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.’
Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences