Election to the Royal Irish Academy

Congratulations to Anne Magurran, Professor of Ecology and Evolution in the Centre for Biological Diversity and Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), has been elected to the Royal Irish Academy (RIA). Members are selected for their exceptional contribution to the sciences, humanities and social sciences as well as to public service.

Anne joins the RIA in recognition of her expertise in the measurement and assessment of trends in biological diversity.

School of Biology receives an Athena SWAN Gold Award

The School of Biology is delighted to be awarded an Athena Swan Gold award. This is the culmination of work by the Biology Equality and Diversity committee, led by Sascha Hooker and Kevin Laland, on behalf of all staff and students who responded to requests, implemented changes and raised issues in order to make the School a fair and inclusive environment for all.

This makes the School of Biology one of only three Gold Award departments in Scotland, and also one of only three Gold Biology Departments in the UK.

The full application (with redactions) can be viewed here.

Equality & Diversity app: Development through collaboration

Dr Nicola Veitch and her team at the University of Glasgow School of Life Sciences recently launched an Equality & Diversity app for Apple and Android devices, and have acknowledged Jacqueline Nairn’s (School of Biology Director of Teaching) contributions to the app’s development. The idea for the app followed on from Jacqueline’s presentations about our BSet Tutorials at the University of Glasgow, leading the team to invite Jacqueline’s input into the development process and have warmly expressed their appreciation for her involvement.


The app can be downloaded onto phones or tablets using the following links:



“Tackling racism: time to step up” article

Kevin Laland (BEDI Vice-Chair) has published an excellent article in the Spring 2021 edition of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Resource magazine, entitled “Tackling racism: time to step up”. The article reflects on racial discrimination  in Scottish Universities and calls for action to address the issues. His article (and the other EDI articles in the same issue) can be read here.

Seminar by Carron Shankland

On 21st April 2021, the EDI committee hosted (virtually) Prof. Carron Shankland, from the University of Stirling, who gave a talk entitled ‘Being Productive and Staying Well’. The personal, powerful and thought-provoking account Carron gave of her experiences in academia chimed with the audience in a variety of ways and generated some excellent disucssion and questions.

We thanks Carron for generously giving her time to deliver the seminar, and to Jacqueline Nairn for organising the event.

Staff/students in St Andrews can access the talk here.

Fellow of the Society of Marine Mammalogy

Congratulations to Professor Ailsa Hall, formerly of the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), who has been elected as a Fellow by the Society of Marine Mammalogy. Fellows are members who have “rendered conspicuous service or made truly notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science or the fostering of its practical applications through conservation of marine mammals”. Ailsa was commended for “being a leader and role model for Women-in-STEM” and “for contributions to understanding disease pathology and spread in marine mammals”.

Upcoming seminar by Carron Shankland – “Being Productive and Staying Well”

All staff and postgraduate students are invited to a Biology Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Wellbeing Event by Prof Carron Shankland that will be given 21st April at 14:00 on Teams entitled “Being Productive and Staying Well”.

Prof. Carron Shankland is from Computing Science and Mathematics, University of Stirling and has spoken widely about mental health in academia. A number of St Andrews staff recommended Professor Shankland as a speaker following her presentation at Aurora events, and we are fortunate that she has agreed to share her experiences with us:

These are challenging times for us all: our workload has gone through the roof, everything seems to take twice as long as usual (at least!), we are separated from our support networks, and the future is uncertain. Carron will talk about mental (ill) health in academia and specifically her own realisation of ill health with the goal of opening up the session up to allow everyone to share their stories and to connect. We’ll wrap up by sharing strategies for staying well.

Two new Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Congratulations to Sue Healy and Maria Dornelas (Director and Deputy Director of the CBD, respectively) who have both been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh recently.

Sue’s research focuses on animal behaviour, in particular of birds, and studies the cognition of nest building, foraging behaviour and vocal learning. Maria is interested in quantifying biodiversity and understanding the processes that shape it, with work on tropical systems and specifically coral reefs, but also tropical freshwater fish, mangrove crabs and plants.

Many congratulations to both!

International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture

The 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science lecture, entitled ‘The Extraordinary World of Birds and Their Eggs’ was delivered by Professor Cassie Stoddard on Friday 12 February 2021.  Thwarted by the pandemic, we were glad to hold this event online.  This inspiring talk covered Prof Stoddard’s ground-breaking research into animal colouration and patterning, hummingbird colour vision and the evolution of eggs. The lecture is available to watch here.  Lectures from the events held in 2017, 2018, and 2019 can be found here.