Thin films of life and the challenges of changing environments
  • Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth

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As part of the 68th Annual Meeting of the British Phycological Society and Conference, you are invited to join Professor Graham Underwood for this public lecture.

Have you ever slipped on a wet rock, or seen gold and green sheens on mud or sand? 

Then you have experienced an algal biofilm. Almost any wet surface will be covered with a mixed film of algae and other microbes, embedded in a matrix of slime. Biofilms are everywhere. They are exposed to extreme conditions: Damaging levels of light and ultra-violet radiation; temperature; wetting and desiccation; various pollutants. Despite this, the biological activity of biofilms is very high, and they make significant contributions to nutrient cycling and food chains in many freshwater and marine ecosystems. 

Drawing on examples from tropical, temperate and polar regions, Professor Underwood, President of the British Phycological Society, will show how our understanding of the chemistry, biology and ecology of diatoms, the major algal component of biofilms, has developed. The secrets of their success are due to high species diversity, metabolic, and behavioural flexibility. This provides the resilience for biofilms to face the challenges of their changing environments.

This lecture is open to all with registration from 15:30 for a 16:00 start. Please register your place via the above link.

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Graham Underwood is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex. Trained as a zoologist and with a PhD in freshwater ecology, he moved to Essex in 1992 after a period of post-doctoral work at the University of Bristol. His research covers freshwater, estuarine, coastal and shallow sea, and sea ice biology and ecology, with a major focus on microbial ecology, dissolved organic matter and biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystem functioning. Though based primarily in the UK, he has also carried out research in the Baltic, Mediterranean and South African environments, tropical systems in the Indo-pacific and the Bahamas, in Antarctic and Arctic sea ice, and high latitude lakes (Greenland). He was a member of the DEFRA science advisory panel on marine conservation zones (2009-12), and sits on various Environment Agency statutory committees.

He is currently President of the British Phycological Society (2018-20), was Chair of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Strategic Programmes Advisory Group (SPAG) from 2014-19 and has just been appointed the Chair of the NERC Science Committee (2019-21).

Professor Graham Underwood

Current President of the British Phycological Society (2018-20)
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