Photography competition: Home, habitats and shelter

The release of these sea turtle hatchlings shows how human intervention can help to improve the survival chances of an endangered species. Sea turtles help maintain sea grass beds and provide nutrients to beach and dune systems.Elspeth Holuding, marketing assistant at the Society of Biology, discusses the Society’s annual photography competition, open to absolutely anyone.

This year, the photography competition theme ‘Home, habitats and shelter’, could inspire you to capture a species in its natural or rare habitat, taking shelter from the elements or could focus on the more molecular level of biology, using a range of microscopy and imaging techniques.

With cameras everywhere in today’s society, it’s increasingly easier for anyone to become a photographer. I wouldn’t call myself much of a photographer, but I will always insist on a group picture at any event to put in my photo album. Read more »

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Celebrating our Honorary Fellow Sir David Attenborough

David AttenboroughTo celebrate the place of Sir David Attenborough in the top ten biologists who’ve changed the world, Amy Whetstone, qualifications and skills officer at the Society of Biology, writes about the achievements of the man considered the face and voice of natural history programmes.

There are very few people who are not familiar with the images of a young David Attenborough being inspected by a group of gorillas. Whether you have a particular interest in the dung collecting habits of the burrowing owl, the waggle dance of the honey bee and the mating rituals of lions, or not, chances are you will be familiar with the soothing voice and blue shirt of Sir David Attenborough. Not to mention my personal favourite time when a bat got caught in his hair!

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Flying ant day in pictures

Flying ants, courtesy of flying ant survey participant Martin RogersBy Rebecca Nesbit, co-ordinator of the Society of Biology’s flying ant survey

Since the flying ant survey began, every year has brought surprises. In 2014 the surprise is the early appearance of the flying ants, and it will now be interesting to see whether they keep coming throughout the summer.

To celebrate the ants’ arrival, I have collected together some links to information and some photos kindly sent by flying ant survey participants. Thank you to everyone who is submitting records and sending photos and video clips. Keep them coming! Read more »

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The dose makes the poison

Guest blog from Dr Lauren Tedaldi, project officer at Sense About Science.

Ever seen an advert for a ‘chemical-free’ kitchen cleaner or a ‘100% natural’ shampoo? How about a detox tea? At Sense About Science we notice this sort of thing all the time and we’re sick of it. To counter chemical misconceptions such as ‘You can lead a chemical-free life’ and ‘Manmade is bad, natural is good’ we recently launched a new edition of ‘Making Sense of Chemical Stories’.

The dose makes the poison, Sense About Science, chemicals

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Species of the week: birch polypore fungus

birch polypore - British Mycological SocietyAs part of National Fungus Day the British Mycological Society is asking people to take part in fungi spotting and let them know if you see the birch polypore. If you would like to hold an event as part of UK Fungus Day on the 12th October (part of Biology Week) please contact

Piptoporus betulinus, or the birch polypore, is a parasitic disease of birch trees. It’s a bracket fungus with a light brown tan upper surface, and underneath are the white pores which produce the spores. When birch polypore infects a tree, it leads to brown rot. Read more »

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Sir Alec Jeffreys and DNA fingerprinting

To celebrate the place of Sir Alec Jeffreys in the top ten biologists who’ve changed the world, Alastair Stewart, communications and press manager at the Biochemical Society, writes about the achievements of one of their most celebrated members.

It has reunited a mother with her two-month-old son separated in the Boxing Day tsunami, given freedom to an innocent man on death row, and returned the remains of September 11 victims to their families.

It is DNA fingerprinting – the discovery by Sir Alec Jeffreys one Monday morning 30 years ago that revolutionised the world.

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I need a new set of teeth! Here are my stem cells

By Rahmat Ali, work experience student at the Society of Biology

I had the privilege of working and studying in various departments from Orthodontic to Maxillofacial in Kings College Hospital. It was a year of hearing lectures on how to brush my teeth two or sometimes even three times a day! I’ve learnt as a dental apprentice that it is just as important to floss, as it’s this white minty thread that can prevent root canals, extractions and infections. Read more »

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Entomologists swarm in for Insect Week

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)By Sophie Kleanthous, intern at the Society of Biology

The launch of National Insect Week  took place on the 23rd of July at the Natural History Museum in London, with bug enthusiasts and entomologists from all walks of life coming together to celebrate these weird and wonderful creatures.

The event was streamed live on YouTube (it’s still available), and highlighted the importance of dispelling the myths and fears/scepticism accompanied with our creepy crawly neighbours. The event was chaired by Johnathan Ross OBE along with a panel of five notable entomologists. As a former insect hater and quite ignorant of their value myself, I found the discussion incredibly inspiring, and it completely changed my own mind about something that I have feared since my teen years. Read more »

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Striking a balance in the STEM industry

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, director of education and training at the Society of Biology, discusses equality and diversity in STEM careers.

Our world today would be unrecognisable without the scientists and engineers whose work has helped shape modern life as we know it. For this reason, it is highly important that we help the next generation of scientists and engineers get the most of out of their education and careers so they can do the same for future generations. All genders have been pioneers of STEM fields; however, it often feels as though women are falling at the wayside. Regardless of the fact that women are responsible for 46% of the overall UK workforce, Government figures show that women hold just 15.5% of jobs within the STEM career sector. Moreover, within engineering this figure drops to as low as 9%. Read more »

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