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Thursday 21st November 2019

Students and teachers attended the Biology Science Live conference last Wednesday 13 November, a series of lectures delivered by some of the best scientists who are working at the cutting edge of their specialisms. They are designed to help students improve their results by inspiring them to maybe consider taking sciences at university, what career paths could be open to them and give students the chance to raise issues with the scientists. It certainly was an inspirational day for our Year 13 Biology student, Lewis Heppner, who writes:

‘The A level Biology Science Live trip was an intriguing and exciting visit to Birmingham Town Hall to hear from some of the UK's leading Biologists and Medics give talks on their areas of specialism, linked to our A level Biology course. The lectures themselves were truly fascinating, delivered in a way we could understand that made you crave a deeper knowledge of the subject. We received five lectures over the course of the day.

The first lecture featured a talk from Professor Gina Rippon, debunking the theory of the gendered brain. This fascinating talk showed how susceptible science is to belief and ‘accepted truths’, both within the scientific research itself, and in the public’s reception of that research. Prof Rippon talked about how we can account for differences by factoring in multiple parameters, and about how it showed that no information, even accepted information, is safe from the lens of scientific scrutiny.

Next, we had an incredibly interesting lecture from Dr Giles Yeo on diets, weight change, and the genetic component to that weight change. It was quite a strange thing to see something that we all believe is completely in our control, be taken from us and given over to the body’s systems. This lecture was very funny and featured a life-sized knitted replica of the human digestive system!

After that it was on to the talk from Professor Robert Winston. He talked about what it has been like to be a research scientist as the field has been rapidly developing. He talked about the highs and lows of his career and also about the ethical implications and conundrums of his work. 

Dr Jenny Rohn’s lecture was almost a history lesson on bacteria, drug resistance, and drug development. It was a rather worrying lecture, although delivered in a thoroughly jolly tone! She spoke at length about the history of antibiotics as a medical treatment, but also how the misuse of antibiotics and the spread of antibiotic resistance could have dire consequences for us all!

Following hot on the heels of these distressing ideas was our final lecture of the day, one delivered by Professor Steve Jones on human evolution and our linkage to other species. This talk touched on the controversial topic of animal testing, but gave a different side to it. He also talked about how it is that we can be so different from chimps yet still share 95% of our DNA. 

This trip was well worth it, and I would recommend it to any biology student. The in-depth talks were fascinating, may help you decide on a future degree course or a career, and will definitely broaden your horizons. A huge thank you to the biology teachers who organised this trip. Hopefully they had as much fun as we did. And hopefully they will do it again, to enthuse and intrigue the next set of fledgling scientists.’

Next event:

Carol Service 7:00pm on 12th December 2019

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