Citizen Science Event – Bumblebee Identification Training
On Saturday 9th June 2012, members of the Society of Biology (Scotland Branch) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (Lanark Group) enjoyed a day of bee identification on the beautiful campus of the University of Stirling. After an introduction to bees and their identification, Anthony McCluskey and Leanne Casey from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust led two groups around the campus. With a good spell of weather, five out of six common species of bumblebee were captured, identified and released. The expertise and enthusiasm of our guides inspired all attendees to return home in the hope of identifying some of the less common species, and to take part in some of the survey schemes supported by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
17th Annual Teachers Meeting - 31st May 2012
This was the first time this event was not held at the University of Stirling, and was held in central Glasgow instead. The venue seemed to be popular and over a hundred Biology teachers attended the meeting with a wide ranging set of presentations and a range of stands by the exhibitors.
The morning session, chaired by Jack Jackson, started with the first of the presentations by Kevin O’Dell of the University of Glasgow on Genetics in the 21st Century. Kevin’s fascinating talk was very relevant to the Higher and Advanced Higher Biology qualifications that come into effect in the next two years, and highlighted the changes in technology that have illuminated some of the big problems in Genetics and Evolution. He was followed by Alison Smith of the John Innes Institute, who dealt with equally big ideas and research that will impact on our ability to feed the world’s expanding population. Colin Adams of SCENE brought things closer to home with a presentation on Ecological research and its economic relevance to Scotland.
John Coggins then presented the awards for academic excellence in SQA examinations, sponsored by DART publishers. The recipients were Harriet Turner of Cults Academy for Higher Biology, Kirsten Hall of Linlithgow Academy for Biology Advanced Higher(accepted on her behalf by a member of staff), Bethan Collier of Dollar Academy for Biotechnology Higher and Ailsa Bruce of Boroughmuir High School for Higher Human Biology.
After lunch Nicky Souter took over as chair and Jim Shields of the Glasgow Academy gave a thought provoking presentation on why we should apply the same rigorous scientific principles we teach our pupils to Educational initiatives. The proceedings finished with a hugely entertaining and thought provoking presentation on “Mind Magic” by Richard Wiseman of Hertfordshire University.
Thanks go to Intelligent Events and members of the Scotland Branch Committee for their organisation of the day.
Kevin O'Dell, University of Glasgow: Genetics in the 21st Century
Alison Smith, John Innes Centre: Getting more for less: the next agricultural revolution
Colin Adams, University of Glasgow: Biologists in wellies – why are ecologists important?
Jim Shields, Glasgow Academy: Evidence based biology ….. and education
21st May 2011 - Argaty Red Kites Visit
Around 30 Scotland branch members enjoyed a day out at Argaty Red Kites Centre, near Doune, Perthshire http://argatyredkites.co.uk/index.php . The day started with a short presentation by Head Ranger Mike McDonnell on the methods employed at Argaty to encourage wildlife and enhance biodiversity. A 2-hour guided walk, covering open fields, woodland and wild flower meadows, revealed the measures highlighted in Mike’s presentation. Following lunch at the Red Kite Project Centre, we made our way to the hide, located next to the kite feeding station. Once we were settled in the hide, the feeding regime, tagging system and behaviour of the kites were explained. Despite the weather closing in, the kites made a brief but spectacular appearance.
We would like to thank owner Lynn Bowser for making us so welcome and Mike McDonnell for his sharing his extensive knowledge and boundless enthusiasm for red kites and biodiversity enhancement.
February 2011, The Peter Wilson Lecture, Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh was packed to the rafters for the annual Peter Wilson Lecture, a joint meeting of the Society of Biology and the Edinburgh Consortium of Rural Research.
Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at London’s City University delivered an extremely thought-provoking talk on Food Security and Sustainability with the equally provocative subtitle ‘One can’t make an Omlette without Cracking some Eggs’.
Prof Lang explained that sharp oil price rises have led an oil-dependent food industry to examine possible threats which have started a policy debate on food security that will not go away. He stressed that while attention is focused on technical innovations such as GM, societal issues such as restructuring food markets, rapid consumer behaviour change, reshaping cultural tastes and altering price signals should not be ignored. These require state intervention in markets and less consumer choice. The lecture highlighted the need for open and democratic debate about food futures, warned against technical triumphalism and urged a more balanced integration of societal and supply chain change.
The lecture can be viewed here and a full report is available on the right of this page.
November 2009, Science and Parliament, Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Chemistry hosted its annual Science and the Parliament Event at Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on 11 November 2009. Following the theme “The Science Behind Health”, the meeting highlighted the various scientific developments contributing to recent improvements in the health of our nation.
The event saw the usual gathering of MSPs, civil servants and an impressive array of scientists from a wide range of backgrounds. Over 300 delegates listened to RSC President, Professor Dave Garner’s opening address and introduction to keynote speaker, Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Government and Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon.
Following her inspiring speech, the Minister presented Claire Roulston (University of St Andrews), with her award as 2009 winner of the new Society of Biology poster presentation competition, open to Scottish final-year undergraduate students of Biological Science. Her poster entitled, “Isolation and Characteristics of Prohameocytes from Hyasaraneus”, was voted by the Council of the Society’s Scotland Branch to be of the highest standard of all the excellent submissions, and it formed an integral part of the Society’s exhibition at the event. Having graduated from the school of Biology at St Andrews University, she has continued her studies there as a PhD student. Claire is pictured here accepting her prize from Nicola Sturgeon MSP.
Proceedings continued with an inspiring address from the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government, Professor Anne Glover. Breakout sessions followed offering a wealth of information regarding Science and Health. They included a presentation by Sir John Arbuthnott on “Food and Human Health” and a thought provoking look at “Disease, Globalisation and Climate Change” by Professor Stuart Reid who concluded his presentation with the disturbing thought that disease is only 48 hours away. Professors Alan Heaves and Alan Fairlamb, whose presentations were on “Drugs and Therapies” and “Diagnostics”, respectively, illustrated the innovative and productive progress within these essential fields.
Following a short break, the parliamentary question and answer session was conducted with probing questions from the floor being addressed by the panel. Finally, Professor Dave Garner closed the 2009 event with some thought provoking remarks regarding “The Science Behind Health”, leaving us very much in anticipation of Science and the Parliament 2010.