Back to the field!

After a very long (pandemic-induced) hiatus, we finally went back to Brunei for some field work in January this year. Ulrike, Nat and Skylar were joined by Charlotte, at PhD student from Walter Federle’s Insect Biomechanics Group in Cambridge.

We started our stay by attending a one-week Biodiversity & Bioinspiration Workshop at Universiti Brunei Darussalam – the perfect team bonding event! We not only met a lot of interesting people from all over the world, we also did a number of excellent field excursions – there were a lot of engineers who had never been to a tropical rainforest. From bat hunting at night to wading through the shallow sea to a mangrove island, or taking traditional longboats to travel upriver into undisturbed rainforest, we had a lot of fun!

After the first week, the actual work started. We were back in our “old” field sites in the Tutong White Sands area, though on the other side of the road this time, as our original sites were destroyed by building activity a few years back. Nice to see though that even in our original sites, plants are starting to grow back!

For Nat, Skylar and Charlotte, field work in the tropics was a new experience. The work conditions were certainly challenging at times!

Ulrike could only stay for 3 weeks in total, so her priority was to introduce the team to the field sites, but also the local culture, food, and of course the people! Amongst the many cultural experiences was attending several “open houses” during Chinese New Year:

Ulrike had to leave at the end of January, but the rest of the team stayed on until March (and even June, in Charlotte’s case) to continue the experiments. We’re still analysing some of the data, but can already say that the trip was a full success, and everyone involved had a great time literally taking biomechanics to the field!