Photography exhibition puts algae under the microscope in Nottingham

Friday, 29 January 2021

An open-air microscopic photography exhibition highlighting the importance of algae has launched at the University of Nottingham’s Highfield Park, with a virtual version online to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy the installation while in lockdown.

The Hidden World of Algae is a collaboration between the British Phycological Society and the University of Nottingham’s School of Geography and Biological Photography and Imaging MSc course.

The exhibition is the largest outdoor exhibition of algae and seaweeds in the world, combining photographs from the Hilda Canter-Lund photographic competition, as well as pictures taken by teaching staff and students from the University’s Biological Photography and Imaging MSc course.

Due to national lockdown restrictions across the UK, those interested in the exhibition are invited to enjoy it virtually for now.

Information boards are positioned at intervals around the lake on University Park campus, which is mirrored in the virtual exhibition, displaying the microscopic images with descriptions.

The exhibition includes images taken during key research projects by scientists at the University, including PhD researcher Hannah Kemp’s macroalgae blooms project working in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, in partnership with the National Trust. Hannah is investigating blooms of filamentous green macroalgae that form thick blankets across lake surfaces. As well as being unsightly, these have the potential to cause major ecological damage including the death of fish.

“This exhibition is a great opportunity for people to see algae through the eyes of scientists, under a microscope. Many visitors may be surprised to learn about the important impacts of algae and how diverse they are – with Highfields Lake in the background as a good example – and they can also find out about the work that Nottingham researchers are undertaking in the local area.”
Professor Suzanne McGowan, Professor of Freshwater Sciences in the University’s School of Geography

Professor McGowan uses remains of algae preserved in lake sediments to reconstruct past environmental conditions. She works locally with organisations including Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust at Attenborough Nature Reserve to address water management issues – an ongoing collaboration which has lasted more than 16 years.

Professor Martyn Kelly, Honorary Professor in the School of Geography and Fellow of the Freshwater Biological Association, said: “Algae are key parts of planet earth’s life-support system but are generally overlooked by naturalists. It has been fantastic to collaborate with colleagues across the university to bring this exhibition together. We hope visitors are able to make connections between the images they see on the boards and what they can see growing in the lake.”

The Hidden World of Algae exhibition was made possible by Cascade: Funding transformative student projects thanks to donations from alumni and friends of the University of Nottingham. The exhibition is supported by Lakeside Arts, Nottingham City Council Parks and Open Spaces and the Highfields Park Rangers.

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Suzanne McGowan in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham at; or Katie Andrews in the Press Office at the University of Nottingham on 0115 9515751

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Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

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