Because even the most hard-core science fans need a break from the scientific literature every now and then, I am beginning a weekend tradition of posting multimedia resources that are informative and fun. Today I am taking the opportunity to promote the efforts of people and organizations that I know personally.
First up is a short documentary about the University of Exeter--Tremough Campus's annual field course in Kenya. I was lucky enough to be included on the trip this year as a lecturer (thanks, Brendan Godley!), so I got to see the documentarian, Bryony Stokes, diligently collect hours of video and thousands of still shots chronicling our travels around the country. Our trip marked my first time in Africa, and it was incredible to see in person things that most of us have watched on television all our lives. Kenya is a fascinating place from a biological perspective, but also from cultural, economic, and conservation perspectives. As much as we scientists want to ensure that Africa's biodiversity is preserved, we cannot deny the fact that the African countries are also home to people who need to make a living, even though that may cause their needs to conflict with those of the wildlife. Our students, who are studying to become conservationists and managers, got a first-hand look at how difficult it can be to balance the needs of humans and the environments in which they live.
On a completely different note, I've also posted a video shared with me by Jan Wouter Kruyt, a fellow biologist that I recently met at the Science Communication Training Day held in conjunction with the Society for Experimental Biology's 2011 conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The video was produced as part of a larger project called Flight Artists. Jan and his colleagues study the biomechanics of flight and initiated Flight Artists in order to put video cameras in the hands of citizen scientists and artists. The only demand was that the filmmakers produce video of naturally flying objects--including birds, insects, airborne seeds, etc. It is a great program that gives everyday people the opportunity to work with advanced technology, as well as to observe flight up close and personal (thanks to high magnification and super-slow-motion filming techniques). Jan is currently trying to make the following video go viral, so if you like it, please share it with everyone you know.
Finally, I'm also including a video produced by Jes Therkelsen, a filmmaker who is about to become a postdoctoral researcher in my former lab at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. At the time I left the campus, we did not even have on-campus recycling, though an effort was under way to initiate a recycling scheme, as well as to begin many other "green" projects. The massive improvements that have been made at William and Mary since my time are documented in the following video, and demonstrate not only that being green doesn't have to be hard, but also that it can be achieved by anyone, anywhere.