Cornish brains come home to boost research at Tremough
The appointment of four top academics to the University of
Exeter at the Tremough campus, Penryn, is making Cornwall
a UK hot-spot for research in ecology and conservation.
Dr Jonathan Blount, who grew up in Newquay, Professor Richard
Ffrench-Constant, from Truro, David Hosken, an Australian
whose ancestors came from Gulval and Dr Tom Tregenza from
Relubbus, near Penzance have all joined the University of
Exeter's Biosciences team at Tremough during the last
"The department is going from strength to strength
and is now one of the top ecology groups in Europe,"
says Centre Director Prof Matthew Evans. "We have
received over £5m of new research grants in the last
two years and our student numbers have gone up by 35% this
year. Tremough is the perfect location for our research –
we have fantastic new facilities and are also surrounded by
some of the UK's most captivating and scientifically-important
For Dr Tom Tregenza, whose family has lived in Mousehole
for hundreds of years, the opportunity to return to his home
county and join one of the UK's leading biology research
centres was a dream come true. "I've lived
all over the UK and in Australia, but as a Cornishman I only
feel at home in Cornwall," says Dr Tregenza, who
now lives in Falmouth. "It's very exciting
to be part of the very strong intellectual tradition that
Cornwall has enjoyed over the centuries by being part of this
world-class research team at Tremough."
Dr David Hosken is enjoying his new life in Cornwall and
treading on the footsteps of his Cornish ancestors, who left
Gulval for Australia four generations ago.
Professor Ffrench-Constant has moved back to Feock where
his house overlooks the home of his grandfather, Dr Charles
Frederick Ffrench-Constant, who was the first radiographer
at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. "I lived
in the USA for 13 years and never thought I would be able
to come back to the village where I grew up while continuing
my academic career," says Professor Ffrench-Constant.
"The Tremough campus has made it possible for people
like me to return to the region, as well as attracting expertise
from all around the world and that can only be a good thing
Dr Jonathan Blount is originally from Helford, but moved
to Newquay and went to school there. After studying in Plymouth,
Bangor and Glasgow, he worked in Mauritius and around the
UK, including a four-year-stint at Newquay Zoo. "It's
fantastic to be back in Cornwall, in such a superb setting
for biological research and teaching. It's a real pleasure
to teach biology here – it's impossible not to
be inspired by the natural surroundings," he says.
"Today Cornwall is a very exciting place to be,
it's becoming more cosmopolitan and there are many more
opportunities here now, but it has not lost its unique identity."
The Biosciences team at Tremough focuses its research into
animal behaviour, ecology and conservation and evolutionary
biology and its facilities include Cornwall's only molecular
biology laboratory. Recent research projects have focused
on tracking endangered marine turtles, 'de-coding'
the genes that colour butterflies' wings and monitoring
basking sharks off the south-west tip of Cornwall. Over the
coming year, the department is expanding again and hopes to
make several more new appointments in the next few months.
The £86.2 million Tremough campus is a Combined Universities
in Cornwall initiative of which the University of Exeter and
University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners.
It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One),
the South West Regional Development Agency and the Higher
Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall
County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close
to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus
offers a lively student community. The University of Exeter
is expanding its courses available to include Politics, Law
and History to existing degrees in Mining Engineering, Geology,
Biology, Geography, English and Renewable Energy.
For more information please contact Sarah Hoyle at the University
of Exeter on 01392 262062 or email: S.Hoyle@exeter.ac.uk.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities
in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 through
the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European
Social Fund (ESF). The University of Exeter is a partner in
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