Having been a member of the Natural History Society of Northumbria for most of the last fifty years, I can safely and authoritatively state that innovation is not one of its outstanding characteristics. However, this seems to be changing under the direction of Clare Freeman. One innovation has been winkling us out of the Hancock (sorry – I mean Great North Museum Hancock) to a much better set-up lecture theatre in Newcastle University’s Ridley Building (with ample free parking close by) for the regular winter programme of Friday evening talks. Not content with that, Clare and the rest of the enthusiastic NHSN have now tampered with the Friday evening schedule!
Friday 9th November saw the last of the inaugural series of six ‘1829 Talks’ – twenty-minute warm-up acts starting at 6.29pm (in recognition of the Society having been founded in the year 1829) ahead of the main 7pm evening talk. The six 1829 talks were on a wide range of topics, albeit with a strong maritime flavour, from the history of trawling (Georgina Hunt) and white-beaked dolphins (Matt Sharp) off the Northumberland coast to seagrasses in the Bahamas (Izzy Lake) and abyssal amphipods off Australia (Johanna Weston). On land we had mammal-monitoring (Sammy Mason) and slug control (Samantha de Silva). I didn’t get to all of them, unfortunately, and particularly regret missing the amphipods, but those I did attend were excellent
All the speakers were postgrads at Newcastle University and the talks were held in a smaller lecture theatre next door to the larger one that hosts the main talk. Well-attended (we were sitting, if not dancing, in the aisles), giving these talks was good experience for these early-career scientists, and it was a delight to hear about such interesting work being carried out by a great cohort of energetic and enthusiastic young researchers based here in Newcastle.
The 1829 talks have been an excellent innovation and I’m delighted to know they will be continued in the New Year. Make sure you get there in good time to bag a seat!
By Hugh Watson