Stay Curious

aThe beginning of university can be daunting. A fresh start is filled with unknown possibilities which makes it exciting but also nerve-racking. My university experience began in the middle of September as I thought it best to give myself a good month to move out and settle into a new city. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a place in halls but did manage to find myself some amazing housemates on the Facebook house hunting group. Finding a house was initially difficult but there must be a first time for everything and with a little help from everyone we managed to find a lovely seven bed house not too far from campus.

It has to be said that the two weeks of fresher’s flew by so quickly it was almost a blur and although it happened half a year ago it still feels like yesterday. Meeting people for the first time has always been a type of experience that I have enjoyed and in Brighton you meet people from all different walks of life. The social aspect of university thrives upon the unique atmosphere that a city like Brighton provides. Nights out at the local bars, restaurants and clubs have been by far some of the best memories I have made. There is such an eclectic mix of events available to students here that means that there is definitely something for everyone. In the day, the beach provides a perfect escape to relax and soak in the sea breeze but you only start to appreciate this in the second semester when the English weather takes a turn for the better and shopping trips become viable with the recent influx of the maintenance loan.

The beach is somewhere I like to go between lectures with my course mates who have become some of my closest friends. It is safe to say we all really love our course and the opportunities it offers for our future are endless. The lecturers that teach us are some of the best I have ever learnt from and they all make time to ensure you understand the content. There are two modules to choose in the first year which allows for some flexibility in learning subjects you are passionate about. This adds an aspect of independence and gives added motivation to succeed. I found that a university course is the first step in education where you finally begin to learn about topics you really want to and explore all areas you were curious about at A levels and even GCSEs. I would never trade my place at university for anything as learning something new every day is not an opportunity everyone is given; especially when it is something that you love.

To end my first blog post for PABS, I would just like to say to everyone with the upcoming exams I wish you luck and to any perspective students reading this I hope to see you here next year (maybe even writing a blog post)!

Lauren Fernandes (1st year BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences).

South Africa field trip 2016 – days 11 and 12

The last two days were dedicated to personal projects where students collected data to answer their own research question. This year studies ranged from the effects of burning on plant biodiversity to behavioural observations of Rhino. This is another great opportunity to put into practice the skills learned during the taught sessions, but also to spend time focussing and enjoying their field of interest.

Overall this trip was another success and students really enjoyed their experience:

“The South Africa field trip has to be one of the best experiences of my life! It has been a huge boost to my academic learning, coming away with a larger skills set and focus for my future career! My personal project involved me being on foot researching southern white rhino, a once in a life-time opportunity. It such an inspirational and incredible trip, I am itching to get myself back to South Africa!” 

Daniel Bardey recording white rhino behaviour

Daniel Bardey recording white rhino behaviour

Everything about the module was perfect, there isn’t much more to say, but it has definitely been one of, if not the best experience of my life

Great field trip location, staff, good timing and methodical learning process

Unfortunately all good things come to an end, but before packing our bags and flying back to Brighton, there was a last chance to unwind at the Kopje, one of the highest points overlooking the reserve where we could all admire the sun setting on another successful and rewarding trip…. Until next year!

South Africa field trip 2016

This year 24 second year students flew to South Africa with Dr Anja Rott, Dr Rachel White and Dr Neil Crooks to take part in the Biology Field trip.  All students shared a common interest for wildlife conservation and the great outdoors!

During 12 days at Mankwe Game reserve, near Pilanesberg National Park, students improved their species identification skills and undertook a wide variety of exercises in both data collection and data analysis, ranging from large mammal transects to Vegetation Condition Index (VCI), bird counts, camera trapping and sweep netting for invertebrates – to name just a few. Early mornings were rewarded with fantastic wildlife sightings and beautifully lit landscapes.

Connected to the above activities, the students were constantly learning about best practice for managing a wildlife game reserve, including fire management and anti-poaching.


Biological Sciences at Brighton

Third year Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) student, Steven Purnell, tells us more about studying here

Biological Sciences is a diverse topic, ranging from biomedical modules to ecology and optional geology/ geography modules. Most of your module choices will be optional, meaning you can pick and choose the topics you are most interested in.

The Brighton teaching staff are excellent; well-informed and enthusiastic lecturers. The support staff are always helpful, particularly in the labs where the technicians are always willing to point you in the right direction.

My final year project (studying the antibiotic resistance of biofilm-forming Escherichia coli) helped me learn skills such as designing an experiment, conduct literature reviews of previous publications and gave me a great deal of good laboratory practise.

