By Micha Hanzel, science policy intern at the Royal Society of Biology and PhD student at King’s College London
Currently, the scientific community in the UK and Europe is faced with a challenge few scientists wanted. The majority of UK voters have decided to leave the European Union, a choice not shared by up to 93% of UK scientists who overwhelmingly viewed EU membership as a positive force. It is hard to argue against the EU’s immense impact on academia: additional funding, opportunities for collaborations, free movement of scientists. All of these benefits are now potentially at risk. Read more
Categories: Policy, Events, Royal Society of Biology
Tags: science, policy, science policy, research, funding, Government, jo johnson, grants, europe, referendum, immigration, parliamentary links day
By Gabriele Butkute, science policy assistant at the Royal Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society
The human population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. There are pressing questions about how to ensure a healthy diet for everyone while preventing overuse of natural resources or poisoning of the land, sea and air. Biotechnology could contribute to achieving sustainability but public perception of it is often linked only with exploitation potential. Could greater visibility of biotech’s green potential effectively communicate the more complex picture and how would this influence attitudes? Read more
Categories: Policy, UK Plant Sciences Federation, Latest research, Biology Week, Nature, Royal Society of Biology, Plant Science
Tags: sustainability, food security, environment, genetic modification, GMO, GM, synthetic biology, biotechnology, ebola
Parliamentary Links Day is an annual event organised in Parliament by the Royal Society of Biology on behalf of the science community, which aims to strengthen dialogue between scientists and politicians. This year it took place on 28th June, just days after the UK voted to leave the EU, and thus explored: Science after the referendum: What next?
Watch the speeches, including Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP and the discussions below.
Categories: Policy, Events, Royal Society of Biology
Tags: students, policy, science policy, Parliament, universities, funding, Government, jo johnson, immigration
By Anna Holderbaum, Marie Curie early stage researcher at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast
Staged at Belfast’s historical St. George’s Market, ‘The Hungry Games’ (February 2016) attracted young and old to learn about important facts and get advice about nutrition, not only in relation to the impact on our health but also our environment. In co-operation with the NI Science Festival, the Royal Society of Biology, the Biochemical Society, the Centre for Excellence for Public Health NI and Love Food Hate Waste, this two day event offered all-day drop-in activities for visitors, and was designed to inform about nutrients, health, portion sizes, environmental impact and how to reduce food waste. Read more
Categories: Events, Royal Society of Biology
Tags: agriculture, science communication, food security, food, public engagement, Belfast, nutrition, diet, resources, Europe 2020
By Dr Katharine Hubbard, lecturer in biological sciences, University of Hull, Royal Society of Biology Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year 2016
Most people who teach would say that they value the views of their students, but how many of us would feel comfortable putting our students in the driving seat and getting them to produce our teaching resources, or even redesign course pedagogy? This is the approach I took in my practical class teaching while I was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
Using ‘students as producers’ is one interpretation of partnership between students and academics, an increasingly important mechanism of improving student engagement and one of the Higher Education Academy’s strategic themes. Crucially, the student partnership approach requires us to change the position of students from passive consumers of information to active participants who have a genuine role in the educational process. My student partnership project involved working with 4 student interns to produce online quizzes and videos to support first year laboratory class teaching. These resources covered topics including photosynthetic electron transport, enzyme assays and spirometry, and have been used by students and lecturers this academic year. Read more
By Dr Lisa Smith, senior lecturer in criminology, University of Leicester and Professor Mark Jobling, professor of genetics, University of Leicester.
Listen to Sir Alec Jeffreys being interviewed by Professor Alison Woollard FRSB at the RSB’s fundraising event in May 2016.
Today, thanks partly to TV’s CSI franchise, everyone is familiar with the DNA profile – super-sensitive, and individually unique. But go back 40 years, and DNA-based forensic analysis did not exist. Instead, there was an industry that analysed not DNA itself, but its products – proteins. It started in 1900 with the discovery, by Karl Landsteiner, of the ABO blood group. He realised that this system could exclude a suspect from depositing a blood-stain at a crime-scene. Given the small number of different types, the average power of exclusion was low, but this increased once enzyme variants in blood were included. Because each variant is inherited independently, the frequencies of types (alleles) for each system could be multiplied, increasing discrimination. Read more
By Arthur Neuberger, PhD student at The University of Cambridge
Being selected to present my research at the House of Commons in London as part of SET for Britain 2016 was both an exceptional honour and a unique opportunity to raise awareness of potentially the biggest threat to human health that our global society faces today: multidrug resistance.
The World Health Organization ranks multidrug resistance as one of the three greatest risks to global human health, the others being climate change and malnutrition. And indeed, if we don’t take action against multidrug resistance now, we might soon be thrown back to a 19th century situation in which basic infections, for instance those contracted in the course of routine surgical procedures, would be lethal in a majority of cases – not to mention the inability to administer some of our most efficacious cancer treatments. Read more
By Gina Degtyareva, a biology undergraduate at the University of Bristol
My heart was split between arts and sciences for a long time until I was choosing my A-levels I realised that they can be combined in many ways. One of these ways is wildlife and nature photography. I love this area of photography because I love biology and it enables you to explore and learn about the creatures of the world without leaving your home. Our environment is constantly changing and photography also gives you the chance to capture moments that will never be repeated. Read more
By Davide Gaglio, amateur photographer and student at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
Describing what photography is for me is already a very difficult task. When we narrow the topic to ‘conservation photography’ it becomes even more challenging. Is not easy to judge when a photograph including wildlife or a natural resource is able to convey protection of the environment effectively.
For acclaimed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore the ‘nature photograph’ shows a butterfly on a pretty flower. The ‘conservation photograph’ shows the same thing, but with a bulldozer coming at it in the background. In agreement with that, I think an image aiming to raise awareness of environmental issues should not only document the issue but must include the right mixture of originality, drama and beauty. Read more
Categories: Careers, Photography, Nature, Conservation, Royal Society of Biology
Tags: Conservation, science, photography, competition, art, photography competition, marine biology, wildlife photography, marine conservation, national geographic