World penguin day and the march of the Adelie penguins

Today is World Penguin Day, an international celebration dedicated to the flightless birds that are almost synonymous with the stretching white plains of the Antarctic.

The date of World Penguin Day – the 25th of April – is being suggested by some sources online as coinciding with the day some colonies of penguin species Pygoscelis adeliae, more commonly known as the Adélie Penguin, starts their winter migration. Read more »

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How will environmental policy change post-Brexit?

“To protect nature, we need targets, investment and accountability, not grand promises with zero detail,” said activist lawyer and ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton to BBC News last week.

He expressed his disappointment with yet another delay of the publication of a 25 year plan for England’s nature, a draft of which has been seen by environmentalists. The publication of the plan has been delayed for over a year now, and there is still no sign of it being published for consultation. Partly, Brexit is to blame. Read more »

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Insect invaders and problematic plants: the threats posed by invasive species

By Barney Slater AMRSB, BBSRC PhD student at University of Cambridge and policy intern at the Royal Society of Biology.

March 27th – April 2nd was this year’s UK Non-Native Species Secretariat (UNNS) Invasive Species Week. During the week NNSS teamed up with Defra to spread awareness of what invasive species are, which pose a threat to the UK, and how to prevent them from spreading. Read more »

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Policy lunchbox: the challenges facing the industrial strategy

By Gabriele Butkute, science policy officer at the Royal Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have released an open consultation on ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ which is currently a hot topic among our Member Organisations and the whole of the bioscience community. As such, we were thrilled to host a Policy Lunchbox seminar on this topic with Thomas Gelderd, assistant director at BEIS. Read more »

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Talking science policy and Trump politics at this year’s Voice of the Future

By Greg Satchell, BSc (Hons) MRSC MRSB ACSFS, junior forensic scientist for Thames Valley Police and representative for the RSB at this year’s Voice of the Future

Having only ever walked past Parliament on a number of occasions, never had I thought that I would be sitting in the Boothroyd Room, conversing with senior members of Government discussing some of the biggest science policy topics.

As if this wasn’t a new-enough experience in itself, being fortunate enough represent the Royal Society of Biology for this year’s Voice of the Future, on behalf of other young and up-and-coming scientists and engineers, was something of a privilege. Read more »

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Podcast: Indian tigers as flagships for conservation

By Rebecca Nesbit MRSB, ecologist and author 

Before I attended the Biology Week debate on ‘Should we save the panda?‘, I was conflicted. The loss of such an incredible species felt like a tragedy, yet ‘it’s cute and furry’ seemed no reason to allocate scarce conservation funds to its protection.

I left the debate with my conflicts resolved: far from being a drain on conservation resources, the panda attracts money and attention. By protecting the panda, we are protecting many species which share its habitat. Read more »

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Lead: What do people know?

By Natalie Lamb, PhD Student at The University of Sheffield and Anglian Water, and chair of the Royal Society of Biology East Anglia branch

Most people in the UK are aware that lead is a problem. The presence of lead can have an adverse impact on mental development and may be a factor in behavioural problems. W
hen people in the UK think of the health hazards surrounding lead, they often think of paint or petrol, because these sources have been very publicised, both through official sources like the HSE and through the media. There have even been claims that removing lead from petrol has sparked a decline in crime! But I don’t think people often associate lead with water and in particular would not expect lead to be in water in the UK today.
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Returning to work after a career break? The four things you should know

By Dr Ruth Griffin, lecturer in biochemistry and genetics at Kingston University

Being a parent, I have come across many professionally accomplished full-time mums at school, yet so few have returned to their career. Particularly in science, there is a misconception that it is impossible to get back in if you’ve taken a career break, as the sector is very competitive. My advice is: if you are considering returning, please know that research today is suffering without you, and the contribution you can make is much needed.

When, out of the blue, I was struck with illness; I thought my career was over. Six years later, however, I returned to academia and I now work as a full time lecturer at Kingston University, where I run my own research group in medical molecular microbiology.

For those who are contemplating returning to a career in science, here are some of the things this experience has taught me:
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How can we adapt to climate change?

By Barney Slater AMRSB, BBSRC PhD student at University of Cambridge and policy intern at the Royal Society of Biology.

Global climate change is an increasing threat for the UK. Research shows an average temperature increase of almost 1C over the last 50 years in the UK, and climate projections predict that this could climb by 2.5-3C by 2100. In 2008, the Climate Change Act was passed, part of which requires the Government to carry out a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), every 5 years. This takes recent research evidence and uses it to identify the most pressing risks to the UK made by climate change, along with a plan to prepare and adapt. The latest CCRA was published last month, highlighting six major risks to the UK, and setting out the Government’s plans to increase resilience.
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Here’s to Hypatia: the world’s first female superstar scientist

By Tom Ireland MRSB, editor of The Biologist and managing editor at the Royal Society of Biology.

Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day for celebrating the contributions of women to scientific progress and for inspiring girls to consider careers in STEM subjects. It’s a day to celebrate the great female scientists of our time and centuries past: Mary Anning, Rosalind Franklin and Jane Goodall to name just a few in the biosciences.

Hypatia of Alexandria, sketch by Elbert Hubbard, 1908

But arguably the world’s first superstar female scientist lived and worked in fourth century Alexandria, then the great intellectual and cultural centre of the Byzantine Empire.

Hypatia (355-415 AD) was the first female mathematician whose work we know about. As well as being a charismatic lecturer and teacher, she was also an astronomer and philosopher – activities that were almost unheard of for a woman to be delving into in ancient Egypt. She invented equipment for scientific experiments, and became head of a famous school of philosophy. People would come from miles around to hear her speak.

She was basically the Brian Cox of the ancient world.

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