We are on the way back from the Greek island of Lesvos. There, at the campus of the University of the Aegean in Mytilini, we have been teaching a 1-week course in marine algal biology – a first-ever both for the University of the Aegean and also our home university, Aberdeen.
Department of Marine Sciences, University of the Aegean
Attendance of senior undergraduate and MSc students to our classes was completely voluntary. We jointly gave the following general lectures: Introduction to Phycology, Seaweed Ecology, Molecular techniques in Phycology. We furthermore gave 2 lectures more closely related to some of our own current research activities, Seaweed Biodiversity around the Antarctic Convergence I/II, and we held a practical in seaweed identification. Finally, we organized 3 dive excursions to the waters around Lesvos – two to Charamida and one to Petra (special thanks to Giorgos Filios / Lesvoscuba as well as Lio, Argyro and the University of the Aegean Scuba Team) – for collecting seaweed specimens for our classes and an introductory session in underwater photography.
Petra, Lesvos Island
We were truly impressed by the enthusiasm of the students. None of them was anyhow expected to attend, but it looked to us that they were seizing an opportunity that they would otherwise not be getting in their regular curriculum. As we heard from many sides, the conditions of working and studying at their university (like in most other higher education institutions in Greece) has certainly become much worse in recent years due to the severe economic crisis.
From the left: Dr. Maria Kostopoulou-Karadanelli (Assistant professor at the University of Aegean), Alexandra Mystikou and Prof. Frithjof Kuepper
In summary, a most gratifying and rewarding experience. We will try to use some of our experiences from Lesvos to add new content and value to our regular teaching at Aberdeen. A wild thought – would it be worthwhile to organize a joint marine phycology course for students of both universities, Aberdeen and the Aegean, in Mytilini, for the Easter Break?