Dr Nadia Andreani Seeks Illustrator for Second Children’s Book about Microbiology

Dr Nadia Andreani, School of Life Sciences, is running a Public Engagement for All with Research at Lincoln (PEARL) funded project to engage primary school children with the aim of teaching basic knowledge about microbiology through the creation of an illustrated book.

Readers will be able to follow the adventures of a group of bacteria through the discovery of the microorganisms we come into contact with on a daily basis. Nadia has previously published a children’s book, The Adventures of Flo, the special Bacterium, which is based on her research into why mozzarella can get certain bacterial infections and turn blue, which can be read via the link below.

Nadia’s latest book has now been drafted and is now in need of an illustrator to bring the story to life. The chosen illustrator will design and draw the illustrations for the book which will be published with the winner credited as illustrator, and also awarded a £200 prize.

Applicants will be asked to select one section from the book’s draft and submit at least one design illustrating the text. This should be submitted in a digital format.

For details on how to apply or any questions about the opportunity or project itself, please contact Dr Nadia Andreani: nandreani@lincoln.ac.uk.

Application deadline is the 15th of November 2018.

Physiological Society recognises Dr Hills’ work with Joan Mott Prize Lecture

Reader at the School of Life Sciences, Dr Claire Hills, has been awarded the Physiological Society’s 2019 Joan Mott Prize Lecture.

The Lecture recognises a female physiologist for their long-term contribution to the field and is one of the Society’s most prestigious international awards. Claire joins a long list of renowned female international physiologists who have previously been awarded this Prize, including Professor Rhian Touyz (2017), Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow and Professor Hannelore Daniel (2015), Chair of Physiology of Human Nutrition at the Technical University of Munich.

In addition to receiving an honorarium, Dr Hills will deliver the Prize Lecture to the Society’s main meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Lecture will be published in the Society’s Journal, Experimental Physiology. 

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Fighting like cats and dogs? Research shows a different picture

Animal behaviour researchers at the University of Lincoln have discovered that the relationship between our cats and dogs may be more amicable than originally perceived.

The relationship between the species is often portrayed as fractious, however, Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Sophie Hall and Jessica Thomson at the School of Life Sciences conducted an online survey to find out what it is that makes cats and dogs harmonious.

Results showed that 80% of homeowners felt their pets were comfortable with one another and a mere 3% stated that their cats and dogs could not stand one another.

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It was found that that 50% of owners reported their cats displayed negative behaviours such as hissing and spitting at dogs, and 18% said their dogs threatened cats, less than 10% of cats and only 1% of dogs ever harmed the other animal. Domestication may play a huge part in this interaction, as dogs have been domesticated for longer than cats and are a lot easier to train.

Overall, the majority of owners perceived their cat and dog as being comfortable living under the same roof.
The idiom ‘fighting like cat and dog’ may not ring true after all!

The paper, titled ‘Evaluation of the relationship between cats and dogs living in the same home’ was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour and can be read online.

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Student Trip to South Africa Enhances Conservation and Ecology Skills

As part of their studies at the University of Lincoln, students from the School of Life Sciences visited Mankwe wildlife reserve in South Africa in June 2018.

During their stay, the group of staff and students were able to explore the stunning South African landscape whilst carrying out scientific research on the health, behaviour, welfare, conservation and ecology of the wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot.

In the beautiful and fragile ecosystem of Mankwe, students and staff worked alongside a group of  local community-level conservationists. Throughout their trip, students learnt and developed field and identification skills as well as finding out about reserve management and anti-poaching strategies.  In addition, they were able to apply skills and knowledge gained during their degree programme to develop a self-driven research project on an aspect of animal health, behaviour and/or ecology.

Mankwe is a 4750 hectare reserve in the North West Province of South Africa, approximately 5km east of Pilanesberg National Park. The accommodation is a selection of safari tents, wooden cabins and a clinker brick chalet at the Waterbuck camp, where students have the opportunity to experience a true bush adventure. There are no fences so students live among the wildlife.

To find out more information about the School of Life Sciences Overseas Field Trips, click here.

