School of Biology Internal Newsletter: 23 May, 2017
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School of Biology University of St Andrews
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More League Table Success for Biology

This week the Guardian University Guide 2018 was published.

Biology has risen again, overtaking Oxford to claim 2nd place in the table. This is the first time we’ve broken the Oxbridge bloc.

This guide has a particular focus on teaching quality, and there’s a very noticeable increase in our score for satisfaction with feedback this year.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who is involved in any aspect of teaching for your excellent contribution.

Malcolm White, Head of School.


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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

Fast- and slow-exploring pigeons differ in how they use previously learned rules
Guillette, L. M., Baron, D. M., Sturdy, C. B. & Spetch, M. L. (2017) Behavioural Processes. 134, p. 54-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2016.07.006
Individual size, sex and rearing environment impact on aggression in newly weaned seals
Robinson, K. J., Pomeroy, P. P., Hazon, N., Moss, S. & Twiss, S. D. (2017) Marine Mammal Science. 33(2), p. 621-629. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12367
NADH dehydrogenase of Trypanosoma brucei is important for efficient acetate production in bloodstream forms
Surve, S. V., Jensen, B. C., Heestand, M., Mazet, M., Smith, T. K., Bringaud, F., Parsons, M. & Schnaufer, A. (2017) Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology. 211, p. 57-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2016.10.001
The distribution of pelagic sound scattering layers across the southwest Indian Ocean
Boersch-Supan, P. H., Rogers, A. D. & Brierley, A. S. (2017) Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 136, p. 108-121. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.06.023
The magnitude of innovation and its evolution in social animals
Arbilly, M. & Laland, K. N. (2017) Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 284(1848): 20162385. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2385
Within host RNA virus persistence: mechanisms and consequences
Randall, R. E. & Griffin, D. E. (2017) Current Opinion in Virology. 23, p. 35-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.coviro.2017.03.001

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CBD Seminar

Tuesday 23 May 1pm,
Dyers Brae Seminar Room

Dr Janet Cox-Singh, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews

"Zoonotic malaria - where to begin?"

Malaria is caused by member species of the genus Plasmodium. Plasmodium species are eukaryotic parasites that require two hosts to complete their complex lifecycle: A vertebrate host for asexual reproduction and amplification and a female Anopheline mosquito host for sexual reproduction. There are over 200 Plasmodium species that co-exist with and are restricted to various bird, rodent, non-human primate and reptile species and their Anopheline partners. A few Plasmodium species have adapted to the human host but infection most often results in the signs and symptoms of malaria. Malaria, per se, is the result of asexual reproduction and cycling in the red blood cells of infected individuals. At the dawn of the new millennium a large entry of Plasmodium knowlesi, a parasite of old world monkeys, was discovered in the human population in Malaysian Borneo. Zoonotic malaria, caused by P. knowlesi, is currently responsible for most cases of malaria in Malaysia and is widespread in other human populations across Southeast Asia. What were the drivers for this cross host-species emergence? Were we observing a single crossover event and clonal expansion? How do we control zoonotic malaria transmission? What are the clinical features of disease? The questions were many, difficult to prioritise and on-going - some of the answers will be presented.

If anyone would like to meet with Janet please contact V Anne Smith (

This is the final seminar for the semester!


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Biology Equality and Diversity Committee

In preparation for next year's International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the School's Equality and Diversity Committee would like your suggestions for an eminent female scientist to invite to speak about her work in February 2018.  

As you may be aware, our event for this year with Professor Dame Linda Partridge had to be postponed due to a flight cancellation. We are hoping to reschedule Linda’s talk for autumn 2017 but will also be preparing for another event in 2018. For the latter, we would like to receive suggestions from any member of staff (women, men, academic, research, professional, etc).

Please send your suggestion for a speaker along with a sentence about why you are nominating her to Nora Hanson ( by 19th May


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St Andrews BioBlitz 2017

Public engagement volunteering opportunity.

Are you interested in recording biodiversity and citizen science? Are you free on Friday 2nd and/or Saturday 3rd June to take part in Bioblitz 2017?

Bioblitz 2017 is a 24hr species recording event held at East Sands. In the 2014-16 events we engaged over 500 people face-to-face in addition to those following us on Facebook and Twitter. The aim of the Bioblitz is to encourage citizen science and highlight the diverse range of plants, animals, fungi etc. on our doorstep.

