February 23 2017

UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics: 2017 Winter Lecture Series

"The Epistasis-Environment Engine (EEE): driving nonlinear relationships between genotype and phenotype in microbes and beyond"

C. Brandon Ogbunu
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

The zeitgeist of modern biology can be defined by both abundant optimism and pervasive skepticism. Underlying these disparate sentiments are varying degrees of confidence in our ability to solve one of biology’s crowned jewels: A full disentanglement of the relationship between genotype and phenotype. The age of genomics has offered much in the way of this disentanglement, having identified thousands of individual gene networks, genes, and single nucleotide polymorphisms that are associated with a range of phenotypes across different species. Along with these breakthroughs, new questions have emerged about the forces that foster nonlinearity between genotypic space and phenotypic space. More specifically, we remain unclear about how the environment sculpts the topography of certain genotype phenotype maps, and why mutations have “spurious functions” that lead to unexpected phenotypes.

In this presentation, I will discuss two forces that muddy our neat picture of genotype e-phenotype mapping, and consequently, the possibility of a deterministic biology: (i) the ubiquitous effects of the environment and (ii) epistasis. I recast these forces into an “engine” that drives nonlinear relationships between genotype and phenotype, and the speed and direction of adaptive evolution. Using a combination of empirical, computation-al and mathematical approaches, I discuss how the epistasis-environment engine crafts evolutionary dynamics in the evolution of antimicrobial resistance through promoting nonlinearity in the genotype-phenotype map. I summarize the epistasis-environment engine in light of its implications for the extended evolutionary synthesis and with regards to its potential application to the public health realm. Lastly, I connect these analyses to modern debates surrounding genetically modified organisms and other points of intersection between science and society.

Thursday, February 23, 2017
1:00-2:30 pm
CHS 13-105


February 27 2017

BEC: Kim Hill, "The evolution of human uniqueness"

"The evolution of human uniqueness"

Kim Hill
Arizona State University

Although scientists are aware that humans share the same biological heritage as do all other organisms on the planet, Homo sapiens have become an extreme outlier species, what can best be described as ‘‘a spectacular evolutionary anomaly.’’ Identifying the causes of human uniqueness is one of the most exciting and philosophically profound issues of all scientific research. Despite this, only recently have theoretical and empirical advances allowed research to focus directly on human uniqueness. I will describe a myriad of objective criteria showing that humans are indeed a special and puzzling species, and then review evidence that a combination of life history changes, cooperative proclivities, cumulative culture, cognitive adaptations, and language, all interacting and coevolving, have taken humans through a biological transition that is unmatched by any other species. Hence human societies have indeed become the 8th major evolutionary transition of life on earth

Monday, February 27, 2017
12:00-1:30 pm
Haines Hall 352, UCLA


February 27 2017

UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics: 2017 Winter Lecture Series

"Evolution in the Anthropocene: Reptilian adaptation to human-mediated environmental change"

Shane C. Campbell-Staton
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Animal Biology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Human modifications to the natural world present extreme and novel environments for many species around the globe. These drastic environmental changes provide contemporary experiments to test hypotheses regarding climate-mediated evolution and adaptation. Additionally, they help us to better understand, predict and mitigate deleterious effects of such events. Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton will discuss his current work exploring physiological and genomic adaptation to extreme weather events, urbanization and global warming, focusing on lizards of the genus Anolis. Using an integrative approach, he seeks to understand how thermally sensitive species evolve in response to novel thermal habitats over prehistoric and contemporary time periods.

Monday, February 27, 2017
1:00-2:30 pm
LSB 2320/2328


March 6 2017

Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics: 2017 Green Family Lectures

The Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics invites you to attend the 2017 Green Family Lectures featuring Edward Witten, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study. (No registration is needed.)

First Lecture: From Gauge Theory to Khovanov Homology via Floer Theory

Monday, March 6, 2017
5:00 pm
CNSI Auditorium
Reception to follow at IPAM

The goal of the lecture is to describe a gauge theory approach to Khovanov homology of knots, in particular, to motivate the relevant gauge theory equations in a way that does not require too much physics background. I will give a gauge theory perspective on the construction of singly-graded Khovanov homology by Abouzaid and Smith.

Speaker Bio:
Edward Witten is a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study. Witten is a researcher in string theory, quantum gravity, and supersymmetric quantum field theories, and is a leading researcher in superstring theory. In addition to his contributions to physics, Witten’s work has had a significant impact in pure mathematics. In 1990 he became the first and so far the only physicist to be awarded a Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of a MacArthur Prize, the Dirac Medal, and other honors.


March 8 2017

Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics: 2017 Green Family Lectures

The Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics invites you to attend the 2017 Green Family Lectures featuring Edward Witten, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study. (No registration is needed.)

Second Lecture: An Introduction to the SYK Model
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
5:00 pm
CNSI Auditorium
Reception to follow at IPAM

The Sachdev-Ye model was originally a model of quantum spin liquids that was introduced in the mid-1990′s. In recent years, it has been reinterpreted by Kitaev as a model of quantum chaos and black holes. This lecture will be primarily a gentle introduction to the SYK model, though I will also describe a few more recent results.

Speaker Bio:
Edward Witten is a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study. Witten is a researcher in string theory, quantum gravity, and supersymmetric quantum field theories, and is a leading researcher in superstring theory. In addition to his contributions to physics, Witten’s work has had a significant impact in pure mathematics. In 1990 he became the first and so far the only physicist to be awarded a Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of a MacArthur Prize, the Dirac Medal, and other honors.


April 28 2017

QCB: 2nd Annual Symposium: Exploring the Frontiers of Biomedical Big Data

Exploring the Frontiers of Biomedical Big Data

Friday, April 28, 2017
CNSI Auditorium
Court of Sciences, UCLA
8:30 am - 4:00 pm