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Behind the scenes with Rachel Clewes

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...
Rachel Clewes
MIBTP PhD student
School of Life Sciences

Role for the International Biology Olympiad: Assisting with the Botany practical exam and marking exam scripts

My usual job involves…
getting on with my PhD! After a number of years working as a Research Technician, I have finally taken the leap and started a 4 year PhD program in plant science looking at the movement of membrane proteins during drought and high salt conditions.

In advance of the International Biology Olympiad I…
was involved in helping Dr Miriam Gifford plan and coordinate the Botany practical exam. By March we had a ‘To Do’ list of what seeds needed to be sown when, where, for how long and, very importantly, how many samples would be needed for all the IBO competitors!

During the International Biology Olympiad I…
helped out on the day of the practical exams by preparing the flower samples, setting up booths between exams and generally being around to sort out any problems the students had during the exams themselves. The next 2 days were spent shut away in a windowless room marking the exam papers.

I really enjoyed being involved with…
all of it! What a sense of achievement to see the exam paper come from its infancy and planning stages, to the final version printed out and students from all over the world taking part.

The International Biology Olympiad is unique because…
of the huge amount of planning and blood, sweat and tears that goes into it from both the organisers and no doubt the students too! To have the best of the best in biology from all over the world is phenomenal. To see hundreds of exam papers translated into so many different languages is a feat in itself.

Not everyone knows that…
on the day of the practical exam I walked over 10km up and down a physics lab! More importantly, the IBO would not have taken place without the utter determination of Professor Kevin Moffat and Dr Leanne Williams, the unbelievable enthusiasm of Branagh Crealock-Ashurst, the early mornings of Miriam and Gerrie Keene (who were in at 4.30am on the day of the practicals!), the late nights marking (who knows how late) and the sheer volume of caffeine consumed.


Hear from other colleagues behind the scenes

Rachel