Tag Archives: scicomm

Dr Erica McAlister – The Secret Life of Flies

On Wednesday 6th September we’re absolutely delighted to have Dr Erica McAlister joining us, with a talk relating to her excellent new book The Secret Life of Flies.


Erica is a Senior Curator at NHM London and she’s a bit of an entomological megastar, dominating the airwaves with her humour and passion for tiny animals that most people think of as disgusting. Flies are seen as the nuisance species of the planet – hated, demonised and blamed for the worst of human suffering. But Erica will explore whether this is really the case (and once you hear about what some of them get up to you might still think they’re disgusting, but for very different reasons).

If you fancy picking up a copy of Erica’s book there will be copies available on the night and she’ll be happy to sign them for you.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Gail Austen – Citizen Science: What Makes An Expert?

On Wednesday 2nd March we’re pleased to have Gail Austen speaking about the important and evolving  role of citizen science.

Gail is studying towards a PhD in Biodiversity Management at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent. She has an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity from Imperial College, having been swayed by the course being hosted at the Natural History Museum, where she also volunteered. Prior to this (overlooking a stint in finance), she worked for a Local Records Centre and become involved in local conversation, including spending the last six years as Chair of the Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group (KRAG). Gail has a passion for UK wildlife and is an advocate of amateur naturalists and citizen science.


It is generally accepted that there has been a decline in field biology skills, with some drawing a parallel between the ability to identify flora and fauna with ‘traditional country skills’. There are a number of specialists concerned with the naming and cataloguing of live, dead, extant and extinct specimens, both as part of their job and in a recreational capacity. However, there have been questions raised over the accuracy of the data collected in a ‘non-scientific’ manner, but in order to answer questions about the natural world, the reliance on citizen science and volunteer collected data is increasing.  Using established methods used in face recognition studies in psychology, my research investigates accuracy in visual species identification, what makes an expert, and whether we can improve these skill sets as a legacy for generations to come.

Join us from 6pm for a 7pm start at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!