School of Biology Internal Newsletter: 08 December, 2019
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School of Biology University of St Andrews
In this Newsletter


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Staff Publications

All staff publications are drawn from entries into the PURE research database, so if you need help with PURE, please do get in touch (dp61, x3626) Donna
Assessing cetacean body condition: is total lipid content in blubber biopsies a useful monitoring tool?
Kershaw, J. L., Brownlow, A., Ramp, C. A., Miller, P. J. O. & Hall, A. J., (2019), Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 29(S1), p. 271-282. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3105
Evidence for discrimination between feeding sounds of familiar fish and unfamiliar mammal-eating killer whale ecotypes by long-finned pilot whales
Curé, C., Isojunno, S., I Vester, H., Visser, F., Oudejans, M., Biassoni, N., Massenet, M., Barluet de Beauchesne, L., J Wensveen, P., Sivle, L. D., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., (2019), Animal Cognition. 22(5), p. 863-882. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-019-01282-1
Susceptibility of potato varieties to populations of Globodera pallida selected for increased virulence
Varypatakis, K., Jones, J. & Blok, V. C., (2019), Nematology. 21(9), p. 995-998. DOI: 10.1163/15685411-00003283
The broad-spectrum antiviral drug arbidol inhibits foot-and-mouth disease virus genome replication
Herod, M. R., Adeyemi, O. O., Ward, J., Bentley, K., Harris, M., Stonehouse, N. J. & Polyak, S. J., (2019), Journal of General Virology. 100(9), p. 1293-1302. DOI: 10.1099/jgv.0.001283
Towards a macroscope: leveraging technology to transform the breadth, scale and resolution of macroecological data
Dornelas, M., Madin, E. M. P., Bunce, M., DiBattista, J. D., Johnson, M., Madin, J. S., Magurran, A. E., McGill, B. J., Pettorelli, N., Pizarro, O., Williams, S. B., Winter, M. & Bates, A. E., (2019), Global Ecology and Biogeography. 28(12), p. 1937-1948. DOI:  10.1111/geb.13025
Validating the demethylating effects of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine in insects requires a whole-genome approach (A reply to Ellers et al.)
Cook, N., Parker, D. J., Tauber, E., Pannebakker, B. A. & Shuker, D. M., (2019), American Naturalist. 194(3), p. 432-438. DOI: 10.1086/704248

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Biology Equality and Diversity Committee

Mental health in HE: are initiatives available universally?
Hannah Borking, Advance HE

Hannah Borkin is a Mixed-methods Researcher at Advance HE, and has led on a number of bespoke equality audits for UK-based HE providers. She has sought to combine her expertise in equality and diversity with her interest in intersectional approaches to staff and student mental health in HE. In response to the publication of Advance HE’s Postgraduate Research Experience Survey Hannah shares her reflections on the emerging inequalities with mental health initiatives in higher education.

I recently attended two conferences on mental health in higher education, one focused on student provision the other focused on staff provision. What struck me was the difference in dynamic between the two – the former filled with meaningful, passionate stories often told from first-hand experience, the latter was, unfortunately, more lacklustre.

We expect university staff to provide front-line care for students and signpost them to ongoing support where necessary. Is it possible to justify asking staff to provide this care when they might be struggling to access it themselves? In the midst of a somewhat dampened discussion on wellbeing at the conference on staff mental health, I asked a Human Resources (HR) professional whether they had considered implementing or improving existing policies that intersect with this topic; flexible working as an example. The answer was surprising, HR were wary of being too lenient about flexible working initiatives as this meant staff would not be available to provide round-the-clock care for students.

You can read the full text of the article here.



Biology Christmas Party - Today from 4pm

Python is a dynamic, readable language that is a popular platform for all types of bioinformatics work, from simple one-off scripts to large, complex software projects. This workshop is aimed at people who already have a basic knowledge of Python and are interested in using the language to tackle larger problems. In it, we will look in detail at the parts of the language which are particularly useful in scientific programming, and at the tools Python offers for making development faster and easier. The workshop will use examples and exercises drawn from various aspects of bioinformatics work. After completing the workshop, students should be in a position to (1) take advantage of the advanced language features in their own programs and (2) use appropriate tools when developing software programs.


