It might just be the “quirkiest” building in the University’s increasingly diverse estates portfolio: a 35m2, wood-built facility, with not a right angle in sight, and situated next door to a pen of Iberian wolves. What the Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science (DIAS) Pod lacks in scale, however, it more than makes up for in location and potential.
For it is in the heart of Dartmoor Zoo, in the company of wolves, that Plymouth students can now base themselves for their studies and research.
“Dartmoor Zoo is a living laboratory for the University and really helps to connect our students to the reality of working with and studying animals,” says Professor Kevin Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. “We’ve built up a very close partnership with Dartmoor Zoo, and this new facility really is symbolic of that relationship.”
Students from across the academic spectrum come to the zoo on placement and for academic research and dissertations. From Health, there are psychology students looking at both animal and human wellbeing; in Arts, there are students using the zoo for life drawing; and of course, across Science, there are students on a range of degrees, including those specialising in animal behaviour and welfare, biological sciences and conservation biology, and postgraduates studying zoo conservation.
Until recently, those students had to decamp to the restaurant if they wanted to work under cover, but the DIAS Pod provides them with a permanent base complete with desk space, Wi-Fi and warmth in the winter. And the location brings added responsibility: having to interact with the public.