SENSe which is part of the University’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) aims to further understanding of biological and other natural systems and undertake research into the development and application of novel computational tools and techniques that are inspired by these systems.
Dr Penn, who did her PhD at the University of Sussex on the topic of artificial ecosystem selection, when she showed that the properties of whole ecosystems can be shaped by artificial selection procedures, is continuing her work on the ecosystem-level selection process at ECS with both models and experiments.
‘The question of how selection can act both on and within relatively loose collectives of species which are not yet integrated biological individuals bears relation to some of the most interesting questions in evolutionary biology today,’ she said.
Dr Penn’s research focus is an exciting new area which raises questions about possible novel evolutionary dynamics and which could potentially shed light on how new levels of biological organisation have formed over time. It also has potential practical uses, with the possibility of evolving bespoke ecosystems for waste treatment, bio-remediation and agricultural use, without the need for a reductionistic understanding of the complex underlying dynamics.
For example, a technique based on evolutionary theory which Dr Penn developed for improving the growth of lentils in degraded soils in Spain is now being applied to evolving microbial communities to biodegrade hydrocarbon compounds.
At ECS, she is working closely with Dr Richard Watson, a senior lecturer at SENSe whose main research interest is also evolutionary modelling. One of her key motivations is the great need at present to develop an understanding of how real ecosystems “in the wild” might be evolving in response to new external pressures such as climatic change.
Dr Penn commented: ‘I joined because ECS wanted someone who could do real experiments and bring more biology to the group, and I wanted to be part of an exciting interdisciplinary environment open to new ideas. Richard and I hope to explore how evolution works at multiple biological scales and how we can apply this knowledge to new practical challenges in complex evolving systems.’
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research