School of Biology Internal Newsletter: 18 November, 2017
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School of Biology University of St Andrews

In this Newsletter


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AS application DRAFT for all staff to review

These two links will connect you to our draft submission for an Athena Swan Silver Award, and the Biology Equality and Diversity committee would appreciate as many people as possible reading and providing their comments before we submit it:

1. Main text part of the application

2. The Action plan, outlining what we plan to do and when

Please be aware that Management Group has not yet endorsed this as a final version, and so it may well change slightly, but I would like all staff to have the opportunity to comment.  

Please provide any feedback before next Thursday (23 November) or at Thursday’s staff council meeting.  We need to submit the full document a week after this, on Thursday 30 November.  

Many thanks to everyone in the School for getting us to this stage – and particularly to the E&D committee for help drafting sections. 

Dr Sascha K. Hooker, Chair, Biology Equality and Diversity Committee


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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

CpG and UpA dinucleotides in both coding and non-coding regions of echovirus 7 inhibit replication initiation post-entry
Fros, J. J., Dietrich, I., Alshaikhahmed, K., Passchier, T. C., Evans, D. J. & Simmonds, P. (2017) eLife. 6:e29112. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.29112
Evaluating detectability of freshwater fish assemblages in tropical streams: is hand-seining sufficient?
Deacon, A., Mahabir, R., Inderlall, D., Ramnarine, I. W. & Magurran, A. E. (2017) Environmental Biology of Fishes. 100(7), p. 839-849. DOI: 10.1007/s10641-017-0610-5
Fine-scale harbour seal usage for informed marine spatial planning
The devil is in the detail: quantifying vocal variation in a complex, multi-levelled, and rapidly evolving display
Garland, E. C., Rendell, L., Lilley, M. S., Poole, M. M., Allen, J. & Noad, M. J. (2017) Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 142(1) p. 460-472. DOI: 10.1121/1.4991320
The major histocompatibility complex class I immunopeptidome of extracellular vesicles
Synowsky, S. A., Shirran, S. L., Cooke, F. G. M., Antoniou, A. N., Botting, C. H. & Powis, S. J. (2017) Journal of Biological Chemistry. 292, p. 17084-17092. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M117.805895
Using blubber explants to investigate adipose function in grey seals: glycolytic, lipolytic and gene expression responses to glucose and hydrocortisone
Bennett, K. A., Robinson, K. J., Moss, S. E. W., Millward, S. & Hall, A. J. (2017) Scientific Reports. 7:7731. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06037-x

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Successful Grant Awards

Congratulations (some a bit belatedly) to:

Dr Ellen Garland, for her Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) award for "Sexy singing: cultural evolution and sexual selection in a complex song display", £605,458.

Dr Mark Johnson, for his University of Aarhus award for a "Development project for multi-channel sound and movement recording tag for studies on wild echolocating whales", £11,000; for his full Office of Naval Research award funding for "Next generation sound and movement tags for behavioural studies on whales", £147,167; and for his Office of Naval Research award funding for "Heart rate logging in deep diving toothed whales: A new tool for assessing responses to disturbance", £54,514.

Prof John Jones, for his Scottish Funding Council "Official Development Assistance Global Challenges Research Fund" award, £27,432.

Dr Carolin Kosiol, for her Royal Society award for "Time-series on a phylogenetic tree", £14,800.

Prof David Paterson, for his EU Horizon 2020 award for "ASSEMBLE Plus", £150,065.

Prof Martin Ryan, for his BBSRC award for "Rational design of attenuated animal vaccine genomes: Commercial opportunities for controlling Foot and Mouth", £12,097.

Prof Terry Smith, for his BBSRC award for "Global Challenges Research Fund-Impact Acceleration Account Extension", £50,000.

Prof Lesley Torrance, for her BBSRC Seeding Award, £40,000; and with Prof John Jones, their Global Challenges Research Fund-Impact Acceleration Account Extension" award, £50,000.


