Zoology with Animal Ecology, 1998
Bangor alumnus Dr Ross Piper is a zoologist, author and presenter. At the start of 2013 he was part of a BBC expedition to document the wildlife of Burma. The team of wildlife film-makers was permitted to venture deep into Burma's jungles to document the wildlife of this long-isolated country and shed some light on the state of its forests. This resulted in the three-part series Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom broadcast on BBC2 in 2014.
After Bangor, Ross gained a PhD in Leeds, moved to London and started writing books, the first of which was published in 2007. His latest book, Animal Earth: The Amazing Diversity of Living Creatures is an exploration of animal diversity.
Of Bangor, Ross says: “I didn't know what to expect of Bangor before I started my Zoology degree. I hadn't been on any open days; in fact I hadn't even been to that part of Wales before. A couple of people had told me it was a good university. I was young, I was naive and I took their word for it - a decision that could have backfired. I'm glad to say it didn't! I enjoyed the course more and more as the three years sped by thanks to greater emphasis on the subjects I was really interested in, increasing autonomy, friendly postgraduates and some excellent lecturers, particularly Simon Webster, Mike Lehane and Nigel Brown. There were lots of field-trips, hands-on stuff with animals and opportunities to explore the area. One part of the course that really crystallised my interests and sort of steered me on my current path was a taxonomy project in the third year, which I absolutely loved.
With that said, I'm a bit ashamed to say that I never took full advantage of Bangor's location. It's only more recently that I've come to appreciate the variety of interesting habitats within easy reach of Bangor and all of the outdoor activities you can do nearby. If I was going to university for the first time now, the location - between the mountains and sea - would be a massive selling point.”
Ross has returned to the University on a number of occasions to support current students. In March 2014 he gave a public lecture as part of the Bangor University Zoological Society’s lecture series which was attended by students, alumni and the local community.
He also took part in a Science Careers Cafe session where alumni from the School of Biological Science subjects returned to Bangor to talk about their careers since Bangor, to provide advice and share their experience and knowledge with current students.
Ross says: “In the best part of 20 years since I left Bangor I've had some brilliant experiences and I've recently been back to the University to talk about these and my career in general. I think this is an important part of the university experience, since you can give other people who share your interests some useful insights on what they can do and where they can go with their degree.”
In 2015 Ross was awarded Bangor University Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his professional success and his continued contribution to and support of Bangor University.