‘Making evidence make news’ is the tagline of the new Education Media Centre, which opened in London this week. This struck me as exactly what the scientific community as a whole would like to achieve with their media relations, and I am pleased the education community is also being proactive about achieving this. Read more
James Iremonger is a second year Cell and Molecular Biology student at Heriot Watt University, with interests in nutrition and neuroscience.
As a winner of the Society of Biology Animals in Research essay competition, I was given the opportunity to complete the Home Office Modular 1-4 courses, provided by Learning Curve. The course, held at King’s College London, was a fascinating insight into such topics as anaesthesia and animal behaviour.
I am a molecular biology student with a particular interest in nutrition, and realise that in vivo work is an unfortunate necessity for much of our knowledge about living systems, especially disease states such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Read more
As well as its role in brewing and bread making, yeast can be used in biorefineries to make biofuels for transport and is a key model organism in synthetic biology. Engineered strains could produce future foods and pharmaceuticals. No wonder the National Collection of Yeast Cultures has some interesting stories, as explained by this video from the BBSRC. Read more
Christopher Taylor, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, invites you to play an insect game to assist with his research.
In the natural world, not everything is what it seems. Deception is rife, and it can be hard to know whether to trust your senses. What first looks like a dead leaf might turn out to be a katydid. Or a tasty-looking worm might actually be an angler fish’s lure. Telling the difference between a fake and the real thing can be a matter of life or death.
One type of deception is known as Batesian mimicry, whereby a harmless animal – the mimic – resembles a more dangerous one – the model – so that a predator will leave it well alone. Examples are treehoppers that look like ants, moths that look like hornets, and even caterpillars that look like snakes. It is easy to see how natural selection would give an advantage to the most convincing fakes, since they are the least likely to be eaten, leading to better and better mimicry. Read more
This autumn, thousands of hedgehogs will curl up and sleep through the winter blues, with the hope of emerging next March to see the blossom on trees and the return of life to the gardens, woodlands and fields. Hibernation, though, is a perilous practise and not to be taken lightly. Many hedgehogs will never wake up.
The common hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, is the only British mammal with spines. It is typically covered in up to 6,000 brown and white bristles, which are hollow and springy. They last about a year before falling off and being replaced. The spines give hedgehogs much needed protection from predators such as foxes. When they are scared or intimidated, they can simply roll up into a ball and hide beneath their sharp armour. Read more
By Catherine Ball, Science Policy Officer at the Biochemical Society and Society of Biology
Communication and dissemination of research is a big focus for us at the Society of Biology. Through our work with our Research Dissemination Committee, we champion equitable and sustainable practices in the circulation of research outputs. No small task recently as the scientific publishing landscape in the UK has undergone significant changes as a result of the open access movement. Read more
In advance of the Society of Biology’s Policy Lates discussion on algal bioenergy, Rebecca Nesbit looks at some of the hurdles we need to overcome to produce liquid fuel from plants in a more sustainable manner.
First generation biofuels are made from starch, sugars, fats and oils, but often come from food plants. This has led to controversy over producing fuel on land which could otherwise be used to feed people.
Advanced generation biofuels use non-edible plant matter, whether this is from agricultural by-products or from alternative crops such as grasses or willow. Turning many of these plants into liquid fuel, however, is a much larger challenge than it is for first generation biofuels. Read more
In 2004, the Malayan Tiger, was welcomed as its own subspecies after careful consideration of genetics and measurements from the closely related subspecies Panthera tigris corbetti, the tigers of Singapore. The Malayan Tiger is exclusively found in the Malay Peninsula, and there are estimated to be approximately 500 in existence. Unfortunately, tiger numbers continue to decrease. Read more
By Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology
At the Society of Biology we have recently benefited from a number of interns, and it is rewarding to see young people develop at the start of their careers. But how do they get to this stage? For undergraduates we offer Life Sciences Careers Conferences, but decisions start at school age – what subjects to study at school, what work experience to do, where to go to university? As a member body of The Science Council, we are pleased to support Future Morph, their careers website for pupils, parents and teachers. This gives advice and ideas to secondary school pupils about the full range of careers in science and maths. Read more
Jenni Lacey, marketing assistant as the Society Biology, shares new research which could offer a molecular basis for why we need sleep.
I’m someone who confidently claims to need no more than 7 hours sleep and, when necessary, happily survive on 6 hours. I’m reassured that my claims are justified by a range of sources: The National Sleep Foundation in the America and the Mental Health Foundation – the bottom line seems to be that the amount you need varies for everyone. This is fortunate as my current commute requires a pre-6am wakeup call and an hour plus train journey, however this temptingly offers adequate time for napping…. So on the occasions when I do find myself dozing off what is my brain trying to tell me?