University of St Andrews
 
 

School of Biology News Centre

item 744
[27-11-2011 to 31-01-2012]


News Item:
SMRU Awarded Queen's Anniversary Prize

The University of St Andrews has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of the work of a world-leading research unit which is helping to further understanding and protection of the oceans.

The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews is among the winners in the Diamond Jubilee Round of The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

The Anniversary Prizes, which recognise excellence in higher education and research, were announced at a reception at St James Palace, London, on Thursday 24 November 2011.

The Sea Mammal Research Unit has become a world leader in applied research promoting best practice in the health and governance of the ocean environment.  Based at the East Sands, St Andrews, the Unit is part of the University’s School of Biology and Scottish Oceans Institute. It operates from the tropics to the poles and maintains a particular focus on the UK’s seas.  Its academic staff and graduate team specialise in research on marine mammals - primarily seals, whales and dolphins – using innovative monitoring techniques.

The sea mammals which SMRU monitor provide a unique and sensitive early warning system to track and measure a range of factors concerned with the sustainability of human exploitation of the seas. 

With the scale and nature of industrial exploitation of the oceans rapidly developing, there is increasing demand for and impact of SMRU’s services, and its contribution to national policies.

Professor Ian Boyd, Director of the Unit, and University Chancellor Sir Menzies Campbell, were at St James Palace to hear the announcement. Professor Boyd said:

“Marine mammals are a bit like the canary in the cage. If we know how to read their behaviour and populations we can minimise the effect of our resource exploitation on the ocean. Although we need to exploit the ocean we also need to find ways of doing this sustainably. Marine mammals have a capacity to tell us when we are reaching the limits.

“My colleagues and I are delighted that our institution has been recognised in this way. It is truly a privilege to work with such magnificent animals and to have the job of translating their importance into information that the public can use. We also recognise that the institute is a hub in a global network of scientists and collaborators who share our passion for understanding these enigmatic creatures.”

Full Press Release

More about the Queen's Anniversary Prizes

contact: Prof Ian Boyd


 

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  • CBD Seminar: Conflicts between biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods: an interdisciplinary approach
    speaker: Nils Bunnfield (Stirling University )

    building: Dyers Brae
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    Conflicts between human livelihoods and biodiversity conservation are increasing in scale and intensity and have been shown to be damaging for both biodiversity and humans. Managing a specific natural resource often results in conflict between those stakeholders focussing on improving livelihoods and food security and those focussed on biodiversity conversation. Uncertainty, for example from climate change, decreases food security, puts further pressure on biodiversity and exacerbates conflicts. I will present first results towards developing a novel model that integrates game theory and social-ecological modelling to develop new approaches to manage conservation conflicts. The project has importance for society at large because ecosystems and their services are central to human wellbeing and unlocking these conflicts will provide great potential for a more sustainable future.


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  • CBD Seminar: How did the butterfly get its colours? The genetic control of colour and pattern diversity in Heliconius butterflies
    speaker: Nicola Nadeau (The University of Sheffield)

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    Butterfly wing patterns are a striking example of biological diversity.The neotropical Heliconius butterflies in particular have extensive within and between species diversity in their wing colour patterns. Some of this diversity is due to variation at the gene cortex, which has repeatedly been targeted by natural selection, both to produce mimetic colour pattern resemblances within Heliconius and remarkably to shift camouflage in the peppered moth. I will also talk about ongoing work in my lab to identify genes controlling iridescent structural colour.


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    speaker: Amanda Bretman (University of Leeds )

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  • SOI seminar: Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
    speaker: Dr Nick Dunstone (Met Office)

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    The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the primary mode of atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic sector. It has a profound impact on surface conditions over the North Atlantic ocean and temperature & precipitation over Europe and North America. The NAO exhibits pronounced interannual variability, particularly in the last decade, with strong positive NAO leading to mild & stormy European winters (e.g. 2011/12, 2013/14) and strong negative NAO winters giving cold & dry winters (e.g. 2009/10, 2010/11). Until recently seasonal forecasting systems have had no significant skill in predicting the winter NAO, leading many to assume that the NAO was largely a chaotic mode of atmospheric variability and inherently unpredictable. Here I will outline our recent work using the Met Office high-resolution climate models to show that the NAO is indeed predictable both one month ahead of winter and that significant skill still remains one year ahead. I will  examine the drivers of predictability on these two timescales and show that the discovery of NAO predictability is at odds with the skill of the model predicting itself. This surprising result indicates that the real-world is in fact far more predictable than we previously thought and it is likely that even the latest high-resolution climate models are unable to realistically represent the physical processes and feedbacks operating in the real world, resulting in too little signal and/or too much noise. Finally, I show how these new skilful NAO predictions are beginning to be used to aid decision making in government and industry.


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  • 25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance
    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance

    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    Join BioSoc for BIOBALL 2017 - the School of Biology dinner/dance event of the year. This will be a beautiful event at Hotel du Vin on The Scores on Saturday 25 February 2017. Tickets are subsidised by the School of Biology and BioSoc and include a three course meal with complimentary wine followed by a ceilidh dance by one of the best bands in town. You can come for either the dinner and the dance (recommended!), or later on for the dance only.

    <p>Last remaining tickets are being sold online until Friday 10 February at 9am. <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/school-of-biology-bioball-dinner-dance-ticket">Ceilidh (dance ticket only) &pound;11</a>; <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/st-andrews-bioball-ceilidh-dance-ticket-ps11">dinner and dance ticket &pound;38</a>. Please visit the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/694647004037200/">Facebook event page</a>&nbsp;for more information.&nbsp;</p>

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    prebooking: Yes
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  • 28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!
    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!

    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    The St Andrews-based members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland are hosting a pair of lunch-time meetings to discuss how mid-career academics see the key issues and challenges faced by the University in the coming years. Will you still be here in 10 years? Do you care about the sort of academic environment you will be working in? What do you think are the main challenges facing universities in general, and St Andrews in particular? And how should we respond to them? The Principal will join us for this second meeting to give her perspective on the issues we raised following the meeting on 14 February, and to take part in an open and energetic conversation. All discussions will be under Chatham House rules, i.e. not attributable to specific individuals.

    <p>Lunch will be provided at both events. If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Tracey Gloster via&nbsp;<a href="mailto:tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk">tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk</a>&nbsp;by 8 February, stating which meeting(s) you would like to attend, and any dietary requirements.</p>

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    audience: Staff
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