The Aquatic Resources Centre.

£90K investment gives undergraduates more chances to learn in the world class Aquatic Resources Centre

Dr Gregory Paull, Manager of the Aquatic Resources Centre (ARC) (with support from Elizabeth James) recently applied and received £90,000 from the HEFCE STEM Teaching Capital to upgrade facilities and purchase new specialist equipment for the ARC.

This is an impressive accomplishment as this project was one of only five funded proposals under the second round of this award scheme.

The Aquatic Resources Centre supports scientific research and experimental teaching at the University of Exeter. This facility houses aquariums and analytical laboratory equipment used by Biosciences staff, postdocs, postgraduates and undergraduates. Demands on this space have increased along with a burgeoning student population.

For Dr Paull, improving resources and accessibility to the ARC was a high priority and the impetus for submitting the grant. “I wanted to shed light on animal facilities, increase transparency and involvement by creating additional interactive learning opportunities for undergraduate students. More of these students will gain hands-on experience to research that may help to inspire their course selection and final year project choices”.

Planned changes to maximize the efficiency and functionality of this space include the addition of a new cold room, installation of high-tech audio-visual and imaging equipment, provision of additional specialist equipment for monitoring aquatic systems and refurbishments to the existing infrastructure to allow for group working. A pilot study for how this might work will begin on March 10th, 2016. In collaboration with aquarium staff, postdocs and postgraduates, Dr Paull will be coordinating a group of students through one hour long interactive practicals using model and non-model species housed within the aquarium’s facility. These types of activities help students to understand how animal research is conducted at the University of Exeter, fundamentals of biology and the broader implications of research activities conducted in the ARC to the scientific community.

All renovations to the ARC are expected to be completed for the start of the September 2016 academic year.

Article written by Krista Sherman, Biosciences Press Gang.

Date: 8 March 2016

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