End of Year 2 Review

Just like that I’ve come to the end of my second year at Edge Hill University, something which I can’t quite believe yet, no idea where all the time has gone.

As i finished up the last of my work for the year it suddenly occurred to me that I only have one year left before I have to venture out into the real world, both a terrifying and exciting prospect, (mostly the former).  Anyway, since I have finished it’s probably the best time to do a review and to give a taster of what’s to come if you have just finished first year.

Second year for me brought about a new set of modules, three compulsory and three to choose from a selection. Looking back I am reasonably happy with my module choices opting for a balance of practical and theory work, my only advice would be to pick what you think you can do best in, read module handbooks etc. in order to make the best decision.

The biggest thing I had to look out for was the fact all my coursework was now actually counting towards my grade, 40% to be exact. I would have preferred a 50/50 split but oh well. First year at least allowed me to in a sense practice the different types of coursework I would need to do so when this year came around I knew what I was doing which was definitely helpful. Overall I am satisfied with the work I submitted and urge anyone looking forward to make sure you are as well because you will feel a lot better knowing you put the effort in no matter how it turns out.

Overall I found my second year to be a reasonably low-key affair as there wasn’t anything particularly crazy going on within it. I was mostly just focused on preparing for next year and graduation and getting my work done, I also secured a job within the SU Subway which is an extra bit of income and experience. I think there’s an expectation to do so much all the time as a student, when really as long as you achieved what you wanted to and feel you spent your time well during the year then does the rest really matter? I suppose it’s up to you. Till next time!thinking

Jordan

Biology Semester Two: Begin!

With a new semester comes new modules (unless you have any that stretch over them both, which I don’t), so I thought I’d give a little run down of my first impressions on the modules I have started this week in 2017.

Western Campus – Partially showing the GeoSciences building.

Biogeography: This module is one that is a kind of collaboration between the Geosciences and Biology department. Despite being two different modules for both departments, they overlap so much that the majority of them are taught together.

The study of biogeography is defined simply as ‘the distribution of species around the globe,’ and the module deals with exactly that. The first session introduced the very idea of what a “species” is, and how they come to be. Of course, their distribution, and how they come to be distributed, was explained next – particularly the idea of Gondwanan distribution (Gondwana was a supercontinent, like Pangea that broke apart to form the continents and microcontinents we know today. Knowing that this is only the tip of the biogeographical iceberg has me excited for what future lectures have in store.

Research Methods: The EHU website concisely summarises the module on their website. An essential program to biological research, R, will be taught.

“Research Methods in Biology introduces you to essential biological research methods and data analysis. You will examine experimental design and analysis with varied types of data and subsequently design a study of your own.” – Edge Hill University

As well as this, the actual assessment section of the module this year will be centred around a research project that is conducted over the course of a week in pairs, and presented on a poster during a “conference style” poster evening.

Biochemistry & Metabolism: The module this year focuses on “biomolecules, the different types of anabolic and catabolic pathways, as well as basic concepts in enzymology and eukaryotic and prokaryotic cellular energetics” (as stated by EHU).

However the intriguing part about the module this year is that part our assessment will be based on a presentation we give in conjunction with animation students. This provides valuable experience in working with others who may have less understanding of scientific terms and concepts. Communication will obviously be a vital part of this assessment – as biologists, we will have to explain our assigned biological process; on the flip side, the animators will have to explain to us what is feasible in terms on the animated end product.

Semester One Biology Highlights

Since semester one has essentially finished (bar a few exams and reports being due), I thought I’d take this time to look back on my favourite parts of the modules I’ve experiences on the second year of my undergrad Biology degree.

Life On The Edge

Tech Hub

Life On The Edge (LOTE) is the new and improved version of the Environmental Physiology module from previous years, it deals primarily in microbe, plant, and animal extremophiles. The largest addition to the module was Life On The Edge Evening, a series of short presentations, by the students, on a chosen extremophile. This was hosted in the lecture theatre of the new Tech Hub. One of the purposes of the event is to test the students’ research and presentation skills – which counted towards our grade. Although public speaking isn’t my strong suit, it did give me the chance to bust out my PowerPoint skills – as lame as it sounds, I’m quite fond of designing the slides. However anxious it made me, I’m sure the experience improved my public speaking abilities and got me used to presenting in a professional environment.

Another point of interest for this module was the field-trip to Anderton Nature Park, where we sampled the salt springs for microbes and isolated them from the water back at the lab.

Molecular Biology

This module featured quite an insight into the techniques and points of interest in the field of molecular biology. My personal highlight was learning about epigenetics, as I already knew a little about it and was interested in it before knowing it was featured in the module. Google defines epigenetics as, “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” This module was quite technical but very rewarding, in that the subject matter is complex but also very cutting edge.

Laboratory Masterclass

The highlight of Lab Masterclass has got to be using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). It’s an expensive piece of kit, so it’s incredible that the department to trust all the second year undergraduates to use it for our practical coursework. The assignment in question had to contain two images from the SEM which both had to be scientifically relevant, as well as a short report on the subject matter of the images. This practical was weighted quite heavily for the module, so it was imperative we used our time wisely on the microscope to get some impressive images. We could’ve chosen any sample with biological relevance to look at under the SEM, and being a fan of plants, I chose leaves. I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the images I didn’t use, that I think are still pretty impressive:

The course page for biology has a tab that gives an overview of the modules.