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Institute of Advanced Study


Seminar Series

Whitehead Room, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Science Site, South Road, DH1 3LE

This stimulating series of seminars will focus on evolutionary futures, and the nature of how organisms and systems change over time.  The subject spans disciplines from molecular biology through to anthropology, and the speakers will reflect that diversity.  

Evolvability is the potential for systems to evolve, and is relevant at the molecular, organismal and population levels.  For example, while mutational change in DNA is a very slow process, systems at the cellular level can develop that facilitate a response to changing environments.  In this way the impact of mutational change can evolve to be increased or directed.  At the organismal level evolvability depends on biological systems and architecture.  Given the appropriate mechanisms or architecture (e.g. redundancy, versatility & compartmentation), mutational change can facilitate adaptation at an accelerated rate.  At the population level a key question is how to explain the trade-off between robustness (efficient adaptation to existing environments) and the ability to adapt when environments change (which depends on variation among individuals within populations).  The capacity for evolvability may itself evolve as a response to selective pressures. 

Recent advances in biological sciences are greatly facilitating our ability to investigate these ideas, and the selected speakers are at the forefront of thinking in this emerging field.  They will cover a range of relevant ideas and concepts. 


24 February 2011
Professor Pauline Hogeweg (Utrecht University)
3 March 2011
Professor Mark Pagal (University of Reading)
10 March 2011
Dr Sinead Collins (University of Edinburgh)
17 March 2011
Professor Allen Moore (University of Exeter)
24 March 2011
Professor Scott Armbruster (University of Portsmouth)


All seminars in this series take place at 4.15pm in the Whitehead Room in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.  The series is free and open to all. For further details please contact Professor Rus Hoelzel