Tuesday 24 March 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 26 March 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2015
26 March 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Cold-blooded Cognition: The Missing Class

Dr Anna Wilkinson

Image: Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features

Who is smarter, a quick, warm-blooded mammals or bird or a sluggish, cold-blooded tortoise? The former two? You might be surprised to hear from Dr Anna Wilkinson, that this is not always the case! Anna is a senior lecturer at Lincoln University and is broadly interested in animal cognition. One specific interest regards Perception and Categorisation - how do animals process the vast amount of information that they perceive daily? Why do animals pay attention to certain elements of their environment and how flexibly can they use this information? The other main interest, which will present us in her seminar, is about cold-blooded cognition (for example see here) -- how do reptiles and amphibians perceive the world? How do they learn about their environment and how do they use and retain this information? 

Very little is known about the cognitive abilities of reptiles. They have traditionally been considered to be “sluggish and unintelligent creatures” (Yerkes 1901, p 520) and have largely been ignored in the study of animal cognition. However, to gain an understanding of the evolution of cognition in amniotes, it is necessary to carry out direct experimental investigations of the learning and memory abilities of reptiles that parallel the extensive work already available in mammals and birds. Therefore, examination of the cognitive mechanisms underlying the behaviour of these animals can provide crucial information about the evolution of the brain. This talk will present some recent research on the learning and memory abilities of reptiles and compare them to what is known about these processes in other animals. 

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

Monday 23 March 2015

Science Club Series - 24/03/2015

Biosciences Science Club Series - Lent term 2015

Joint College of Medicine - College of Science/Bioscience Seminar
24 March 2015 - 3pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

(note change of time)

Circadian Genes, Juvenile Hormone & Insect Diapause

Dr. David Dolezel

This week Dr. David Dolezel, head of the Laboratory of Chronobiology of the Institute of Entomology in the Czech Republic, will be visiting our University and has kindly agreed to give a talk on the work of his lab. Given the broad common interest, this will be a joint talk, organized by the College of Medicine and the College of Science. Refreshments will be provided after the seminar, so there will be ample time to chat with the speaker, but if any would like to meet for more time, please do get in touch with Dr Miranda Whiten (College of Medicine).


Hope to see many of you - tea/coffee/refreshments will be provided!

Tuesday 17 March 2015

BioMaths Colloquia - 20/03/2015

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2014/15

20 March 2015 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room 

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Estimation and control of cell populations

Prof John Lygeros

from Ruess et al (2013) DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2013.0588

Our BioMaths Colloquium series continues this week with a talk by Prof John Lygeros, head of the Automatic Control Laboratory at ETH Zurich. John has broad interests in modelling, analysis, and control of hierarchical, hybrid, and stochastic systems, with applications to biochemical networks, automated highway systems, air traffic management, power grids and camera networks. John started his education with a B.Eng. degree in electrical engineering and an M.Sc. degree in Systems Control, both at Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, London, U.K., followed by a Ph.D. degree from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, University of California, Berkeley in 1996. 

After a series of research appointments in the US, incl. the National Automated Highway Systems Consortium, Berkeley, the Laboratory for Computer Science, M.I.T., and the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department at U.C. Berkeley, John moved back to the UK in 2000 as  University Lecturer at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Churchill College. In 2003 he moved to Greece as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Patras, and in 2006 he joined the Automatic Control Laboratory at ETH Zurich,as an Associate Professor, Full Professor since 2010.


Feedback mechanisms are at the heart of many cell functions, including genetic regulation. Engineering such mechanisms in living cells synthetically has proved to be a challenging task, however. This is partly due to the difficulties associated with making the process robust against cell-to-cell variability. 

We discuss how stochastic analysis and control methods can be used to shed light into the uncertainty affecting these systems. We first investigate how modelling and analysis methods can be extended to account for stochasticity not only at the level of individual cells, but also at the level of cell to cell variability. We then use the resulting models for system identification, optimal experiment design for strain characterization, and ultimately regulation of gene expression. 

We demonstrate the methodological contributions by experimental results on a yeast strain, using a light-sensitive transcription factor as the input and flow cytometry measurements of the resulting fluorescent protein as the output.

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

from: http://control.ee.ethz.ch/~atc/research.php#model

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 12 March 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2015
12 March 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Life history correlates of consistency, plasticity and variability in behaviour

Dr Samantha Patrick

Image from: https://sites.google.com/site/samanthacpatrick/

Recent resarch is increasingly showing that individual animals within populations often show strong and consistent differences in behaviour, leading to the existence of different personality types. Understanding the causes and consequences of these differences is one of the main aims of the research group of our next seminar speaker, Dr Samantha Patrick. Samantha is a behavioural ecologist with a keen interest in bird ecology and evolution, especially of mating and foraging strategies. Sam is a lecturer at the Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, where she has recently started to build her own research group.

Increasingly, studies are revealing that individuals within the same population differ from one another in their behaviour.  Through my research, I examine what are the causes and consequences of these differences and their stability over time.  Specifically I use seabirds as a model organism to look at personality differences and behavioural specialisation and the links to fitness in the short and long term.  Furthermore, I look at how individuals are able to change their behaviour, demonstrating plastic responses to the environment. My seminar will discuss all aspects of this research, examining the behavioural, ecological and evolutionary implications.

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