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CBD Seminar

Tuesday 21 November
1:00 - 2:00pm
Dyers Brae Seminar Room

Dr Andrea Betancourt, University of Liverpool

"Transposable element evolution in Drosophila"

Transposable elements are wide-spread genomic parasites, and the archetypal example of a selfish gene, which can impose large fitness costs on their hosts. In response, organisms have evolved mechanisms to suppress transposable element activity; transposable elements can escape this suppression by invading new hosts.

Here, we show an invasion of a species by DNA transposon, the P-element, in a new Drosophila host. Despite causing ‘hybrid dysgenesis’, a syndrome of abnormal phenotypes that include sterility, the P-element spread globally in the course of a decade in D. simulans. We find that the D. simulans P-element invasion occurred rapidly and nearly simultaneously in the regions surveyed, with strains containing P-elements being rare in 2006 and common by 2014.

Importantly, as evidenced by their resistance to the hybrid dysgenesis phenotype, strains collected from the latter phase of this invasion have adapted to suppress the worst effects of the P-element.

All welcome!


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University Mail - Personal Package Collections

Due to an increasing volume of personal deliveries (online store purchases) being made to the University Mail Room, a collection service will be implemented with effect from Monday 27th November.

Please read the important MEMO.

Any Amazon deliveries will be made as normal but where a package is clearly obvious as non-university business, e.g prams, car parts, clothing, shoes etc, you will be emailed and asked to collect them from the mail room within 48 hours, after this time items will be returned to sender.


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Date for your Diary

Next week’s staff council meeting:
Thursday 23rd November
09.30 to 12.00
The Senate room, South Street
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School Manager Biology drop-in: SOI and HMB

SOI: Monday morning, 20th November, from 8.30am to 12.30pm in the small meeting room (2.26) and at coffee.

HMB: Thursday afternoon, 23rd November, from 2.00pm to 5.00pm, in room 15.

All staff and students are welcome and invited to stop by with questions, complaints or for just a chat. Donna

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Contact the Newsletter

Do you have committee meeting or seminar dates you'd like to share across the school?

Know of a new staff member starting or moving to a new role in the school, or leaving to pursue new horizons? 

If so, drop an email to to be included in the next week's edition.

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Have you ever missed a casual salary cut off?

The university has cut-off and pay dates posted online.

Please allow sufficient time within your department for authorisation!!

For December:
Casual Contract cut-off:  Monday 4th
Expenses/Timesheet Cut-off:  Tuesday 5th !!
Pay date:  Thursday 28th
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Call for 2018 Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas Shows

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas provides an informal but high-profile platform for researchers to share, discuss and debate their work with members of the public. It has taken place at the Edinburgh Fringe every summer since 2013. In 2017, there were 48 shows that reached over 2,000 members of the public.

The deadline for initial (non-binding) expressions of interest is 14th December, but it may still be possible to get involved after this point.

For more information click here.


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Biosafety Training: Risk Assessing with Biological Agents and Microbiological Safety Cabinets and Disinfection: Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Dr Paul Szawlowski from the Environmental, Health and Safety Services is planning to give two talks on biosafety in January/February 2018. You should attend these talks if they relevant to their research. No pre-registration is needed.

- Risk Assessing work with biological agents (including non-genetically modified organisms and also genetically modified organisms). This talk will be on Wednesday the 31st January 2018 at 2pm in the Biomolecular Sciences (BMS) Lecture Theatre, North Haugh.

- A talk on how microbiological safety cabinets work and their limitations with regard to safety as well as a talk on disinfection processes again highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the different disinfection process. This talk will be held on Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 2pm in the Biomolecular Sciences (BMS) Lecture Theatre, North Haugh.


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Biology's Digital Health Science Interschool Seminar

The School of Biology is hosting the next Digital Health Science Interschool seminar, which will be held from 12.30-2pm on Friday 8 December 2017 in the Biomolecular Sciences (BMS) Lecture Theatre, North Haugh.

This seminar’s theme is “Statistics”, and it will feature contributed talks from Dr Michael Morrissey (CBD), Prof Oscar Gaggiotti (SOI) and Prof Anne Magurran (CBD).

