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.’
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences