide advice on dealing with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series, an extension of the ‘Aston means business’ monthly podcast, will give a voice to SMEs run by those who have undertaken programmes delivered by the Aston Centre for Growth, as well as Aston Business School academics who are able to offer insights into some of the critical issues facing business owners and managers.

Paula Whitehouse, Associate Dean at Aston Business School and Director of the Centre for Growth, said: “Over the last five years or more we’ve worked with thousands of businesses through our growth programmes.

“We realise that the COVID-19 crisis is a disaster for small businesses, and we wanted to do something to help give SMEs a voice and reassure them that they’re not alone.

“We hope that through these podcasts we can share some positive stories about how SMEs are dealing with COVID-19.”

Listen on Spotify now.

Read the full article

Coronavirus: how AI, 3D printing and blockchain can help overcome supply problems in a crisis

Date: 18 March 2020

Ahmad Beltagui, Oscar Rodriguez-Espindola and Soumyadeb Chowdhury from Aston Business School discuss how we can overcome supply problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This disruption has been as devastating as it has been swift. There is unprecedented demand for some products (hand sanitiser has never been so popular), just as production of other products grinds to a halt due to lack of parts.

Our research concerns managing supply chains in a crisis and using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and blockchain. These technologies, which also seemed like science fiction just a short time ago, can help the world recover from one crisis and be better prepared for the next one.

Read the full article in The Conversation