British Science Festival heads for Brighton

british-science-festival-logoOne of Europe’s leading and longest established science festivals is coming to Brighton next year. And we will be co-hosting it!

The University of Brighton will co-host the 2017 British Science Festival with the University of Sussex from 5-8 September.

The festival, organised by the British Science Association, will have a programme of over 100 events featuring cutting-edge science from world-leading academics covering everything from technology and engineering to social sciences.

Welcoming the announcement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris said: “I am delighted that the University of Brighton will be co-hosting the British Science Festival next year. We were keen to grasp this wonderful opportunity to showcase our world-leading research alongside cutting-edge science from around the globe in an accessible and engaging way.

“The city of Brighton & Hove is world-renowned for its Arts Festival. By hosting the British Science Festival, we can throw open the doors of our facilities to the wider community, including our new state-of-the-art Advanced Engineering Building that is currently under construction.”

We’ll keep you posted as more details are confirmed, and hope to see you all there!

University building scoops top award

The project to refurbish the University of Brighton’s iconic Cockcroft Building has won in the Higher Education category of the prestigious Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards 2016.

The Cockcroft Building on the University’s Moulecoomb campus has been a familiar landmark on Brighton’s Lewes Road since the 1960’s.

The awards jury said: “This is a bold project, particularly from a sustainability point of view – and a model for future similar projects. It focuses well on how people use the building. The exterior has been elegantly improved and the interior creatively revamped.”

Welcoming the award, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Debra Humphris said: “This is really excellent news and I congratulate the team involved in this major project. The refurbishment of the Cockcroft Building is an important part of our ongoing investment programme which aims to ensure that our students have access to world-class facilities.”

The multi-million pound refurbishment programme, which took three years to complete, was carried out whilst the building was still being used by staff and students and included:
• Development of state-of-the-art new learning laboratories and office spaces to house schools within the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences
• Installation of new windows to improve insulation throughout the building
• Exposing the ceiling space to highlight the architectural features of the building’s interior
• Opening up corridors in the building to improve lighting, people movement and provide social and informal learning spaces for students and staff to use.
• Reducing noise levels by putting in place sound buffering and dampening features
• Installing a new roof surface to improve insulation and energy efficiency.

More field work

Today we asked our students to work as consultant for the National Trust at Sheffield park as part of the monitoring of previous river restoration work on the Ouse. Under the supervision of Dr Anja Rott &Dr Neil Crooks, our students set out to
survey the River Ouse  aquatic invertebrate and fish diversity. Using standard survey techniques, such as kick sampling, the diversity and water quality of the stretch of river was assessed. More than 700 individual invertebrates were accounted and a total of 24 taxonomic groups identified. This is quite impressive as most of the students were novice, but made up the lack of practice by their enthusiasm and motivation.

The second part of the survey aimed to survey the fish diversity within 3 stretches of the river. Using Electrofishing, students were able to work as a team and capture the different species present. Eel, chub, dace and minnow (to name but a few) were identified, measured and then released.

Another good day in the Field!


Back in the Field!

Teaching has already started for some of us, with the Ecological field skills module. Final year Ecology students and enthusiasts are out in the countryside doing what they like to do best –  field work!

We are very fortunate to have a diverse landscape within our reach and today we are off to Ashdown Forest. Ashdown Forest is most probably famous for  Winnie the Pooh and Christopher, but it also has fine examples of Lowland heathland and reptiles. All 50 of us met up on one of the hottest days of the summer, and started the day by attempting to set up a reptile survey grid under the critical eye of Dr Angelo Pernetta. After a few tangle with our canes and walking through the gorse, most teams managed to set up the grid appropriately, some using very complex geometry calculations.

Lowland heathlands are species-poor habitats, so they are great place to start if you have limited knowledge of plant species and want to get to grips with plant identification keys.
This is what we did, spotting the key Heather species, Gorse and other characteristics plant species, which proved useful for the Heathland Condition Assessment that was done later that day.

As well as the beautiful scenery and the exceptionally warm weather, another highlight of the day was the capture of a young female adder during our reptile survey among many slow worms and lizards.

A hot spot for Lyme disease

The South Downs National Park which stretches across Sussex and Hampshire is one of the country’s top 10 hot spots for Lyme disease caused by ticks, scientists are warning.

Scientists from our school are coming to the end of a comprehensive study which will map where the ticks and bacteria that cause Lyme disease are distributed across the national park.The disease is transmitted to humans by tick bites and if untreated can cause serious disease.

anja-rottDr Anja Rott said: “The South Downs National Park has been highlighted as including two of the ten areas in England and Wales where infection with Lyme disease is most frequent. However, no survey of the hazard or the factors affecting it has been carried out across the park.

“Our study will identify the extent of hazard and some environmental factors that affect it. It will determine which animals feed and/or infect ticks with the bacteria that causes the disease and it will summarise and evaluate suggested ‘one-health’ (integrated livestock, wildlife and human health) methods to decrease the risk and suggest actions within the park.”

Almost a third of dogs checked at random across the UK were found to be carrying a tick in the largest survey of ticks in dogs, The Big Tick Project. Dog owners should consult their vet for advice on tick control and how to check and remove ticks correctly.
Early signs of potential Lyme disease in humans include flu-like symptoms and a bull’s eye rash. People should see their GP if they experience these symptoms following a known tick bite.