EMBC+ Spring School 2017 is over and was again an unforgettable experience. During the 10 days 47 students worked on 7 challenging research projects guided by an international team of 10 teachers. The facilities of the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Tjärnö proved again to be an excellent location for this school.
Watch the documentary movies made by each team of students at the EMBC+ video channel! Enjoy!
Are aliens among us?
This question emerged after a mysterious finding in Tjärnö Bay (western Sweden) made by ‘The leave no trace crew’, a team of litter scientists dedicated to identifying the impact of man-made litter on our oceans.
In order to shed light on the possibility of a marine alien presence, a team of specialists assembled, funded by the EMBC+ programme, to investigate the legitimacy of this finding, and if verified, assess the extent of the invasion. The team consists of six people from various scientific and cultural backgrounds, equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to set out for a week-long alien hunt.
From left to right: Jan Verbeek, Mchael Kriegl, Annika Heimrich, Alba …, Duarte Frade, Shanice Piango, Belinda Burtonshaw.
But if you expect some little green men in a flying saucer we unfortunately have to disappoint you. Even though they very likely exist somewhere out there, the focus of this project is of another nature. The aliens in this story are marine …
Four biologists, a veterinarian, an architect and a philosopher enter a bar in Sweden. The vet is in a good mood and decides to treat everyone with a to a Backfin Pale Ale. The architect, intrigued by the design of the bottle label, asks what crabs eat, she never really gave it any thought.
One of the biologists replies they are omnivores, feeding on a variety of things from algae to periwinkles. This catches the attention of the vet, and he asks whether some people have periwinkles - whatever those might be - as pets, and whether they are easy to perform castrations on. The philosopher, obviously intoxicated, argues that periwinkles are nothing but a concept of mind and there are no physical entities corresponding to it.
The biologists have had enough, and decide to take the group for a field trip the next day, they heard about a variety of periwinkle populations in the bay of Tjärno, Sweden.
The biologists show them two populations of the so-called rough periwinkle, one on a shelter…
We thought it’d be nice to interview a few people from our research project to pick out different aspects of it. This is the first one.
--> So Merijn, your university pathway is quite unusual, tell me a little about it.
I started out as a philosophy student. At first I was mostly interested in political philosophy, but I quickly found a way to merge my passion for nature (and mainly animals) with my studies in the form of environmental philosophy. I wrote my master thesis on ‘the land ethic’, which is a philosophical doctrine trying to find harmony between mankind and nature by finding a way to value nature for itself, instead of for the services it provides us with. I then did a Master of Science in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the university of Edinburgh, Something I took from there was the need for scientists, mostly biologists, to take into consideration the welfare of animals involved in scientific experiments, something that is not as obvious as it might seem.