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Scientists develop grass which could reduce flooding

The 'supergrass' could help prevent flooding by absorbing more water. Credit: ITV News

Scientists at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) are partly developing a so-called 'supergrass' which could help reduce flooding.

The 'supergrass' will enable soil to retain more water and could help prevent some of the devastating flooding seen at the beginning of this year across Wales and the UK.

The new type of grass is being developed as part of a £2.5m project and could be in fields in five years time.

Aberystwyth students leave as high tides forecast

huge wave
Tides are expected to peak tomorrow morning and evening. Credit: PA

Aberystwyth University has cancelled all teaching activities today and again on Monday, as more high tides and strong winds are forecast.

The University has warned students that the new band of stormy weather is likely to make the Promenade area a 'hazardous place' this weekend.

Seafront University Residences will close at 4pm today and students have been asked to inform the University of their planned whereabouts over the weekend.

More: Counting the cost of storm damage across Wales

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University: New halls will have dedicated Welsh area

Aberystwyth University has said the new, Penglais Farm, residences will include "a dedicated area for Welsh language students, with a particular social area for Welsh speakers."

It said "these are early days" for considering the Pantycelyn building's future, and it will remain as a Welsh medium hall during the 2014/15 academic year.

Aberystwyth University is fully committed to increasing its Welsh medium provision to ensure that our students are able to contribute to maintaining the University's Welsh language community ethos.

The University is investing over £45m at the Penglais Farm residences. This will be located close to the main Hub building and shared by all the Penglais Farm residents.

The new accommodation will be of a very high standard, comprising self-catering flats with between 6 and 8 bedrooms each; they will all have en-suite facilities, kitchen/eating area/lounge and TV.

The University will now begin a business exercise to explore options for the future of Pantycelyn.

Pantycelyn will therefore remain as a Welsh medium hall (as it is currently) during the academic year, 2014/15.

Student representatives have been part of the discussions all along on the nature of the new accommodation and the facilities available to them.

The University will continue its discussions with Welsh medium students, the Pantycelyn Hall committee and UMCA about the Penglais Farm facilities and how to build and develop the Welsh language ethos there.

– Aberystwyth University spokesperson

Aberystwyth students protest against closure of halls

Students braved the rain to demonstrate against the closure of the halls.

Students at Aberystwyth University have been protesting against the closure of Pantycelyn halls of residence.

Aberystwyth's Welsh Students' Union (UMCA) says a new student village where the university plans to move students "is completely unsuitable for the Welsh community."

"There is no sufficient space for Aelwyd Pantycelyn's weekly practice, no UMCA office or Canteen - these are elements that are absolutely essential in maintaining our community of Welsh students. After the lack of consultation on these plans, students have completely lost faith in the University."

Historic Aberystwyth university halls under threat

Pantycelyn halls were built in the early 50s Credit: ITV News

Hundreds of students with gather at a rally today to oppose Aberystwyth University's plans to close the historic Pantycelyn halls of residence and move them to a nearby site.

Aberystwyth students union says the move would be 'completely unsuitable'.

The university has been asked to comment.

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Aberystwyth expertise for Mars mission

Professor Dave barnes and Dr Stephen Pugh with PanCam 'Bridget'. Credit: Aberystwyth University

A space scientist from Aberystwyth University will be travelling to Chile’s Atacama desert later this week as preparations for the 2018 ExoMars mission to Mars continue.

Dr Stephen Pugh from the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (IMPACS) will be working on the ExoMars Panoramic Camera Instrument (PanCam) during a seven day field trial.

PanCam will be the science 'eyes' for the mission and will feature a correction system to ensure that images sent back to earth truly represent the colours on Mars.

The Aberystwyth PanCam work is led by Professor Dave Barnes who'll be based at mission control at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories during the trial along with other PanCam team members.

The ExoMars mission is led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos).

It will investigate the red planet's environment.

Cut grass smell is "key to healthier dairy products"

Welsh scientists make discovery. Credit: David Ebener

Scientists at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University say they have discovered that the chemicals that give cut grass its distinctive ‘green odour’ kill off bacteria that convert healthy omega-3 fats into saturated fats in a cow’s gut.

The discovery has been reported in the Society for Applied Microbiology’s Journal of Applied Microbiology.

Dr Sharon Huws, Coleg Cymraeg lecturer in Animal Science at IBERS led the research:

“We’ve known for a while that milk contains a greater proportion of the healthy omega-3 fats in the summer, than in the winter, and now we know it’s probably down to the antimicrobial effects of the green odour products from grass."

'Unique' Carneddau wild ponies 'under threat'

Researchers have warned that the Carneddau ponies are under threat. Credit: Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University researchers say they have established that wild ponies grazing on the Carneddau Mountains in Snowdonia are "genetically unique."

They say the Carneddau ponies need to be conserved to protect their existence - especially as many died in the recent snow, "dramatically reducing their numbers."

Clare Winton, a Ph.D student who did the study, said: “Although the Carneddau ponies have shared ancestry with the Welsh Section A pony, they exhibit unique mutations while maintaining high genetic diversity, demonstrating that the population has been isolated for at least several hundred years."

Dr Nash, from the university, said: “The existence of the Carneddau ponies is threatened by financial pressure such as costs associated with the legal requirement to passport and microchip every horse in the UK."

The Carneddau ponies play a vital role within the mountain ecology of the Snowdonia National Park, as they are involved in a grazing scheme maintaining the preferred habitat for the endangered bird, the red-billed chough.

Aber Uni student graduates at age 82

 Roger Roberts
Roger Roberts graduated today after four years studying Credit: Aberystwyth University

Roger Roberts has become the oldest person to graduate from Aberystwyth University this year, at the age of 82. Roger was today awarded a Bachelor of Economic and Social Studies in International Politics.

He lives in Aberystwyth and studied for his degree over four years. It took him longer than usual to complete his degree because he suffered from ill-health over the last two years of study.

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