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.

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.

A* Scientist outreach work

a_star_scientist-23zhsb9On 16 March the ‘A* Scientist’ outreach team completed another successful hands-on science morning with Year 4 children (8-9 year-olds), and a tailor-made talented and gifted afternoon with Year 3 children (7-8 year-olds), at Bramber Primary School in Worthing. The A* Scientist team is made up of experienced and talented members of PaBS including Dr Angela Sheerin, Dr Anna Guildford, Dr Claire Marriott and Ms Bertie Berterelli. We also had a special guest from the BrightSTAR team, Ms Maria Verdenelli, who was disseminating principles from her PhD studies.

Thirty year 4 children enjoyed our specialist science program that included strawberry DNA extraction, cheek cell staining and the much-enjoyed organ assembly race against the clock. In the afternoon the team held a special talented and gifted session with the Year 3 children that saw the creation of our own pH indicator and volcano competitions with the principles of basic chemical reactions as part of the learning outcome. In parallel to this, Ms Verdenelli held an additional hands-on workshop for the Year 4 children to design new methods to mend heart conditions.

The A* Scientist outreach team was founded over four years ago and in this time we have seen upwards of 1,000 children. We have gained over £18,000 of funding (including Springboard, WPOOG and Compact Plus) which has enabled purchase of equipment, consumables and some salaries.

The ‘smart’ dressing that could save lives

A ‘smart’ medical dressing that glows when it detects bacterial infection is a step closer to saving lives of burns victims.

Around 5Smart-dressing-Cropped-398x272,000 children and 13,000 adults a year in England and Wales are treated in hospital with serious burns. Infection is a common and serious complication for these patients, but at present it is difficult for doctors to diagnose these infections, and confirmation can take several days.

The University of Brighton, and its partner organisations – the Queen Victoria Hospital and Blond McIndoe Research Foundation in East Grinstead – are playing a key role in a £1m research project to test the effectiveness of a new infection-detecting dressing which aims to improve treatment and save lives.

The University of Brighton’s Dr Brian Jones and colleagues are working in collaDr-Brian-Jones-Cropped-398x272boration with the University of Bath and the Healing Foundation Children’s Burns Research Centre. The team has developed a prototype dressing that will detect infection by a simple and easily-observed colour change, alerting healthcare professionals that the wound is infected.

For the full story, visit our website

Urban badger research used on BBC’s Autumnwatch

Our research on badgers in the city is featured on BBC’s Autumnwatch.

Ecologists working on the project include Dr Dawn Scott, Assistant Head of the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences;  Bryony Tolhurst, Senior Lecturer, and Masters’ student Heidi Karlsson.

Dawn Scott and Chris Packha. Picture Kristina Turner

Dr Scott said: “The research we are conducting is looking at how badgers use urban environments and we have collared seven badgers across the city to track where they go and how they have adapted their ecology and behaviour to urban living.”

Remote cameras in a number of key habitats will include Badger Cam, situated by a badger feeding area to watch their nightly activities. In conjunction with the University of Brighton, the team plan to test Brighton badgers to discover whether urban badgers have more of a preference for anthropogenic (human) food than their rural cousins.

Autumnwatch begins 2 November with Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games.

My Brighton experience

Nadin Fahallah tells us about her experience of being a Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) student here.

I visited the university on an open day and fell in love with the campus – it was nice, welcoming and not as big and intimidating as the other universities I had visited. I also found the laboratory facilities very impressive.

Nadin Fahallah

One of the highlights of studying in Brighton is meeting people from different walks of life – Brighton is extremely multi-cultural and diverse!

I would definitely recommend my course! One of the main positives that really stand out for this course is the flexibility and choice provided, allowing me to essentially mould my degree around things I am interested in, allowing me to explore aspects of biological sciences I am most interested in. It has been possible for me to pick ecology modules, biomedical sciences modules and even language modules; for example, I was able to pick a language module (French) for my second and third year, which I really enjoyed!

The teaching staff are extremely friendly and always available, whether in person or via email, to happily answer any queries regarding the lecture materials covered. I found this to be very helpful, particularly during the exam period, when most lecturers even set up revision sessions/drop in classes to help with revision.

The skills I have learnt during my time here are; time-management, organisational skills, professionalism and of course laboratory skills essential to any biological scientist!

I would say to anyone who is thinking of apply for this course at University of Brighton to definitely go for it! Make sure you visit the University on an open day as it really gives you a sense of what uni life will be like.

Brighton scientists fighting to save the Rhino

A team of University of Brighton ecologists is leading new research to fight the decline in rhinos in South Africa.

Rhino horn is worth more than gold on the black market and with an average of three rhinos being killed by poachers every day, experts fear the species will be wiped out in 10 to 20 years.Cheeky Cow later died at the hands of poachers and her calf Charlie subsequently died.

Dr Dawn Scott, Assistant Head of the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: “Widespread poaching has decimated rhino populations around the world including South Africa, home to three-quarters of the world’s rhino population.

“In the last six years 2,650 rhino have been poached in South Africa, with 1,116 deaths in 2014 alone. The situation is urgent.”

Dr Scott, who specialises in mammal ecology and conservation, is leading a new study on the impact of rhinos on their environment and how it could be affected by their disappearance.

Dr Scott and University of Brighton colleagues Dr Rachel White, Dr Angelo Pernetta and Dr Anja Rott, will be working with South African ecologists.

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