An academic’s perspective of presenting mosquito behaviour and chemical ecology research at The Royal Entomological Society’s ENTO-19 conference at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Dr Richard Halfpenny and recent graduate and biological sciences intern Steven Lloyd-Jones have been collaborating on this project to present at ENTO-19. Both Richard and Steven have written about their experience during the project, the lead up to and during the conference itself. Although both worked on the project and attended the conference, their blogs provide an interesting insight into how perspectives of the same events can differ based on personal experience. Read below for Dr Richard Halfpenny’s thoughts.
August 20-22nd 2019 saw the Royal Entomological Society’s annual conference Ento-19 arrive at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This year’s conference had a focus on the impact of insects on disease around the world. This impact is vast and unrelenting and is borne by plants, animals and humans alike. Alongside human diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika and West Nile virus that cause such mortality and morbidity around the world. Then there are veterinary disease that cause suffering to domesticated animals, reducing farming yield and greatly increasing welfare costs. And then we need to factor in the enormous impact of insect pests on agricultural crops – not only are these herbivores and therefore directly reducing crop yields, but they also spread diseases between plants that can decimate crops. As is often the case these burdens are disproportionately borne by those countries least well placed to carry them. Continue reading
A student’s perspective of presenting mosquito behaviour and chemical ecology research at The Royal Entomological Society’s ENTO-19 conference at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Dr Richard Halfpenny and recent graduate and biological sciences intern Steven Lloyd-Jones have been collaborating on this project to present at ENTO-19. Both Richard and Steven have written about their experience during the project, the lead up to and during the conference itself. Although both worked on the project and attended the conference, their blogs provide an interesting insight into how perspectives of the same events can differ based on personal experience. Read below for Steve Lloyd-Jones’ thoughts.
Hi, I’m Steve and I’m a bioscientist – it feels good to put that and not chef (my previous career)! I graduated with a BSc (hons)in Biology from Staffs in 2019. I love life in all its many forms and have been blessed by the staff at Staffs and been able to follow my passions; not that I could have told you what they were before I started this journey.
As my kids approached university age, I dreamt of not being a chef anymore, so I trained as a welder to which I qualified but never felt competent. Then after a family tragedy, I decided to become a nurse and make a difference. During my access course bursaries changed and my biology teacher ignited a fascination I didn’t know was there, so I enrolled in Biomedical science. After much soul searching in the first year and although I loved Biomed, I knew I wanted to do broader research and be a bioscientist, evolution and behaviour were my real passions, so I changed to biology.
In my, about section a put myself as a bioscientist which still feels like a dream, imposter syndrome and all that. However, I should probably put Entomologist specialising in how neuronal development affects behaviour. On one hand that feels too highfaluting and on the other feels like not enough to express how well Staffs biosciences have trained me. I’m at a real crossroad in my life but I now have the tools and confidence to make the most of any chances. Unlike most graduates I was given (or earned – depending on your perspective!) an amazing opportunity that meant even before my graduation ceremony I was doing real-life research for Staffs that would be presented at a major conference Ento-19.Continue reading
Tuesday 25th June 2019
This year’s Learning and Teaching conference focused on building the academic aspect of resilience, having the confidence to overcome problems that students often face in their learning, approaches to encourage a positive response by students to feedback, challenges and the fear of failure.
Trust Diya and Paul Orsmond gave a talk on ‘Resilience: a view from our BAME students’ as well as Dr Gavin McStay, Dr Sarah Williams and Paul Orsmond presenting ‘Resilience: authentic assessment and public engagement’ and how this is an integral part of teaching.
Tuesday 18th June 2019
This year Staffs hosted the West Midlands Big Bang Fair again and welcomed 3000 students from Key Stages 2-4 across the county to our Stoke campus for a day full of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) lectures, workshops and stand activities to get involved with and inspired by. Not to mention the final judging and awards for all entries into the STEAM underwater competition of how to address the current issue of plastic waste in our waters.
The Biological and Biomedical Sciences team were very busy amongst the buzz of activity on campus, delivering workshops and interactive stands throughout the day. Ian Davis along with ERASMUS students Mariona and Laia were in full flow educating students on biomedical science and investigating diseases, proudly celebrating Biomedical Science Day 2019. Eleanor Atkins along with some of our brilliant specialist technicians ran workshops throughout the day of a taster into being an Eco Detective. This workshop saw students being hands-on in investigating incidences of dead fish being discovered in the Dee Estuary, testing samples collected from the river Dee and the estuary itself to identify the pollutant and its source, all technics which would be used by The Environmental Agency. Continue reading
Wednesday13th June 2019
The Staff Research Conference is also held annually and follows on from the PGR. Just like the PGR the Staff Research Conference allows staff members to present the research they are undertaking to fellow staff, post and undergraduate students. Several of our brilliant academic staff members presented throughout the day.
Head of department Dr Angela Preistman along with Dr Dave Skingsley and Dr Richard Halfpenny presented on the Entomological collaborations underway with Tri-services Environmental Health Officers. This collaboration follows a successful bid to supply the MoD (Ministry of Defence) with training, identification and guidance on entomology for Environmental health officers, who are deployed around the globe to support military and humanitarian aid. The afternoon sessions saw talks from Dr Gavin McStay on Mitochondrial respiratory chain assembly in health and disease. PhD student Eleanor Atkins presented her collaborative work with Dr Richard Halfpenny of the improvement of biodiversity and wellbeing value of urban road verges through the inclusion of hedges and wildflowers.
This work is developing on from Eleanor’s thesis research that she presented at the PGR. Paul Orsmond spoke about his work on turning consultancy into collaborative research while Dr Kevin Reiling presented his research into using ‘Feeding astronauts’ as a vehicle for delivering the Primary Science curriculum effectively to nurture scientific thought and curiosity.
Wednesday 12th June
The PGR Conference is hosted annually at the university to showcase the post-graduate research being carried out from all schools across the university. We saw two of our PhD students informing other post-graduates and staff members of their research.
Eleanor Atkins presented her work on the biodiversity value of urban hedges highlighting the biodiversity in urban hedges, the public perceptions of urban hedges and the importance of habitat availability for invertebrates and vertebrates in urbanisation for the ever-growing population. Elle also spoke about the good practice guide she has put together on managing urban hedges for aesthetics and biodiversity, which details cost-effective small changes that would benefit biodiversity. Elle touched on her survey findings that suggest the general public found hedges which were less managed more aesthetically pleasing then over managed hedges cut and shaped regularly. These more ‘rugged’ hedges which were aesthetically pleasing have more biodiversity than those over managed.
Eleanor Harrison presented the beginning of her research into soil microplastics. Speaking about the need for research into terrestrial microplastics as current research and media attention is centred around marine macro and microplastics which is an issue but studies of plastics in soil and the effects that it may have on agricultural, environmental and human health aspects are lacking. Ellie is in the early stages of her PhD but has already begun testing the effectiveness of methodologies in separating the microplastics from the organic matter in soil samples to be able to analyse the samples. Ellie is now in America with colleagues from the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, taking part in a expedition of the Hudson River with the Rozalia Project, sampling soil from river banks along the way and analysing them for microplastics, mainly nurdles (small plastic pellets roughly the size of a lentil) which are used industrially to make plastic products.