I did an internal placement year at the university, assisting a lecturer in his research on pathongenic E.coli inSteven-Purnell the microbiology research laboratory, which expanded my experience. Puttingtheory into practice really helped me to understand the practical side of what we had learned.

I am currently applying to PhD places in various microbiology topics, in particular work with pathogenic E.coli as it is a topic I have become increasingly interested in from my placement year and final year project experiences.

I would describe my course as fascinating, enjoyable and enthralling. If you want a biology course encompassing both biomedical and ecology topics, this is definitely the one you should pick.

Blue blood helps keeps the Queen fit

P11_Dr Richard Faragher_ageing_001Elizabeth II has a good chance of being healthier than one of her average subjects because of her high-class.

The Queen, as she celebrates her 90th birthday tomorrow (21 April), like most women 85 and over, would normally expect to be six and ten times more likely than men to have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and thyroid problems and, overall, have a significantly higher levels of disability.

Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology at the University of Brighton, said many problems reported by 20-40 per cent of 1,000 people, 85 and over, who took part in a Newcastle 85+ study, would have difficulty carrying out royal duties because of incontinence, falling and visual impairment.

“Given that listening to politicians is an important part of the role, readers may wish to decide for themselves if advancing age has conferred an advantage or a disadvantage on the two-thirds of the cohort who report hearing difficulties.”

Professor Faragher, in an article in The Conversation, the website for news, comment and analysis, written by academics and researchers, said it would seem the odds are against the Queen continuing working.

“However, she does have three potential advantages. Firstly she has blue blood, and in the general population there is an (approximately) linear relationship between healthy life expectancy and social class.

To read Professor Faragher’s article, go to the conversation website

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Boosting the fight against cancer

The university has been awarded £148,600 to find new ways to deliver anti-cancer properties from the spice turmeric to prevent or treat the disease.

Scientists will be working with collaborators in Vietnam where the climate and soil on higher ground is suitable to cultivate Curcuma longa from which turmeric, used in cooking in India and south Asia as well as in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, is derived.

The funding has come from the Newton Institutional Links, part of the UK’s official development assistance programme and which provides grants for the development of research and innovation collaborations between the UK and partner countries.

Members of the University of Brighton’s drug delivery research group, Professor John Smart and Dr Ananth Pannala, will work with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology on formulating curcumin preparations to be manufactured in Vietnam and marketed globally.

Professor Smart said: “Curcumin has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and has been used for the prevention and treatment of cancer, diabetes, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease.

“It is poorly absorbed when given as a tablet or capsule, its limited solubility being a major factor. This work will develop a curcumin-containing tablet or capsule using soluble carriers or dispersible oils that are acceptable, stable and optimise bioavailability.

“These will be required to be manufactured sustainably within Vietnam, using locally available materials. The project will last two years and will include regular visits to Vietnam to develop the collaboration.”

UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, discussed the university’s involvement in the project on a visit to the Vietnam Academy this week (12 April).

For more information on our research in this area visit

Lord Robert Winston is coming to UoB – 03.06.16

Lord Robert Winston, known for his pioneering research in the biological field, is coming to the University’s Hastings campus on June 3 to give a talk to science students and staff!

The talk will take place in the Havelock lecture theatre at 4pm so please arrive at 3.45pm.

Register here

So who is Lord Winston??

Lord WinstonHe is one of the most respected and influential contributors to the field of biology in our lifetime, transforming the understanding and application of fertility treatment. He developed gynaecological surgical techniques in the 1970s which improved fertility treatments, and developed improvements to IVF. His work developed pre-implantation diagnosis in order for embryos to be screened for genetic diseases, preventing couples passing on their genetic predispositions to certain illnesses to their children, such as cystic fibrosis. He has spent his career extensively researching, and has produced over 300 publications on reproduction and stages of pregnancy.

Now he is Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, and leads a program at the Institution of Reproduction and Developmental Biology at Imperial College London to improve human transplantation. He is also chairman of the Genesis Research Trust, an important charity working to promote better health for women and babies. He has a strong interest in educational issues, and has combined his two passions to become a successful childrens author, writing books to explain science in a fascinating way to inspire young children. He is also a successful author for adults, and has created award winning documentaries for television over the years. He has accumulated a variety of awards for his work, and is now a board member and Vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, regularly speaking at the House of Lords on Education, Science, Medicine and the Arts.