Professional biologists reveal the mysteries of life
Press release issued: 19 April 2010
Have you ever wondered why a giraffe has a long neck? What enables the brain to multi-task? Why you sneeze when you look at the sun? How a dinosaur is named? Well now you can find out the answers to these and a huge number of other questions by looking on the Ask A Biologist website: www.askabiologist.org.uk
Ask A Biologist is a website where anyone (though schoolchildren are especially encouraged) can post a question and it will be answered by a professional biologist. Those contributing to the site include medics, neurologists, palaeontologists, evolutionary biologists, conservation workers and more. Between them they have a vast range of expertise and experience and they aim to provide accurate, authoritative, and accessible information on biology to anyone who asks for it.
The website is co-run by David Wynick, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol, who said: “Although the website has been designed to help schoolchildren it is open to anyone who is interested in the study of life. The website is divided into all aspects of biology and includes a specific area focusing on careers and training in the field, where users can learn about some of the basics of biological research such as how we do experiments, write scientific papers, name species, find dinosaurs and more.”
There are already nearly 2,500 answered questions on the site with more being added every day. There are also short essays on research, links to other educational sites, a blog and more.
The original site was initially set up in 2007 with help from the Palaeontological Association. Thanks to new funding totalling £5,000 donated by the the University's AIMS Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Above and Beyond, the Charitable Trust of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and The Physiological Society, has allowed a complete redesign of the site to make it more accessible and user friendly, especially to schoolchildren.
Dr David Hone, formerly of Bristol and now based in Beijing founded the original site. He said: “Science communication is an important part of being a researcher and Ask A Biologist allows the public to get direct access to professional biologists with no middleman. It’s a joy to see people become excited by our research and our answers to their questions.”