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Naturalist and TV Presenter gets to work on Venom research at Discovery Park

Posted on 25/04/16

One of the UK’s best known wildlife presenters, BAFTA-winning adventurer Steve Backshall turned scientist this week - carrying out academic research at the new industry liaison laboratory run by Canterbury Christ Church University at Discovery Park.

Steve, who is currently working towards an Emirates Masters in Herpetology , the zoology of amphibians and reptiles, at the University of Exeter, sought the guidance and expertise of Venomtech scientists, based at the Sandwich site to help him research a novel amphibian toxin.

He came across Venomtech, a company which extracts and supplies venoms from a diverse range of species, through Twitter, and through them was int

roduced to Dr Carol Trim, a Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at the University. This is a great example of how social media is helping scientists get together to accelerate research.

Throughout the week, Steve has been working at both CCCU’s Canterbury campus and the recently opened Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab at Discovery Park, where Dr Trim conducts research with Venomtech. The results of this work will go into Steve’s MSc thesis and is expected to make a high impact publication with other data collected so far.

Steve Backshall said: “I am currently doing a Masters by Research, and Dr Carol Trim has very kindly allowed me to do my lab work here at Christ Church. She has really been my guardian through this whole process and taught me an awful lot of things that I do not usually do as part of my job. I have been learning new lab skills which are essential in helping me answer my big question for my Masters. I am fascinated by learning and have been throughout my life and my career.”

Dr Carol Trim said: “We have set up a challenging experimental week for Steve and he seems to thrive with every task we give him.”

Steve Trim, Founder and Managing Director at Venomtech Ltd, said: “Steve has been a pleasure to work with in the lab and shows the same dedication and skill in the lab as he does in the field.”

Dr Simon Harvey, Director of Life Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “Supporting these sorts of collaborations are part of what the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab is there for. This work arose from Steve reaching out to Venomtech and we are happy to support this.”

“It is great for our undergraduates to see somebody who is as successful as Steve undertaking postgraduate study, and working with one of our industry collaborators. We hope that this will inspire students to carry on in the sciences, either working in the sector or engaging in further study.”

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