Nicky, in the first year of my PhD at the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham.
What do you do?
My area of research is the control of pests in agriculture. Many insects are renowned for destroying crops we require. My research aims to find natural predators capable of controlling the pest population, without the use of chemicals in the environment. Specifically, I am testing the cold tolerance of potential biological control agents to determine their suitability as pest controls in the United Kingdom. Being non-native species, the biocontrol agents I am studying should not be able to survive our winters. If the species escapes the greenhouse/area of application then they will be unable to permanently sustain a population; avoiding non-target effects of the species.
Outside your research field what other science are you interested in?
Anatomy and animal psychology have been a great fascination to me. I am amazed how so many intricate and highly specialised systems can evolve and work together to create so many different organisms. But on top of that how those organisms interact with each other and their environment; such as tool use in crows, counting abilities in chicks and socialisation in primates. Most humans vastly underestimates the intellect of animals.
What else are you interested in?
Public events are a fun past time for me. From working as a volunteer in Liverpool World Museum to being ambassador for the university to public relation events like the ThinkTank ‘Meet the Scientist’ or the BBSRC ‘Field to Fork’. I love interacting with the public and having the opportunity to speak freely with people about the real work scientists and students do. Other than science-stuff I like reading, embroidery/sewing and of course socialising with friends and family.
What event/lecture are you most looking forward to at the British Science Festival?
There are so many events going on its hard to choose but for the day time events I am most looking forward would have to be the ‘Conversations Between Humans and Animals’ and ‘the Electric Body’. For the evening events I would have to go for the ‘Festival of the Spoken Nerd’. Nothing can be more entertaining or nerdy than science comedians (and their audience).