In person teaching, meerkats, pollinators and much more in this edition...
Zoology alumni and friends
We were delighted to welcome the undergraduates back in to the Department. It is wonderful to have our lecture theatres and teaching laboratory full again (socially distanced!), and to have students buzzing around the place.
Before term, some students came back to take part in a wide-ranging, multimedia and in-person field course, with most experiencing taught fieldwork for the first time at Cambridge.
Our first virtual lab tour in April this year was a great
success, enabling us to bring together both speakers and alumni from all over
the world to share ideas and insights about current research projects being
done in the Department. We have decided to do this again, with three new
scientists eager to talk about their research with you. You can join us via the booking link at the end of this newsletter.
Best wishes to you all,
Director of Alumni Relations and Fundraising
The students are back in town!
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first and second year students had so far missed out on all opportunities for field courses. But this
September we welcomed 120 of them back to Cambridge for a field course that was
a mix of online teaching (the first ever online field course teaching in the
Natural Sciences) and field outings, class exercises in the open air, and
independent project-based learning.
It was wonderful to see our students in the
field once again, feeling the mud under their feet, hearing bees buzzing on the
ivy flowers, and watching flocks of waders wheeling over the mud-flats of The Wash. The course involved a massive effort for huge numbers of staff,
post-docs and students, and was masterminded by Ed Turner.
The above photo was taken at Snettisham by Aili Wang, a new Part II Zoology student.
Ed Yong (Part II 2002) won the the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Writing. Ed writes for The Atlantic and he is the first of their reporters to win a Pulitzer Prize. The prize was awarded for his reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more >
Mike Brooke (Part II 1971), our recently retired Strickland Curator of Ornithology, came second in the recent Cambridge Half Marathon '70 and over' category (men and women).
The global decline of polinators
A team led by Lynn Dicks has provided the first index of the
extent, causes and effects of the dramatic global decline in the animals that
pollinate our crops. Habitat loss, changes in land management and pesticides
are identified as the main culprits. The decline is already having impacts on
people as a result of reduced food production due to pollination deficits,
especially in the Global South, but the effects ripple out into the world’s
ecosystems. As Lynn remarks: "Pollinators are the creatures that affect our daily life. We notice and feel
How the meetkat got its fame
What propelled the meerkat, a small mongoose
from southern Africa, to its undisputed celebrity status as one of the most
instantly recognisable animals on stage and screen, and as one of the best understood wild social mammals on the planet? Well, it would not have happened without Tim
Clutton-Brock, who had the initial hunch that individual animals from a range
of different groups could be monitored in the wild. And it would not have
happened without hard-boiled eggs...
The Duke of Burgundy has suffered one of the worst long-term
declines of any UK butterfly species. A recent study, led by Edgar Turner and carried
out by the Insect Ecology Group, focussed on the egg-laying habits
of adult females and found that they preferred dense, sheltered patches of
large specimens of cowslips, their host plant. As lead author Matt Hayes
outlines: "This will require quite subtle management practices that will leave
long enough between shrub clearances for the cowslips to grow large enough
amongst shelter and encourage the Dukes to lay eggs."
Q&A with Sarah Luke (Part II 2009, PhD 2016)
As Sarah leaves for pastures new as an Assistant Professor in the
Department of Environmental Science at the University of Nottingham, she looks
back on her experiences as an undergraduate, PhD student, and post-doc in the
Department. Read about dancing in the rain at Juniper Hall and
discover how field courses can alter your life.
Carl Pantin – the fifth Professor of Zoology
Carl Pantin (1899 – 1967) was in post as Head of the Department of Zoology from 1959 to 1966. His career encompassed both the more traditional studies of anatomy and the rapidly developing fields of experimental zoology that characterised the Department in the middle of the last century. His research focussed on an impressively eclectic range of animals, from amoebae and nemertines to crustacea and, perhaps most importantly, the coelenterates.
A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth
Henry Gee (PhD 1991) tells the story of life on our planet, from its birth four and a half billions years ago, to beyond its end, a billion years hence.
"Who will enjoy this book? Everybody!" – Jared Diamond
"A hugely enjoyable page turner." – Literary Review
Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?
Thursday 4 November 2021, 12.00pm GMT
The Department's 5th Annual Equalities and Wellbeing Lecture will be given online by Professor Tomas Chamoro-Premuzic on the topic of why so many incompetent men become leaders.
Virtual Zoology Lab Tours
Saturday 13 November 2021, 2.30pm GMT
Our first virtual Zoology lab tour was a great success so we have decided to hold another one in November, when we hope we can brighten up a Saturday afternoon. Our speakers will be exploring:
- Colourful Cichlids with Dr Emilia Santos
- The First Animals with Dr Emily Mitchell
- Beautiful Butterflies and Dirty Maggots with Professor Chris Jiggins
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