Mar 8

Every year on 8th March the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day. As National Science and Engineering Week begins tomorrow we have decided to look specifically at the important role women have played in science.

The ARKive Media team is made up of scientists, who spend their days researching endangered species, whether it is tracking down images or writing texts. So I decided to get them involved by asking the girls in the office about what got them into science, who their favourite female scientists are, and how our work in schools through STEMNET has enabled them to share their enthusiasm for science.

Photo of Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

I’ve always been interested in science and biology appealed to me in particular at school because it is probably the clearest science to see “in action” so to speak – I’ve always had a fascination with how humans and animals function. At college I became interested in psychology too, and went on to do a joint honours degree in Psychology and Zoology at the University of Bristol, with a focus on animal behaviour.

My female science hero is probably Jane Goodall, for her dedicated study of chimpanzee behaviour, and of course her conservation work. Working at ARKive has given me the opportunity to go into schools to help engage and inspire the next generation with the natural world.


Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern (studying Conservation Biology at UWE)

Photo of Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern

My bookshelf at home is full of encyclopaedias and text books about the natural world, some people may think I’m a geek, but I just know what I like, and that happens to be biology! I like having a heightened sense of my surroundings and knowing why the world acts the way it does.

My ultimate female science hero is Dian Fossey. She believed so strongly in the conservation of gorillas that she spent her entire life fighting for it. A quote I have always found very inspiring is her very last diary entry, which said, “When you realise the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future”.


Photo of Becky Taylor, ARKive Media ResearcherRebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

Even when I was young my brother and I always watched natural history programmes in awe, so coupled with my passion for finding out how things work, I think I always knew I was going to be a biologist! I went on to do a biology degree at Bristol University and as soon as I graduated I ended up here working on the ARKive project.

One of the women who inspires me the most is Rosalind Franklin, who made significant contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. Unfortunately she is often overlooked and I think she deserves much more recognition, as it was her data that that was actually used to confirm the idea.


Becky Moran, Species Text Author

Photo of Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Biology was definitely my favourite subject at school, I think I’ve always been interested in the how? why? and what?! The stranger the better, and nowhere is stranger and more fascinating than the animal kingdom. My hero in science is Marion Petrie. She discovered that female peafowl preferred males with more eyespots, by snipping the eyespots off certain males’ tails!

After studying for a PhD in evolutionary biology, I came to work at ARKive, and as a STEM Ambassador I now particularly love taking as many strange animal facts into schools as possible. Hopefully this will inspire more women to enter the strange world of science!


Photo of Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text AuthorHelen Roddis, Species Text Author

I loved science at school – particularly the fact that science lessons meant the chance to experiment! I liked that science is so varied, and so I chose to study Biology at university and have even gone on to study for a Masters degree in Conservation Biology. I would love to help dispel the myth that all scientists wear white coats – it’s certainly very rare that I wear mine!

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of chemistry or physics, but one of the scientists that inspires me most is Marie Curie, and that’s not just because we share a birthday! She was a chemist and pioneered research on radioactivity. She received two Nobel Prizes for her work in physics and chemistry, and was the first female professor at the University of Paris.

Do you love science? Why not tell us why! Which women do you find inspiring (scientists or otherwise)? From all of the ARKive Media Team we wish you a very Happy International Women’s Day!

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Mar 19

National Science and Engineering Week 2011 Logo

Now in its 18th year, the British Science Association’s National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) is a UK wide celebration of the sciences, which aims to engage people of all ages with science and show how it can relate to everyday life.

The theme for NSEW this year was ‘communication’, so with this in mind we sent our team of intrepid STEM Ambassadors out into schools across Bristol to introduce ARKive and explore the many methods of communication employed by animals.

Communication: the imparting or exchanging of information’

Animals (and plants) communicate with members of their own species as well as with other species via a variety of means – visual, acoustic, physical and chemical. Courtship dances, as seen by the superb bird of paradise and warning colouration are methods of visual communication, while the red deer and the lion both utilise acoustic communication to exhibit their dominance and territoriality. After investigating how and why animals communicate we then challenged the pupils to write an Attenborough-style narration for video clips we provided, each showing an example of a species communicating. Once they had researched their species and crafted their script, the groups had to perform their pieces to the rest of the class.

Alongside our communication workshop we ran sessions tailored to suit the particular needs of the schools. When we were asked to plan a penguin themed lesson for a group of Year 2s we jumped at the chance to get creative – I think we enjoyed making penguin masks almost as much as the kids did!

Meadowbrook Primary School children with their penguin masks

Another class of penguins © Meadowbrook Primary School

Examining mini-beasts and their adaptations was also a big hit and our ‘Create your own mini-beast’ activity yielded some extraordinarily imaginative organisms, including an ocean-dwelling, toe-eating critter and a chameleon-inspired flying insect able to change colour to match the sky at all times – an awesome example of camouflage in action.

In total the ARKive STEM team have worked with over 600 children this week, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we definitely have a newfound respect for teachers! Our expanding team of fully-fledged STEM Ambassadors have now got the taste for teaching and are raring to go, so if there are any schools out there that like the sound of an ARKive-inspired lesson please do let us know!

Thanks to,

Meadowbrook Primary School, Bradley Stoke

Begbrook Primary School, Stapleton

Broadlands Secondary School, Keynsham

Kingsfield Secondary School, Kingwood

City Academy, Bristol

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Media Researcher


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