School of Biology Internal Newsletter: 20 January, 2018
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School of Biology University of St Andrews

In this Newsletter


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Annual School of Biology Postgraduate Conference

Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 January 2018, 9 am – 5 pm (lunch included)


An invitation is extended to all academic staff and postdocs in the School of Biology.

All postgraduate research students will be taking part and in addition to the talks and posters we have a careers session at 11.00 on Tuesday with the following presentations:

Working in industry
Dr Rafael da Silva, Research Fellow, School of Biology, University of St Andrews
Science communication
Dr Katrina Falkenberg, Media, Communications & Outreach Officer, School of Biology, University of St Andrews
Fellowships and lectureships
Dr Lauren Guillette, BBSRC Research Fellow, School of Biology, University of St Andrews
Conservation biology and policy
Dr Chris Leakey, Policy and Advice Officer, Scottish Natural Heritage
University teaching
Dr Iain Matthews, Senior Lecturer (Education), School of Biology, University of St Andrews
Biomedical Science
Dr Silvia Paracchini, Royal Society University Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews

The conference will be followed by a ceilidh in the St Andrews Sailing Club on Tuesday evening which is free to all attendees and partners.

Please contact Joyce Haynes, Postgraduate Administrator for further information.


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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

Can fear conditioning repel California sea lions from fishing activities?
Schakner, Z. A., Götz, T., Janik, V. M. & Blumstein, D. T. (2017) Animal Conservation. 20(5) p. 425-432. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12329
Generation of specific inhibitors of SUMO1- and SUMO2/3-mediated protein-protein interactions using Affimer (Adhiron) technology
Hughes, D. J., Tiede, C., Penswick, N., A. S. Tang, A., Trinh, C. H., Mendal, U., Zajac, K. Z., Gaule, T., Howell, G., Edwards, T. A., Duan, J., Feyfant, E., McPhereson, M. J., Tomlinson, D. C. & Whitehouse, A. (2017) Science Signaling. 10(505): eaaj2005. DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaj2005
How does hunger affect convergence on prey patches in a social forager?
Riddell, J. & Webster, M. M. (2017) Ethology. 123(11) p. 811-817. DOI: 10.1111/eth.12653
Isolation of isoform-specific binding proteins (Affimers) by phage display using negative selection
Tang, A. A-S., Tiede, C., Hughes, D. J., McPherson, M. J. & Tomlinson, D. C. (2017) Science Signaling. 10(505): eaan0868. DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aan0868
Local interactions and global properties of wild, free-ranging stickleback shoals
Ward, A., Schaerf, T., Herbert-Read, J., Morrell, L., Sumpter, D. & Webster, M. M. (2017) Royal Society Open Science. 4(7): 170043. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170043
What's in a voice? Dolphins do not use voice cues for individual recognition
Sayigh, L., Wells, R. & Janik, V. M. (2017) Animal Cognition. 20(6) p. 1067-1079. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-017-1123-5

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Successful Research Award

Congratulations on a new award to:

Peter Tyack for his Office of Naval Research (ONR) award for "Active sensing in echolocating marine mammals", £189,456.

"I am interested in the evolution of vocal learning in mammals and what effects this has on social behavior, especially mediating indvidual-specific relationships. My lab primarily studies cetaceans in the field, and we have developed new methods to sample behavior continuously from individuals. I am also concerned about the effects of anthropogenic sound on wildlife, and have studied effects of sounds such as naval sonar and airguns used for seismic survey on cetaceans".


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School of Biology workshop for PGRs who wish to teach

PGRs who wish to teach in Biology are required to attend the School of Biology Assessment and Feedback Training.

School of Biology Assessment and Feedback Training

Thursday 22nd February 2018
11.30 – 16.30 (lunch provided)

This is a mandatory course for PGRs who wish to teach in the School of Biology.  To sign up for this event, please contact by 31st January 2018 with an email headed Demonstrator Training February 2018, and indicate any dietary requirements.

This course will provide hands on experience of assessing and providing feedback on sample Biology essays and lab reports. The Lead Demonstrator, Director of Teaching and Depute Director of Teaching will provide top tips on demonstrating, assessing and providing feedback within the School of Biology. You will receive sample marking on Thursday 8th February which you will mark and provide feedback on prior to attending the training.

