Academic Excellence Awards

The academic achievements of the top students of the Biology Department was recognized with 3 awards at the Excellence Scholarship Awards 2017:

Academic Achievement Level 5 Excellence Awards (Award recognising students that have achieved the highest average in their Faculty)

  • Katy Andrews- BSc (Hons) Human Biology
  • Leah Eccles- BSc (Hons) Biology

Chancellor’s Scholarship (Award recognising students who have helped raise the profile of the University and made an outstanding contribution to the University)

  • Joshua Styles- BSc (Hons) Ecology

Josh got his award for his impressive contribution to the conservation of campus plant biodiversity, and for supporting botanical education within the department and promoting botanical work performed at Edge Hill in several conferences.

The department congratulates our award recipients, and is proud of their achievements.

ENTO opportunities conference

Five Edge Hill students were lucky enough to attend the BENHS ento-opportunities conference on the 28th October 2017.

The day started by inspecting the moth traps which had been set up the night before. The large moth traps, had a surprisingly diverse content, from several species of moths to some large sleepy European hornets.

After viewing the contents of the traps, the presentations began. The first presentation was “an inordinate fondness for bugs – building a career in entomology” by Alan Stewart, this talk explained about a 75% decline in invertebrate biomass over the last 27 years, and ways to help the recovery of the invertebrate species. Alan highlighted key ways to improve your chances of employment within entomology by honing your identification skills, being open-minded as to which group of invertebrates you want to specialise in, networking at meetings and conferences, volunteering if possible and most importantly not getting disheartened and giving up!

Next up was Matthew Esh from Edge Hill University, who spoke about his ongoing research with Silphidae beetles, and the importance of recording data via different services which are available to the public such as iRecord. Recording schemes are classed as outreach and can improve your C.V. I found Matthew to be very approachable and was more than happy to talk about his research.

The next talk was presented by Richard Comont on “Ladybirds and bumblebees: invasions and conservation”. Richard explained some of the new threats within ecology and conservation, such as the Asian Harlequin ladybird, and how it is affecting the biodiversity of our UK species through competition.

Following this, some students delivered presentations on current projects which they are carrying out in their free time. The one  I found most fascinating was the “marmalade migration” delivered by Will Hawkes, which told the story of how hoverflies migrate over vast distances, from Britain all the way to Africa following the “aphid trail”!

In the afternoon, the first talk was by Graham Holloway speaking about “Reading insects”. Graham brought the room alive with his sharp wit and brilliant sense of humour. The talk explained Grahams current research, career history and how he came to be a lecturer at the university of Reading.

Next, Lizzy Peat managed to keep the upbeat atmosphere with her talk on “working in a local environmental records centre”, Lizzy explained how she completed her undergraduate degree and then carried out voluntary work before being recognised and offered a salary for the work that she was carrying out. The importance of this type of work was also very well explained, showing just how important it is to have a record of different invertebrate communities when planning applications are submitted. This talk enforced the fact that you don’t necessarily need to be field based to work in ecology.

Keith Lugg then explained new worm identification and recording techniques. The recording scheme introduced was the National Earthworm recording scheme: http://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/identification

The final talk of the day came from team ENTOCAST (Liam Crowley and Nick Howe), who explained the possibilities of podcasting for a job, or for fun. Liam and Nick have an entomology based podcast called “ENTOCAST”. I have started listening to this and find it both entertaining and educational, and would highly recommend any budding entomologists to subscribe and give it a listen!

The presentations all gave a brilliant insight into building a career within entomology from field based ecology to Podcasting.

Overall, I highly recommend this meeting for any undergraduate or graduate who is planning to start a career within entomology. I will definitely be attending the meeting next year and will be subscribing to BENHS. I would also to like to thank all of the key speakers and the organisers especially Liam Crowley, Glenda Orledge, Ian Sims & Jon Cole for the photos.

John Beresford

2nd year BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation

Edge Hill University

Paul Ashton’s Professorial lecture

Contemplate an Entangled Bank – Professor Paul Ashton

Professor Paul Ashton’s inaugural lecture will take place on Tuesday 28 November 2017 in the TechHub lecture theatre.

Contemplating that ‘entangled bank’ for his entire professional career, Professor Paul Ashton’s inaugural lecture will explore his research which has specifically considered how new species have evolved. His work has focussed upon the power of hybridisation to generate new forms and to then understand what maintains these forms. This has allowed him to work with some of the most fascinating organisms on the planet. These span from the small leaved lime, one of the longest lived species in existence, and groundsel, one of the most widespread.

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds…” opens the final paragraph of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. It is a paragraph that encapsulates all that has preceded it, and at the same time leaves the reader in awe that the simplest biological laws can lead to such diversity, Darwin’s “…endless forms, most beautiful”.

Professor Ashton gained his first degree at St. Andrews University with further study at UEA and St. Andrews. With five years as a secondary school teacher alongside many years working for the Open University, he joined Edge Hill University in 1994. He is the University’s first professorial appointment in Biology and one of the UK’s very few Professors of Botany.

To book onto Professor Ashton’s talk, please follow this link.

Into the Deep

As part of the activities on our “Life on the Edge” Module, we have recently taken a group of our second year students, and some of our dissertation students on two sampling campaigns to the Cheshire Salt District.

As a result, we have succeeded in collecting fresh new samples from the Anderton brine pools, the Inovyn Brine fields (in Holsford), and topped it off with a visit to the Lion Salt Works museum.

As part of our second trip we were able to get access to the impressive Winsford Salt Mine, where we’ve collected samples of the mined salt, and from a massive underground brine pool.

Samples collected in these campaigns are being used for practical sessions and for the lab-based research of several dissertations.

Research of the Biology Department is out of this World!

Participation in the Astrobiology Society of Britain 2017 Meeting

In the same week that witnessed the end of the much-loved Cassini’s mission to Saturn, Dr André Antunes (EHU-Biology Department) attended the ASB7 conference of the Astrobiology Society of Britain. His participation showcased the current engagement of the department with research in extreme environments and its potential implications and helpful insights for looking for Life outside our own planet.

Dr Antunes participated with the following communications:

  • “Deep-sea Brines: Terrestrial Analogues of the Icy Moons of the Outer Solar System”- Oral communication (presenting author).
  • “Microbial Reduction and Good Practices for Planetary Protection of Outer Solar System Bodies”- Poster communication (co-author).

Guest Article in Microbiology Today

Dr Marta Filipa Simões and Dr André Antunes (Biology Department, EHU) participated as guest authors on the special issue of Microbiology Today dedicated to the Archaea.

Their article, focusing on the contribution of members of this prokaryotic domain in activated sludge systems, provides an overview of current knowledge in this topic. The online version of their article is available following this link.

Geomicrobiology Meeting

Current and future research projects of the group of Dr André Antunes have been recently presented at this year’s Annual Research in Progress Meeting of the Geomicrobiology Network, in Manchester. EHU’s participation in the biggest national event in this research field included:

  • “Geomicrobiology of the Deep-sea Anoxic Brines of the Red Sea”– oral presentation by Dr André Antunes.
  • “Analysis of Carbonate Biomineral Production as Potential New Biomarkers”– poster presentation by Dr Marta Filipa Simões and Dr André Antunes.
  • “Omics-based Insights into Calcium Carbonate Biomineralization by Halophiles”- poster presentation by Dr Ahmed Shibl and Dr André Antunes.