BSc (Hons) Bioscience students from the University of Suffolk have visited The Angela Marmont Centre for the UK Biodiversity at the National History Museum and the Linnean Society as part of their “Diversity of Life” module.
The Natural History Museum exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is a centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation.
Catia Marques, lecturer in Lecturer in Life Sciences at the University and the responsible for organising the trip said, “The module ‘Diversity of Life’ allows students to follow chronologically the development of life from biomolecules and the first basic cells through to the more complex organisms such as hominids and modern plants. Students gain an appreciation of the process of evolution through natural selection.”
In the one-day trip, students visited the facilities of the Angela Marmont centre where they had the opportunity to see the UK Biodiversity Reference Collections used for identification of plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals. Students were also “hands-on” in identifying different insect specimens under the supervision of Mr Florin Feneru, the centre’s identification and advisor officer.
Students had the opportunity to go “Behind the Scenes” to discover the zoology collection. Here, students encountered numerous treasures hidden among the 22 million animal specimens housed by the Museum, including Archie, the 8.62-meter-long giant squid as well as some of the first species collected by Charles Darwin himself and learn about cutting-edge research that takes place there.
In the afternoon students visited the Linnean Society in London, the world’s oldest active biological society which takes its name from the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) who’s botanical, zoological and library collections have been in its keeping since 1829. These unique collections are of continuing fundamental importance as a primary reference for taxonomy and students had the opportunity to enter the Safe where these precious documents and samples are kept. These collections and the visit were enhanced by the Society's own rich library which provides key resources for research in the advancement of life sciences. It was here that in 1858 papers from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace outlining the theory of evolution by natural selection were first presented.
Catia Marques added “Students commented that the trip was excellent, and most of all the experience supported the building /re-enforcement of learning, links with their peers, promoting engagement and a feeling of being part of the University Community. In my opinion both sites provided a perfect environment to consolidate student’s learning and enhance student experience as well as stimulate the senses of our future Bioscientists to show them possible career opportunities.
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