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Senior Global Fellowship 2020/21: DEADLINE TODAY, 6 DECEMBER

We are pleased to let you know that the University of St Andrews Global Fellowship Scheme 2020-2021 is now open. The Global Fellowship Scheme provides prestigious awards to enable talented scholars from around the globe to visit St Andrews for up to one month. The objectives of the scheme are to:

1. Enhance our academic reputation
2. Showcase St Andrews
3. Build and strengthen institutional partnerships
4. Enhance research collaborations

Following a successful 2019-2020 pilot, the new call seeks to build on the feedback we received from Academic Schools regarding the appointment process for Global Fellows. In addition to candidates applying directly, we will now be accepting School nominations for Senior Global Fellowships. Each School is invited to nominate one Senior Global Fellow and the university selection committee will award up to 10 Senior Global Fellows in this current round. 

Strand 1: Senior Global Fellows

Senior Global Fellows should be an established world leader in their field, with an international reputation for research excellence and a considerable record of achievements, leadership and publications.

How to nominate a Senior Global Fellow

To nominate a Senior Global Fellow, please send a completed nomination form to the Biology Director of Research ( no later than Friday 6 December. Any submissions after this date will not be accepted or reviewed.

The successful School nominations will be reviewed by a University selection committee, and successful nominees will be officially invited to visit St Andrews between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021.

(Please note that if you are unable to submit a nomination for this call, it may be possible to nominate a Senior Global Fellow at a later date in the academic year.)

Strand 2: Global Fellows

We are also inviting applicants to apply directly to the scheme. The Global Fellows strand is aimed at emerging leaders in an established academic position. They should have made a contribution to original research that extends the frontier of knowledge. More information about this strand can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding the Global Fellowship Scheme, please contact Harriet Sheridan, Partnerships Officer, at


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Fixed-term Associate Lecturer - Presentations

Interviews will take place on Monday 9th December for a fixed-term (2-year), part-time (50%) associate lecturer (education focused) position in the School of Biology.

The three short-listed candidates will all be giving short teaching-related presentations in seminar room 1 in the Dyers Brae building (HMB) as follows:

Rupert Marshall                11.00 – 11.25
Clare Andrews                   11.30 – 11.55
Kelly Robinson                  14.00 – 14.25

All staff and students in the School are welcome to attend.

Prof Kevin Laland


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Research-related deadlines

  1. Senior Global Fellowship Scheme: deadline to Biolgy DoR TODAY Friday 6 December 2019
  2. Medical Research Scotland PhD studentships: Wednesday 11 December 2019
  3. Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships: deadline to Biology DoR Friday 20 December 2019
  4. Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) PhD Scheme: deadline Monday 6 January 2020
  5. MRC Infections and Immunity: deadline Wednesday 8 January 2020
  6. MRC Infections and Immunity New Investigators: deadline Wednesday 8 January 2020
  7. MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine: deadline Wednesday 8 January 2020
  8. MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine New Investigators: deadline Wednesday 8 January 2020
  9. NERC Responsive Mode Standard applications: deadline Tuesday 14 January 2020
  10. MSCA Innovative Training Network call: deadline Tuesday 14 January 2020
  11. BBSRC Responsive Mode applications: deadline Wednesday 15 January 2020
  12. MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board: deadline Wednesday 15 January 2020
  13. MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board New Investigators: deadline Wednesday 15 January 2020
  14. MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board: deadline Wednesday 22 January 2020
  15. MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board New Investigators: deadline Wednesday 22 January 2020
  16. Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships: deadline Friday 31 January 2020
  17. Emory University Collaborative Grants: deadline Monday 3 February 2020
  18. Breast Cancer Now Project Grant: deadline Tuesday 3 March 2020
  19. European Doctoral Stipend Scholarships: Sunday 22 March 2020

We plan to run this 'deadline digest' reminder each week, so if you know of a research deadline that other staff also should be aware of, please send it to, along with an information link if one is relevant. Thank you!


