Sydney Science Forum: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree

Speakers:
Professor Jonathan Losos, Harvard University

Lizards are an extraordinarily old and diverse group of animals. Around since the beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs, lizards (including snakes, which are evolutionarily derived from lizards) have more species diversity than do mammals. Lizards live in almost all parts of the world and show a myriad of different adaptations for living in different environments. Many species are easy to observe in the wild and study in the laboratory, making them ideal organisms for investigating the origin and maintenance of biological diversity.

When 5:45pm – 6:45pm, Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Where Eastern Avenue Auditorium
Cost FREE
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Structural Studies on Cholesterol Transport

Speaker:
Prof. Johann Deisenhofer (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

Cholesterol is essential for mammals; it is produced internally or taken up with the diet and transported in the blood stream in the form of lipoproteins, with low density lipoprotein (LDL) being most abundant. LDL is bound at cell surfaces by receptors and internalized. Inside cells, LDL particles are released from the receptors, degraded in lysosomes, and cholesterol is transported by specific binding proteins to its destinations. Prof. Deisenhofer will describe four studies on structural aspects of cholesterol transport:Electron microscopy of low density lipoprotein (LDL) with and without bound LDL receptor protein shows size, shape and internal structure of typical LDL particles. The crystal structure of the extracellular portion of human LDL receptor at pH 5.3 illustrates the domain organization of the receptor, and suggests possible mechanisms for LDL release at low pH. The recently discovered protein PCSK9 binds to the LDL receptor and appears to regulate the degradation of the receptors. A crystal structure of the complex of PCSK9 with a fragment of the LDL receptor defines the binding interface and could lead to the development of new cholesterol-lowering drugs. Mutations in the proteins NPC1 and NPC2 can cause Niemann-Pick disease by slowing down or preventing the transport of cholesterol out of lysosomes. The crystal structure of the N-terminal domain of NPC1 with and without bound cholesterol sheds light on the intra-lysosomal cholesterol transport pathway.

When 1:00pm-2:00pm, Wednesday, 18 September 2010
Where Lecture Theatre 104, New Law School
Cost FREE

About the Speakers

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Where in the Brain is Creativity?

Speaker:
Prof. Arne Dietrich (American University of Beirut)

Creativity is the fountainhead of human civilizations. All progress and innovation depend on our ability to change existing thinking patterns, break with the present, and build something new. Progress, however, in any field of science, depends on a clear conception of the topic under study and a toolkit of methods that enables researchers to tackle specific questions in an empirical manner. Since the pioneering work of Guilford half a century ago, the experimental study of creativity has been plagued by the lack of both. We know very little about the mechanisms, cognitive or neural, that give rise to creative thinking.

What’s more, when it comes to mechanistic explanations at the neurocognitive level, the field of creativity is riddled with examples of myopic theorizing. Open any source on the topic, academic or otherwise, and you will find creativity linked with, say, divergent thinking, low arousal, defocused attention, right brains, sleep, lateral thinking, intentional reasoning, the unconscious, altered states of consciousness, or mental illness, to name a few of the most popular duds. The present talk will show that (1) these ideas are theoretically incoherent and (2) data using neuroimaging paradigms do not bear them out. A new approach is presented that makes more serious contact with mainstream cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.

When 6:30pm – 8:00pm, Thursday, 9 September 2010
Where Lecture Theatre 1, Wilkinson Building
Cost FREE

About the Speaker

Arne Dietrich is Professor of Psychology at the American University of Beirut, in Lebanon. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Georgia, USA. Professor Dietrich has done research on the higher cognitive functions supported by the prefrontal cortex, focusing on the neural mechanisms of (1) creativity, (2) altered states of consciousness, and (3) the psychological effects of exercise. Professor Dietrich’s major publications include a theoretical framework for the neural basis of creativity, (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2004), a comprehensive review article of neuroscientific studies of creativity (Psychological Bulletin, 2010), a new, mechanistic theory of altered states of consciousness, the transient hypofrontality theory (Consciousness and Cognition, 2003, 2004), and the proposal of two new explanations for the effects of exercise on emotion and cognition. He is also the author of a textbook on consciousness (Macmillan, 2007). Professor Dietrich has given numerous invited lectures around the world and his research has been featured prominently in the international press.