As a Bioblitz volunteer you will be assisting with the delivery of the event on the day, this can be as varied as taking school children onto a rocky shore, listening for bats at dusk, verifying species records and entering data, learning to identify plankton, sweeping for invertebrates, hunting for wild flowers and trapping moths. Ideally some availability on Thursday 1st and Sunday 4th June would be desirable to also help with event set-up and clear-up.

If you are interested in volunteering at this years’ Bioblitz take a look at our Facebook page: and send an email to


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Staff Council Meeting

The next School of Biology Staff Council Meeting will be held on Thursday, 1st June 2017 at 1.00 p.m. in the Lawrence Levy Studio, Byre Theatre.


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Head of School Away

Professor Malcolm White will be away at a conference from Tuesday, 6th to Monday 12th June (incl), during this period Professor Graeme Ruxton will be Acting Head of School.

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Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) POSITION AVAILABLE

You will have noted the call for SULSA sponsored international post-doctoral exchanges, and now as SULSA starts to ramp up its activities, we are now looking for representation for the new themes:

Specifically, I am looking for a representation in the Ecosystems which will cover the following areas: Agriculture/ Animal health/ Biodiversity/ Ecology/ Evolutionary biology/ Marine science/ One Health/ Plant science

The Theme Scientific Advisors should be researchers strongly engaged with research that fits the relevant theme, and are willing to work with SULSA to act as advisors to direct our theme-specific activities. Therefore they also need an awareness of the research and funding landscape surrounding the theme. It is important that they are supportive of SULSA and are willing to act as SULSA champions. While the time commitment won’t be huge, they will be required to attend 2-3 meetings/teleconferences and potentially a couple of events a year. One person from each theme will be appointed the Theme Leader and will attend the SULSA executive committee meetings to feed information to/from the themes to the executive committee.

This is a very important position as you will be representing St Andrews (SULSA now consists of 8 Universities), and this position will give you access and help in developing major projects in this field. If interested please get in contact with me, as soon as possible.

Frank Gunn- Moore


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Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Final

26th May, 2pm, Byre Theatre

3MT is a worldwide competition that challenges PhD students to present their research to a non-specialist audience in just 3 minutes using only 1 slide. After making it through the heats, our final 6 competitors will compete for the title of St Andrews 3MT champion. 

The winner as selected by our judging panel will receive a £500 Public Engagement grant to be used to further communicate their research and will be put forward to represent the University at the UK semi-finals. The People’s Choice winner is selected by you, and will receive a Kindle Fire HD 8.

We have an excellent selection of finalists this year, so why not come along to support your colleagues and vote for the People’s Choice winner?  The final takes place on Friday 26th May at 2pm in the Byre Studio Theatre, and is open to the public, so invite your friends and family, too! There will be free drinks hosted at the Byre afterwards for all audience and participants. Tickets are free but must be booked through the Byre website – last year’s tickets were snapped up well in advance so make sure not to leave it too late to get yours!


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GATK Best Practices for Variant Discovery Workshop

17 - 19th July
University of Edinburgh

This workshop will focus on the core steps involved in calling variants with the Broad’s Genome Analysis Toolkit, using the “Best Practices” developed by the GATK team. You will learn why each step is essential to the variant discovery process, what are the operations performed on the data at each step, and how to use the GATK tools to get the most accurate and reliable results out of your dataset.

In the course of this workshop, we highlight key functionalities such as the GVCF workflow for joint variant discovery in cohorts, RNAseq-specific processing, and somatic variant discovery using MuTect2. We also preview capabilities of the upcoming GATK version 4, including a new workflow for CNV discovery, and we demonstrate the use of pipelining tools to assemble and execute GATK workflows.

To Register click here.

For further information contact: Bert Overduin (



Science Communication Awards

Two award schemes seeking to recognise and support talent in science communication and public engagement have open calls for their 2017 awards.

Josh Award 2017

UK’s national award for science communication. The winner will be the Manchester Science Festival Science Communicator in Residence for 2017. They will receive up to £2500 (plus up to £1000 personal expenses) to develop a project or event for the show, as well as a £500 personal prize registration for the BIG Event (worth £300).

Applications close 5pm on Monday 22 May. Refer to the information pack and application form for more details.

Royal Society of Biology Science Communication Awards 2017
Royal Society of Biology’s Science Communication Awards deadline for applications is Friday 30th June. Please contact Isabel Brinsden ( with any enquiries.