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Biology School Manager drop-in: SOI and HMB/Dyers Brae

SOI: Monday morning, 9 December, from 08.30 to 11.30, in the foyer.

HMB: Thursday afternoon, 12 December, from 14.00pm to 17.00pm, in Dyers Brae seminar room 1.

Everyone is welcome and invited to stop by with questions, complaints or for just a chat. Donna

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Teaching office: Exams Key Dates

December Exam Diet

Biology December exam diet dates are Saturday 7 December to Thursday 19 December.

Module Boards Dates for December Exam Diet are:-

Hons Module Board – Friday,17th January 2020 (AM)

Pre-Hons Module Board – Friday,17th January 2020 (PM)

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Deadline approaching: Applications for Medical Research Scotland 2020 PhD studentship funding

There is just one week left for PhD supervisors across Scotland to apply for Medical Research Scotland's 2020 doctoral training funding.

To apply for funding, you can access the online application system here.

Applications will close at 12 noon on 11 December 2019 and we hope to announce awards in February 2020. Please don't hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions regarding eligibility or the application process.

Medical Research Scotland is looking to fund at least 15 four-year PhD studentships with collaborations between universities and external partner organisations to provide inspiring research and training experiences. 

Funded students receive a generous four-year stipend, up to £35,000 research costs, travel allowance and university fees (home/EU) are paid. You can find all about our studentships on our website. Applications must offer an academically stimulating PhD project that includes work with an appropriate external partner, who is required to contribute at least £2,500 per year.

The research undertaken can explore any aspect of human health or disease from the cause, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness to the development of medical or surgical technology.

The applications team is available at to answer any questions you may have.


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Fire Safety Training Seminar: 10am Thursday 12 December

Fire safety training is mandatory for ALL staff across the university, and attandance is monitored and reported to the Heads of Schools and Units.

For those of you that have not managed to attend one of the previous University Fire Safety seminars, another will be given on Thursday 12th December at 10:00am in Purdie Lecture theatre B

Please ensure that you sign the attendance sheet if you attend.

Magnus Alphey, Biology Health and Safety Officer


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Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) PhD Scheme 2020

Information about the annual Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) PhD funding has now been made available by the University. As in previous years they will fund 30 PhD studentships through the CSC, and for the first time the School doesn’t have to commit to pay the home fees which means we can put forward a ranked list of all appointable students (that doesn’t have to balance against the School funding in other streams).

This scheme is open to mainland Chinese nationals. More details can be found in the CSC programme information, but things to note are:

  • Students cannot apply while they are in the final year of an undergraduate degree (whether they’re in the UK or China).
  • Students who are part way through a Masters degree in the UK cannot apply (they need to return to China and apply the following year – Masters students from China are fine as long as they have completed their UG degree).
  • Need IELTS of 6.5, minimum of 6.5 in each discipline (or if spent 3 years in UK for UG degree then not needed). If they took the St Andrews specific English test previously this is valid for 2 years (no mention at the moment about them running this again year).
  • Need to intend to return to China after the PhD.
  • As well as the normal route for a 4-year PhD position, there are also 10 ‘visiting scholar’ positions for PhD students who are undertaking a PhD in China to come to St Andrews for one year.
  • First year PhD students currently in St Andrews that meet all criteria for CSC funding are eligible to apply.

Students apply in the normal way, but they need to note they are applying for CSC funding in the appropriate place in the form. They will then receive a link to another form where they have to specifically say they are applying for the CSC scholarship.

***The deadline for application is Monday 6 January 2020, which is for both parts of the application, and for achieving all of the criteria including IELTS.***

Following this, the time scale for nomination will be short (exact dates to follow, but expect only a couple of days). You are expected to have Skyped with the student and be assured of their scientific knowledge and use of English before nominating them, so plan accordingly given the Christmas break. We (as a School) then need to invite for interview, interview, rank, get approval from DoPG and HoS, and submit to the University by 29th January 2020. If then approved by the University the student will receive an unconditional offer (hence why degree and IELTS need to be complete by time of application), which is needed before the student applies to the CSC in the second phase of the application process.

