Capturing Biology in Action

Billy Clapham is a zoology student at the University of Sheffield and won the Society’s amateur photography competition last year.

Photography is a fantastic medium to explore and reveal the beauty of the natural world in all its forms. But beautiful photographs of animals and plants from all around the world, while no less special, are almost ten a penny these days, and making your own photos stand out can be difficult. One thing that can elevate a pretty picture into something more special is a photograph’s ability to tell a story, something that the Society of Biology’s photography competition lends itself to perfectly.

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Can Eating Insects Save the World?

DIANEBy Diane Fresquez, an American journalist living in Brussels. Diane writes for Zester Daily and is the author of ‘A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavour’.

At the Brussels airport last week, en route to Glasgow, I struck up a conversation with a young Flemish woman about edible insects, as one does. I was on my way to the Glasgow Science Festival to be a part the Society of Biology’s event, ‘Can Eating Insects Save the World?’ The woman told me about a young daughter of a friend of hers who wanted to buy some edible insects at one of the city’s big grocery stores.

“The vegetable and mealworm spread?” I asked. I had four Green Kow-brand jars, two carrot-based, and two tomato-based, carefully packed in ice in my checked luggage.

“Whole mealworms,” the woman replied. “My friend’s daughter heard about them at school, and was curious to try them.” Read more »

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What role will science play in the new Parliament?

JAMESBy James Borrell, NERC funded PhD student and science policy intern at the Society of Biology

What role will science play in the new parliament? How will new research influence policy? Will science funding increase or continue to decline?

The answers to these questions are elusive, but perhaps the clearest bellwether of the prevailing scientific climate is the annual Parliamentary Links Day. The largest science event in the parliamentary calendar, Links Day is organised by the Society of Biology on behalf of the science and engineering community.

As a NERC funded PhD student on a three month science policy internship, Links Day was a tangible opportunity to see how science and government interact. Read more »

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Who will you need to become in order to have a long-term career in research?

Elaine Denniss is an experienced careers consultant and a chartered occupational psychologist. She is running the workshop ‘How to Manage Your Career Effectively‘ at the Society of Biology on June 26th 2015.

Elaine headshotWhen you think about your career in research, do you ever try to imagine what you will be like in the future? Where will you be? What will you be doing? How will you be different from the way you are now?

When you look at senior research leaders, do you ever try to imagine what they were like as PhD students or postdocs? How might they have changed over the years? Do you ever talk to them about the challenges of their roles?

Having a successful long-term research career isn’t just about having a great publication record. As you progress to more senior research roles, the tasks and challenges you face will change. Read more »

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Why do students still need textbooks?

By Dan Rowson, education policy officer at the Society of Biology

Tim Oates pic 1 407x204At the May Policy Lunchbox, we welcomed Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment. Previously Tim was Head of Research at the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency and in 2010 he led the Government review on the National Curriculum. On the back of this review, Tim published the policy paper: Why textbooks count.

Tim addressed how the National Curriculum is, unsurprisingly, not really a ‘curriculum’ but actually a list of desired outcomes. A full curriculum defines aims, content, pedagogy, assessment and evaluation, ie. the School Curriculum. What we call a National Curriculum, other countries call ‘curriculum standards’. A National Curriculum alone cannot raise academic standards, not least because there will always be scope to interpret it in different ways. Read more »

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‘Forest School’ grows respect for Nature

Hannah Brett CBiol MSB, is an ecological consultant who works with the Heart of the Wildwood charity, Oxfordshire, promoting outdoor learning and a holistic educational approach. The Society of Biology’s Regional Grant Scheme is supporting their Forest School for children and parents, throughout 2015.  

heart of teh woodlandActivities at the Forest School include cooking stick bread on the fire, climbing trees, building dens, learning to use tools and mini beast hunting. We also offer some craft activities such as weaving and making bug hotels.

As Ecohab consultants are experienced ecologist specialising in botany, participants of Forest School learn about native plant species and local wildlife whilst on nature walks. We are also preparing and planting organic vegetables in raised beds on an allotment site within the reserve. Read more »

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How can plants change the world?

Dr Joseph Buhagiar FSB is a lecturer at the University of Malta. He received the first overseas award of the Society of Biology’s Regional Grant Schemeplants

It all started with an email from David Urry on 6th January pertaining to the Regional Grant Scheme for 2015. Not that I am usually idle but the title for this year really caught my attention – Biology: Changing the World.

I wrote to David and asked if a member from outside of UK would be eligible for the call and he said that I was more than welcome to apply. So in the few remaining days to the deadline (12th January) we came up with a great application entitled: ‘How Plants Can Change the World’ since we wanted to use our Argotti Botanic Gardens as a backdrop to our own open day. Well, imagine our surprise when we were informed that we actually got the grant. Read more »

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Genetically engineered mosquitoes – the invention of the year?

By Professor Luke Alphey FSB, The Pirbright Institute.
Professor Alphey is a finalist for the European Inventor of the Year Award 2015.

AlpheyEach year hundreds of millions of people are stricken by dengue. Though there are thousands of species of mosquito, just one is to blame for major outbreaks of dengue – the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This highly invasive mosquito is in more than 100 countries and is still spreading.

There are no licensed vaccines or specific drugs for dengue, so the only way to control the disease is to control the mosquito that spreads it.  Unfortunately the available tools just aren’t working adequately, and the mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the pesticides we use. Those chemicals can also harm helpful insects like bees and butterflies. So there’s an urgent need for better methods. Read more »

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