Dr Barbara Knowles MBE FRSB is senior science policy adviser at the Royal Society of Biology, and an active conservation volunteer working to protect biodiversity in farmed landscapes. These are her views, not necessarily those of the Society.
Bees and neonic insecticides are in the news again as the Secretary of State for Defra decided last week to lift an EU ban on the chemicals. A limited number of farms will now be allowed to use the banned pesticides on oilseed rape to kill the cabbage stem flea beetle.
Defra said: “Based on the evidence, we have followed the advice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and our Chief Scientist that a limited emergency authorization of two pesticides requested by farmers should be granted in areas where oil rape crops are at greatest risk of pest damage.” Read more
Helen Pennington, a doctoral training student at Imperial College London, discusses the role of science in science fiction.
Science fiction has repeatedly predicted scientific, technological or financial advances. For example, Edward Bellamy predicted the use of universal credit and credit cards in the 1888 novel Looking Backward; and Jules Verne described many of the aspects involved in a lunar landing in From the Earth to the Moon (1865). Authors often do a significant amount research: reading papers, books and articles, and talking to experts in the field. This is just as true for science fiction as for other genres. Read more
By Gabriele Butkute, science policy assistant at the Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society
If we fail to act on AMR then an additional 10 million lives would be lost each year to drug-resistant strains of malaria, HIV, TB, and certain bacterial infections by 2050, at a cost to the world economy of 100 trillion USD (O’Neill, 2015).
To enable collaboration in tackling this issue the Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (LeSPAR) recently organised a series of three networking workshops on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in London, Dundee and Nottingham, which brought together a wide range of researchers at all career stages, industry representatives and policymakers.
by Zoe Self, postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Veterinary College
While I was delighted to be invited by the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) to attend the Society of Biology’s Parliamentary Links Day, I must admit I was a little nervous, not so much for the prestige of the occasion but for my ignorance regarding politics. I tend to pay relatively little attention. I know that I should listen, as the decisions made influence my future career, but until now I’ve allowed politics to be a ‘black box’ that I do not open. I have to say that #LinksDay2015 changed that for me. Read more
Parliamentary Links Day is an annual event organised in Parliament by the Society of Biology on behalf of the science community, which aims to strengthen dialogue between scientists and politicians.
Watch the speeches by: Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science; Nicola Blackwood MP, chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee; and Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President Elect of The Royal Society… Read more
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.
Categories: Biology Week, Conservation, Nature, Society of Biology
Tags: amateur, biology, Biology Week, competition, conflict and survival, genetics, nature, photography, photography competition, wildlife
By 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
By 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
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.
When 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
By Dan Rowson, education policy officer at the Society of Biology
At 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