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.

Train to teach this September

If you have considered training to teach after graduating in a STEM subject this year, this post is for you…

Train to teach and inspire hundreds of young minds along the way. Start your teaching career on a Biology or Chemistry train to teach course this September.

Tax-free bursaries and prestigious scholarships of up to £30,000 are available while you train as a teacher.

The department of Education (DfE) website has additional support available to help you get started…

  • Read these five simple steps to get into teaching
  • Register to attend the next DfE online event on 18 July; which provides specific advice for new STEM graduates like you.

Or you can register an interest in our programmes here.

Top Award for Professor Faragher

Richard-Faragher-Cropped-244x200Professor Richard Faragher has received Britain’s highest award for services to gerontology.

Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology,  and first British President of the American Aging Association, has received the highest honour of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA); the Lord Cohen of Birkenhead Medal for services to gerontology.  The BSRA is the oldest scientific society in the world devoted to researching the biology of ageing. 

First awarded in 1980 the Lord Cohen Medal recognises an individual who has made a considerable contribution to ageing research, either through original discoveries or in the promotion of gerontology in its broadest aspects.  Past recipients include Professor Leonard Hayflick, discoverer of the ‘Hayflick limit’ to cell division, Reith lecturer Professor Tom Kirkwood CBE who proposed the evolutionary concept of disposable soma and Mrs Elizabeth Mills OBE, former director of the charity Research into Ageing and Honorary Doctor of Science at the university.

Professor Faragher said “I am deeply honoured by this mark of esteem from my peers. But science is a collaborative project and I therefore feel this award is as much a mark of recognition of the work of my students and collaborators as it is of any contribution of mine.

“Unsuccessful ageing is a global problem but research into the biology of ageing could improve the health of millions of older people, allowing them to continue to live independently in their own homes.  It is vital that we continue to fund that research and to co-operate with our colleagues in Europe and beyond at this uncertain time.”

Professor Faragher will deliver his Lord Cohen medal lecture “Cell senescence: And after” at the 66th Annual Meeting of the BSRA on the 5 July in Durham.  This will be preceded by a public engagement event “Help I’m Ageing” at which all are welcome. 

“Making Sense of Your Science” career workshop – Sunday 3 July


SUNDAY 3RD JULY, 10.30 – 15.30


£27 including lunch

Making “Sense of Your Science” is a Career Workshop being held at the Brighton Conference Centre during the Society for Experimental Biology’s conference on Sunday 3rd July. This one-day event is being made available to local PhD students and postdocs and includes a panel of media professionals who will give you helpful advice about how to communicate your science to the media, as well as more general rules about how to present your science in writing and face-to-face. See below for more detail of the programme.

Sign up by 4pm, 27 June

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Get up to £30,000 tax-free to Train to Teach a STEM subject

Good teachers are always in demand but STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at secondary school are particular priorities and attract additional support and higher levels of funding.

The teaching profession is a great way to make your degree, skills and knowledge really count. At the moment, tax-free bursaries and scholarships worth up to £30,000 are being offered to top graduates who choose to train as teachers.

Our teaching courses at Brighton are perfect if you have graduated with an honors degree or equivalent, in a subject relevant to the specialism. Or if you think you may need additional support we also offer subject knowledge enhancement routes (SKE) which you can do ahead of the teaching course.

We offer courses in a number of STEM subject areas including:
Biology and

Specialising in a STEM subject at postgraduate level means that you will be able to take a role in the leadership and development of this subject area throughout your career.

You can find out more at the Department of Education (DfE) website.

Or you can register an interest in our programmes here.

Join us at our campus open day on Saturday 18 June

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and the campus where you will be studying. You will also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.
If you are thinking of beginning your studies in 2017, you can find out more about our campus open day and how to book a place here

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Festival of chemistry

hal-in-moscow-2More than 90 students from 24 schools will take part in the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry here at the University of Brighton later this month.

The 11 to 13-year-olds will take part in hands-on, practical events including a ‘murder mystery’ which will involve students using their analytical chemistry skills. There will also be a ‘University Challenge’ to invent a new colour indicator to show how much sugar is in food products.

And Professor Hal Sosabowski, the university’s Professor of Public Understanding of Science based on our school, will provide an “explosive” lecture using liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and solid carbon dioxide.

All students will be given individual prizes and certificates and winning teams will be awarded prizes for their schools.

The Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative run by The Salters’ Institute which promotes the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences amongst the young, and to encourage careers in the teaching of chemistry and in the UK chemical and allied industries.

This year event on 14 June will be the festival’s twentieth appearance at the university. The festival is one of 49 taking place at universities and colleges throughout the UK and Ireland. This year, the institute is working in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Discovering new antibiotics

Scientists at the University of Brighton are working with a team in South Korea on research that could lead to the development of new antibiotics.

Just weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron called for a worldwide cut in the unnecessary use of antibiotics and rewards for drug companies which develop new medicines to fight drug-resistant superbugs, the scientists have been studying soil bacteria which, they say, have the genetic potential to “produce tens of thousands of novel antibiotics”.

The South Korean-led study has been supported by University of Brighton scientists Professor Colin Smith and Dr Giselda Bucca in the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences.

The scientists undertook a detailed study of the activity of genes that are responsible for antibiotic production in a soil bacterium called Streptomyces. These bacteria are the major producers of antibiotics that are used worldwide to treat infections. Their study reveals how the activity of the genes for antibiotic production are controlled in the particular species of bacterium they studied – Streptomyces coelicolor – and this new knowledge, they say “suggests new ways for scientists to increase production of known antibiotics and, perhaps more importantly, to discover new antibiotics”.

Professor Smith said: “There is a critical need for developing new antibiotics because of the global rise in antibiotic resistance. Soil bacteria such as Streptomyces have the genetic potential to produce tens of thousands of novel antibiotics. However, it can be very difficult to coax them to produce these antibiotics in detectable quantities under laboratory conditions.

“The results from our study suggest how we could manipulate these bacteria to switch on production of antibiotics. This could allow us to ‘awaken’ genetic pathways for antibiotics that are not usually active outside of their natural soil environment. This, in turn, could enable us to study their properties and to scale up their production in the laboratory if they look promising as new antibiotics.”

Professor Smith and Dr Bucca are now embarking on a proof-of-concept study with the global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to establish whether the same genetic controls operate in other Streptomyces bacteria. Professor Smith said: “If they do then this will open up new possibilities for increasing production of clinically-important antibiotics.”

The research is published in Nature Communications, find out more here.

Professor Colin Smith

Professor Colin Smith