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‘Dung Beetles: We Should All Talk More About Poo’ judged to be this year’s best ‘Ex Aula’ article

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The winner of the first Ex Aula prize, for the best article submitted to the online journal, has been announced as Elizabeth Raine (2014, DPhil in Zoology). Elizabeth receives the £500 prize for her intriguingly-titled article, ‘Dung Beetles: We Should All Talk More About Poo’, in which she discusses the fascinating and often underestimated role played by dung beetles in reusing waste.

Ex Aula was started by the MCR (Middle Common Room, the College’s postgraduate student body) in January this year, as a new initiative to share and publicise more of the research being carried out by its members, in a wide variety of different subject areas. All the journal articles are aimed at non-specialist readers, and give a quick introduction to some aspect of the writer’s research area.

Metallophanaeus saphirinus beetles collected by Elizabeth Raine during her field work. (Beetles now deposited in the Setor de Entomologia da Coleção Zoológica da Universidade Federal.)
The males of some species of dung beetle have horns, like these Metallophanaeus saphirinus that Elizabeth collected during her field work. (Beetles now deposited in the Setor de Entomologia da Coleção Zoológica da Universidade Federal.)

To date, 14 articles have been published and a judging panel of SCR members Dr Emily Winkler, Dr Linda Yueh, and Professor Paul Skokowski had the difficult task of selecting the winner. The panel explained their decision as follows: “The title of the essay hooks the reader from the start. The entry’s coverage is expansive, ranging from ancient Egypt to Australian cattle. The colourful descriptions keep the reader engaged and informed about an important research area. As one judge put it, ‘What’s not to like!’ This year’s winner was chosen because the essay epitomises the aim of the prize, which is to make research accessible to a wider audience and more relevant to people’s lives.”

Tim Donnison, Emily Winkler and Trent Taylor
Tim (left) and Trent, with one of the judging panel, Emily Winkler

DPhil students Trent Taylor and Tim Donnison are the editors of Ex Aula, and are already looking forward to encouraging more submissions in the next academic year and continuing to build the readership of the journal. “We both feel that the inaugural year for Ex Aula went tremendously well,” said Tim, “with all the published articles being accessible, interesting and covering a range of subject areas.”

Read Ex Aula online here: mcr.seh.ox.ac.uk/updates/research-spotlight.