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Behind the scenes with Michael Baker

Hear from colleagues who volunteered to contribute to the International Biology Olympiad (IBO), find out about their role and what they enjoyed about it. It's a chance to see some of the activity that went on behind the scenes to help make the IBO a success.

Behind the scenes with...
Michael Baker
Teaching Fellow
School of Life Sciences

Role for the International Biology Olympiad: Co-Developer of Biochemistry Practical Exam

My usual job involves…
undergraduate teaching through lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and laboratories.

In advance of the International Biology Olympiad I…
worked with colleagues to develop the biochemistry practical exam. I focused on designing the practical elements, preparing reagents in advance and testing to make sure it would work on the day.

During the International Biology Olympiad I…
worked with colleagues and volunteers to deliver the biochemistry practical. I was also involved in defending and updating the practical exam script during the International Jury sessions. Finally, I helped to mark the exam scripts and present those marks to the Jury.

I really enjoyed being involved with… 
lots of things! But I particularly enjoyed working with a wide range of people from different backgrounds in the department. I also perversely enjoyed the marking, despite the 2 days spent locked up in a hot room with no natural light. There was some great camaraderie shown over those two days!

The International Biology Olympiad is unique because…
of the way in which so many people came together to deliver the IBO. University staff, students, RSB staff and volunteers, the jury members from each country and of course the contestants themselves. All of these people came together and played their part to make it happen. A truly amazing event.

If I could change one thing about the International Biology Olympiad it would be…
Not all of the countries were able to attend due to issues with visas (e.g. Syria, Egypt, Iraq) which must have been really disappointing for those students. It would have been great to have had the full compliment. And although more than 60 countries attended it would be wonderful if, eventually, it could become truly international. Although it would become even more of a challenge to organise it if it became much bigger!

Not everyone knows that…
each of the participating countries was given the opportunity to translate each of the practical and theory examination papers into their native language from the original English text. Having received the English version the day before, many of the jury members worked through the night, some until 6 am on the day, to put the finishing touches to their translations for the exams which started at 8:30!

Hear from other colleagues behind the scenes

Preparing samples for biochemistry exam
Preparing samples for biochemistry exam
Calculating solution dilutions
Calculating solution dilutions
Biochemistry practical exam volunteers
Biochemistry practical exam volunteers