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Science News

171 Posts authored by: C Lowry
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Inside Life: 3D Micro-CT Applications for Life Sciences

 

 

Dan Sykes

Micro-CT Scanning Specialist, Imaging and Analysis Centre, Science Facilities, NHM

 

Friday 28 June 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

The Micro-CT facility at the NHM provides a cutting edge and innovative approach to museum science. The facility carries out projects covering a diverse range of research fields, including investigations into meteorites, paintings, fossils and many more. However, more recently the applications of micro-CT to biology have been rapidly expanding, allowing new ways of examining specimens in 3D. As this is a non-destructive, non-invasive technique it also allows us to study what’s inside important and rarecollection material, from our Egyptian mummified animal collection to virtually dissecting brains from insects’ heads. Through examining case studies, I will explore some of the most interesting and innovative studies and techniques using micro-CT at the museum. The aim of this talk is to encourage discussion about the potential of micro-CT to further museum research; and highlight interesting areas of future development that could open up new avenues of research.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Miniatures, morphology and molecules: problems with the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris

 

 

miniture fish.jpg

 

 

Ralf Britz

Vertebrates Division, Dept. Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 26 June 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

The highly miniaturized fish species of the cyprinid genus Paedocypris are among the smallest of all vertebrates. Their skeleton shows a puzzling mixture ofhighly reductive and morphologically novel characters. Numerous structures present in most bony fishes are absent in Paedocypris due to an organism wide case of progenesis or developmental truncation. I highlight the problems associated with working morphologically with such a truncated organism and offer some solutions. I also look in detail at the evidence from recent molecular systematic analyses some of which are in sharp contrast to the results based on morphology. I touch upon the general issue of morphology versus molecules and discuss it in the context of the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Participation and Collections Management: Is good collection management and genuine public participation really possible?

 

 

hands on.jpg

 

When?
Thursday 27th June, 2013, 2.30pm-4.00pm

 

Where?
Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington

 

Who?

Speakers: 
Tim Vickers, Collections Care Officer, Luton Culture

 

What’s it about?:
This talk will look at some of the speakers experience of allowing hands on use of core collections to engage with the public. Focused primarily on the Museums archaeological collections, it will cover some of the risks and benefits of this way of working from a curator’s view rather than just for those who participate.

 

Who should come?
If you are thinking about or are working on a collections management project where you would like to involve members of the public where the focus is being hands-on.

 

Science Group: All senior departmental managers & collection management staff.

Public Engagement Group:  Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.

 

We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest.

 

There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.

 


Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk.

 

Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome.
Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine (c.valentine@nhm.ac.uk)

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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‘Wallace’s eureka moment: The discovery of natural selection’

 

Dr John van Wyhe, The Natural History Museum


The Natural History Museum 4 July 16:30 – 17:30, Flett Theatre

 


As part of the Wallace100 celebrations taking part in 2013, the Natural History Museum will be hosting a monthly lecture series. These lectures are part of the Museum’s participation in Wallace100, an international programme of projects and events celebrating the centenary of Wallace’s death on 7 November 2013. At these monthly events, leading biologists and historians will discuss different aspects of Wallace’s life and work. The series also highlights the significance of the Museum as a focal point for Wallace collections and studies.

 

The story of Alfred Russel Wallace getting the idea of natural selection in a fit of tropical fever is rightly a famous account of scientific discovery. But what prompted his eureka moment? There have been many theories about Wallace's eureka moment. During his talk, Dr van Wyhe will shed light on these, dispelling many, as he examines the facts and surviving evidence from the time. The truth turns out to be rather different from what we have long believed...

 

Find out the facts at our revealing talk, presented by renowned Wallace expert and historian of science, Dr John van Wyhe. This is the 6th in our series of Wallace100 lectures.

 

John van Wyhe is a historian of science who specialises on Darwin and Wallace. He is the director of Darwin Online and Wallace Online. His latest book is Dispelling the Darkness: Voyage in the Malay Archipelago and the discovery of evolution by Wallace and Darwin (2013).

