The Scottish Centre For Pollen Studies

One of the two sampling sites in Scotland, was established in 1987 and began monitoring pollen in 1988. In addition to two volunteer scientists who helped to establish and develop the Pollen Centre's work, a succession of job seeking youngsters, opted to work in the centre to acquire some basic scientific and organizational skills to help them gain full time employment. In 1989, the first of an annual succession of French students - more than 40 - from the universities of Montpellier, Toulon and Bordeaux, requested to come and work for the six-eight weeks of their placement (stage) to gain experience of working in a scientific institute and to augment their knowledge of English language. These students were from Institute of Health (Montpellier), Institute Universite de la Sante (I.U.S.) and technology (Toulon and Bordeaux) Institute Universite de Technologie (I.U.T.) From time to time the centre has welcomed for various periods of time, pollen specialists from Greece, the Netherlands and Spain. In the first half of the Centre's existence, students from Napier University, the Centre's base, undertook degree and diploma projects on various aspects of pollen and spores. The Centre is involved in a research programme, which has included melissopalynology, but most consistently investigations into palynology of animal faeces (Caulton and Simpson 1988; Caulton et al, 2005).

Current developing work involves the aerobiology of monitoring sites, both indoor and outdoor, urban and rural. Secondary school students in the fifth year of their studies are invited to apply to spend four weeks of their summer vacation working on this developing programme. The programme is generously funded by the Nuffield Foundation and is designed to encourage young students to gain work experience in science laboratories; and in the hope that science will be the basis of university and their subsequent careers. All students working in the Centre are required to assist in the pollen and spore-monitoring programme, which uses the Burkard volumetric spore sampler. The Scottish Centre for pollen studies has gained the present important status on account of the deep interest, devotion and consistent efforts of Eric Caulton, the present Director of the centre. In Scotland, the pollen monitoring season begins in March and extends to the end of September, supplying daily data to the NPRU at Worcester from April when the Betula (birch) season starts, and finishes at the end of August, by which time the grass season (Poaceae) is over. Monitoring of the allergenic spores of Alternaria continues until the end of its sporing season September/October depending mainly on the date of completion of the area's Barley(Hordeum) harvest.

The Scottish Centre for Pollen Studies is an independent unit based in the School of Life Sciences, Napier University. Dr. Eric Caulton, the co-author of this book, has been the Centre Director ever since its establishment in1987 (Caulton 2003). In addition, currently it is staffed by volunteer scientists.

The centre's primary aim is to provide a daily pollen count for sufferers from asthma and hay fever. For this, daily monitoring of pollen is carried out with the help of a Burkard Volumetric spore sampler.

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