Saturday, 28 September 2013

Induction Week

Induction week is a hectic time for us with graduation on the Monday and our new cohort of students arriving on the Tuesday thus the tardiness of this post. The week is a mixture of formal and administrative activities for the new students mixed together with some lab skills, a quiz, a welcome party culminating with the annual trip to Mt Edgcumbe on the Friday. We get our students out in the field early! This year we based the activities around some of the OPAL surveys. These included water quality, air quality, tree health and the worm survey. The staff were around to offer advice and encouragement before lunch in the pub.

On the boat to Cornwall

Friday, 27 September 2013

Student membership of the Society of Biology

Society of Biology LogoI am a Fellow of the Society of Biology, and the local representative of the Society at Plymouth University. The Society of Biology is a single unified voice for biology: advising Government and influencing policy; advancing education and professional development; supporting our members, and engaging and encouraging public interest in the life sciences. The Society represents a diverse membership of individuals, learned societies and other organisations.

You might want to consider joining. Here are some of the benefits of student membership (other membership grades are available for more experienced biologists):

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Plymouth Zoological Society

Interested in Wildlife? Enjoy trips to zoos and local Wildlife Trusts? Interested in learning more about Wildlife Conservation, Biodiversity, Behaviour and Welfare? Want to help Fundraise for many local and international wildlife charities that need a helping hand?

Join the Zoological Society this year, with a new committee we promise it will be better than ever.
Just £10 membership fee... and that gets you all your zoo admission fees free!!!
Email for more information or to sign up come and find us at the Society fair on Sunday the 22nd of September in the SU.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Graduation and prize winners

Monday saw our annual graduation ceremony and lots of the staff looking uncomfortable in unfamiliar attire that last saw the light of day exactly one year before! We were there to celebrate the achievements of our graduating students including some of the prize winners. Some photos of the prize winners and amusing staff photos are below:

Assembled academics

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Retirement of Pete Smithers

Our long standing technician Pete Smithers retired at the end of August and this afternoon we celebrated his 40 years at the university. An entomologist, Pete has shared his enthusiasm with students and staff alike as well as being involved in numerous outreach activities. 

Enjoy your retirement but you will be sorely missed.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Azores Photos

With Alison covering the scientific part, I am left to provide photos of students doing stuff. If anyone has any more, send them to me and I'll add them.

Post test group photo

Friday, 6 September 2013

Azores 2013 Day 2

On day two we visited Furnas, the most volcanically active part of Sao Miguel island, where you can see naturally boiling water bubbling up from the ground.

Thermal vents at Furnas. On Thursday night the staff enjoyed a meal cooked in these vents (a stew pig's ears - suprisingly not chewy after being slow cooked underground all day)   
Students took water samples from a lake and the numerous cold and hot water springs around the town of Furnas. Here we were particularly interested in testing the water quality, and looking at the ecology of the springs, which support a fascinating diversity of cyanobacteria, fungi and invertebrates that have adapted to live in and around these waters. 

The boys put their feet up whilst the girls take water samples

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Azores field course 2013

The 2nd year Biological Sciences students are currently on a week-long field course on Sao Miguel island in the Azores archipelago. In the last few days the students have carried out two plant surveys on the island's volcanic slopes, sampled and analysed water samples from four lakes, spotted the endemic and rare Priolo bullfinch and seen a new species of spider!

Here’s a bit more about what we’ve been up to so far…
View from Sierra da Tronqueira where the students carried out endemic plant surveys

Day 1: Lagoa do Fogo
Rob Parkinson talking to students about the island's formation
On our first morning we visited Lagoa do Fogo – one of the island’s calderas. These are remnant volcanoes that have exploded all their magma, and have now become freshwater lakes, fed by rainwater. Here we were investigating differences between leaf physiology of endemic and native plants compared with non-native invasives. This is an important question, as the Azores have a higher proportion of non-native plant species compared with native species, than anywhere else in the world (69% of plants are non-native).