How We Can Make Our Cities Healthy Places to Live

Speakers:
Prof. Ed Blakely (University of Sydney)
A/Prof. Ruth Colagiuri (Menzies Centre for Health Policy)

Healthy communities are the centre of wealth creation and Australia must make its urban areas healthy because they are the fulcrum of the economy. In this presentation Prof. Ed Blakely will discuss the urban policy and how we can make our cities healthy places to live. He will also outline how Australia’s new economy will make Asia’s growing cities healthy as a larger national export rather than natural resources. A/Prof. Ruth Colagiuri will respond and discuss what public health research is needed to support this.

When 1pm – 2pm, Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Where Carlaw Lecture Theatre 275
Cost FREE

About the Speakers

Prof. Ed Blakely has more than 40 year of international experience in all aspects of urban and regional planning, disaster management and sustainable development. Until 2009 he headed the recovery of the City of New Orleans. In this role he coordinated all aspects of municipal government from planning and financing to construction of major infrastructure related to the recovery of the City from the worst modern urban disaster in the United States. He is currently the Professor of Urban Policy at the United States Study Center at the University of Sydney where he coordinates the Centres programs on global urban issues with an honorary professor appointment.

Ruth Colagiuri is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and director of Health and Sustainability Unit at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy. She was recently awarded a University of Sydney Medical Foundation Fellowship. She is also a Vice President of the International Diabetes Federation and leads the activities of the Oxford Health Alliance Asia Pacific Centre. Ruth has worked extensively in the clinical services, health policy, population health plans, health professional training and competencies, and the evidence base for diabetes prevention and care both in Australia and internationally – most notably in the Pacific Islands, Africa and India.

Diabetes and Sustainable Development: A Global Crisis

Speaker:
Professor Jean-Claude Mbanya (President of the International Diabetes Federation)

The world is experiencing unprecedented national debt and an uncertain economic future. The diabetes epidemic is at crisis point and challenges current global health and development approaches and priorities.

With 80% of the current 285 million cases of diabetes in LMCs, increasingly affecting people aged 35 to 64 ‐ the productive years ‐ diabetes has become a significant determinant of personal poverty, and transgenerational hardship and loss of life chances.

There is an insidious relationship between diabetes and key development indicators such as poverty and malnutrition; gender inequity and maternal mortality; major infections such as TB; and climate change. The impact of forgone income resulting from lost productivity due to diabetes is of concern to both developing and developed countries. In LMCs it undermines progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and contributes to state fragility.

This lecture will provide insights into these issues and discuss possible solutions for consideration by the 2011 UN Summit on Non‐Communicable Diseases.

When 5.30pm-7.00pm, Thursday, 2 September 2010
Where Lecture Theatre 101, New Law School
Cost FREE

About the Speaker

Jean Claude Mbanya is Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Cameroon and Consultant Physician, Director of the National Obesity Centre University of Yaounde and Chief of the Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Unit at the Hospital Central in Yaounde.

His primary research interests are in the distribution, determinants and consequences of diabetes and related chronic diseases including cultural diabetes‐related factors, which are often unique to the African countries and communities he studies. His practice and research have largely contributed to increase the world’s awareness on diabetes in Africa, a continent where the devastating personal and macroeconomic economic impact of non‐contagious diseases like diabetes are too often overlooked.

Professor Mbanya was instrumental in the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) led ‘Unite for Diabetes’ campaign which resulted in the UN Resolution on Diabetes in December 2006. As President of IDF, he steers IDF strategic direction to encourage governments to implement policies for the treatment, care and prevention of diabetes and is currently leading the development of a global diabetes plan in preparation for the 2011 UN Summit on Non‐ Communicable Diseases.

A Cautionary Welcome to New Innovations in Diagnostic Imaging

Speakers/Panel:
Professor Patrick Brennan (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney)

The current rate of technological development within diagnostic imaging is not unlike a century ago when X-rays were first described. Professor Brennan will discuss how his research career has been based on exploring the efficacy and safety of new innovations and will focus on two new but rapidly adopted technologies: digital X-ray acquisition and handheld mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch.

This lecture will also describe some of the work being done in the Faculty of Health Sciences that highlights the cautionary approach that should prevail each time a new innovation is introduced.

When 5:00pm-7:00pm, Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Where Room E101, Building E, Lidcombe Campus
Cost FREE

Biological Agents in War and Terror

Speaker:
Professor Andreas Suhrbier (Immunovirology Group, Queensland Institute of Medical Research)

Join Sydney Nursing School for a lunchtime lecture with Professor Andreas Suhrbier, Head of Immunovirology Group, Queensland Institute of Medical Research on Biological Agents in War and Terror.

