Tropical brainstorm for Kimberley biology students

18 Jul 2013 17:13:35.467

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A group of A Level biology students fromKimberley School in Nottinghamshire have just returned from a biodiversity field trip to The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) — a visit hosted by the newly established Crops for the Future Research Centre (CFFRC). For many of the 15 students it was their first visit to a foreign country and for most it was their first experience of a tropical climate. 

Their mission — to carry out marine biodiversity surveys and investigate ‘foods of the future’ at CFFRC — the world’s first centre dedicated to research on underutilised crops.

Chris Teal, Headteacher and Physics Teacher at Kimberley and graduate of The University of Nottingham

said: “This is learning at its absolute best. Our students have been working alongside research scientists on genuine projects unfettered by the constraints of the classroom. There is no doubt some of these students will be amongst the next generation of research scientists.” 

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The tropical trip of a lifetime formed part of an ongoing link with Kimberley School, CFFRC and UNMC.

Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of Crops for the Future Research Centre, said: “The visit provided a unique opportunity for 15 A Level biology students from Nottinghamshire to experience Malaysia’s rich tropical diversity. They spent five days on Tioman Island carrying out a detailed marine biodiversity study. Afterwards they returned to UNMC and CFFRC to finish their project work on indigenous fruits and vegetables and experience Malaysian culture and the generous hospitality of the families who hosted them.”

Understanding the value of diversity

The biology students were asked to consider how to measure and value diversity within the context of Malaysia’s natural and managed ecosystems and diverse local food systems. As part of their cultural experience they visited Malaysia’s famous Batu Caves, Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary and local markets and sites around Kuala Lumpur.

Seventeen year old Lucy Harris said: “The trip was a great idea because it showed learning was not just in the classroom. We were actually in the field and it was very exciting. I am thinking about doing Biology at university and this trip was great preparation for that.”

Making the visit happen

Miss Ashleigh Barton, Biology Teacher at the school said “Raising money for the visit wasn’t easy. The students washed cars, packed shopping bags and even organised a huge community firework display to raise money to fund their visit. Their involvement in the fund raising made the students appreciate and value the trip even more”

The Governors were totally committed to the venture. They were so impressed by student’s fundraising activities they also donated £3,000 towards the trip.

Dr Raffaele Del Buono, Head of Biology at Kimberley School, said: “This trip was a huge challenge but a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience what was a once in a lifetime visit. The students gained huge academic benefits from this trip and the experience of it will be something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Media stars

While in Malaysia the students featured in a report on national TV news and gave a one hour interview for national radio.

Professor Christine Ennew, Provost and CEO of UNMC, said: “I am delighted that Nottingham’s presence here in Malaysia has made this study tour possible. This is a group of students who are preparing to apply to university and their visit has given them a unique opportunity to both visit The University of Nottingham campus and understand more about our stunning natural environment here in Malaysia. I hope it may also have opened their eyes to the great potential of Malaysia as a study destination.”

Image of students:
Back row: L to R: Jack Allsopp, Melissa Cooper, Matt Hoyland, Will Perrett, Lucy Harris, Emma Clements, Beth Thomas, Lucy Oliver, Liz Price, Raffaele Del Buono, Ashleigh Barton.

Front Row: Matt Keady, James Trigg, Ruby Persaud, Amy Sullivan, Leah Boughen, Hannah Caine.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, at Crops for the Future Research Centre,, or Dr Raffaele Del Buono, Head of Biology at Kimberley School on +44 (0)115 938 7000,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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