 

Free tickets need to be booked in advance
Book tickets online
Doors open 16.00

 

Details of the event can also be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/events/programs/nhm/wallace%27s_eureka_moment_-_wallace100_lecture.html

 

Details of the Wallace100 celebrations can be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/science-of-natural-history/wallace/events/index.html

 

Details of Wallace100 events taking place at the NHM can be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/wallace100events

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Deep Sea ID: creating an iPhone and iPad app for science

 

Adrian Glover

AQUID (Aquatic Invertebrates Division), Dep. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 19th June 11:00 Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Deep Sea ID is the first iOS (iPhone and iPad) app from the NHM science group, released in March this year. It is a field guide interface to the World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS) that currently stores on your device (for offline access) the taxonomic information for over 20,000 deep sea species, over 350 high resolution photographs of deep-sea specimens as well as links to online taxonomic tools, sources and important references.In this talk and demo I will explain why we made this app, how we did it, the importance of open data and take you on a visual tour through some of the amazing creatures of the deep sea.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

 

64117_bathykurila-guaymasensis.jpgBathykurila guaymasensis


Credit: Adrian Glover.  http://www.marinespecies.org/deepsea/index.php  CC-BY-NC-SA

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On 9th & 10th September 2013 we will be hosting the 1st Tomography for Scientific Advancement symposium!

 

Invited speakers will give talks on their pioneering research on advancements in CT design, software and a wide range of scientific applications.

 

Register before 30th June to get discounted fees!

 

Also, apply for the Nikon Image competiton, Gatan Student poster competition and/or Travel awards for Students and Industrial delegates (Find out more at www.nhm.ac.uk/tosca)

 

ToScA_flyer_NHM.jpg

 

 

 

Hope to see you soon!

Team ToScA – Join us on Facebook & Twitter

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

 

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Friday 7th June 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

A mouse that snacks on scorpions: evolution of venom resistance in a desert-dwelling murine predator

 

Harold Zakon

Depts. of Neurobiology & Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, Austin

 

 

The Grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus) lives in the Sonoran desert of the American Southwest and is sympatric with the most dangerous scorpion in the USA, the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). Onychomys has evolved resistance to the venom of this scorpion and readily exploits it as a food source. Scorpion venoms are composed of many peptides some of which activate voltage-sensitive sodium channels thereby causing hyperexcitability in their insect prey or vertebrate predators. We have uncovered a novel mechanism by which this mouse has evolved resistance to the pain-inducing peptides of scorpion venom: a single amino acid substitution in the pore of a sodium channel that is expressed selectively in pain-sensing neurons paradoxically co-opts a component of the scorpion venom into a channel pore blocker. In other words, it takes a pain-causing venom peptide and "turns the tables" on the scorpion, by using it as an analgesic to block the pain system.

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Friday 31 of May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Can measuring glumes help conservation policy in Madagascar?

 

Maria Vorontsova
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

 

Lemurs and rainforests? 75% of Madagascar land area is grassland. Received conservation policy prioritises protecting the remnant forest patches, but recent data suggests at least some of the grasslands are a natural vegetation type and not a degraded wasteland as traditionally assumed. Historic lack of attention to grasslands means that grasses are ignored and routinely left out of vegetation surveys. The current state of alpha taxonomy is such that assessments of diversity and endemicity are not possible. This talk will describe Maria’s work towards assessing the Poaceae diversity of Madagascar and building local taxonomic capacity. I promise many pictures of grasses.

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Collection Management Seminar

Posted by C Lowry May 29, 2013

What?
CSIP (Collections Storage Infrastructure Programme)

1) Update on the current collections storage studies
2) Environmental Standards - where do you they come from and how are we implementing them?

 

When?
Thursday 30th May, 2013, 2.30pm-4.00pm

 

Where?
Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington

 

Who? Speakers:
Ben Atkinson – CSIP Project Manager
Chris Collins – Head of Conservation
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 5BD.