Attendees will be coming from a number of different Schools across the University, and we are hoping to have a good turnout from Biology.

Please see the attached flyer for the programme and more details of the DHSI seminar series.


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

The following are just two 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's Personal Development Management System (PDMS) web site.

Speak up for success: Voice coaching for everyone

Wednesday 22 November 2017

13.00 to 16.00, C5 Seminar Room, Bute Building

Since listeners pay attention to how things are said as well as what is said, this course coaches you to achieve that professional broadcast and public speaking standard that gets your brilliant ideas across and allows you to feel so comfortable speaking that you can focus on your talk or conversation. No talking in front of others needed and group work is optional. Nervous or shy speakers especially welcome.

If you are unable to attend this date/time, another session will be held on Wednesday 7 March 2018.

Leading Change

Thursday 23 November 2017
09.00 to 17.00, C5 Seminar Room, Bute Building

This workshop will give practical insight into leading change. It builds on the Change Management for Managers workshop and aims to go further into the subject at a conceptual and practical level in order to: understand the human reaction to change, analyse 'change readiness' and be aware of frameworks to guide change implementation.

If you are unable to attend this date/time, another session will be held on Wednesday 14 March 2018.

Student Mental Health Toolkit for Professional Staff

Friday 24 November 2017
09.30 to 13.30, Large Rehearsal Room, Students' Association

This interactive workshop, designed and delivered by Student Services, takes elements from the Scottish Mental Health First Aid training, and other mental health information, and puts this alongside the University policies to inform staff in understanding and addressing mental health issues within the University community.

Teaching Practice Forum (Sciences)

Friday 24 November 2017
12.30 to 14.00, Boardroom, Gateway

This Teaching Practice Forum is a follow-up from the Academic Forum on 8 November 2017 and provides an opportunity for follow-up discussions, related to material offered at the Academic Forum

Student Mental Health Toolkit for Academic Staff

Wednesday 6 December 2017
09.30 to 1630, Arts Seminar Room 3, Arts Building

This interactive workshop, designed and delivered by Student Services, takes elements from the Scottish Mental Health First Aid training, and other mental health information, and puts this alongside the University policies to inform staff in understanding and addressing mental health issues within the University community.


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NEW: RCUK funds now only available for fully Open Access journals

In November, we will receive the final allocation from RCUK of the Open Access Block Grant for 2017/18, and the amount allocated to St Andrews means that the grant will not be sufficient to cover all requests for APCs (Article Processing Charges). Based on current criteria, we would be approximately £85k overspent by the end of March 2018.

We therefore need to adjust the criteria for allocating funds from a first-come basis, to one that enables continued freedom for authors to publish in the journal of their choice while staying within the constraints of funding. This means that authors can still publish in hybrid (subscriptions-based) journals and comply via the ‘green’ route, i.e deposit of accepted manuscripts in Pure. 

With the current constraints on the budget we will no longer be able to pay APCs for articles via the 'gold’ route in hybrid (subscriptions-based) journals.


  1. We will honour all existing commitments for articles in progress.
  2. For future articles, we will pay APCs for those published in fully OA journals (as listed in
  3. In exceptional circumstances, we will pay APCs or publication costs where these fees are required in order to publish. Schools would normally be expected to contribute to publication costs that are not directly related to Open Access publishing.
  4. We will also pay APCs for hybrid journals that are included in an offsetting deal where additional costs are minimal (eg Springer Compact.)

With the new criteria in place from 1 November 2017, it is crucial that all authors contact before committing to payment of an APC.  

The ‘act on acceptance – deposit in Pure’ message remains unchanged. Compliance with REF OA Policy will be unaffected by the re-allocation of the RCUK Open Access Block Grant.  

If you have any questions please contact Jackie Proven


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The Elizabeth Garrett Mentoring Programme: Open until 5 January 2018

The Elizabeth Garrett Mentoring Programme has been created for women in senior levels in academia at the University of St Andrews. It aims to support women in, or aspiring to, academic leadership roles, and to develop leadership capability.

