John Innes Centre

John Innes Centre

Norwich, March 2014

Students studying AS level Biology at Paston were able to appreciate at first hand a range of cutting edge research which takes place at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Their Biology coursework requires them to identify a problem, and then describe how scientists might solve the problem, and what ethical, environmental and economic issues this might raise. The students were rather spoiled for choice with topics, as researchers working in the field of nitrogen fixation, ash dieback, finding new antibiotics, potato blight, and finally the production of novel foods with higher levels of nutrients, such as the purple tomato, explained the principles of their work. The students had a tour of the site, visiting in turn the seed bank (that maintains stocks of ancient crops), and the genome analysis facility, that sequences DNA and the huge glass houses with an array of experiments. Given it was a cold February day the visit to the wheat growing experiments was popular as the climate inside the glasshouses was meant to simulate mid -June. Julian Thomas, Biology teacher said “ Paston Sixth Form College has a long tradition of links with the centre and we always feel that being able to meet and talk to scientists face to face gives students the best possible chance of producing the best possible coursework".

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