Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 25 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
25 May 2017 - 3pm - Zoology Museum

Note Change Of Time!

More than just a Teaching Fellow

Dr Anne Tierney

from: Wikipeida.org

Our Biosciences seminar series comes to an end this week for the 2016/17 academic year and before starting with our Postgraduate Student Seminar Series (stay tuned!), we are delighted to host a somewhat different speaker, on a topic of increasing interest to both the research and teaching facing staff members. 

We are delighted to welcome Dr Anne Tierney, lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. Anne is theme leader for Research, Scholarship and Supervision in the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning, Teaching and Assessment Practice and a member of the teaching team for the other areas of the PgCert Learning, Teaching and Assessment Practice in Higher Education and is also programme leader for the MSc Blended and Online Education (BOE). She uses her research help support excellence in learning, teaching and assessment and in supporting educational scholarship. In particular, her research considers the evolving place of Teaching Fellows in academia, threshold concepts in pedagogical research and the place of pedagogical research in the REF.

Teaching-focused academics are increasingly employed in UK universities. For many institutions, this has been as a result of REF, to free up time for research-focused academics to maximise institutional gain. However, the role of the teaching-focused academic, as an emerging role, has, in some cases, been neglected, in terms of the long term implications for the individuals who choose this path. Based on the accounts of twenty-one teaching-focused academics, I explore what it means to be a teaching-focused academic in Life Sciences in the UK.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars for next year, keep an eye on our blog.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Biosciences Science Club Events 18 May 2017

Biosciences Science Club Series - Spring 2017
18 May 2017 - 9:30am - Wallace Board Room (226a)

In Search of Resilience: Lessons from Ecology for Applied Conservation

Professor Victoria Braithwaite

Typical Adirondack Lake Setting. Photo from Victoria Braithwaite

We are very excited to host this week Professor Victoria Braithwaite, Professor of Fisheries and Biology at Penn State University (USA), Co-Director of the Center for Brain, Behavior & Cognition (CBBC) and one of the leading scientists in the fields of animal cognition and welfare and the author of the highly acclaimed book ‘Do Fish Feel Pain?’. Victoria is broadly interested in animal behaviour, especially animal cognition - identifying the mechanisms that underlie cognition and decision making, as well as the environmental context and evolutionary history shaping how animals behave. To do so she uses fish and rodent models, investigating questions from the level of neurobiology and physiology to whole animal behaviour. her group's research projects (see here) range from Cognitive Ecology, to Pain in Fish, Fish Welfare and Brain Function, to Conservation and Restocking and Stress and Behavioural Development.

The environment a fish experiences as it develops influences the way its brain develops, the way it perceives its environment, its physiology and behavior. Understanding how these processes occur in natural populations of fish can be useful to help us devise rearing methods for fish that will be released as part of restocking projects where the aim is to bolster threatened or dwindling populations. Until recently, we have tended to play a numbers game where many millions of fish are released in the hope that some will survive. I will present data from experiments indicating that a more targeted approach where fewer, but smarter fish, are reared is a better long term strategy.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming Science Club Events, see here

Monday, 15 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 18 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
18 May 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Life after death: evolution in a grave

Prof Rebecca Kilner

Photo by Holger Gröschl / Wikipedia

We are delighted to welcome Professor Rebecca Kilner, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the Department of Zoology at University of Cambridge (UK), to give a talk at our Biosciences Spring Seminar Series. Becky is a behavioural and evolutionary biologist interested in understanding how social evolution generates biodiversity, and to use that knowledge to better address conservation problems (e.g. role of rapid evolutionary change, understanding the limits to adaptation to rapid environmental change, etc.). Of special interest to Becky and her lab (see here) is the role of parental behaviour in evolutionary processes, from the effects on genetic and phenotypic diversity to the role of parents as agents of natural selection and speciation. As study systems her research has been focussing on birds and, more recently, on burying beetles.

Behavioural ecologists analyse animal behaviour to understand how it is adaptive, and therefore why it persists. In our lab, the focus is slightly different. We want to know how adaptive traits, like animal behaviour, influence the subsequent course of evolution. We address this question by using experimental evolution and we focus in particular on a social trait, namely parental care. 

     Our model species is the burying beetle, a remarkable insect that breeds upon the body of a small dead vertebrate. It shows elaborate parental care, which involves preparing the carcass to make an edible nest for its offspring and provisioning larvae after hatching. I will describe experiments that manipulate the provision of parental care and measure the way in which traits then evolve and adapt, in both parents and offspring. The general conclusion is that there are diverse ways in which behaviour can change evolution.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

BioMaths Colloquium - 19/05/2017

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2016/17

19 May 2017 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Simple models in a world of Big Data

Dr Jon Pitchford

(Departments of Biology and Mathematics,University of York, UK) 

Photo by: Cedric Guigand

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series for the spring term continues with a seminar by Dr Jon Pitchford from the Departments of Biology and Mathematics at the University of York (UK). Jon is  Senior Lecturer, interested in finding new ways to model and quantify dynamical systems which cannot be dealt with simple deterministic systems - as is the case for many biological systems. Examples range from animal behaviour (competition, foraging, group movements) to population dynamics (plankton) to natural resource management (spatial planning, evolutionary stable fisheries management, terrestrial carbon dynamics, impacts of wind farms) to kitchen sinks (you will have to ask Jon about the latter though!) and his publications are wide ranging (see here).

