To celebrate the National Science Week we organised a Family Science Festival in Dorchester’s Corn Exchange (17th March 2019). The Festival was an incredible success, with more than 2,200 visitors exploring the science presentations and workshops organised by Bournemouth University in partnership with Dorset County Museum, Dorchester Town Council and the Thomas Hardye School. Our ambition is to make this festival an annual event, and rename it Dorchester Science Festival, which would run over a whole week-end. Many BU undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff were involved in the activities offered to the general public. Genoveva Esteban (co-organiser and master minder of the event), Dan Franklin, Matthew Bennet, Sally Reynolds, Adrian Newton, Marcin and Dominika Budka, and Stephen Watson’s hands-on activities were all enthusiastically received by children and adults. The atmosphere was captured on film by BU’s award-winning media production agency Red Balloon.
The event was sponsored by EU-Interreg project SAMARCH, the Royal Society of Biology, Dorchester Town Council and BU. We are also grateful to the ScienceIRL Project developed by the Indian River Lagoon Science Festival SAMA (Florida, USA) for sharing the “This is what a scientist looks like” T-shirt idea with us.
Hunter Hines, a PhD student supervised by Dr Genoveva Esteban in the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences (SciTech), has had a piece published by the prestigious journal Nature. Hines is the first author on an article about using social media in microbiology outreach at a global scale. Hunter’s Instagram account @microbialecology currently has 55,000 followers. At the end of 2018 his account received over 1.4 million views in a single week. Around this time this also went viral being picked up by ~30 international media outlets, including National Geographic (Russia). The Nature piece published this week can be read here: doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00493-3
Hunter’s Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/microbialecology
NatGeo Russia: http://www.nat-geo.ru/nature/1249648-snyato-cherez-mikroskop-ili-chto-proiskhodit-v-kaple-vody/
Hunter’s PhD research is on the global distribution of the single-celled organisms known as protists.
Hai Luu (PhD student working with Prof Genoveva Esteban and Dr Iain Green in the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, SciTech) travelled to her home country of Vietnam where she organised a seminar on microscopic life for 20 undergraduate students of the Aqua-Agriculture Faculty at Travinh University. Students collected samples from freshwater ponds, and observed the single-celled and other microscopic organisms that thrive in such habitats; they also studied their diversity in soil samples. Hai Luu gave a presentation about the diversity of organisms that constitute the unicellular protists, including micro-algae, protozoa, and slime molds. This event was a great opportunity for the students to recognise the biodiversity of micro-organisms in soils and fresh waters, and to understand the important role they play in food webs. The seminar was the first of its kind at Travinh University, and a unique opportunity to disseminate the research we do in this field at BU to a wider audience. Excellent feedback was received from the enthusiastic group of students.
Professor Genoveva Esteban (Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology) in collaboration with the Freshwater Biological Association, is running an Advanced Training Course on Freshwater Taxonomy and Field Identification Skills for PhD students, early-career researchers, and post-grads.
The course has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and has a maximum of 20 places available for UK-based applicants. Travel (up to £100) and accommodation are covered. The course will be based at the River Laboratory in Dorset, 24th-28th September 2018.
To find out more and to apply visit: https://www.fba.org.uk/courses
Deadline is now 31st July 2018.
If you require further information please contact Genoveva Esteban email@example.com
Microscopic investigations of water samples from the half-barrel pond in Christchurch House courtyard have revealed a menagerie of single-celled life. These tiny organisms (smaller than one tenth of a millimetre) are incredibly important as they form the basis of food webs. They also play a major role in maintaining water quality as they feed on bacteria, and stalked species such as Vorticella (image) are responsible for their removal in waste-water treatment plants. The half-barrel “pond” may be almost as small as its inhabitants but it promises to become a treasure of local ‘hidden’ biodiversity!
For further information please contact Genoveva F. Esteban gesteban@firstname.lastname@example.org, Jack Dazley email@example.com, or Damian Evans firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week (11-15 September 2017) saw the successful delivery of the NERC-funded Advanced Training Course Freshwater Taxonomy and Field Identification Skills, awarded to Professor Genoveva F. Esteban (SciTech, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences) in collaboration with the Freshwater Biological Association (https://www.fba.org.uk/fba). The course is free for PhD students and early-career researchers. With a strong emphasis on training excellence and practical hands-on experience this short course offers expert tuition in freshwater fieldwork, taxonomy, and freshwater science. The course provided in-depth training on the well-established use of macro-invertebrates as the core component of freshwater bio-assessment and also included specific training in field and laboratory methods for investigating and identifying microscopic organisms like diatoms, meiofauna and protists. The participants’ feedback was outstanding; Davina Hill from the University of Cumbria tweeted “Thanks for a fascinating and inspiring course in Freshwater Taxonomy. Recommended!”
The course will also be delivered in 2018 (dates to be confirmed). Please contact Genoveva F. Esteban email@example.com for further information. Photograph courtesy of Hai Luu.
Saturday 10th – Sunday 18th October saw the celebration of Biology Week nationwide. To join the celebrations Genoveva Esteban and Daniel Franklin from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences (SciTech) took part in the Family Festival of Science on 10th October at the Thomas Hardye School (Dorchester), which was attended by over 1,500 visitors. Drs Esteban and Franklin organised two hands-on activities: Organisms that light up their world (funded by the Royal Society of Biology), with help from Wei-Jun Liang (Scitech) and his students who prepared some amazing glowing bacteria; and Ecology under the Microscope (funded by the British Ecological Society), showing how food chains work. Visitors came from far and near…Stroud Valley, Oxford, Devizes, Cranborne, Lyme Regis, Bournemouth, Wimborne, Portland, Sherborne and, of course, Dorchester. Visitors’ age ranged from babies in arms up to Year 12 helpers aged 17 and beyond to great grandparents. A very busy but tremendous day for everyone involved. Special thanks go to Mrs Judith Wardlaw, other staff at Thomas Hardye School and to all the 6th Formers that helped on the day.
A new Fusion project will shortly be starting in the School of Applied Sciences run by Dan Franklin and Genoveva Esteban. Concentrating on cyanobacteria (‘blue-green algae’) the team will attempt to isolate out new strains of cyanobacteria into culture at BU. Cyanobacteria are single-celled organisms that can turn freshwater ecosystems a vivid green colour. Cyanobacteria growth in reservoirs and lakes already causes substantial economic losses and amenity problems and the ultimate aim of the project is to investigate the properties of cells such that new management measures can be pioneered. The team will make multiple isolations of cyanobacteria from local lakes in order to establish new laboratory strains of cyanobacteria, including toxic species such as Microcystis. These will then be used to facilitate experiments on ways to inhibit cyanobacteria growth.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Images BU culture of Microcystis:
Picture credit: Ian Chapman, BU
Microcystis growth in nature: