Tutorials in Borneo

borneo_photo.jpgAlice James - Third Year Biologist

"I was lucky enough to go on a field trip to Borneo in September this year. We spent two weeks in some amazing, pristine rainforest, doing all the normal Oxford things (tutorials, lectures, practicals) in very un-Oxford conditions; I don't usually have to contend with tutorials in 45° degree heat flicking leeches off my arms and swatting mosquitoes in South Parks Road .

We saw orang-utans and pygmy elephants, decorated dung beetles, went bird catching and wild swimming and ate plate after plate of rice, all in the name of a third -year module.

The trip, led by Brasenose tutor Owen Lewis , was a fantastic opportunity, aided by a significant financial contribution from college, and I learnt an enormous amount in our short time in the wilds of Borneo. Three of the four Brasenose biologists in 3rd year attended the trip, the highest proportion of any college, due to Owen's infectious enthusiasm for tropical ecology, and Brasenose graduate student Claudia Gray (who carries out fieldwork for her DPhil in Borneo) was also one of the tutors for the trip.

I feel immensely lucky to have visited this untouched rainforest, a phenomenal natural resource that might not be there by the time my children might want to see it. This poignant message was emphasised during our time there, and our first-hand experience of the ancient majesty of some of our nature has instilled in all of is a desire to encourage its protection as far as possible. That I got to see it at all is great, for the fact I got to visit it with Oxford and my own tutor and learn first-hand, I am extraordinarily grateful."

Third year Biological Sciences students from all Oxford colleges may request to attend one or both of the overseas field courses, each one making up a specialist option. The Borneo field course is run by Brasenose Biology Tutor Owen Lewis; it concerns tropical rainforest ecology, both animals and plants, and is based at the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah. The other field course involves a trip to the Canary Island of Tenerife, and studies the systematics, diversity and ecology of the local plant communities.

Pictured left to right: Alex Blackwell, Alice James, Steven Haveron, Dr Owen Lewis and Claudia Gray

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