 

What’s it about?
The Collection Storage Infrastructure Programme has been undertaking an estate wide study on the Museum’s collection conditions and future steps to improve them. The first part of this session will provide an update on some of the results from the first wave of the studies, and key questions we need to ask ourselves for the next steps.

The second part of the seminar will be focusing on the specific CSIP parameters for environmental control. The CSIP standards were put in place after review by a cross museum team of collection management and conservation staff. The standards outline the parameters for environmental control in storage and display spaces where collections are held. The standards cover most museum collections and are now being used to guideline the environmental conditions to be established in new CSIP projects and a future Earth Sciences building.

The standards are different to new guidelines being established under PAS 198 and by the National Museum’s Directors Conference (NMDC).  The talk will outline where the standards come from, why they have been defined in the way they have, the differences between these and other standards being put in place and how they should be used for Natural History Collections. The talk will also review how they related to the museums sustainability and energy policies.


Who should come?
The seminar is open to all members of the Museum who are interested in getting involved, learning more about the future of CSIP and the recovery of the collections in a disaster situation. We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest. There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.

Science Group: All senior departmental managers & collection management staff.
Public Engagement Group:  Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.


 

Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk.

 

Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome.
Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine (c.valentine@nhm.ac.uk)

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Friday 24 of May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

Octocorals of the family Xeniidae in Red Sea and beyond

 

 

Yehuda Benayahu - Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv,  Israel

 

 

Octocorals are common throughout the Indo-Pacific reefs and play an important role in the ecology of the ecosystem, yet they remain dramatically understudied. The seminar will deal with octocorals of the family Xeniidae, a highly abundant component of Indo-Pacific coral reefs, particularly in the Red Sea. Aspects concerning their life history and acquisition of symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) at early ontogenetic stages will be addressed. Opportunistic Xeniidae are taking over degraded reefs but taxonomic difficulties force researchers to recognize them as a group whichprecludes detailed understanding of the reef environment and processes on impacted reefs by genera or even species. Our ongoing project deals with phylogeny of the family including provision of species identifications based on their morphological characters. Recent findings reveal that novel microstructural features of their sclerites might be critically important in resolving taxonomic difficulties. Such a study requires introduction of high resolution scanning electron microscopy at magnifications never used before by octocoral taxonomists. Insights on microstructural features of xeniid sclerites also enabled us to examine the effect of ocean acidification on these octocorals and understand the possible function of their living tissue in protection against deteriorating effects of acidic conditions.  It is anticipated that studies on xeniids will facilitate future surveys aimed at the maintenance and greater understanding of coral reef diversity and reef-environment function and sustainability.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Wednesday 22nd May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

Polyembryony and unexpected gender roles in hermaphroditic colonial invertebrates

 

 

Helen Jenkins - PhD student, Aquatic Invertebrates, Dept. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

 

Polyembryony – the production of multiple genetically identical embryos from a single fertilised egg – is a seemingly paradoxical combination of contrasting reproductive modes that has evolved numerous times and persists in a diverse range of taxa including rust fungi, algae, plants and animals. Polyembryony is thought to characterise an entire order of bryozoans, the Cyclostomata. A molecular genetic approach was used to confirm this widely cited inference, based on early microscopy, and to test the apparently paradoxical nature of this reproductive mode in relation to cyclostomes, and will be reported here. Additional research, also presented here, has revealed further insights into the mating systems of this relatively understudied group of hermaphroditic colonial invertebrates. Mating  trials indicated a greater degree of female investment in the presence of allosperm in Tubulipora plumosa and produced evidence of separate-sex colonies in Filicrisia geniculata. If not a complete transition to gonochorism, the situation in F. geniculata indicates at least very pronounced gender specialisation. Further investigations into mating systems of this group may reveal more examples, with implications for our understanding of hermaphroditism and its related traits.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Friday 17 May 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

The Energetic Niche of Species: Lessons from the Deep Sea

 

Craig R. McClain, Assistant Director of Science, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

 

Life requires energy. Biological organization—the culmination of life in all its forms—is determined largely by the flow and transformation of energy. Three distinct types of energy affect biological systems: solar radiation (in the form of photons), thermal kinetic energy (as indexed by temperature), and chemical potential energy stored in reduced carbon compounds (i.e. food). 

