Naturalist and TV Presenter working with University academic on research

25 April 2016

BAFTA-winning adventurer and one of TV’s best-known wildlife presenters, Steve Backshall, is working as a visiting researcher with Canterbury Christ Church University and Venomtech for his most recent project analysing a novel amphibian toxin.

Steve, who is currently working towards an Emirates Masters in Herpetology, the zoology of amphibians and reptiles, at the University of Exeter, has sought the guidance and expertise of Christ Church academics and Venomtech scientists to help him research a venom new to science.

Steve came across Venomtech, a company which supply venoms as novel tools for drug discovery, who are currently working with Dr Carol Trim, a Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at the University.

At the beginning of the week, Steve worked in the Life Sciences laboratories on the University’s North Holmes Campus learning basic laboratory skills and techniques. He then spent the latter part working in the recently opened Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab at Discovery Park, where Dr Trim conducts her research. The results of this work will go into Steve’s MSc thesis and is expected to make a high impact publication with other data collected so far.


From left to right: Dr Carol Trim, PhD student Danielle McCullough, Steve Backshall, PhD student Emily Knight and Steve Trim.

Between his research sessions in the labs, Steve met up with students from the School of Human and Life Sciences, answering their questions about his career and work as a wildlife presenter and naturalist.

Steve Backshall said: “I am currently doing a Masters by Research, and Dr Carol Trim has very kindly allowed me to do my lab work here at Christ Church. She has really been my guardian through this whole process and taught me an awful lot of things that I do not usually do as part of my job. I have been learning new lab skills which are essential in helping me answer my big question for my Masters. I am fascinated by learning and have been throughout my life and my career.”

Dr Carol Trim said: “We have set up a challenging experimental week for Steve and he seems to thrive with every task we give him.”

Steve Trim, Founder and Managing Director at Venomtech Ltd, said: “Steve has been a pleasure to work with in the lab and shows the same dedication and skill in the lab as he does in the field.”

Dr Simon Harvey, Director of Life Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “Supporting these sorts of collaborations are part of what the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Lab is there for. This work arose from Steve reaching out to Venomtech and we are happy to support this."

“It is great for our undergraduates to see somebody who is as successful as Steve undertaking postgraduate study, and working with one of our industry collaborators. We hope that this will inspire students to carry on in the sciences, either working in the sector or engaging in further study.”

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 23:04:00