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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)

4th Annual Natural Sciences Student Conference 2021

The National Natural Sciences Student Conference 2021 will be fully online via Zoom on Monday 29 March 2021 and registration is free. The keynote speakers are Professor Tom McLeish and Professor Kirsty Penkman from the University of York. The deadline for registration is 19 March 2021.

Register your place

Oral presentations (10 minutes with a 5 minute question and answer session) and poster presentations will be held during the event. The deadline for abstract submissions is 19 February 2021.

Submit your abstract (up to 250 words)

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference.

Glenn Hurst (Conference Chair)

Seminar: Medical Imaging & Natural Sciences: Unlocking The Brain

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, Dr Chris Brignell, Director of Natural Sciences and Associate Professor of Statistics in the School of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science, at University of Nottingham, will examine what each branch of science can contribute.  He explains 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.

Please click here to view this seminar or here to browse our video gallery.

Seminar: Astrobiology and Natural Sciences

As part of our on-going seminar series you can explore the possibilities for life across the Universe in this webinar on Astrobiology.

Dr Sarah Gretton, Natural Sciences (Life and Physical Sciences) Programme Director at University of Leicester, discusses how the Drake equation attempts to address the question of detecting intelligent life in the Universe. You will be challenged with key questions, such as “What do we need for life?” and “If life exists how do we detect it?”

Please click here to view this seminar or here to browse our video gallery.

Seminars – Teaching and Learning

The Society for Natural Sciences Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Group are very pleased to announce we will be launching a new series of monthly lunchtime online seminars for 2021 to support dissemination and discussion of best practice in an interdisciplinary science education. These will be informal webinars will 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 first seminar, Thinking beyond exams: A more authentic approach to assessment in the Natural Sciences, with Dr Katie Szornik, Keele University, k.szkornik@keele.ac.uk, will take on Thursday 28th January 2021 from 13.00-14.00. Please register via this event to receive joining details on the morning of the event.

PhD Opportunity to be part of UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training

Do you have a passion for creating a resilient, healthy and inclusive food future? Are you looking for a funded UKRI 4-year doctoral studentship?

The UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT, www.foodsystems-cdt.ac.uk) is looking for students with wide variety of backgrounds, and existing qualifications to apply.

UKFS-CDT will train over 65 doctoral students from 2021-2027 and create cohorts of future food systems leaders and innovators who can lead the UK towards a resilient, healthy and inclusive food future. The programme is searching for outstanding doctoral candidates with established aptitude for interdisciplinary study, interest in any aspects of food and food systems (natural science, social science or engineering), or anyone with an interest in systems approaches to major challenges.

Research will be fundamentally interdisciplinary and combine natural sciences and social sciences approaches, and methods. All students will work with food systems stakeholders in their studies. Research can encompass (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Environmental sustainability, climate change (Healthy Environment)
  • Food production, distribution, manufacturing and waste (Healthy Economy)
  • Food Environment, Consumer Behaviour, Diets, Nutrition and Health (Healthy People)
  • Food System Governance and Resilience (Healthy Society)
  • Livestock health and welfare (Healthy Animals)

The UKFS-CDT brings together the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich (lead institution), University College London, Royal Veterinary College, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, Centre for Food Policy at City University, University of Sussex, and Brunel University London; and two leading agricultural research institutes, NIAB EMR and Rothamsted Research, plus over 50 partners from business, government and civil society. We offer over 350 potential supervisors to support interdisciplinary food systems training in collaboration with the UK Food Systems Academy (more details at www.foodsystems-cdt.ac.uk).

Understanding that food system challenges are complex, UKFS-CDT values equality, diversity, inclusion and justice.  We welcome applications from prospective students regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. In addition, we encourage individuals who have had career breaks due to, for example, caring responsibilities, work in relevant sectors, or a change in disciplines or career paths to apply.

Initial expressions of interest can be registered at info@foodsystems-cdt.ac.uk. Twitter (@ukfs_CDT) LinkedIn (@UKFS-cdt).

This is a unique opportunity to join the next generation of interdisciplinary food systems change makers.

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.

Chanel 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: Neurons (green) growing on a bed of astroctytes (red). Blue highlights DNA in the cell nucleus.