Visiting Researchers to share findings on Animal Cognition and Welfare

On Thursday 19th July 2018, the Clinical Animal Behaviour Doctoral Research Group at the School of Life Sciences will be hosting three visiting researchers, Dr. Naomi Harvey, Dr. Leanne Proops and Dr. Jennifer Wathan in a series of talks about their latest exciting research work in the area of animal cognition and welfare.

All University of Lincoln staff and students are welcome to attend, however, please send your RSVP to Luciana Assis (lassis@lincoln.ac.uk) to register interest and to pass on any dietary requirements.

The talks will take place in the Joseph Banks Laboratories in JBL3C01 and will commence from 1pm until 5pm.

More information about the speakers and their talks below.

Dr. Naomi Harvey, University of Nottingham: “From itchy dogs to depressed (?) dogs and the pitfalls of cognitive bias testing in shelters”

The focus of this talk will be my most recent work across two projects: the latest findings from my current post-doctoral position evaluating behavioural differences in dogs with and without skin allergies; and the results of a collaboration with Dr Carole Fureix looking at shelter dog behaviour and cognition. Using data gathered from the C-BARQ, comparisons between dogs with skin allergies and healthy skinned controls revealed that dogs with itchy skin from allergies displayed more stress behaviour, comfort-seeking behaviour and grooming behaviour, and were less trainable than their non-itchy counterparts. The results of this behavioural analysis are the first of their kind exploring the impact of skin allergies from the perspective of the dog itself by evaluating the behavioural changes it causes. The fact that many of the stress and attention-seeking behaviour exhibited by itchy dogs are considered to be ‘problem’ or ‘nuisance’ behaviour by owners could contribute to a break-down in the dog-owner relationship and an increased risk of relinquishment for dogs with skin allergies. Inactivity in captive animals can be reflective of many different things and is still poorly understood. Together with Dr Carole Fureix, we have been investigating the prevalence of a specific form of inactivity in shelter dogs; being awake (with eyes open) but motionless in the home pen. Dr Fureix has shown that this form of inactivity correlates with anhedonia in riding horses and laboratory mice, and thus could be in indicator of a ‘depression’ like state. We aimed to test whether time spent in this state also correlated to anhedonia and cognitive bias in a population of shelter dogs. I will discuss our progress on this project to date, including the practicalities and unforeseen issues of working with shelter dogs.

Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Global Animal Welfare of Brook: “Research in Practice”

Handling describes how humans work with, respond to, and interact with animals within their surroundings. Brooke sees humane handling of animals as critical to their welfare. Suffering as a result of poor handling can occur daily and over time can cause cumulative mental and physical damage to an animal, whereas good handling and positive human-animal interactions contributes to positive welfare. Brooke champions positive human-animal interactions; humane and respectful handling of animals has no cost and can be done anywhere in the world, yet can have a considerable impact on animal welfare. Here we outline a project to collate what we know and consider how best to use that knowledge to expand the reach of this important work.

Dr. Leanne Proops, University of Portsmouth: “Why the Long Face? Affective Cognition in Horses”

The ability to recognise and respond appropriately to the emotional signals of others has clear adaptive advantages. Recognition of such signals allows an individual to predict the positive or negative consequences of social interactions, thus facilitating social cohesion and avoiding potentially costly conflict. In humans, emotional intelligence is believed to play a key role in social behaviour and has important effects on social competency. Darwin was the first to recognise parallels between emotional signalling in humans and other species that suggest it would be adaptive for animals to also respond in functionally relevant ways to emotional cues. However, it has been recently that researchers have turned their focus to affective cognition in animals. Here I will present the work we have been conducting that assesses emotional awareness in the domestic horse. For horses, conspecifics and humans represent significant social partners. Our research shows that horses are highly sensitive to the emotional signals of both species, using face, body and vocal cues successfully to inform current and subsequent social decisions. The ability of horses to discriminate between human and horse emotions raises interesting questions regarding the evolution of emotion signalling across species and the relative importance of lifetime experience.

Refreshments and snacks will be provided after the talks and guests will also have the opportunity to chat with speakers on a one-to-one basis.