Wednesday 31 January 2018

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 01 February 2018

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2018
01 February 2018 - 1pm - Wallace Lecture Theatre

Note Change of Room

The Genetics and Epigenetics of Parental Care

Dr Chris Cunningham

Our Biosciences Seminar Series resumes for the Winter term! And we are delighted to open it with a talk by Dr Chris Cunningham, who joined our Department of Biosciences last year as Lecturer in Behavioural Genetics and Social Neuroscience, coming from the University of Georgia in Athens (USA). Chris is broadly interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms and evolution of social behaviour, such as parental behaviour (e.g. see here; more about that in the seminar), but including also questions about the existence (or not) of anatomical specialization for male-male competition in hominins (see here and here).

Behaviour, like any other phenotype, is traceable to how and when genes are expressed, with distinct gene expression profiles underpinning distinct behaviours. This is true even for short-term behaviours, such as shifts in aggression and mating. My laboratory interrogates the molecular mechanisms that initiate and maintain social behaviours. We use the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides as a study species. This species has elaborate parental care, including the regurgitation of pre-digested food into the mouths of begging larvae. We use this species’ parental care to dissect the association of behaviour and social context with gene expression. Currently, we are most interested in epigenetic mechanisms and how they help initiate and regulate gene expression changes during behavioural transitions.

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

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here