Wednesday 31 October 2018

Behind the scenes at Edge Hill University

Students in the lab at Edge Hill University
Bookings are flooding in for the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting which this year will be held at Edge Hill University in Lancashire. As well as all the speakers, exhibits, pop-up natural history bookshops, plant ID table, chance to network... we are also offering guided tours behind the scenes. If you'd like to see Edge Hill University's newly opened, state-of-the-art £13 million lab facilities, this is your chance. 

Visitors will be offered the chance to join guided tours (if pre-booked) to visit the DNA, microbiology and cell culture facilities plus the recently developed plant physiology research lab. The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) will also be up and running with some plant material available to view. 

Botanists at the 2017 BSBI Exhibition
 Meeting at NHM London
Image: J. Mitchley
In case you're wondering why we decided to hold the Annual Exhibition Meeting (AEM) at Edge Hill University this year: there are two reasons. Some members had pointed out that recent AEMs have been in the south-eastern half of the country (CEH Wallingford in Oxfordshire, the Natural History Museum in London, the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridgeshire and University of Leicester) and BSBI does try to serve the needs of all its members. 

But also, Prof Paul Ashton, Head of Biology at Edge Hill University and Chair of BSBI's Training & Education Committee, gave us the heads-up on some important information last year, just as we were considering various venues across England. 

University of Edge Hill biology students - in
 the field as well as in the lab!
Over to Paul: “Biology at Edge Hill University covers the full range of the subject with degrees from the molecular through to the ecological, and botany has always been a part of the department as we have maintained traditional skills in identification and field work. Adding the modern molecular side to that approach is allowing us to develop a degree in Plant Sciences, which will have its first intake in autumn 2018”. 

On behalf of Edge Hill University, Paul then offered to host the AEM, giving Edge Hill University students a chance to strut their botanical stuff and giving BSBI a chance to show our long history of support for the next generation of botanists.

Paul checking out a range of plant ID
resources: at Training the Trainers 2017
Image: L. Marsh 
Paul added "While the labs are available for viewing, AEM attendees will also hear about some of the findings that work in the lab has revealed. This includes Elizabeth Sullivan's work on connectivity across the landscape revealed by genetic analysis of yellow rattle and Carl Barker's work on patterns of  genetic variation in small leaved lime. Both Carl and Elizabeth have been recipients of BSBI funding in the past".

Other members of BSBI's Training Team will also be present at the Exhibition Meeting so if you are thinking of learning more about botany - whether you're contemplating an undergraduate or MSc degree, looking for a weekend wildflower course or wondering where you can pick up plant ID tips on social media - you'll find a range of brains to pick and helpful people to chat to. 

The exhibition hall at the 2017 Exhibition Meeting
Image: L. Marsh
Head over to the Exhibition Meeting webpage and book your space now - it's completely free and we'd love to see you Edge Hill University on Saturday 17th November. 

And if you'd like to put your name down for a guided tour behind the scenes at Edge Hill University, please do so quickly before all the spaces are snapped up!

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