 

I contend and will discuss that much like organisms possess thermal niches so do they possess chemical energetic niches (CEN). Evidence from both local and oceanic scale studies of beta-diversity, i.e. species turnover, suggests unique suites of species inhabit different regimes of carbon availability.  The evolution of body size and life history strategies in molluscs appear to be linked to productivity gradients and may have promoted diversification in this group.  Thus, changes in ocean productivity as a result of climate change may greatly impact biodiversity by modifying available niche space for ocean species.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Wednesday 15 May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Data Portal Workshop

 

Benn Scott, Data Portal Developer, NHM


As part of the NHM informatics initiative we are developing a publicly accessible web repository of Museum data, mounted at data.nhm.ac.uk.

 

In the first instance the primary dataset will be the specimen and collection records from KE EMu. In the future, the data portal will allow museum scientists to deposit research data, as well as integrate other museum datasets. The portal is intended as a tool for scientific research, facilitating exploration, analysis and reuse of data. Users will be able to browse, visualise and download the datasets. An R-based tool will allow deeper analysis of the data and DataCite DOIs attached to datasets will enable citation.

 

In this workshop, there will be a short introductory talk on the portal before we open up into a discussion and requirements gathering exercise, giving researchers and curators the opportunity to shape the development of the portal. We want to find out what data you'd like to see on the portal; how we can make the portal useful in your work and research; what systems & software you're using to generate and store your data. And of course if you have any questions or concerns about the portal, we'll do our best to answer them.


To find out more about the Data Portal, please see this introductory overview goo.gl/v4jOr.

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Friday 10th May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Hervé Philippe

Département de Biochimie, Centre Robert-Cedergren, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada

 

 

Is bio-informatics making us dumb? Phylogenomics as a case study

 

“Is Smart Making Us Dumb?” recently asked Evgeny Morozov in the Wall Street Journal. Although the main issue of this article is about social engineering disguised as product engineering, the author noticed that “truly smart technologies will remind us that we are not mere automatons who assist big data in asking and answering questions”. The development of high-throughput technologies in life sciences (e.g. DNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, sensor data) requires that biologists do use numerous bio-informatics tools to handle and analyse big data. Are these software “truly smart technologies”? Or more generally, can “truly smart technologies” exist? I will use phylogenetic inference as a case study, present recent results on the difficulties of using big data and conclude by some general questioning about our approach to study biodiversity.

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Tuesday 7th May - 4.00 pm

Mineralogy seminar room

 

Another point of view on sexual selection in prehistoric animals


Dr Rob Knell, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. r.knell@qmul.ac.uk

 

Sexual selection is one of the most important driving forces in evolution and is responsible for a tremendous amount of the morphological diversity that we see today. Many of the most charismatic prehistoric animals also appear to carry traits that could be explained as the result of sexual selection: horns, crests, plates, sails and many others. Nonetheless, palaeontologists have traditionally avoided using sexual selection as an explanation for these features and have preferred mechanical, thermoregulatory or species-recognition based interpretations, probably because it is very hard to produce testable hypotheses about the behavioural significance of such traits when we are unable to observe an animal's behaviour. This conservative approach is likely to lead to a significant degree of misinterpretation - sexual selection is a ubiquitous and powerful force and there is no reason to discount it as an explanation for morphological diversity in the fossil record. I will examine the problem of how we can detect sexual selection in the fossil record and discuss issues such as sexual dimorphism, allometry and how it changes with sexual maturity, apparent cost and diversity as potentially helpful indicators of sexually selected features in extinct animals.

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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