Skip navigation
Previous Next

Science News

September 4, 2012


Diamond Jubilee


60th anniversary meeting of the British Phycological Society

Wednesday the 12th September 2012

Natural History Museum

Flett Theatre

Brit Phy.bmp



There is a varied and exciting programme with speakers who will demonstrate the immense important of algae and their influence of life on Earth.   The impact they are having today will also be explored in a live debate on the use of algae as a source of biofuels, where you will be able to join in.  The programme will also show how algae have provided inspiration for art and will include an exhibition of the winning and short-listed photographs of the Hilda Canter-Lund award.  Phycology would not be phycology without its phycologists and this will be reflected through the hidden truth of the phycology of Kent and phycologists in conversation. 







10.15               Refreshments


10.45               Launch


11.00               Prof. Paul Falkowski (Rutgers University)

                       The role of algae in the global cycle of carbon.


12.00               Prof. John Allen (Queen Mary, University of London)

                       Photosynthesis requires cytoplasmic inheritance.


13.00               Lunch


14.00               Prof. Joanna Verran (Manchester Metropolitan University)

                       Algal aesthetics: encouraging engagement through art.


14.30               Applied Phycology Debate

                       Prof. Mike Cowling (The Crown Estate) and Steve Skill (Plymouth

                         Marine Laboratory)

                       Are macroalgae or microalgae the biofuels of the future?


15.30               Tea


16.00               Ian Tittley (Natural History Museum)

                       Four centuries of seaweed study in Kent: the hidden truth.


16.30               An illustrated history of the Society and its people:

                       famous members in conversation.





To Register,  and for further details and abstracts use the following link:



Please note that everyone is welcome.  You do not have to be a member of the British Phycological Society to attend.


Special Earth Science Department Seminar


Speculations on Two Open Problems in Morphometrics:

Random Walks and Biomechanical Strain Analysis


Prof. Fred L. Bookstein*


Department of Anthropology

University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


Department of Statistics

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA



20 September 2012, 16:00

Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London



The example of morphometrics shows us that a continual refocusing of the empirical context of a method

may sometimes be a creative intellectual act, extending and clarifying the range of domains to which the

biometric imagination can contribute. In this presentation, I sketch two little-explored arcs of morphometric’s

conceptual boundary along which it may be just the right time for a collective exploration of new possibilities

with new colleagues.


1. Random Walk as a Null Model for Morphometric Time-Series (Paleobiology, in press)

The more interesting the process that creates your principal components, the less likely that their scatters will

look like the ellipsoids the Gaussian model has induced you to expect. Since evolution is our most interesting

biological process, principal components may be particularly ripe for an alternative interpretation when

applied to time series of fossil forms.


2. Form and Function in the 21st Century: The Relation Between Geometric Morphometrics and Finite-

Element Analysis (Biological Theory, in press)

Material deformations shatter the overwhelming formal symmetries of the Procrustes approach to biometric

shape comparison. Hence principal components of Procrustes shape coordinates are not an automatic

machine for the understanding of biomechanical strain or finite-element analysis. This presentation will

diagnose the problem and offer a possibly helpful workaround.




For additional details on attending this or other seminars see


* Biometer, statistical scientist and applied mathematician, F. L. Bookstein, along with important contributions by David

Kendall, Colin Goodall, Kanti Mardia and others, was the principal creator of geometric morphometrics, a new specialty

that combines the disciplines of geometry, computer science, and mathematical biology with multivariate statistics to

create tools and techniques to support the analysis of biological shape differences. Bookstein’s many conceptual and

computational innovations are being applied broadly today across evolutionary and developmental biology, paleontology,

anthropology, computer vision, medical imaging, and cognitive neuroimaging.


Palaeontology Seminar


The evolution of quadrupedalism in ornithischian dinosaurs


Dr Susannah C. R. Maidment,

Department of Earth Science and Engineering,

Imperial College



Thursday 6th September
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 15:00




The most primitive ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs were bipedal (two-legged), but they radiated into a diversity of quadrupedal (four-legged) and bipedal forms. Quadrupedalism evolved in three major ornithischian lineages independently. Outside of Ornithischia, the reversion to quadrupedalism from bipedal ancestors has only occurred on two other occasions in the whole of tetrapod evolution (in the silesaurid dinosauriforms and the sauropodomorph saurischian dinosaurs); thus examination of the convergent acquisition of this stance in ornithischians is warranted. We use a diversity of techniques to investigate how and why multiple clades of ornithischian dinosaurs evolved quadrupedal locomotion. Muscle reconstruction suggests that quadrupedal ornithischians adopted a variety of different stances. Disparity in limb scaling between clades could be due to clade-specific behaviours. Anatomical features related to the evolution of quadrupedalism do not appear to have been acquired in the same order in all lineages, and mosaic character evolution in ornithopods suggests multiple independent acquisitions of quadrupedalism in the clade. Moment arm modelling suggests a more columnar hind limb in stance phase and loss of femoral rotation as a form of lateral limb support in quadrupedal ornithischians, and a wide-gauged stance in thyreophorans and ceratopsids. Centre of mass modelling indicates that ceratopsids may have evolved quadrupedalism due to the development of large heads, frills and horns as display structures. However, thyreophorans did not become quadrupedal as a result of development of hypertrophied dermal armour. Overall, quadrupedal ornithischians display a previously unrealised diversity in stance and locomotor mode, and do not appear to have been significantly constrained in their style of locomotion by their bipedal ancestry.




For additional details on attending this or other seminars see