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Summer graduations

Dr Alberto Longo with the winner Roisin Tennyson, and Eoin Lawless, BSc FRICS, presenting the RICS prize on behalf of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the first time this has been awarded to a student in our School).

Dr Brian Green awarding the Institute of Biology award to Christopher McFarland

This summer, Vice-Chancellor Patrick Johnston and Head of School, Prof Christine Maggs conferred over 140 degrees from the School of Biological Sciences, including 19 PhDs and 10 MScs.

The School of Biological Sciences also presented several awards to students of exceptional merit, which included Laura Grimes (Tim Bramley Prize, Biochemistry Stage 3), Clare Diamond (Shirodaria Prize in Virology, Stage 3 Virology), Victoria Thompson (Alan Kirke Memorial Prize, Stage 3 Agricultural Technology), Damian Magill (Prize for Best Research Project in the School), Laura-Jane Willis (Safefood Prize for best essay in Food Quality and Safety), Laura-Jane Willis jointly with Orla McFadden (Yakult Prize, Stage 3 Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition), Francine Hammond (Yakult Prize for Best Project in Food, Safety and Nutrition), Amy Mornin (Best overall performance at Stage 2 in the School of Biological Sciences), Eithne Fraser (Best overall performance at Stage 1 in the School of Biological Sciences), Christine Fleming (Biochemical Society Prize, Stage 2) and Lydia Roets (OUP Achievement in Biosciences Prize, Stage 1).

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Prof Maggs wins Phycological Society of America’s Award for Excellence

Congratulations to Prof Christine Maggs (aqua fleece), who recently won the Award for Excellence from the Phycological Society of America and was presented the award at the Joint Aquatic Sciences meeting in Portland, Oregon, USA.  This prestigious award recognises her as a phycologist who has demonstrated sustained scholarly contributions in, and impact upon, the field of phycology over her career, and for her distinguished service to PSA and other phycological societies.

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QUB's pearl mussel research features on BBC's Countryfile

QUB PhD student Rebecca Kyle's research, developing restoration methods for the highly endangered freshwater pearl mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera, was highlighted recently on BBC's Countryfile.  Rebecca (wearing the red anorak) is working with the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery to help understand their biology and promote the conservation of these globally threatened species.

Learn more about the Ballinderry River pearl mussel breeding project.

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Bats use polarised light to navigate

Queen’s University scientists have discovered that greater mouse-eared bats use polarisation patterns in the sky to navigate, making it the first mammal that is known to do this.

The bats use the way the sun’s light is scattered in the atmosphere at sunset to calibrate their internal magnetic compass, which helps them to fly in the right direction, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

Despite this breakthrough, researchers have no idea how they manage to detect polarised light.

Dr Richard Holland, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, co-author of the study, said: “We know that other animals use polarisation patterns in the sky, and we have at least some idea how they do it: bees have specially-adapted photoreceptors in their eyes, and birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles all have cone cell structures in their eyes which may help them to detect polarisation.  But we don’t know which structure these bats might be using.”

Polarisation patterns depend on where the sun is in the sky. They are clearest in a strip across the sky 90 degrees from the position of the sun at sunset or sunrise.

But animals can still see the patterns long after sunset.  This means they can orient themselves even when they cannot see the sun, including when it is cloudy.  Scientists have even shown that dung beetles use the polarisation pattern of moonlight for orientation.

A hugely diverse range of creatures – including bees, anchovies, birds, reptiles and amphibians – use the patterns as a compass to work out which way is north, south, east and west.

Stefan Greif, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, lead author of the study, said: “Every night through the spring, summer and autumn, bats leave their roosts in caves, trees and buildings to search for insect prey.  They might range hundreds of kilometres in a night, but return to their roosts before sunrise to avoid predators.  But, until now, how they achieved such feats of navigation was not clear.  More...

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QUB researchers on Daily Planet Shark Week!

QUB PhD student, Emmett Johnston, and Dr. Jon Houghton featured recently on Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet Shark Week.

Watch the clip on YouTube.

Shark week is Discovery Channel's flagship promotion and last year was the most watched event on the station and on American TV, outside of Sports events.  Shark conservation and in particular shark finning is rapidly becoming the conservation battle of the new century.  For more information visit the Irish Basking Shark Project website.

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Scholarships Plus Awards up to £2,500.

Queen’s University is delighted to introduce a brand new SCHOLARSHIPS PLUS AWARD
scheme for 2014 entry.  You can choose between:

  • a tuition fee scholarship
  • a tuition fee scholarship combined with accommodation and lifestyle benefits

Scholarship awards up to £2,500 are available and apply to each year of study.   [More...]

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