More information can be found at these websites

All currently School advertised PhD projects are open to applicants worldwide, but you also may want to spread the word through personal contacts/collaborators in China to encourage applications. If anybody wishes to advertise for CSC applicants but hasn’t got a project already being advertised, please send a project outline to Joyce and she will organise for it to go onto

If you have any questions then please get in touch and I’ll try to answer them.

Tracey Gloster, (on behalf of PGR recruitment committee)


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Scholarship information - 2020 Carnegie Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship

The 2020 application round for the Carnegie Vacation Scholarships for Undergraduates is now open. The Biology undergraduates have received this email directly, but I also would be grateful if you could bring this scholarship opportunity to the attention of any students in your School whom you consider to be eligible.

Please see some specifications for 2020 applications:

  • It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that the project is completed within the timescale agreed at time of application.

Thank you very much in advance for your help with the promotion of this scholarship.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

Vicki Kinninmonth
Registry Administrator (Undergraduate Scholarships)
01334 461997


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Leverhulme early Career Fellowships 2020 - Internal review process

Please find below details of the Internal review process for the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship scheme. 

Eligible candidates (having submitted their PhD after 27th February 2016) wishing to apply for this scheme must submit their applications for internal review via their chosen host school. 







This scheme aims to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but who have a proven record of research. The expectation is that Fellows should undertake a significant piece of publishable work during their tenure, and that the Fellowships should lead to a more permanent academic position. Applications will be considered in all subject areas with the exception of research studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals, or research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications. 

The Trust will contribute 50% of each Fellow's total salary costs up to a maximum of £25,000 per annum and the balance is to be paid by the host institution. Approximately 100 Fellowships will be available in 2020. Fellowships can be held at universities or at other institutions of higher education in the UK. The awards are tenable for 36 months and are not renewable. A fellowship must commence between 1 September 2020 and 1 May 2021.

More information can be found at: Early Career Fellowships, ECF Guidance for applicants 2020.

University of St Andrews Application Process:

The University of St Andrews does not have a specific fund for this scheme and match funding for these fellowships will be required from the host school’s salary budget.  Schools are invited to submit no more than one application.  Applications for consideration by the School of Biology must be submitted to the Director of Research ( no later than 4pm 20 December 2019.

Read more here on information reuqired for applying.


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Digest of things you may want to remember

  1. Biology December Exam Diet: Saturday 7 December 2019 to Thursday 19 December 2019
  2. Fire Safety Training Seminar: Thursday 12 December 2019, 10am Purdie lecture theatre B
  3. Windows 7 support ending: Tuesday 14 January 2020
  4. Honours Module Board: Friday 17 January 2020 (AM)
  5. Pre-Honours Module Board: Friday 17 January 2020 (PM)
  6. Principal's Medal Award nominations: deadline Monday 6 April 2020

We plan to run this 'deadline digest' reminder each week, so if you know of a deadline that other staff also should be aware of, please send it to, along with an information link if one is relevant.


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Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN) call information updates

