Noisy Embryos: why variation early in development matters
  • Lecture Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building

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The Faculty of Science and Engineering is delighted to invite you to this inaugural professorial lecture, presented by Professor Simon Rundle from the School of Biological and Marine Sciences.

There has been a prevailing view in Biology that the way in which organisms ‘put themselves together’ is genetically controlled and fixed. Any variation during development might be viewed as ‘noise’ - a nuisance that prevents a clear interpretation of how genetic control works and that, ultimately, can lead to the death of the embryo. 

In this inaugural lecture, Simon will present recent research on the embryos of aquatic animals, which demonstrates that variation in developmental itineraries can in fact be substantial, and increase when embryos experience stressful environmental conditions. He will propose that, rather than being a bad thing, such variation could be important in driving evolution and in enabling species to survive the current rapid changes to the Earth’s environment. 

Technological advances in bio-imaging have been central for revealing variation in the developmental itineraries of microscopic embryos, reiterating a long-standing link between image making and embryology. In the second part of his lecture, Simon will explore this connection, on a journey that will include ‘idealised’ embryo drawings and accusations forgery, the computer automation of embryological measurement, and contemporary installations that draw on the scientific videos of embryonic development. 

This lecture is open to all and light refreshments will be available afterwards.

Lecture starts: 17:30.

Please contact Paula Simson (email: / tel: 01752 584503) to book your place.

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