When 1:00pm-2:00pm, Monday, 16 August 2010
Where Sydney Nursing School, 88 Mallett Street, Camperdown
Cost FREE

Some like it Hot: Life in the Central Deserts of Australia

Speaker
Professor Chris Dickman

Australia’s central deserts support rich assemblages of animals and plants: add water, and the seemingly barren landscapes transform and pulsate with colour and activity. In this lecture, Professor Dickman will take us through the extraordinary ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ cycles that characterise inland Australia and examine how life persists during good times and bad. You will see the amazing adaptations that frogs and desert mice use to cope with the extreme conditions, how floods, wildfires and invasive species affect the native small mammals, and how so many species seem to appear and disappear at different times and places over the desert landscape. With the spectre of climate change looming, life in Australia’s central deserts may provide a glimpse of what the continent’s coastal fringes can expect in future.

When 5:45pm-6:45pm, Thursday, 12 August 2010
Where Eastern Avenue Auditorium
Cost FREE
RSVP Please click here

Writing Science Lives: Why Biography Matters

Speakers
Professor Janet Brown (Harvard University)
Professor Iain McCalman (University of Sydney)
Professor Alison Bashford (University of Sydney)

What do we learn when we revisit scientists’ past worlds? How might one write a life as famous as Charles Darwin’s? Why is biography the best-selling genre of all? Pre-eminent Darwin scholar and Harvard Professor of the History of Science Janet Browne, talks with Sydney’s prizewinning historian Professor Iain McCalman, about the challenges and delights of the biographical genre for historians. In conversation with Alison Bashford, this is an evening that probes the intellectual life of these keen observers and interpreters of the world of Victorian science.

When 6:30pm-8:00pm, Thursday, 12 August 2010
Where The Seymour Centre
Cost FREE for USYD students (SID required)
$20 Adult/$15 Concession
RSVP Please click here

About the Speakers

Janet Browne’s interests range widely over the history of the life sciences and natural history. After a first degree in zoology she studied for a PhD in the history of science at Imperial College London, published as The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography (1983). Ever since then she has specialized in Charles Darwin’s work, first as associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and more recently as author of a biographical study that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times. The biography was awarded several prizes, including the James Tait Black award for non-fiction, the WH.Heinemann Prize from the Royal Literary Society, and the Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society. From 2006 she has been a member of the History of Science Department at Harvard University. She was previously based for many years at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London.

Iain McCalman was born in Nyasaland, Africa and now lives in Sydney, where he is a Research Professor at the University of Sydney. He has held numerous visiting research fellowships in Britain and the United States, most recently at Duke University, North Carolina. In 2007 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to history and humanities. His most recent book, Darwin’s Armada, winner of the Sid Harta Literature Award has been published in Australia, USA and the UK, and was made into a three-part documentary, Darwin’s Brave New World.

Alison Bashford is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney. In 2009 -2010 she was Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University, based in the Department of the History of Science. She has held fellowships at Edinburgh, University College, London, and Warwick Universities in the UK. Her recent books include a biography of geographer and Antarctic explorer Griffith Taylor, and a world history of eugenics.

In Transit: European Cosmologies in the Pacific

Speaker
Professor Simon Schaffer (University of Cambridge)

Astronomical interests prompted a series of entries by European travellers into the Pacific. In studies of the complex motives and effects of these expeditions, it has been common to treat astronomical interests either as rationales for more profound political and economic enterprise, or as of a strictly utilitarian character. Here the aim is to understand the cosmologies on which certain forms of European astronomy depended, and how the Pacific encounters changed and reoriented their meanings. These cosmologies embraced models of the globe and of its populations, and were very much in question in the patterns of interaction between Pacific peoples and other experts.

Professor Schaffer is a professor in the history of science at the University of Cambridge. He recently co-edited The mindful hand: inquiry and invention from the late Renaissance to early industrialisation (2007) and The brokered world: go-betweens and global intelligence 1770-1820 (2009). He holds a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to study the history of astronomy and British colonialism. He is principal investigator on a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to write a history of the Board of Longitude 1714-1828.

When 6:30pm-8:00pm, Thursday, 5 August 2010
Where The Seymour Centre
Cost FREE for USYD students (SID required)
$20 Adult/$15 Concession
RSVP Please click here