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School of Biology News Centre

item 524
[29-07-2011 to 03-10-2011]


News Item:
Dr Jose Xavier to be awarded Muse Prize at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity

On the first day of the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, to be co-hosted by the Universities of St Andrews and Aberdeen, 26th – 30th September, 2011, Dr. Jose Xavier, a marine ecologist at the Institute of Marine Research of the University of Coimbra in Portugal and the British Antarctic Survey in UK, will be awarded the 2011 Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica (http://www.museprize.org/).
 
Beginning with his doctoral research (Ph.D. Cambridge University, 2003), Dr. Xavier has conducted outstanding research on the predator-prey dynamics that sustain populations of albatrosses, penguins, and other top predators in the Southern Ocean. One example of his leadership in this field is his recent publication of a comprehensive monograph on cephalopods, an important top predators prey, titled “Cephalopods beak guide for the Southern Ocean” (Xavier and Cherel 2009), that will be a great aid to many Antarctic researchers.
 
"It is AMAZING and a true honour to receive such a prestigious prize”, said Dr. Xavier. "Such a prize will strengthen and open new doors to international collaborations, agreeing with the true spirit of how Antarctic science is carried out today!"
 
The Prize, which carries with it a $100K monetary award, is supported by the Tinker Foundation, whose founding director was Martha T. Muse. The Prize is inspired by Martha Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.
 
The prize selection committee of leading Antarctic scientists and policy makers also cited his leadership in the establishment of a new and thriving Antarctic research program in Portugal during the International Polar Year (IPY, 2007-2008) and in launching a highly successful educational program, LATITUDE 60! during the IPY. Furthermore, Dr. Xavier was an active leader, as member of the executive committee, in the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) between 2007-2009 and was an active member of the IPY Education and Outreach sub-committee, contributing significantly for making Portugal an example worldwide in terms of science, education and outreach during IPY. He has also been recognized by being invited to serve in various scientific research committees, expert groups and international research programs.
 

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  • CBD Seminar: Conflicts between biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods: an interdisciplinary approach
    speaker: Nils Bunnfield (Stirling University )

    building: Dyers Brae
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    host/contact: ecg5@st-andrews.ac.uk

    Conflicts between human livelihoods and biodiversity conservation are increasing in scale and intensity and have been shown to be damaging for both biodiversity and humans. Managing a specific natural resource often results in conflict between those stakeholders focussing on improving livelihoods and food security and those focussed on biodiversity conversation. Uncertainty, for example from climate change, decreases food security, puts further pressure on biodiversity and exacerbates conflicts. I will present first results towards developing a novel model that integrates game theory and social-ecological modelling to develop new approaches to manage conservation conflicts. The project has importance for society at large because ecosystems and their services are central to human wellbeing and unlocking these conflicts will provide great potential for a more sustainable future.


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  • CBD Seminar: How did the butterfly get its colours? The genetic control of colour and pattern diversity in Heliconius butterflies
    speaker: Nicola Nadeau (The University of Sheffield)

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    Butterfly wing patterns are a striking example of biological diversity.The neotropical Heliconius butterflies in particular have extensive within and between species diversity in their wing colour patterns. Some of this diversity is due to variation at the gene cortex, which has repeatedly been targeted by natural selection, both to produce mimetic colour pattern resemblances within Heliconius and remarkably to shift camouflage in the peppered moth. I will also talk about ongoing work in my lab to identify genes controlling iridescent structural colour.


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  • SOI seminar: Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
    speaker: Dr Nick Dunstone (Met Office)

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    The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the primary mode of atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic sector. It has a profound impact on surface conditions over the North Atlantic ocean and temperature & precipitation over Europe and North America. The NAO exhibits pronounced interannual variability, particularly in the last decade, with strong positive NAO leading to mild & stormy European winters (e.g. 2011/12, 2013/14) and strong negative NAO winters giving cold & dry winters (e.g. 2009/10, 2010/11). Until recently seasonal forecasting systems have had no significant skill in predicting the winter NAO, leading many to assume that the NAO was largely a chaotic mode of atmospheric variability and inherently unpredictable. Here I will outline our recent work using the Met Office high-resolution climate models to show that the NAO is indeed predictable both one month ahead of winter and that significant skill still remains one year ahead. I will  examine the drivers of predictability on these two timescales and show that the discovery of NAO predictability is at odds with the skill of the model predicting itself. This surprising result indicates that the real-world is in fact far more predictable than we previously thought and it is likely that even the latest high-resolution climate models are unable to realistically represent the physical processes and feedbacks operating in the real world, resulting in too little signal and/or too much noise. Finally, I show how these new skilful NAO predictions are beginning to be used to aid decision making in government and industry.


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  • 25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance
    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance

    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    Join BioSoc for BIOBALL 2017 - the School of Biology dinner/dance event of the year. This will be a beautiful event at Hotel du Vin on The Scores on Saturday 25 February 2017. Tickets are subsidised by the School of Biology and BioSoc and include a three course meal with complimentary wine followed by a ceilidh dance by one of the best bands in town. You can come for either the dinner and the dance (recommended!), or later on for the dance only.

    <p>Last remaining tickets are being sold online until Friday 10 February at 9am. <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/school-of-biology-bioball-dinner-dance-ticket">Ceilidh (dance ticket only) &pound;11</a>; <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/st-andrews-bioball-ceilidh-dance-ticket-ps11">dinner and dance ticket &pound;38</a>. Please visit the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/694647004037200/">Facebook event page</a>&nbsp;for more information.&nbsp;</p>

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    prebooking: Yes
    audience: All staff and students
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  • 28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!
    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!

    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    The St Andrews-based members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland are hosting a pair of lunch-time meetings to discuss how mid-career academics see the key issues and challenges faced by the University in the coming years. Will you still be here in 10 years? Do you care about the sort of academic environment you will be working in? What do you think are the main challenges facing universities in general, and St Andrews in particular? And how should we respond to them? The Principal will join us for this second meeting to give her perspective on the issues we raised following the meeting on 14 February, and to take part in an open and energetic conversation. All discussions will be under Chatham House rules, i.e. not attributable to specific individuals.

    <p>Lunch will be provided at both events. If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Tracey Gloster via&nbsp;<a href="mailto:tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk">tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk</a>&nbsp;by 8 February, stating which meeting(s) you would like to attend, and any dietary requirements.</p>

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    prebooking: Yes
    audience: Staff
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