  • New Researcher Prize worth £750: Masters/PhD/First Year Postdocs
  • Established Researcher Prize worth £1500: Second Year+ Postdocs/Senior Researchers/Group Leaders


If you would like to advertise a public engagement event, please contact Katrina Falkenberg ( by Tuesday COB.


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Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

If you received your doctoral degree in 2015 or 2016 Science/AAAS and SciLifeLab are offering an extraordinary opportunity. 

Science/AAAS and SciLifeLab (a coordinated joint effort between four Swedish universities (Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Uppsala University), have joined forces to create the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. Each year, the grand prize winner will receive a prize of US $30,000 (currently GBP £23,000); each of the three other winners will receive US $10,000 (currently GBP £7,700).

The prize winners will have their essays published in Science (the grand prize winner in print, and the others online). The topic of the entrant's thesis research must be in one of the following categories: Cell and Molecular BiologyEcology and Environment, Genomics and Proteomics, and Translational Medicine and the deadline for submissions is 15 July 2017. More information is given online and in the attached flier.  

Prof Anne Magurran has helped judge the Ecology and Environment category in the last couple of years, and would be happy to chat to anyone thinking of applying, regardless of their topic of interest.


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Equality and Diversity Committee

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 14.30 to 16.00

Speakers Professor Hilary Lapin-Scott (Vice Chancellor of Swansea University and winner of the WISE Hero Award 2016; 'Changing the culture to support women to achieve') and Professor Susan Wray (University of Liverpool) will discuss what is holding women back in academic institutions and what their universities are doing to redress the balance.

Registration for this webinar, and details of other up-coming events, are found on the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) web site.


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Horizon 2020

As part of the Research Business Development & Contracts (RBDC) series of monthly Horizon 2020 Informal Coffee Breaks, the next one will be held in the Boswell Room, School of Art History from 2.00 – 4.00pm on Tuesday 30th May 2017. Tea and cakes will be provided.

The purpose of these sessions is for researchers from across the university to meet with Trish Starrs as the Business Development Manager for Horizon 2020 and Ann Le Feuvre as the Finance EU Coordinator, and to ask questions about funding opportunities for staff offered under the EU Horizon 2020 programme. Any questions regarding using the Research Participant Portal, or costing/post award are also welcomed. These coffee breaks will also give you the opportunity to enjoy networking with colleagues from across the disciplines.

There will be no formal presentations given, and there is no need to register or make an appointment; please just turn up and make full use of the opportunity.

Trish Starrs, Business Development Manager
Research Business Development & Contracts
01334 467286,

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Visitors form Overseas: A guide for Staff

Visitors from Overseas: A Guide for Staff

HR has published a guide for staff who plan to host non-EEA visitors to the university. The guide outlines what you need to do, types of visitor visas, and an overview of the visa process a host and non-EEA visitor will need to undertake.

If you have any questions, or require further guidance, please contact Cameron Little in Human Resources on extension 2497 or email


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University Professional/Personal Development: Sessions that might be of interest

The following are just a few of the many sessions and workshops CAPOD is offering over the next few weeks. If you want to see other options, CAPOD's full listing is on the university'sPersonal Development Management System (PDMS) web site.
Wednesday 24 May 2017
12:00 to14:00, Arts Seminar 3, Arts Building, Scores
This is panel session with a buffet lunch and informal networking for postdocs, research staff and early career academics.
Participants will hear from a panel of academics with extensive experience of working with broadcast media. The panelists cover a breadth of experiences from writing press releases to taking part in radio and TV interviews to being involved in filming TV programmes. They will discuss their experiences of these activities, the priorities of broadcast media and advice they have for researchers who would like to work with broadcast media in the future.
There will be an open Q&A session during the panel session as well as the opportunity to talk with the panelists over lunch.
Thursday 25 May 2017
16.00 to 17.00, C5 Seminar room, Bute building
For research postgraduates in all disciplines and any year of study.
Come to a ‘Love your PhD’ coffee klatch to meet other postgrads and talk about the highs and lows of your PhD experience. Whatever stage you’re at, come and share the things that you love about your PhD, and get ideas about things you can do to make the most of it.
Friday 26 May 2017
09.00 to 15,00 (lunch provided), C5 Seminar Room, Bute building
For all staff. Disruptive behaviour, which can cause difficulties at work, will be looked at, along with ways in which this may be managed more easily will be examined. Assertiveness techniques will be given in addition to looking at manipulation and power and participants will be encouraged to be aware of themselves and to see what aspects of behaviours they employ.
Friday 2 June 2017
9:30 to 13:30 (lunch provided), Boardroom, Gateway

For early career researchers and others who would like to develop the skills necessary to write a competitive grant application.
Provided by Research Business Development and Contracts (RBDC) team here at St Andrews, this workshop will explore the requirements of the major scientific research funding bodies in the UK (e.g. Research Councils) and go through each part of the application, focusing on what the evaluation panel will be looking for. A recent, successful applicant and an experienced evaluation panelist will be speaking and available to chat with during the informal lunch.  

