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ThiNKS lecture: Biological Sciences/Zoology

For all those intrigued by the exquisite intricacies of the natural world, the NKS ThiNKS talk on zoology - given by Rob Knott, an ex-NKS student in his third year studying zoology at Southampton University - was an ideal opportunity to gain an insight into both what a zoology/biology degree involves at Southampton, and how that can be the route into biological sciences.

Open to all year groups, the talk attracted dozens of students from all of them - each one eager and ready to learn. First Rob talked about his studies at Southampton, explaining the balance his course offers between field work, laboratory practicals and lectures. Then he digressed briefly to discuss the extracurricular activities in which he partook as a sixth former, in order to impress the University and prompt them to offer him a place - many of the listening students were captivated by the idea of volunteering for ORCA, a whale-watching charity that offers cetacean-enthusiasts the chance to venture out on the seas as part of a survey on population numbers.

Rob also provided great and fascinating detail about his dissertation - a study of robins and their various communicatory calls. With the help of a number of stuffed robins he had brought with him for demonstration, he was able to give the watching group an impression of how positioning fake robins in the territory of living ones could induce a variety of different calls which he could then record and compare - some territorial, others more amicable, such as mating calls.

With his highly interesting talk, Rob certainly seemed to strike a chord with several of the assembled students - many of whom were eagerly identifying the various animal species of which he had pictures on his powerpoint. If a few went into the talk with an interest in zoology, a good number more left it with a newfound fascination in their minds - and when a talk provides the fire of inspiration to light the kindling of curiosity in your head, it has without a doubt fulfilled and surpassed its role.

Review by Daniel Bailey, Year 11

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