Winter Lecture Series June – July 2015 – Theme: Scientific Advances in Understanding The Evolution of Life on Earth over the Last 3.5 Billion Years

Venue: University of Tasmania, Stanley Burbury Theatre

1. Evolution and Generation of Life on the Early Earth

Wednesday June 24    7.30pm
Lecture 1. The Theory of Evolution – What have we learnt since Charles Darwin? – Professor John Long, Flinders University.    More Information

Lecture 2. The Early Earth and Generation of Life (the first billion years) – Professor Malcom Walter, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of NSW.

2. Middle Earth – the Slingshot of Life

Wednesday July 15th   7.30pm

Lecture 3. The Boring Billion Years in Earth History and its Significance – Indrani Mukherjee, PhD student, University of Tasmania.

Lecture 4.  The Cambrian Explosion of Life and Rise of Marine Species – Dr Diego Bellido-Garcia, University of Adelaide.

3. Life in the last 500 million years; Mass Extinctions, Volcanoes and Meteorites

Wednesday July 22nd 7.30pm

Lecture 5. The Five Great Mass Extinction Events – what was their cause, and when is the next? – Distinguished Professor Ross Large, University of Tasmania.

Lecture 6. Mega Volcanic Eruptions and the Greatest Mass Extinction of all Time – Professor Jocelyn McPhie, University of Tasmania.

Singapore: Global Pantry of the Future? – Dr Nicki Tarulevicz – Tuesday June 2 – 8.00 pm

Dr Nicki Tarulevicz will present “Singapore: Global Pantry of the Future?”

in The Royal Society Room, 19 Davey St (entry via Dunn St Car Park) at 8.00 om on Tuesday June 2 2015.

All welcome and entry is free.

 

Although importing the vast majority of your food seems like particularly twenty-first-century situation, it has been the reality of the Southeast Asian island-state of Singapore since settlement in 1819. Singapore relies on imported water; it does not have, and has never had, an agricultural hinterland and this created an early reliance on the global pantry with a consequent distance from producers and the need to negotiate long supply chains. Despite the dependence on imported food, Singapore is now internationally famous as a food destination, with food doing important nation-building work. This accomplishment, however, required intensive management and regulation—another characteristic for which the city-state is well known. In this sense, Singapore anticipated the contemporary complexity of the food system as it is now playing out globally, making Singapore a surprisingly relevant place to discuss food in a global food system.

 

Bio-note: Dr Nicole Tarulevicz is a Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies at the School of Humanities, University of Tasmania. She is a Historian and author ofEating Her Curries and Kway: A Cultural History of Food in Singapore (2013), she is currently working on a project with the working title Taste of Safety: A History of Food Quality. She was the recipient of the 2012 Association for the Study of Food Culture and Society Pedagogy Award and is a current Elected Member of the Board of the Association for the Study of Food, Culture and Society (2014-17).

Joint lecture with Association of Von Humboldt Fellows: Dr Brandon Menzies will present his research into thylacine DNA. Friday 20 November

Global Perspectives, Local Knowledge:
Biennial Conference of the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows
Nov 20-22, 2015, Hobart, Tasmania

Thylacine DNA in life and death  presented by Dr Brandon Menzies

School of BioSciences The University of Melbourne

Marsupials have dominated the Australian landscape for the past 50 million years and still account for about 58% of its terrestrial mammals. However, the well-known legacy of mammal extinctions since European arrival, including that of the iconic Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, is a tragedy not just for posterity but also for our understanding of evolution. The thylacine was the largest extant carnivorous marsupial at the time of European settlement and remains the greatest example of convergent evolution within the mammalian lineage. That is to say, its size, body structure, and dentition were nearly indistinguishable from that of the dog or wolf. The presence of a pouch in females and the posterior positioning of the penis relative to the testes in males were the only obvious features to distinguish it as having evolved from the ancestors of the Tasmanian devil and kangaroos rather than those of wolves and man. The tale of the thylacine is one that should inspire young scientists to understand more about our unique marsupial fauna. Indeed, recent analysis of the genetic diversity of many populations of marsupials, including the Tasmanian tiger, emphasizes the vulnerability inherent in their DNA. Yet, the thylacine may not have taken all of its secrets to the grave. New technologies are allowing us to piece together small fragments of its genetic code so that we will soon be able to compare the sum of those pieces, the thylacine genome, with those of its doppelganger, the dog. We may soon understand the molecular processes that drove the remarkable convergence in the appearance of this unique mammal with that of mans best friend.

GS_IMG_9358_20131120Dr Brandon Menzies (Bio)

Having completed a Bachelor of Science at Monash University, I moved to The University of Melbourne to complete my BSc-Honours and PhD (2003-2008) with Professors Marilyn Renfree and Geoff Shaw on the endocrine control of growth in developing marsupials. Since then I have undertaken postdoctoral research at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin where I was subsequently awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to investigate the genetic diversity of the extinct Tasmanian tiger. I have a broad range of research interests including comparative vertebrate reproduction, growth, endocrinology, immunology and genomics. I also have a keen interest in studies using ancient DNA.