1. MSCA Innovative Training Network 2019 Coordinators' Day Slides Now Available
The European Commission and Research Executive Agency (REA) held an Innovative Training Network (ITN) Coordinators' Day on 22 November 2019, which was primarily aimed at new ITN grant coordinators. The event enabled participants to not only familiarise themselves with the rules and procedures of the ITN action, but also provided them with an opportunity for networking and to meet with their individual Project Officers.
The videos and presentation slides from the day are available on the Commission's website. The slides and videos are not only of use to those currently involved in an ITN project, but will also be of interest to those looking to apply for the upcoming ITN Call - deadline 14 January 2020. The presentation slides complement UKRO's MSCA post-award factsheet, the ITN 2020 Call information events held on October and the focus group meeting on HR considerations in MSCA actions held earlier this month.
In addition to the general presentations there were two parallel sessions focusing on the European Industrial Doctorates and the European Joint Doctorates as well as a best practise case study.  The general topics covered by the event include, but are not limited to:
  • Recruitment including the eligibility of researchers, recruitment and working conditions, the charter and code for researchers as well as things to watch out for;
  • Reporting including project implementation, continuous and period reporting, project checks, ethics and communication with REA;
  • Finances including project life cycle, cost categories, eligibility of costs and burden of proof, as well as financial reporting;
  • Grant Agreement obligations including the division for roles and responsibilities, consequences of non-compliance and amendments;
  • Intellectual property (IP) in Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) including terminology and agreements;
  • Open Access policies and requirements; and
  • Communication and outreach including recommendations for good activities, and success stories as well as dissemination and exploitation tools.
A key take home message from the event was to talk to your project officer as much as possible, especially when you have questions related to recruitment, finances and amendments - when in doubt ask.
2. MSCA ITN 2020 Call: Guide for Applicants Updated
?The Guide for Applicants for the 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN) call has been updated to provide clarification on Visa-related costs.
The revision sets out to clarify the use of institutional unit costs to cover all entry visa costs for the recruited researchers. Specifically, that the institutional unit costs, such as the research, training and networking costs, must be used to cover all entry visa costs, including renewals, for the recruited researcher, but it is not a mandatory requirement to cover the cost for their families (if applicable). This is both at the time of recruitment, even if the costs are incurred for the date of recruitment, and in case of secondments.
3. ERC Advice from Successful Applicants
?The latest edition of the European Research Council (ERC) Magazine includes a section with advice for ERC applicants from successful grantees. It collates a series of videos, comments and tweets from successful applicants sharing their experience of applying for and winning ERC grants.

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Apply now for a Breast Cancer Now Project grant

Project grants are available with awards of up to £230,000. Costs requested must not exceed this cap. Our project grants are for researchers who have a strong track record in their field, and who want to work in one of our priority areas.

We are committed to supporting new investigators in breast cancer research and we encourage applications from talented researchers at the start of their independent careers.

For more details, please email or take a look at our website.

The deadline for grant applications is Tuesday 3 March 2020.


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Family Home To Rent

4+ bedroom recently refurbished family home within walking distance of
the Dundee and Abertay Universities, is available for rent from March (flexible
entry date).

The accommodation which is fully furnished comprises four spacious bedrooms, study, living kitchen, living room and sauna, two bathrooms plus a downstairs toilet and ample storage space. We are looking for longer term tenants (no multiple occupancy).

Monthly costs are £1,300 rent, £230 council tax band F, approx. ~£100 heating and electricity.

For more information and viewing, please contact Toni and/or Ulli at or

Click here for photo's.


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Articles for the newsletter? Information you don't know where to find?

Do you have a news article you want to share? Are there questions you have about where to find information in the Universtiy and you don't know where to look for the answers?

Send us news articles, events, teaching or research news, or any other interesting work-related stories that you would like to appear in the school newsletter.

If you have questions about where to find information about topics such as parental leave, HR policies, teaching calendar dates or other University processes and procedures, we'll try to find out where you can go to find the answers you need.

Send your item or questions (in good time, please) to the Bionews team at





Current vacancies tagged for 'School of Biology' from the University Vacancies Feed are listed below:
School of Biology University of St Andrews

Contacting the newsletter editor:
Do you have any information that you would like people in the School to know about in the Friday Newsletter? Or do you have any news items which should be published to the School of Biology web site for public information? Items could be about events, new appointments, publications, grants, research news, or any other interesting work-related stories. Please send items to indicating if you think they should be published to the Newsletter, and/or as news items to the School of Biology public web site. The deadline for the Newsletter is Friday morning of the current week.

The current Newsletter also appears on a public web page, and earlier posts may be reviewed online as a monthly digest.

Head of School: Professor Frank Gunn-Moore
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