Events

Oct
4
Wed
#RdgCafeSci Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World @ smokin billy's
Oct 4 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dr John Parrington presents “Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World”

John Parrington explains the huge potential benefits to medicine and agriculture of genetic engineering and looks at the ethical dangers and dilemmas.

The science of genetic engineering has moved at an astonishing pace over the last few years and it can now be applied to virtually any plant or animal species. The genes of pests such as flies can be altered so that the whole population can be changed within a few generations of breeding. Scientists are also beginning to synthesize new organisms from scratch. These technologies can be used to improve lives, improve food production and even generate electricity. But what are the risks of introducing synthetic lifeforms into the environment, and to what extent should parents be able to genetically manipulate offspring?

John Parrington is associate professor in molecular and cellular pharmacology at the University of Oxford and author of The Deeper Genome. He has written popular science articles for The Guardian, New Scientist, Chemistry World, and The Biologist.

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Nov
8
Wed
#RdgCafeSci Maths, murder and malaria @ smokin billy's
Nov 8 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dr Stephen Lecomber presents “Maths, murder and malaria”

Geographic profiling (GP) is a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritise large lists of suspects – often in the tens or hundreds of thousands – in cases of  serial murder. GP uses the spatial locations of crime sites to make inferences about the location of the offender’s ‘anchor point’ (usually a home, but sometimes a workplace). The success of GP in criminology has led recently to its application to biology, notably animal foraging (where it can be used to find animal nests or roosts using the locations of foraging sites as input) epidemiology (identifying disease sources from the addresses of infected individuals) and invasive species biology (using current locations to identify source populations). In a talk spanning mathematics, Jack the Ripper and great white sharks, Steve will explain how he used geographic profiling to investigate the identity of the artist Banksy and how he reanalysed a Gestapo case from the 1940s that formed the basis of a famous novel.

Steven Le Comber is a senior lecturer in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. His research covers a wide range of subjects, much of it focusing on the mathematics of spatial patterns. He has pioneered the introduction of geographic profiling – a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritise the investigation of serial murders – to epidemiology (identifying disease sources from the addresses of infected individuals). Work in his group has developed the mathematics underlying the model, introducing a Bayesian Dirichlet Process Mixture (DPM) suitable for cases with large, unknown numbers of sources.

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Dec
13
Wed
#RdgCafeSci Stimulating thoughts: using magnets and electricity to explore how our brains work @ Smokin Billy's
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dr Eva Feredoes presents Stimulating thoughts: using magnets and electricity to explore how our brains work

Cognitive neuroscience is concerned with understanding what goes on inside our head in order to understand behaviours such as perception, memory, emotions, problem-solving etc. We have many sophisticated tools at our disposal, to visualise and manipulate the workings of the brain. One powerful set of techniques, known as neurostimulation, allows us to apply electric currents or magnetic fields to specific parts of the brain to change how they function, and then to view the effects of such manipulation on behaviour. In the right hands, we can make definitive statements on many brain behaviours, for example, how our brains try to protect short-term memories from being rapidly forgotten (my area of research). The hope is that by understanding the brain mechanisms underlying cognitive functions, we’ll be able to improve them in both normal healthy brains, and in disease states.

Eva Feredoes is a Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience, in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading. She is interested in how short-term memory is achieved by the brain, in the hope of being able to improve her own ability to remember people’s names. She uses cutting-edge investigative techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation, in order to peer inside heads and manipulate brain areas. She is also quite a nice person.

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