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 – 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 – Natural History Museum

Why are the newts on Rum so ugly?

Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton (Biotic)

The Baculum Goes Bayesian: The Evolution of the Original Boner

Matilda Brindle (Wildcard)

The baculum is undisputedly the funkiest bone in the animal kingdom, but understanding its function is a hot topic and one literally millions of scientists have not yet been able to answer*. In an effort to get everyone obsessive about ossification, I’ll be discussing some thoroughly sexy stuff and showing you some pretty saucy pictures – including everyone’s favourite, dismembered bat penises – all in the name of disentangling (ouch) how and why this creepy bone evolved.

*On account of the fact that they are not one of the handful of utter anoraks who thought that spending their time studying an obscure element of penile morphology was a sensible idea.

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

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 – TBC


7th September – TBC


5th October – TBC


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