Until 5 January 2018 applications are invited to participate in the Elizabeth Garrett Mentoring Programme as a Mentee or Mentor. While the programme has been created for women Mentees, both men and women members of the Principal's Office, Deans and Heads of School (current and previous), Directors of Research and Directors of Teaching from larger schools, and professors are invited to contribute as Mentors.

Further information and application to join are available on the university's Elizabeth Garrett Mentoring Programme web page.


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Nominations for The Principal's Medal Invited

The Principal's Medal is an award made to students who have displayed exceptional endeavour and achievement during their time at St Andrews. Each award will carry a value of £2,500 in addition to a specially produced medal.

The Principal's Medal is open to any discipline.  In addition to high academic standards the achievements considered could include sporting, musical, charitable or other activities or a combination of some or all of these.

Award process

Nominations should be made from now on with a closing date of Monday 26 February 2018. Student nominations must be made by a member of University staff. To be eligible for nomination, students must be either in their final year of undergraduate study or be a final year postgraduate student. (Self-nominations will not be accepted).

Further information is available from Dr Fiona Thompson, the Executive Officer to the Principal’s Office, College Gate. To make a nomination, nominators are required to complete an application form with details of the achievement/endeavor, available at the university's Principal's Medal web page

The winning student (and nominators) will be notified in May and the medal will be awarded at an appropriate graduation ceremony.

Full information is available on the university's Principal's Medal web page. 

Professor Lorna Milne, Proctor & Senior Vice-Principal


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Biology Postgraduate Conference 2018

The annual Biology Postgraduate Conference is approaching.

The dates are the Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd January 2018.

The conference will take place in the Medical School, and there will be a Ceilidh on Tuesday evening. Students are required to participate in different events, but should attend the whole conference.

1st year - 1 minute talk
2nd year - poster
3rd year - 10/15 minute talk
4th year - it is optional, but you can chair a session. This is a good opportunity to polish conference chairing skills!

1st to 3rd year students will need to prepare a title for their presentation/poster by January 12th.

I will let you know closer to the time to which email you should send this information.

Faith Jones


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Introduction to ChIP-seq Data Analysis and Visualisation using Ensembl

Thu 23 & Fri 24 Nov 2017 - One place available!

One place has become available on our Introduction to ChIP-seq Data Analysis and Visualisation using Ensembl workshop next week.

For workshop details please click here. The registration fee is £350. If interested, please reply to this mail. First come, first serve.


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Free event at Edinburgh Zoo

Academics Go Wild! - an invitation to collaborate with the Royal Zoloogical Society of Scotland

Monday 11th December

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is the charity that runs Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park. We offer unique opportunities for research, engaging with specialists and initiating innovative projects.  We are one of Europe's leading centres of conservation, education and research and work collectively with many other national and international conservation institutions to help the survival of many threatened species.

Click here for further details and the programme.

To register please phone (0131 314 0335) or email the RZSS Discovery and Learning Department





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


Seminars and Events (18/11/17 to 19/12/17)

Mapping blue and fin whale density over large scales using acoustic data. Danielle Harris, CREEM
Danielle Harris (CREEM) The Observatory: Seminar Room, 2:00 PM, 22 Nov 2017 edit

Modulating 5-HT receptors in Alzheimer's disease treatment: a polypharmacology approach
Prof. Christophe Rochais (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche sur le m├ędicament de Normandie (CERMN)) BMS: SEMINAR ROOM, 1:00 PM, 22 Nov 2017 edit

Vocal repertoires of two matrilineal social whale species Long-finned Pilot whales (Globicephala melas) & Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in northern Norway
Dr Heike Vester (Ocean Sounds) Bute: LTD, 1:00 PM, 23 Nov 2017 [...] edit

Untangling Academic Publishing
Prof. Aileen Fyfe (University of St Andrews) BMS: SEMINAR ROOM, 1:00 PM, 06 Dec 2017 edit

Demographic consequences of individual variation in foraging and migration in seabirds
Francis Daunt (CEH Edinburgh) BSRC: LTD, 1:00 PM, 07 Dec 2017 edit
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 Clare Peddie
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