Biological, environmental and social scientists benefit greatly from ready access to modern statistical and mathematical expertise to ensure that their research is carried out in the most effective way and to help them analyse and interpret the increasingly complex data that are now routinely collected. BioSS is unique in the UK for combining in a single organisation a wide breadth both of methodological expertise and of experience in the application of quantitative methods to underpin scientific research.
BioSS staff are either permanently located at client organisations or run regular consultancy sessions on their sites. Thus local consultants are readily accessible and well known to their scientific colleagues. Local advice is supplemented by specialist expertise from BioSS staff at other sites when required. Scientific applications in which we have particular experience can be grouped into four broad areas:
Research in plant science is essential if we are to meet the challenge of feeding the growing global population in a period of climate change. Our collaborations with plant scientists range from studies of molecular processes within cells to the interactions between crops, pathogens and their environment.
We support research into the health and welfare of farm livestock which is of benefit to the animals, the Scottish public and the associated commercial sectors. BioSS contributions include helping to design efficient scientific experiments and national field surveys together with the undertaking of specialist data analysis tasks to extract maximum information from new and existing data.
BioSS’s interactions with ecologists and environmental scientists are centred on the need to develop and interpret a robust evidence base to underpin national policies. Our collaborative contributions for design and analysis range in scale from detailed experiments which investigate particular processes under controlled conditions, through to national monitoring schemes, which provide broadly-based information about our changing environment.
The role of a balanced diet in promoting human health is being increasingly recognised. Research in this area must encompass a wide range of issues, from the quality of food available via the science of nutrition to the behaviour of individuals. Complex interactions abound, and the variation in observed processes can be large. Statistical and mathematical models have a pivotal role in enabling the interpretation of experimental and observational studies.
Long-term working relationships are particularly valuable as they allow us to develop a deeper understanding of specific areas of science and to become genuine research partners. The quality and impact of BioSS contributions to research programmes are reflected in our jointly authored outputs including many papers in refereed journals and conference presentations.
The expertise developed in our interactions with the Scottish Governments's Main Research Providers is of value to a much wider community. Consultancy agreements have been established with other research organisations, supporting their research and, by helping fund additional posts, allowing BioSS to strengthen its skill base. They also extend our range of scientific and organisational contacts and are an important way of raising the profile of BioSS.