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University Library

In addition to the Library’s Digital Research division's standard support services and continuing visits to Schools, they will be holding Open Office Hours every Wednesday 2pm-4pm, in the Old Union Diner, where the Digital Research staff are now located.

All staff and research students are welcome to drop in during these hours for help from the team in the following areas Open Access, Research Data Management, Pure, Research Computing and Digital Humanities  

Please note access to the office is via stairs only. 


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Open Call Launched for ERC ADG Advanced Grants 2017: deadline 31 August 2017

The European Research Council (ERC) has launched a call for proposals for their ADG Advanced Grants. Principle Investigators can submit their proposals to the ERC, in any field of research, via the European Commission’s Participant Portal, before the deadline of 31 August 2017. The total budget for this year’s call is €567million.

For more information, please consult the call page on the European Commission’s Participant Portal.

ERC Synergy Grants 2018 Update: call opening expected mid-July 2017

?The ERC has released further information regarding the Synergy Grants, which will be included in the 2018 ERC Work Programme, including indicative call dates.

Synergy grants provide funding for groups of between two to four Principle Investigators (PIs) to work together on an ERC Grant. The objective is to “enable a small group of principal investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems.”

As stated in the announcement, ?it is expected that the new call for the Synergy Grants will be published on 19 July 2017 (subject to the adoption of the Work Programme by the European Commission), with a deadline of 14 November 2017.

The budget available is expected to fund 25 to 30 projects in 2018, with grants of up to €10M (with an additional amount of €4M available) for individual projects which can last up to six years.

Open call

ERC 2017 Proof of Concept call (deadline: 5 September 2017) This type of grant aims to maximise the value of the excellent research that the ERC funds by funding further work (i.e. activities which were not scheduled to be funded by the original ERC frontier research grant) to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from ERC funded projects. Proof of Concept Grants are only on offer to Principal Investigators whose proposals draw substantially on their existing ERC-funded research.


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Biology School Manager drop-in: SOI

SOI: Monday morning, 22 May, from 8.30pm to 12.30pm in meeting room 2.26, next to Katrina and Louise's office, and at coffee. Everyone is welcome and invited to stop by with questions, complaints or for just a chat.


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Edinburgh Marathon - Sunday 28 May

Join #TeamTommys in the Edinburgh marathon and help save babie's lives. This spectacular course takes you around Edinburgh Castle, through Princes Street and along side a UNESCXO World Heritage Site.

Sign up today: E:; T: 02073983448; W: Tommy's



School Meetings (23/05/17 to 22/08/17)

BSRC Health and Safety Meeting
BSRC: room Annexe meeting room, 2:00 PM, 23 May 2017

Staff Council
Other: room Byre Theatre, Lawrence Levy Studio, 1:00 PM, 01 Jun 2017

Biology Equality and Diversity Committee
Harold Mitchell: room Dyers Brae seminar room, 9:15 AM, 19 Jun 2017

Management Group
BMS: room 4.14, 1:00 PM, 20 Jun 2017



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


Seminars and Events (23/05/17 to 23/06/17)

Bayesian species richness and occupancy models. - Alan Clark (University of Cape Town)
Alan Clark (University of Cape Town) The Observatory: Seminar Room, 2:00 PM, 24 May 2017

SOI seminar: The genomic history of killer whale ecotypes
Andy Foote (Bangor University) Bute: LTD, 1:00 PM, 24 May 2017

Mesopelagic fish: a 'dark hole' in our understanding of ocean ecolgy
Mike St John (DTU Aqua) Bute: LTD, 1:00 PM, 08 Jun 2017

Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) foraging: estimating detection range for mesopelagic prey using the biosonar equation
W Au () Bute: LTD, 1:00 PM, 22 Jun 2017
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 Malcolm White
tel:+44 (0) 1334 463401email:
fax:+44 (0) 1334

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