Please note that all PGRs interested in teaching are also required to attend the mandatory CAPOD workshops:

Tutoring and Demonstrating in the Sciences: An Introduction & Assessment AND Academic Misconduct (Science): An Introduction 

And to complete the online course ‘Diversity in the Workplace’  


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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.
Wednesday 24 January 2018
14.00 to 16.00, Arts Seminar 2, Arts Building
This 2-hour session will provide you with a brief introduction of your responsibilities for good practice as a Researcher. The session will include an overview of the University tools you will need to get to grips with as part of your research career.  It will also provide you with an introduction to the policies and reporting requirements your funders may have. 
Wednesday 24 January 2018
12.30 to 13.30, Arts Seminar 2, Arts Building
This is a friendly, informative and informal networking event for Post-doc across the University, complete with free Pizza! It is also a structured and easy networking activity to enable those who are less confident networker, to along and join in.
*For this session, we would like to consult the Post-docs regarding the following topics
Building a stronger Post-doc community - initiatives and ideas 
Lines of communication 
Professional development opportunities 
What’s working / what’s not!
Thursday 25 January 2018
13.00 to17.00, Parliament Hall, South Street
Postgraduate and other part-time tutors and demonstrators play a crucial role in the support of student learning. The University places great value on the potential for enhanced learning that small group teaching (in tutorials or labs) provides. The University therefore requires that all such tutors and demonstrators receive training for the role, so that both teachers and taught will get the most out of their time together. This course is mandatory for PGRs who wish to teach.
This interactive workshop will focus on practical techniques for supporting student learning in small group situations, including small groups working together in laboratory classes. We will consider the aims and objectives of small group teaching, techniques for getting students engaged, and how to deal with various challenging situations that might arise (e.g. unprepared students and students with particular needs) including particular issues of dealing with laboratory classes. We will also discuss the "St Andrews" approach to the student experience, including a presentation by Student Services on confidentiality and duty of care.
You must also take the workshop Assessment & Academic Misconduct (Science): An introduction (Friday 26 January, see below) and the online courses Diversity in the Workplace - Higher Education and Training in Good Academic Practice (TGAP - you did this as part of matriculation). These workshops are not assessed or accredited, but they are a mandatory requirement for any postgraduate who wishes to do any teaching at the University.
Friday 26 January 2018
13.00 to 17.00, Parliament Hall, South Street
Postgraduate and other part-time tutors and demonstrators play a crucial role in the support of student learning in tutorials and laboratory classes, and this often includes marking student work. Assessment should always be rigorous, transparent, and fair; therefore the University requires that all tutors and demonstrators receive instruction in the principles and methods of assessment and effective feedback. This course is mandatory for PGRs who teach.

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Biology Equality and Diversity Committee

Childcare vouchers – a more efficient way to pay your childcare costs!

The University of St Andrews currently participates in the Computershare Childcare Vouchers, which can be a more flexible way to meet the costs of your childcare. Under the scheme part of your salary can be used to pay for Childcare Vouchers which can then be exchanged, in whole or part, for the childcare services that you use.

Further information regarding the Computershare scheme is on the university web site, and details can be obtained directly from Computershare, telephone 0845 002 1111. Details about the Childcare Voucher programme, and other current programmes, can be found in the Government's Childcare Choices web site.


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Next Research Committee funding deadline in two weeks: 1st February 2018

A reminder that Research Committee applications are received four times per year (1st of February, May, August and November) and that the deadline for equipment and consumables (up to £5k), development of REF output work (up to £2k) and Sir Ken Murray postgraduate funding for workshops/conferences (up to £1,000, depending on where the event is held) is in two weeks, Thursday 1st February.

The Research Committee Funding Request form, along with application guidance and the completion reporting form, can be found in bioInternal link on the bottom of the school home page, 'Your St Andrews' section, and click on 'BioInternal'. From the thumbnail menu, click on "Research Documents" and then the "Research Committee Forms" folder, where you will find the information that you need.


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Library Research Enhancement Fund 2017-18: Final Reminder for 26 January deadline

This year's deadline for submitting bids for Research Enhancement funding from the library is Friday 26th January 2018. This is our annual opportunity to boost the School’s research collections by requesting funds to purchase material to help improve the quality of our research outputs.

Requests need to be aligned with the research themes of the School and funding priority will be given to bids that:

  • demonstrate clearly how the requested resources will improve the School’s research outputs,
  • meet the needs of more than one School,
  • contain requests for one-off purchases, (as opposed to recurrent commitments like journal or database subscriptions),
  • relate to resources that are free from format or access restrictions.

If you have any suggestions for research resources, please get in touch with me between now and Friday 26 January 2018, and we can arrange trials and finalise costs with the library.

The library plans to review the requests during the week of 12 February 2018, with orders being placed soon after.

Donna Pierz-Fennell (dp61), Biology Library Liaison


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Carnegie Trust - Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Scheme

The Vacation Scholarship Scheme is intended for Scottish students undertaking an undergraduate degree course at a Scottish university, who have shown exceptional merit at university, and who would like to devote some portion of the long vacation to undertake a programme of independent research of direct benefit to their academic work. 

You can find information about the 2018 application round for the Carnegie Vacation Scholarships for Undergraduates on their web site.

Points to note:

~In a change from last year, Heads of Schools DO NOT need to approve the application made through Carnegie Trusts online portal. Submissions are made in two parts, the first part completed by the student and a second to be completed by the project supervisorBoth parts must be completed and submitted by the deadline date of 31 March 2018. The application form will be available on the Carnegie Trust Online Application Portal and applications will open from mid-February.

