Entries by Claire Pennycuick

The mystery of the evolution of stomata

We take stomata for granted – they’re on every leaf around us, and without them the world wouldn’t breathe. They don’t just respond to daylight and atmospheric humidity: new research shows that plants slam their stomata shut against invading bacteria. But when and how did this complex ability evolve? The fossil record leaves us with a […]

Conservation Matters

How can we feed the planet without destroying precious biodiversity? Researchers, farmers and conservationists around the world are putting their minds to the problem.  This Project Starter is designed for people planning EPQs, Advanced Higher Investigations, and other independent research projects. It’s based on the work of Prof Andrew Balmford, University of Cambridge. Get Inside the […]

Coffee – a global history

How long will your morning coffee be available for? This bean shaped global history, through colonisation and plantations to today’s world of Fair Trade and big business. Now a disease is threatening coffee production world-wise. Dr Charlie Clutterbuck discusses the long and strange history behind coffee – how a small plant from Ethiopia dominated the […]

Optogenetics: revolutionising neurobiology?

Optogenetics is a new biological technique, involving the use of light to control cells in living tissue. In this short video, Professor John Christie of the University of Glasgow introduces his work on optogenetics – does it have the potential to revolutionise the study of neurobiology? If this taster video whets your appetite for the subject, […]

Choosing a University

Thinking of studying biology at University? Don’t know where to start? Take a look at some of these Universities. They all have a strong research programme in biology, meaning that the people who teach you will be actively involved in discovering new scientific knowledge. This might be ‘applied’ research, tackling problems such as the disease that’s […]

The jellyfish genes that changed biology

GFP – the proteins that allow jellyfish to glow their astonishing luminescent green – changed the way we understand biology. Transferred into plant, bacterial or animal cells, GFP allows them to glow when a blue light is shined on them. But what are the limitations – and where next for ‘reporter proteins’? Professor John Christie, […]

Greedy Planet? The podcast

One in eight people, nearly 870 million people, suffer from chronic undernourishment. (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation 2011/12 figures). We waste more food in developed countries each year than sub-Saharan Africa produces net in a year/ (The Humanitarian Centre, 2014 Cambridge International Development report) Greedy planet is a podcast about food security. Based at […]

Computer modelling to predict climate change

Drew Purves, ecologist and computer scientist, discusses how his research can help us predict climate change, and develop strategies to address it. If you’re afraid of maths and computer programming – don’t be! This video was filmed at the Gatsby Summer School – 6 days of amazing lectures and practical science for undergraduate biology students.

A Bird’s Eye View of the Forest: Lasers, Drones and the Changing Landscape of Forests Around the World.

Humans Are Devastating the World’s Forests: Deforestation is devastating the world’s forests. It has reduced the forested area of the earth by almost 80% and shows little sign of slowing down: the damage it has caused is unprecedented, gravely serious and unequivocally caused by humans. Why does this matter? Forests are home to over 200 […]

Engineering Photosynthesis to Combat Food Insecurity.

2050 Will Bring An Extra 2 Billion Hungry Mouths: Between now and 2050, global population levels will increase by 2 billion: it is estimated that food production will have to increase by 70% just to maintain current nutrition levels, which, for many people around the world, are currently far from sufficient. Not only will food […]

Forests matter for the Zero Hunger Challenge ‡

The world’s forests could play a major role in feeding our growing population. What’s more, they could improve the health of the world’s poorest – and increase their resilience to extreme events caused by climate change. An EPQ on this topic could investigate issues around health, ecology, and who is responsible for managing the world’s […]

Unlocking the Potential of Algae: How the Green Stuff in Your Pond Might Go On to Save the World.

Algae Are One of the Most Diverse Groups of Organisms on the Planet: Algae are the invisible, unsung heroes of the global carbon cycle. Responsible for over half of the carbon dioxide fixed globally, these photosynthetic organisms represent an incredibly diverse group, ranging in size from Prochlorococcus, a single celled alga smaller than most bacteria, to […]

One plant’s weird way to attract pollinators

Through a series of chemical reactions, the central spadix of the Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanium, heats up to emit and distribute an atrocious stench to attract pollinators, thought to be carrion beetles and/or blow flies. This accounts for its common name of ‘corpse flower’. It is native to the rainforests of Sumatra. The film, taken […]