Biological Research Week

In my second year of BSc Genetics (but also in other biological sciences degrees such as biology, human biology, ecology and conservation, biotechnology) during the core module of research methods, research week occurred. The largest assessed portion of research methods is centered around this week of research – specifically the proposal and poster part of the week, but we’ll get to them.

Research week starts before it actually begins. Once a partner has been found, someone you’re willing to potentially spend a lot of time with and definitely spend a lot of time working with, you must decide upon your topic of research. Since the project is only meant to span a week, it’s not going to be groundbreaking research. Hopefully, you and your partner have similar academic interests, or one of you is going to be more interested in the project than the other. Thankfully, our lecturers are not short of ideas for research if you’re struggling to pin down a research question that’ll fit your timeframe. Since myself and my partner are interested in ecology, we ended up doing a project on morphometrics – “the quantitative measurement of the form especially of living systems or their parts.” Specifically, we measured morphometric variation across urban populations. Other groups studied the calorific content of food, micromineral production of microbes, and squirrel behaviour, to name a few.

The first assessed section of research week is the proposal (no, not the 2009 People’s Choice Award rom-com nominee). The proposal is a document you must submit before your research begins, detailing your topic and research question, ethical considerations, health & safety, as well as any requirements such as lab time, transport, or equipment. Also to be included is a timescale, which can be neatly presented in a Gantt chart.

The actual research portion of my project went fairly well. At times the sheer amount of work ahead of us was pretty daunting – particularly in actually finding the species of plant we were sampling – but in the end, everything worked out fine. There’s something oddly satisfying about measuring the various aspects of a leaf’s shape… eighty times…

If there’s anything I garnered from the week, it’s that things never go according to plan. Because of the mild winter, our initial species wasn’t flowering during the week of our research, forcing us to rethink our topic and ultimately change species. Also, when analysing our data, we also found that our hypothesis was actually the complete opposite of what we found to be the truth. This wasn’t a problem, however, as the prime goal of research week is to get you accustomed to proper scientific technique and give you the experience of completing your own research.

Another key learning point of research week was the conference experience – producing your own poster from your research and presenting it amongst your peers. If you have a passion for graphic design, then you will enjoy formatting your poster in the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing way – I certainly enjoyed the challenge of organising our research to highlight the key points and figures in the best way I could.

 

Sustainability 🌍 EHU

Last year I signed up to be a member of the Tree Charter’s student council – representing Edge Hill University – and since then I have gone to meetings and even ran a stall in the hub with a competition to support their efforts. In arranging this event, I got into discussion with people in the Students’ Union about setting up a society for matters involving environmentally friendly action. So myself, along with two friends, formed the Society of Sustainability.

To start a new society is pretty simple. You need only three initial members, to fill the roles of President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Then you need to fill in a form online that expects you to provide your societies aims, and the society will have a membership fee.

If you’ve been on campus lately, you may have seen some posters around advertising our new society. We just missed the re-fresher’s fair, so unfortunately missed a good opportunity for exposure, leading us to spread the word in other ways. We may only be small right now, but we hope to achieve some great things in conjunction with the SU.

The Society of Sustainability is soon due to have its first meeting, where we will gather the thoughts and ideas of the attending students to better see what it is that everyone wants to achieve through this society. Through collaboration, we can get things done!

Already, we have been in correspondence with the SU and have been able to spread word of Fairtrade Fortnight, which began on Monday 27th Feb and lasts until Sunday 12 March. On Tuesday 28th, there were free sample tasting of Fairtrade goodies sold on campus, in the Hub. This Tuesday – 7th March – The Hub, EHSU and The Fairtrade Store are selling a wide variety of Fairtrade goods. Also, there is the opportunity to win a hamper full of luxury Fairtrade food by answering the question of “how many Fairtrade coffee beans” Edge Hill uses on campus in a year!

Another great opportunity is an International Essay contest on the theme of “Learning from nature” organised by the Goi Peace Foundation. The deadline is the 15th June, and is open to children (<15) and youths (15-25). Here are the guidelines and details of prizes.

In the future, hopefully we can get the student allotment up and running, as well as any other campaigns that NUS or the students of EHU would like to put forward!