University of St Andrews
 
 

School of Biology News Centre

item 158
[23-03-2009 to 30-04-2009]


News Item:
Scottish Funding Council approves MASTS

On Friday 20th March 2009, the Scottish Funding Council gave the final approval for the Marine Alliance for Science and technology Scotland (MASTS) to go ahead. MASTS is a £75 million research initiative to pool marine research capability across Scotland.

see here for further details
contact: Prof Ian Boyd


 

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  • IDIR Talk: Biology Network Alignment Comes of Age
    speaker: Dr Wayne Haynes (University of California Irvine, School of Information and Computer Science)

    building: Mathematical Institute
    room: Lecture Theatre C
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr V Anne Smith

    Biological network alignment has the potential to be as useful as sequence alignment has in relation to learning about biology, evolution, and disease.  Although about two dozen network alignment algorithms have been proposed, none as yet have proven to fulfill this potential, due to many shortcomings.  Some of these shortcomings include: lack of knowledge about how to best use network topology to recover biological information (EC? S3? Graphlets? Spectral?); how to balance biological information such as sequence against topological information; confusion in the literature between an alignment algorithm and the objective function used to guide the alignment, as well as confusion between how to produce the alignment vs. how to measure it's quality post-alignment; lack of a good multiple network alignment algorithm; lack of an effective method to eliminate the 1-to-1 nature of global network alignment, since 1-to-1 mappings are not faithful to the evolutionary relationship between proteins; and finally, due to the NP-complete nature of the problem, a lack of knowledge about how far we are from producing the best alignments possible?

    In this talk, Dr Hayes will introduce a novel method that already solves some of these problems and for which there is a clear path towards solving all of the others listed above, and more. We clearly delineate the measure(s) M that measure the quality of an alignment, from the algorithm S that searches the space of all alignments looking for good ones according to M. This allows us to directly compare many measures M. We also demonstrate that our new algorithm S outperforms all existing algorithms by all the various measures M that we've tried.


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  • CBD Seminar:Atypical birdsong and artificial languages provide insights into how communication systems are shaped by learning, use and transmission
    speaker: Olga Feher (University of Edinburgh)

    building: Dyers Brae
    room: Seminar Room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: ecg5@st-andrews.ac.uk

    I will present experimental findings in zebra finches and humans that make use of abnormal song and atypical linguistic input to study processes shaping communication systems: individual learning, social interaction, and cultural transmission. Atypical input places increased learning and communicative pressure on learners, so exploring how they respond to this type of input provides a particularly clear picture of the biases and constraints at work during learning and use. Furthermore, simulating the cultural transmission of these unnatural communication systems in the laboratory informs us about how learning and social biases influence the structure of communication systems in the long run. Findings based on these methods suggest fundamental similarities in the basic social–cognitive mechanisms underlying vocal learning in birds and humans.


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  • Biology Management Group meeting
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  • TBC
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  • Ecological applications for molecular biomarkers of animal age
    speaker: Prof. Simon Jarman (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto)

    building: SOI
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    host/contact: Prof Andrew Brierley

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  • CBD Seminar:
    speaker: Lauren Brent (University of Exeter )

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  • BSRC Seminar Series: Title TBA
    speaker: Prof Iain Mattaj (Director General, European Molecular Biology Laboratory)

    building: BMS
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    host/contact: Prof Jim Naismith

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  • Marine microplastics
    speaker: Dr Erik van Sebille (Imperial)

    building: SOI
    room: LT
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    host/contact: Prof Andrew Brierley

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