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Front covers of Science and Nature magazines

Inspiring and impactful research from our departments of Biosciences and Physics has featured on the front covers of two of the world’s most prestigious journals in recent weeks: Science and Nature.

For research to gain such a prominent spotlight feature is testament to the quality and impact of the work and the international teams of academics involved – and for one university to secure both front pages in this way is very rare.

Game-changing evolutionary findings

An international team of researchers investigating the complexity and innovative evolutionary capabilities of carnivorous plants, which capture insects through a unique trapping mechanism, saw its work highlighted on the front cover of January’s Science magazine.

The seven-year study, authored by Durham’s Professor Guillaume Chomicki and colleagues, revealed an explanation for how complex ‘composite’ traits can arise and evolve in unexpected ways in carnivorous pitcher plants.

The findings of the research are game-changing in the field of Biosciences and beyond, suggesting evolutionary innovations can result from multiple independent biological adaptations to produce new and complex features or traits. A real breakthrough in evolutionary biology!

Professor Chomicki said: “I am profoundly honoured and exhilarated to have our research featured on the cover of Science magazine. This recognition is not just a personal milestone but a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire research team and in particular Dr. Ulrike Bauer who discovered this trapping mechanism in the field.

“This success underscores the importance of field research and of natural history as a starting point for scientific discovery.”

World-class extragalactic discoveries

A team of astronomers led by our world-class Physics Department reported the first detection of a rotating disc structure around a forming high-mass star outside of our Milky Way in another galaxy.

Using a powerful radio telescope called ALMA in Chile, they found a rotating disc feeding a growing star in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

This neighbouring galaxy is 163,000 light years from Earth. The star inside the disc is about 15 times the mass of our Sun.

It is surrounded by a disc of gas and dust like the ones that surround newborn stars in our Galaxy.

Their research was featured in the world's leading multidisciplinary science journal, Nature, with a striking front cover showing an artist’s impression of a massive young star in the process of forming.

This pioneering research further advances our understanding of how the Universe operates, significantly improving the prospects for locating more such discs around distant massive stars.

Reflecting on being featured in the cover of Nature journal, Dr Anna McLeod said: “I am extremely proud of this. Publishing in one of the world’s most prestigious and influential scientific journals is a great achievement on its own.

“Having my research featured on the front cover is very validating and certainly a perfect way to start the new year.”

Image 1 credit: Reprinted with permission from AAAS

Image 2 credits : Nature; ESO/M.Kornmesser

Images of carnivorous plants: Ulrike Bauer

Find out more

  • Learn more about Guillaume Chomicki, Professor at Durham’s Department of Biosciences and Dr Anna Mcleod from Department of Physics.
  • Read the full research paper published in Science magazine here.
  • Learn more about the work of Dr Anna McLeod.
  • Read the full paper published in Nature.
  • Interested in studying at Durham? Explore our undergraduate and postgraduate
Front cover of Science magazine featuring Durham research on pitcher plants

Science magazine front cover featuring Durham University's research.

Front cover of Nature magazine featuring Durham's Physics research

Front cover of Nature journal featuring Durham University's research.

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