Dr Mike Tribe

Scientist and Sports Historian

Dr Mike Tribe studied at both Durham and Cambridge universities, followed by 3 years as Head of Biology at a London school, before taking up a Lectureship in biological sciences at Sussex University in 1966.  Mike has always enjoyed the challenges of teaching, especially communicating difficult scientific ideas to non-scientists.  In 1978 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology for his innovative work in teaching undergraduates and his research on ageing. In 1999, he was given an award for Excellence in Teaching by the Sussex Alumni Society.  During his career Mike was involved in many aspects of higher education.  In the early years of the Open University he contributed to writing the first genetics course.  Internationally he has undertaken consultancy work for the British Council in several countries, as well as publishing many papers and books.  Mike is currently Chairman of Eastbourne U3A, and actively contributes to study groups ranging from science, social history, local history and classical music. He still tries to play the piano!


In his youth he was a useful athlete, being President of Durham University Athletic Union, where he represented British Universities, and was awarded Blues for both Cross-Country and athletics at Cambridge. He was also Buckinghamshire county champion in the mile (twice), 3 miles and Senior cross country, representing the county at Inter-Counties events.  Prior to university, Mike undertook National Service in the RAF, where he represented Fighter Command in the RAF Championships.  Hence Mike’s strong interest in Sports History.

He has previously spoken on Marella and Saga cruises.


CRUISE SHIP TALKS.  (5 are proposed with the 6th as reserve)

1. Darwin & the voyage of the ‘Beagle’. (Part 1. Background to the voyage; the ship, the crew & passengers and the journey from Plymouth to South America).

2. Darwin & the voyage of the ‘Beagle’ (Part 2. The tortuous journey home from Tierra del Fuego via the Falklands, Argentina, back to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia and many other ports of call.)

Charles Darwin was the ship’s naturalist and companion to Captain Robert Fitz Roy. The voyage was certainly not plain sailing by any means, nor the luxury that we experience on cruise ships today. Yet this journey, which lasted for nearly 5 years (1831-1836) changed the way Darwin thought about the living world and eventually led him in 1859 to publish a 19th century book that revolutionised scientific thinking.


3. Alfred Russel Wallace – the oft forgotten man.

Wallace was the co-proposer with Darwin for a theory of evolution by natural selection. Wallace was the younger man by 14 years: he did not work with Darwin although he much admired him. Quite independently Wallace came to the same conclusion about evolution as Darwin, which finally prompted Darwin to publish his life-long work. In many ways Darwin was a ‘lucky’ man and Wallace ‘unfortunate’. The talk looks at the life of Wallace and the journeys that he took, first to Brazil, which ended in disaster and then the 8 years spent in the ‘Malay Archipelago’. Later in life he was eventually respected as a scientist rather than just a collector and was accorded many accolades, including ‘the Father of modern biogeography’.  Nevertheless, why do we talk about ‘Darwinism’ but never ‘Wallacism’?


4. The Nobel Prizes

The Nobel prize is one of the most prestigious awards that can be bestowed.Alfred Nobel was a remarkable man, whose fortune was made from explosives, yet whose philanthropy recognised and rewarded people who have made the  'greatest contribution to Mankind'. Stockholm is the venue for most of the Nobel awards, as well as Oslo (Peace prize), yet the story of Nobel’s life is truly international. The speaker will also focus on prize winners that he has known, especially those for Chemistry and for Physiology or Medicine.

All these talks are extensively illustrated from archive material.



5. Great Runners, Great Races and Great Rivalries. (A history of the mile and ‘metric mile’ races).

The mile has been described as the ‘perfect distance’, neither too short nor too long. Indeed, a drama played out on four laps of the track.

The name ‘mile’ has its origin from Roman times.This extensively illustrated talk, including video clips, introduces many famous athletes from the past and from many different countries, along with the speaker’s experiences as an athlete in the 1950s and 1960s.

There are many surprises and upsets!


6. The’ Czech Locomotive’ – Emil Zatopek.

Zatopek was not only an Olympic legend but an extraordinary man.

His life is remarkable for triumph over adversity, for his patriotism, for his sportsmanship and kindness to others.



Other talks that I have given on cruise ships include:

A two-part talk on ageing.

Mavericks in Science – Dr Peter Mitchell Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Mavericks in Science – Prof. Lynn Margulis (Endosymbiosis in Evolution).

The controversial Berlin Olympics of 1936 – Hitler’s Games.

Remarkable Olympic Stories.


 Cruises that I have spoken on.


‘Saga Pearl II’ 21 day Caribbean cruise in November/December 2016

(6 talks)

‘Marella Discovery’ 15 day Baltic cruise in September 2018. (4 talks)

Other Public speaking undertaken recently


Several U3As.



Cambridge Society of Sussex

(I have been approached by Eastbourne Ashridge Circle as a speaker for 2019)