Series 7 – Meet the Scientists

21 January – Dining Room, Teviot Student Union

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Samuel Casasola Zamora

Samuel is about to finish his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on understanding plants’ immune system, how plants identify dangerous microbes and protect themselves. If we understand how plants do this, we will be able to engineer better crops to address food demand.

Samuel’s main interest relies on the application of emerging technologies to tackle everyday problems. He has worked as a tech transfer intern at Edinburgh Innovations Ltd. and participated in different organisations promoting innovation. Additionally, he recently led an expedition to do metagenomics in the highlands with the goal to characterise the microbial communities living in Loch Ness and identify genes with an industrial application (www.huntingmicromonsters.com).

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Magnus Speirs

I am an undergraduate Masters chemist doing my final year research project.

I am studying energetic cocrystals, mainly working on creating cocrystal layers on explosive crystals. This aims to increase the safety of these explosives to reduce accidental detonation while maintaining the overall explosive power of modern day explosives. This involves explosives currently used in commercial and military applications.

4 February – Dining Room, Teviot Student Union

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Ines Boehm

Ines completed her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology in Austria, before moving to Edinburgh for her MSc in Drug Discovery and Translational Biology. She is now a second-year PhD student funded by the Anatomical Society, trying to uncover more about the basic cellular and molecular anatomy of the human neuromuscular junction (NMJs). NMJs are a crucial component of the neuromuscular system, and are often one of the first parts affected in neuromuscular diseases. Since our most widely used model organism, the mouse, has vastly different NMJ morphology to humans, Ines primarily works with human tissue. She uses a comparative approach, trying to find out whether there are larger mammalian species with NMJ morphology that is more similar to humans than the mouse. Another relevant aspect of her research is to elaborate, whether the human NMJ is affected during ageing or wasting conditions.

gabriele 1Gabriele Matilionyte

Gabriele is a 2nd year PhD student at the Michell lab. The lab is based at the only MRC funded centre for Reproductive Biology in the UK. The main research focus here is to find a way how to preserve fertility in boys with cancer. I am originally from Lithuania but been in Edinburgh for over 6 years now and I am very much obsessed with bonnie Scotland!

 

 

 

18 February – Dining Room, Teviot Student Union

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John Moules

John is a GIS contractor with a broad range of GIS (“maps on computers”) and IT skills, and has won an award for some of his previous work. His most recent project is a search engine for spatial data, but he has also used his mapping techniques to do interdisciplinary research with optometrists to validate and improve cutting edge experimental eye treatments for blindness.

 

 

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Ana Rondelli

I am a final year ‘’Tissue Repair ‘’ PhD student at Edinburgh University, in the lab of Prof Anna Williams at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, within Little France campus. The lab is focused on understanding what goes wrong (the pathology) in two main neurological diseases: Multiple Sclerosis and Small Vessel Disease and finding ways to improve tissue repair.

Did you know that the brain functions within a low oxygen environment, called hypoxia? In my PhD I hope to better understand how changes in the brain’s hypoxic environment affects remyelination, the repair process of the damaged myelin sheaths that occurs in Multiple Sclerosis.

I am Ana, I am a local of Bucharest, Romania and of Edinburgh, Scotland, with Italian roots. I am passionate about the brain, I enjoy communicating science and exploring ways in which art and science can work together.

4 March – Balcony Room, Teviot Student Union

AI in our personal space

While AI (mostly through Machine Learning) is becoming prevalent at the office, being imposed on us to boost our productivity, the opposite is true at home. Many of us are worried about privacy implications of giving away our private data. Gadgets like Amazon Alexa and Google Nest thermostats are being adopted by some, though this adoption is not the the same scale as other similar advanced technologies are in the other environments. Is there a limit to sensing permissiveness in our physical element? Our online activity is already sensed and tracked by large companies and we don’t seem to be worries too much about that. Are we just one step away from prevalent sensing in our physical environment as well? Do we just discard the benefits due to irrational fears?

In this discussion we will cover some of these concerns and try to figure out how to mitigate them in order to fully enjoy the benefits and comfort that AI can bring into our personal space.

Valentin Radu is our introductory speaker for the discussion.