~Applications must be submitted by the Carnegie Trust’s deadline of 31st March 2018.

~Full details can also be found on the Carnegie Trust website.

~Funds will only be paid to the university once the student has completed and submitted their final report to the trust by 31st August 2018. This will not affect payment of funds already made to the student by the University unless we have been advised to stop or reclaim payments by the supervisor.


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REMINDER: 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 building Lecture Theatre.

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 Building Lecture theatre.


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Scottish Crucible 2018 - CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Scottish Crucible is the prestigious leadership and development programme for early career researchers in Scotland now going into its 10th year.  Through an award-winning annual programme, Scottish Crucible enables highly promising science, social science and arts researchers to come together from across Scotland to explore and expand their innovative potential via a series of intensive, two-day events. Only 30 “research leaders of the future” are selected to take part each year; they also go on to join the Scottish Crucible Alumni Network. 

Scottish Crucible 2018 is supported by the Scottish Funding Council, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, and will be hosted by this year's partner universities, Heriot-Watt University, University of Glasgow, and University of Abertay. 

Selected participants for Scottish Crucible 2018 will attend 3 workshops between May and June, each comprising a wealth of guest speakers, seminars, tours and informal discussions.  These aim to i) encourage participants to become more collaborative and interdisciplinary in their approach to their research; ii) help them discover skills and attitudes likely to make their research more innovative and iii) develop their understanding of how research can impact on Society through different forms of knowledge exchange.  Participants will come from a variety of research disciplines including science, technology, engineering, medicine, arts, design, humanities and social sciences.

Applications are now invited from senior Postdoctoral Fellows, Academic Fellows, Lecturers in their first academic posts - or their equivalents from SMEs and spin-out companies - for Scottish Crucible 2018.  Further details are provided on the Scottish Crucible website. Successful candidates will receive awards to cover all residential costs, training sessions and travelling expenses.  The deadline for receipt of applications is Tuesday 13th February 2018.


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Public Engagement Notice

Reaching behind bars

The University’s public engagement project bringing science into prison learning services is looking for people who would like to engage prisoners, and their families, with their research. The project – Cell Block Science – is an initiative run in collaboration with the Scottish Prison Service and Fife College, and funded by the Wellcome Trust. Cell Block Science is in its second year of working with prisons, such as HMP Perth and HMP Polmont, and offers full training and support for participants, given by the public engagement team. Please direct any queries or expression of interest to Mhairi Stewart via

Pictured (l-r) Professor Frank Gunn-Moore (School of Biology) and Amy Wayward (former Public Engagement Officer for Science). 


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St Andrews Events

For theatre, music, exhibitions, fun, comedy, film, and festival events check out The Byre Theatre

For exhibitions, workshops, walks, talks, and music events check out MUSA


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Biology School Manager drop-in: SOI

SOI: Monday morning, 22 January, from 8.30pm to 12.30pm in meeting room 2.16, and at coffee. Everyone is welcome and invited to stop by with questions, complaints or for just a chat. Donna

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Science Discovery Day 2018

When: Saturday 10th of March (sign-up until Friday 26th of January)

Where: Physics and Astronomy Building, North Haugh, St Andrews

After the great take-up from the last years, Science Discovery Day will be back in 2018 and we are looking forward to a day full of fun, hands-on science activities, and excitement! For any queries, please get in contact with Martin Dominik (md35) or Alina Loth (al75).

If you are interested in participating in this year’s Science Discovery Day, please submit this short form by Friday the 26th of January


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STEB 2018 - The Scottish Tropical Ecology and Biology Student Meeting 2018

We are pleased to announce that the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh will be jointly hosting the next annual Scottish Tropical Ecology and Biology (STEB) student meeting on Saturday 17th March 2018.

STEB is designed as a chance for students and academics with an interest in tropical biology and/or ecology to get together, and talk about their research. There will also be a short skills workshop in the middle of the day and two plenary speakers.

The meeting is open to undergraduates, postgraduates, higher level academics, anybody with an interest in tropical biology and/or ecology. Attendees will have the opportunity to present their work in either 5 or 15 minute research presentations. We encourage all attendees to present (even if you have no data!) as this is a great opportunity to share your ideas and practice presentation skills in an informal setting.

Below is a link to the event page where you can register. For those wishing to present their work, please also submit a short abstract to

Attendance is £5, to cover refreshments and lunch, to be paid in cash on the day. If you have any trouble paying, please contact us at to see if alternative arrangements can be made.

Lastly, please distribute this email and the attached flyer to other people or research groups who you think would be interested in attending, and encourage students to submit a presentation.





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


Seminars and Events (20/01/18 to 20/02/18)

Modelling collective movement across scales: from cells to wildebeest, Elaine Ferguson, University of Glasgow
Elaine Ferguson (University of Glasgow) The Observatory: Seminar Room, 2:00 PM, 24 Jan 2018 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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