Eve on Kenya research trip

Eve’s amazing research opportunity with the leopards of Kenya

Eve Hills, Ecology and Conservation MRes student, tells us about the opportunities and experiences she had studying here and why she recommends Ecology at Brighton.

I came into higher education late in life after deciding that I wanted to develop my passion for animals into a career in wildlife conservation. I enrolled on a foundation degree course in Animal Science, and this provided me with the opportunity to further my knowledge and develop new skills. As part of the course I got to design and carry out my first research project (studying cheetah movement on a Namibian wildlife sanctuary). I enjoyed the course so much, that after graduating I went on to top up my degree with a BSc (Hons) in Ecology at the University of Brighton.

The BSc provided another opportunity to conduct a research project – and this time my focus was the leopards of Kenya’s, Masai Mara National Reserve. I very much enjoyed the research side of my studies and the opportunities that were opening up for me were really exciting.

The MRes appealed to me particularly because it was relatively light on taught modules and heavy on the research. I wanted the opportunity to experience the kind of research I might get do in industry.

My research focused on the African leopard… after starting to study leopards during my BSc I wanted to continue – particularly as little is known about the Mara’s leopard population. In 2016, I made contact with a biologist who had been studying the Mara’s cheetah population for several years. After flying out to meet her and spending a couple of weeks assisting on her project, she encouraged me to start building a database of leopards in the Mara. It was working on the database which led to both my BSc and MRes project ideas.

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Chloe smiling with young man

Fund winner Chloe’s South African game reserve experience

Chloe Morel recently visited South Africa as part of her International Experience. The International Experience Fund is a fund  kindly supported by Santander Universities and other generous donors, which helps eligible undergraduate students take advantage of opportunities overseas such as work placements, volunteering or studying abroad.

Chloe tells the story

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Photo of trout swimming in river

Are superfoods damaging fish communities?

Brown trout in our rivers are in danger of being poisoned by a toxin produced in the watercress farming industry, according to new research at the University of Brighton.

Penethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) potentially is leaching into water courses and researchers are concerned the toxin can kill trout embryos and cause deformities.

Dr Neil Crooks, from the University’s Centre for Aquatic Environments, who led the research said: “Results show the need to accurately quantify and monitor environmental levels of PEITC in the environment.”

Dr Crooks, with Asa White, a PhD student, and Centre colleagues Dr Angelo Pernetta and Professor Chris Joyce, Professor of Ecology, looked into the sources of PEITC.

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World-first study into microplastics in crustacean brains

University of Brighton researchers have carried out the world’s first study into microplastics in the brain of a crustacean species.

The research – conducted by University graduate Hannah Parker, Dr Neil Crooks, Dr Angelo Pernetta – showed that ingested microplastics remained in the brain of the velvet swimming crab at more consistent levels than in other areas such as the stomach and gills.

The presence of microplastics in the brain has possible implications for a range of behaviours in the crab, including predator avoidance, foraging and reproduction. Read More

How drones and sirens can help save the rhino

University of Brighton researchers have found new ways to help save white rhinoceros from illegal poaching – using drones and sirens.

They investigated the most effective ways of deterring rhinos from danger areas such as near perimeter fences where poachers often operate and spent six months on a South African game reserve testing the most effective way of persuading the animals to move to safer areas.

Poaching, fuelled by the international trade in horn, has caused the deaths of over 1,000 white and black rhinoceros per year between 2013 and 2017 and South Africa alone lost 5,476 rhinoceros to poaching between 2006 and 2016.

Lead researcher Samuel Penny, PhD student and lecturer in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, exposed a population of southern white rhinos to drones, sirens and the sound of a swarm of bees to see which best encouraged them to move.

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They also tried scattering different smells including chilli to deter the rhinos from danger areas. Read More

National appointment for Brighton professor

Matteo Santin, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Tissue Regeneration, has been appointed a member of the science and technology strategic advisory board of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity.

The group, which held its first meeting on 2 July, chaired by Lord Filkin CBE, aims to identify “the most effective ways to increase healthspan and democratise access to the ‘longevity dividend’ for citizens”. Read More

How the garden snail could help solve the antibiotics crisis

A Brighton scientist has made a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics – courtesy of the common garden snail.

Dr Sarah Pitt, taken by Simon Dack

Researchers have suspected that snail mucus contains antibacterial properties but the University of Brighton’s Dr Sarah Pitt has conclusively identified proteins that could directly lead to the development of an antibiotic cream to treat deep burn wounds, and an aerosol for lung infections suffered regularly by patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).

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