Cohort 3 Student Seminar Series

Student representative for Cohort 3, Thomas Baird, has organised a monthly seminar series for cohort 3 students to present their work to the cohort and discuss their research findings and plans.

The Seminar Series is a monthly event held on the first Thursday of every month. The 1 hour event provides the opportunity for three students to give a 15 minute talk on their subject of choice, with an additional 5 minutes set aside for questions. Students can volunteer to present their work, and each event includes one biotic talk, one abiotic talk, and one ‘wildcard’.


1st June 2017 – University College London

Wassa Mine is Yours: Structural and Lithological Controls on Gold Mineralisation in the Ashanti Belt

Bex kicks off the first seminar talking about research from her MSc on gold in the Ashanti Belt.
Photo by Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton.

Rebecca Strachan (Abiotic)

Particularly famed for its diamond and gold mining, West Africa hosts some of the world’s largest and most important mineral deposits. This is due to over 3 billion years of complex, and exciting, geological processes. Understanding the geology on a regional and local deposit scale is therefore crucial for insuring the continued development on existing mines, and the discovery of new deposits. This study focused on the highly deformed Wassa gold deposit in the heart of the Ghanaian wilderness, attempting to unravel its multiphase deformation history in order to model the location of the gold in the deposit

Using deep learning to predict diving in seabirds

Ella talks about her work using deep learning to predict where seabirds will dive.
Photo by Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton.

Ella Browning (Wildcard)

Global Positioning System (GPS) have been important tools in understanding the movements of wide ranging animals such as seabirds and are sometimes combined with time depth recorders (TDRs) to monitor diving activity associated with foraging in some species. However, TDRs can be expensive and logistically difficult. It is therefore important to develop methods that allow behaviours such as foraging to be determined without their use. We use deep learning models to predict dive locations from the GPS tracks of three UK seabird species and by validating these predictions against concurrently collected TDR data we show this method to be accurate.

Imidiwan win Sahara (My friends of the Sahara)

João introduces his past work on North African foxes and Biodeserts.
Photo by Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton.

João Leite(Biotic)

The Sahara-Sahel region in North Africa, and arid areas in general, is often forgotten in evolutionary and conservation studies. This talk aims at giving an overview of my experience in trying to add one very small page to our knowledge of the evolution and biogeography of the region. I will focus on two sets of friends from the Sahara. First my MSc thesis study species, North African foxes, and how I used genetics to elucidate questions on their evolutionary history. Second, a quick presentation of the Biodeserts research group that I was part of for over 5 years, some of their extraordinary endeavours and research. By the end, I hope I have given a better understanding of my background and the type of research my previous group does.


6th July 2017 – Natural History Museum

Why are the newts on Rum so ugly?

Thalassa presents her MSc work on newts on the Isle of Rum.
Photo by Thomas Baird.

Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton (Biotic)

Amphibiothecum meredithae is an unusually pervasive amphibian infectious disease, affecting the palmate news on the Isle of Rum, Scotland, in particularly gruesome ways. This seminar will discuss the results of my MSc, which demonstrate how this parasite is regulated by the environment. My work also showed that this disease can kill and how the infectious cysts spread through the mouth and liver.


The Baculum Goes Bayesian: The Evolution of the Original Boner

Matilda presents her recently published work on Baculum evolution.
Photo by Thomas Baird.

Matilda Brindle (Wildcard)

The baculum, or penis bone, is arguably the most enigmatic bone in the mammalian body and its function has long been a mystery. Here, we will discuss the natural history of the baculum and theories as to why it might be present in certain mammalian orders. We will then examine recent progress in the field in which Bayesian phylogenetic methods were implemented to examine bacular evolution and uncover driving factors behind its function in primates and carnivores.


Angelina JOIDES: What a stoneface can tell us about the summer monsoon

Claire talks about the International Ocean Discovery Program.
Photo by Thomas Baird.

Claire Routledge (Abiotic)

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 355 drilled two sites in the Laxmi Basin, located in the eastern Arabian Sea from May-June, 2015. The primary objective of Expedition 355 is to better understand the impact that the Indian (southwest) summer monsoon has on weathering and erosion of the Himalayas and how this in turn affects mountain building. Laxmi Basin is located within the Indus Fan, the second largest submarine fan in the world, and has primarily been fed by the Indus River and its associated tributaries since the collision of India and Eurasia in the Paleogene. This talk aims to give you an understanding of the processes involved in coring aboard the JOIDES Resolution as well as introducing you to the world of calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy.


3rd August 2017 – University College London

Epidemiological tracing of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) infection in European captive amphibians

Liam talks about his work on the chytrid fungus.
Photo by João Leite.

Liam Fitzpatrick (Biotic)

The emergence of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) identified a second pathogen amphibian chytrid fungus capable of causing mass mortalities of urodeles (newts and salamanders). This study followed the discovery of Bsal in the UK for the first time, infecting animals recently acquired by a zoological collection. We used epidemiological tracing to identify potentially infected private amphibian collections, testing eleven collections across western Europe.





The antidote to coding and batch processing

Thomas explains the free automation software Sikuli.
Photo by João Leite

Thomas Baird (Abiotic)

Sikuli is a free, open-source piece of software that can automate user actions and navigation. Allowing users to bypass traditional forms of coding, Sikuli has simple and intuitive commands. This talk will showcase Sikuli’s applications with both a practical demonstration, and an explanation of the code behind it.








5th October – TBC


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