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The Society for Natural Sciences announces the accreditation of UK degree programmes

24th January 2022

The Society for Natural Sciences is delighted to announce the first group of institutions whose degree programmes they have accredited. These programmes have achieved the standards set out in the Society’s accreditation framework and are recognised as offering outstanding quality interdisciplinary science education, providing students with excellent learning opportunities and skills development to prepare them for future careers in research, education, business or industry.

Professor Nicky King, Chair of the Society for Natural Sciences says,

We are proud to have implemented this first of its kind interdisciplinary accreditation scheme, which is already improving the way interdisciplinary science is taught in the UK. We’re delighted for all those successful institutions and hope this is just the start of a rewarding partnership with them, and others who apply in the future, to continue to raise both standards and opportunities for studying interdisciplinary science in the UK.”

Programmes at the following institutions have achieved accreditation by the Society for Natural Sciences:

University of Bath

University of Birmingham

University of Exeter

Keele University

University of Leeds

Loughborough University

University of Nottingham

The Open University

UCL

University of York

International Women’s Day

To celebrate international women’s day we are highlighting some of of members, their developing successes as budding scientists to those further in their careers.

Rhiannon Gibson

Rhiannon is the Natural Sciences School Representative at the University of Leeds and in her third year of study. Representing her course mates and making positive changes to improve everyone’s academic experience is one of the most rewarding aspects of the role. Her key areas are Chemistry and Biochemistry which she greatly enjoyed utilising during her industrial placement with AstraZeneca in an analytical chemistry role.

Lacrosse is a big part of Rhiannon’s normal university life and helps provide a good balance to her studies. More recently, she has tried to regain this by taking up rollerblading – a work in progress!

Looking to the future, Rhiannon is keen to pursue a career in science and is actively finding industries whose work inspire her to aim high and push herself to achieve the best of her abilities as she goes into her final year of university.

Rhiannon wishes the best of luck to all women looking to start their further education in science and couldn’t recommend a degree like Natural Sciences more!

Dr Katherine Selby

I have a truly interdisciplinary background with ‘A’ levels in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, a first class undergraduate degree in Geography with Environmental Studies, a PhD in Physical Geography, post-doctoral experience in Environmental Archaeology and two years working within industry as an Environmental Scientist. I then moved back into academia as an Open University Lecturer in Earth Sciences, a senior lecturer in Physical Geography at Bournemouth University, a joint appointment between Geography and Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton before moving to York where I am a senior lecturer in the Department of Environment and Geography. I have held, and presently hold, numerous senior management roles at York and have been awarded the Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Authority in recognition for my contribution to learning and teaching. 

I am passionate about Natural Sciences. The students are extremely committed and talented, and the staff who contribute exceptionally enthusiastic. Higher education is dynamic and rapidly evolving and it is vital that learning and teaching is constantly reviewed to keep it current. Interdisciplinary teaching enables students to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries and equip them with the skills and knowledge to solve global issues. 

My advice would be to find what ignites your passion. Be prepared to work hard to fulfil your potential and attain your goals. Enjoy the opportunities presented to you and appreciate the contribution of others to your ongoing, and evolving, learning journey.

Pooja Goddard

Pooja is a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Loughborough University, being an EDI champion and keen to promote interdisciplinary science activities, her research research focusses on computational studies of fundamental processes in complex materials at the atomic/quantum scale. 

Dr Pooja Goddard, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry.

Favorite area of science: Computational Materials Science

Current Projects: Li ion Batteries, Thin Film Solar Cells and Nuclear Materials

Proudest Achievement: Being a woman of colour in science academia (there is not many of us) 😊

Biggest Inspiration: The film “Hidden Figures” about 4 black female scientist who worked for NASA during the Apollo Mission.

Dr Tharin Blumenschein

Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Head of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of East of Anglia. She uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study protein structure, flexibility and interactions.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – Online Seminars

The Society for Natural Sciences Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Group will be hosting the second of our monthly lunchtime online seminars for 2021 to support dissemination and discussion of best practice in an interdisciplinary science education. These informal webinars have an introductory presentation from a member of the network followed by question and answers/discussion. Subjects scheduled so far include: assessments, interdisciplinary project work and evaluation of student skills. The seminars will take place online 13.00-14.00 on the final Thursday of each month, and will be open and free to attend (for both members of the Society and non-members).

Our next seminar, Natural Sciences Learning and Teaching February e-Seminar: What’s the point of A-level science: Examining the impact of pre-university qualifications on success in interdisciplinary science” by Nicky King, (N.C.King@exeter.ac.uk) Exeter University will take on Thursday 25th February 2021 from 13.00-14.00. Please register via this event to receive joining details on the morning of the event.

SNS PedR/SoTL group (pedr@socnatsci.org)

Global Challenges Need Interdisciplinary Scientists To Solve Them – Is Fusion A Solution To The Energy Crisis?

Channel Talent Seminar – Professor Roddy Vann, Society For Natural Sciences – click here for more info

November 18 @ 12:45 – 13:45

Professor Roddy Vann is from the Department of Physics at University of York. In this session, Roddy represents the newly formed Society for Natural Sciences, a national learned society that promotes interdisciplinary science education and research.

The human species is facing challenges of unprecedented reach and complexity: climate change, viral pandemic, shortage of energy, antibiotic resistance, cyber-warfare.

These problems are complex because their solution lies across the boundaries of the traditional disciplines: for example, in the current pandemic our ability to combat the virus is reliant on the software engineering of track-and-trace apps; mental health is coupled with the availability of videoconferencing tools; epidemiology is as much mathematics and biology. Even beyond this pandemic (and indeed even beyond science), our complex society needs people who can solve problems by bringing together ideas in new ways from across disciplines; this is the most important thing you get from Natural Sciences — not only expert subject knowledge but also the appreciation that different parts of science regard problems in different ways.

As a case study Roddy will consider whether fusion is a solution to the energy crisis: arguably the greatest challenge of this century is to provide sufficient energy that everyone on the planet has access to a decent standard of living. This challenge covers topics from engineering to politics. Fusion is the process that powers our Sun and indeed all stars; there is sufficient fuel on the Earth to provide everyone’s energy for thousands of years; the technology is inherently safe — but it is very difficult to do. Does it present a solution to the energy crisis?

Exciting next steps in Natural Sciences: CASE PhD Awards.

If you are looking for a fully-funded PhD studentship in interdisciplinary approaches to bioscience problems you might consider the industry-linked LIDo DTP CASE portfolio announced recently for September 2021 starts.

https://www.lido-dtp.ac.uk/apply/apply-icase-studentship

The companies involved in the projects range from micro, start-up scale to global players.  Research will be largely at London universities with significant industrial placements to access unique infrastructure, resources, knowledge and experience of the commercial research environment.

CASE students join LIDo on an equal footing with purely academic-focused PhD students and must meet exactly the same academic standards as those other students. LIDo DTP graduates have interesting career paths some of which are described here as examples.

https://www.lido-dtp.ac.uk/alumni

The LIDo DTP is the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council’s (BBSRC, part of UKRI) largest single investment in PhD Researcher Development and a flagship programme.

Channel Talent

Medical Imaging & Natural Sciences: Unlocking The Brain – Using Interdisciplinary Science To Tackle Unsolved Problems.

Dr Chris Brignell, Society for Natural Sciences

Date: October 21 Time: 12:30 – 13:30

Virtual Presentation Registration Link

There are many unsolved scientific problems, such as how to cure cancer or how to stop climate change. Finding the answers will require scientists of all disciplines (biologists, chemists, physicists, psychologists, mathematicians,…) working together.

In this talk we will examine what each branch of science can contribute.  We’ll look at how advances in medical imaging are dependent on interdisciplinary science, and how we have used them to improve human health and scientific understanding.  Finally, we’ll discuss opportunities to study multiple science subjects at university.

Dr Chris Brignell is Director of Natural Sciences and Associate Professor of Statistics in the School of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science, at University of Nottingham. In this session, Chris represents the newly formed Society for Natural Sciences, a national learned society that promotes interdisciplinary science education and research.

Suitable for: Year 12 & 13 students studying Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Earth Sciences.

Preparation or Pre-Reading: There is no preparation required although students are advised to consider the subject area in advance and think about any questions they might like to ask about Medical Imaging and/or Natural Sciences.

Channel Talent

A few months ago, before we were exposed to Sars-Cov-2, I gave a talk to a school: over an hour to get there by  train, an 20 minute walk to the school, half an hour waiting (having arrived early so as not to miss the slot),  45 minutes hour to talk to, as it turns out, a dozen students with varying interest in Natural Sciences and another two hours to get home – effectively taking most of the day. 

A few weeks ago, the Society for Natural Sciences, now well-adjusted to the pandemic, gave a live online webinar to school students studying from home.  We logged on early to meet with over 50 students from across the country, using “chat” function to engage them and were finished in just over an hour. While not all interactions can be online, and face-to-face meetings can be essential in some situations, these new developments allow us all to embrace a far greater reach through the internet – zoom out to a wider audience as it were.

To this end the Society for Natural Sciences has partnered with Channel Talent to deliver a series of outreach webinars. Channel Talent is a live and interactive video conferencing service which links universities and businesses to schools over the web. Channel Talent aims to inform and inspire young people’s choices about their education. Events are free to schools, being sponsored by individual universities or businesses.  During the current pandemic especially, where opportunities for school visits and University face to face events are limited, our partnership with Channel Talent will allow the Society for Natural Sciences to continue our outreach work to encourage the study of science across discipline boundaries. Following on from a couple of successful pilots earlier this year, we will be holding six webinars over the course of the next academic year, with webinar subjects including Astrobiology, Fusion Physics, and Carbon Nano-materials.

I’ll be delivering the first webinar on Astrobiology & Natural Sciences: Finding Life On Other Planets & Studying Natural Sciences on September 29 @ 13:00 – 14:00

Details of our all webinars can be found here: https://www.channeltalent.co.uk/events/list/

Dr Sarah Gretton, Society for Natural Sciences External Relations and Communications Lead and Director of the University of Leicester Natural Sciences programme

Banner caption: Electron microscope image of collagen fibres within a hydrogel.