The School of Biological Sciences has been successful in obtaining funding for two summer research experience placements.
Heat stress during milking in dairy cows
It is known that when animals become heat stressed they reduce their milk yield, which has economic implications for the dairy industry. What is not currently known is whether this occurs in UK where temperatures do not reach the extremes that are found in tropical regions. Mackies is one of the largest dairy farms in the North East and the milk is utilised to make ice cream.
This project will involve visiting the dairy to collect data from the automatic milking machines. Data includes animal weight, milk temperature, milk yield and milking status of the cows, which will be compared to ambient temperature measured using data loggers. It is assumed that if the animals experience any heat stress during the summer months, their yield will decrease.
The project will last 10 weeks and will predominantly involve the analysis of the milk records.
Understanding users of citizen science web platforms – a case study of a photo-based bumblebee recording scheme
The number of citizen science initiatives is rapidly growing due to the realisation that valuable data can be gathered over large geographical scales at very low cost. The application of this method has been particularly noticeable in biological recording; whilst numerous web platforms continue to be developed, however, there is little or no understanding of how actual users of such platforms use and evaluate online data submission platforms.
During a 10 week NERC funded student placement scheme we aim to better understand users of an online photo submission tool (BeeWatch), which we developed in close partnership with the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust (BBCT). The platform allows volunteers to submit photos of bumblebees and identify bumblebees on photos submitted by others. It has an electronic species identification tool that enables volunteers to key out bumblebees; feedback on submitted identifications is provided through ‘group sourcing’ (where possible) and experts (in cases where citizen scientists did not agree with each other). With its various functionalities (e.g. photo submission, identification key, feedback from experts vs. other volunteer) BeeWatch offers an ideal opportunity to investigate how users navigate a citizen science platform.
The student will analyse individual mouse click data of >6000 submissions to determine webpage use of both new and returning users; pit a new mobile platform against the current web-based system; and use questionnaires to triangulate volunteer opportunities for learning and wider appreciation.
The student will thus work towards a better understanding of users of a citizen science platform, thereby employing both numerical and qualitative approaches; (s)he will be part of the wider project team composed of ecologists and computer scientists, whilst contributing to citizen science in a fundamental way.
** This placement has now been filled **
To be eligible to be considered for the above placements; students must
- Be studying for a degree in a quantitative discipline
- Be undertaking the placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree
- Be in the middle of their first degree studies (or integrated Masters)
- Be expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree
- Be eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (UK, EU or right to remain in the UK)
Students should apply via email to the nominated project supervisors. Deadline for interest is Friday 23rd May, placements will take place over summer period (June/July 2014)