Technology, and the ability to generate vast volumes of data, has revolutionised Biology. This data deluge is meaningless without a logical framework to help us interpret it. The need for careful, and sometimes very simple, mathematics is greater than ever. 
Photo by eMedMD.com

I will discuss some exploratory evolutionary models for the stochastic 
foraging of fish larvae in search of patchy plankton prey. I will then show how these ideas can be translated towards practical impacts in human health. Leishmaniasis is neglected tropical disease which kills tens of thousands of people annually. By applying the patchy plankton paradigm, together with detailed imaging and cell biology, we have been able to identify new mechanisms for disease transmission which could be important in treatment and eradication programmes.

The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 04 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
04 May 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

The Biogeography of plant population performance

Prof Yvonne Buckley

Photo: Luca Borger

We are delighted to welcome Prof Yvonne Buckley, Chair of Zoology at the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin (IRL), to our Biosciences Spring Seminar Series. Yvonne is interested in understanding what drives the dynamics of plant and animal populations under environmental change and then use this understanding to drive environmental decisions, such as biodiversity conservation, invasive species management and habitat restoration. To do so Yvonne uses a combination of field work, controlled experiments and mathematical/statistical modelling. Yvonne is particularly interested in comparative plant population dynamics, invasive plant management and predicting responses of populations to global change.

Changes in the environment, such as those resulting from climate, land use and atmospheric nitrogen deposition, affect the performance and distribution of populations and species from local to global scales and disrupt ecosystem services provided by natural capital. In order to manage and adapt to the effects of environmental disruptions, we need to develop general predictions of the responses of populations to the environment from local to global scales. 
  I will discuss the geographical and environmental drivers of population performance using population dynamics data from multiple species from the plant matrix database COMPADRE. I will also introduce a new global spatially extensive population dynamics project PLANTPOPNET which aims to determine the environmental drivers of population performance for a single model species at the greatest global extent yet studied.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 27 April 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
27 April 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

The Real Game of Thrones: Incest, Dominance and Warfare in Banded Mongooses

Dr Hazel Nichols

Picture by Hazel Nichols

After an Easter Break filled with pleasantly abundant sunshine and good weather, we are delighted to welcome Dr Hazel Nichols to start our Spring Seminar Series. Hazel is a lecturer in Animal Behaviour at the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University (UK). Hazel is especially interested in understanding how animal societies evolve and to do so she combines multiple different methods, ranging from behavioural observations to biochemical, genetic and genomic approaches. Using this combined approach, Hazel is trying understand the genetic structure of mammalian societies (e.g. see here), the role of scent communication (e.g. see here) and inbreeding/inbreeding avoidance in cooperative species (e.g. see here), and how cooperation evolved.

Cooperative breeders present a particularly interesting case study for inbreeding (and its avoidance) as dispersal is delayed and sexually mature offspring remain with their family to help rear further young. This leads to a situation where groups often consist of close opposite-sex relatives with the potential to inbreed. While the majority of cooperative breeders successfully avoid incest, a small minority inbreed regularly. I will present the results of my work on one such species: the banded mongoose, where 8% of pups are the product of father-daughter or full sibling matings. Why is this species so different?

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Biosciences Science Club Events 13 April 2017

Biosciences Science Club Series - Spring 2017
13 April 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Biogeography and macroevolution of anuran amphibians in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Dr Diogo Borges Provette

from: www.Brasilienportal.ch

We do have a visiting scientist from Brazil this week, Dr Diogo Borges ProvetteFAPESP Post-doctoral fellow from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Centre for Sciences and Technologies for Sustainability, at the Federal University of São Carlos in Sorocaba, Brazil. Diogo is also associated with the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre in Sweden and is Editor for Amphibia-Reptilia at the Biodiversity Data Journal. Diogo is a community ecologist and his research focusses on three different strands - The causes and consequences of species diversity in freshwater ecosystems, eco-evolutionary feedbacks in metacommunity ecology, and the processes driving phenotypic evolution and diversification of Neotropical organisms. Diogo will present us recent work concerning the latter, focussed on understanding the processes leading to the formation of biodiversity hotspots.

The Atlantic Forest (AF) along the east coast of Brazil is a global biodiversity hotspot, with many endemic species under threat. There have been many hypothesis to explain the causes of the current high species diversity in the AF, including Plio-Pleistocene refugia, topographic heterogeneity, and environmental gradients promoting ecological speciation. However, there is little consensus on the relative roles of these processes and how they could differentially influence vertebrate groups with distinct dispersal abilities. In this talk I will quickly review the current models to explain the astonishing biodiversity in the AF and show results of a past project developed at the University of Gothenburg and the ideas of my current post doc project in Brazil. 

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming Science Club Events, see here