15th April 2019 – Malaria Atlas Project, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, IHME

Malaria Atlas ProjectThe Malaria Atlas Project (www.map.ox.ac.uk) is a research group within the University of Oxford. We assemble global databases on malaria risk and intervention coverage in order to develop innovative analysis methods that use those data to address critical questions. By evaluating burden, trends, and impact at fine geographical scale, we support informed decision making for malaria control at international, regional, and national scales. We are committed to open access and release all our data on a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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8th April 2019 – Wes Wilson, UWA / NCARD / Mostly Science

Wes Wilson_2.pngWes Wilson is a Canadian cancer researcher and science communicator currently based in Australia. His previous research looked at the epigenetic changes in childhood brain tumours, asking the kinds of questions like what kinds of gene expression changes made a low-grade glioma become a high-grade glioma? He then moved on to study the formation of breast cancer and characterized a new mechanism in tumorigenesis of this disease. His current work is in the adult cancer mesothelioma and focuses on developing new treatment approaches to this universally fatal disease by harnessing modern immunotherapy strategies and leveraging novel synergistic therapies. You can hear about some of his immunotherapy work here in his TEDx UWA talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFuRqKQwxKA .

Wes is the founder of the science communication page Mostly Science ( www.fb.com/mostlyscience ) and host of the corresponding Mostly Science Podcast ( https://mostlyscience.com/webcast/ ) where the look to pull the curtain back on science in the headlines and explores the what and why of the world around us.  He also serves as the editor of science curation group Science Seeker (@SciSeeker), host of the LifeOmic series TumourTalk, and President of the Science Communication Society @ UWA.

His also has a passion for technology and has been an avid developer and tinkerer since he was a kid. Taking apart computers and devices to learn how they work and teaching himself how to code. This interest has led to many exciting projects including but not limited to creating a mobile app for delivering medical resources to expecting mothers in the Yukon Canada, creating a hardware wearable device for medication non-compliance, working on a machine learning algorithm for diagnosing brain tumours, and more machine learning algorithms for working with large data sets involved in single cell sequencing data.

1st April 2019 – Jenny Howard, Wake Forest University

Jenny HowardHi everyone! I’m Jenny Howard, and I’m a 5th year PhD student at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina. My path to grad school wasn’t exactly linear; after graduating from my undergraduate institution, Kenyon College, I explored a variety of science fields by doing seasonal field work for the government, academia, and non-profit organizations. I bounded through wetlands in Ohio and Colorado, forests in Guam and South Carolina, and remote seabird islands in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Ultimately, I found a driving passion for seabirds, these incredible long-lived species who inhabit both terrestrial and marine environments. I decided to pursue graduate school because I wanted to dive deeper into a focused project and data for a longer period. This led me to study seabirds in Galápagos as a PhD student at Wake Forest University.

My first exposure to the Galápagos Islands occurred when I studied abroad in Ecuador in 2008 and I was immediately enchanted with the islands. In 2011, I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer as a field assistant working with Dr. David Anderson’s long-term project studying Nazca boobies on Isla Española in Galápagos. Now, I work in this same system to study how individual (like age or sex of a bird) and environmental variables (like sea surface temperature) affect the foraging behavior of these long-lived seabirds. We study the birds using GPS units and accelerometers, similar to technology found in a smartphone or activity tracker that counts steps walked. Wearing these small tags, the bird can fly freely and give us a window into each bird’s life. Once we download data from the biologgers, we can see where a bird traveled and then can add in satellite data to figure out how a bird was deciding to forage in a specific area.

Recently, I have become very passionate about using effective science communication to bridge the gap between what we do as scientists with non-scientists, particularly in this polarized political climate. Producing evidence-based articles that invite non-scientists to learn and engage in science research is critical for our future. I started writing for Massive Science, an online consortium that trains scientists to translate science for non-scientists, and am continuing to write when I have time.

Spending so much time on remote islands, I got into photography and birds in the Galápagos make easy subjects! Check out my website to see photos from different places I’ve worked or visited, links to my science communication, or more information about my research.

In my free time, I’m all about being outdoors. Also, I’ve found that it is really important to have some way to de-stress and chill-out during grad school — it improves overall mental health. My favorite ways to de-stress have been running and baking!

This week, get excited for all things seabird and foraging-related, science communication, and managing overall health during grad school!

Twitter: @jenny_howard9
Instagram: @wfuandersonlab
Website: https://www.jenniferlynnhoward.com/

25th March 2019 – Stephen Beckett, Georgia Institute of Technology

Stephen BeckettMy name is Stephen Beckett (@BeckettStephen) and I am a computational ecologist. I use simulations and data analysis to study the ecology of microbial interactions and dynamics. In particular, I am fascinated by the estimated 10^30 or so viruses in the oceans and trying to understand how these tiny biological agents impact ocean ecology and ultimately biogeochemical cycles.

I’m currently at Georgia Tech. in Atlanta (USA) where I was recently promoted to Research Scientist. Whilst I spend most of my time doing research, I also mentor undergraduate and graduate students, do a lot of coding (and rubbing my head when it does not go to plan), and write papers amongst other things. Before I hopped over the pond, I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Exeter (UK) where I studied bipartite interaction networks (e.g. virus-host, plant-pollinator) and the methods used to infer structures in such networks.

I’m excited to join you @biotweeps and look forward to interacting with you! Expect to hear about marine microbes, mathematical ecology and about a recent #sciart collaboration I have been involved with.

18th March 2019 – Lauren Callender, Queen Mary University of London

Lauren CallenderHi everyone! I’m Lauren Callender (@LozCallender_) and I’m a PhD researcher working in London. Before moving to London I completed a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Molecular Medicine at the University of Leeds. After this I decide to make the move to London and began working as a research assistant at the Institute of Child Health, UCL. Following the brief 9-month stint as a research assistant I was then awarded a 4-year MRes/PhD scholarship with the British Heat Foundation at the William Harvey Research Institute, QMUL. I’ve been there for 3 and a half years, so the finish line is now in sight (wish me luck!).

My PhD research is focused on understanding how ageing and age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease affect the human immune system. I’m particularly interested in a type of immune cell known as a T cell, which is involved in the adaptive immune system. My aim is to understand how and why T cells change with age/disease, and more importantly I want to figure out how to prevent or reverse the changes with the hope to increase longevity.

In addition to my research I love sharing my passion for science through my Instagram and Twitter accounts (@LozCallender_) and my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/sciencescribbles). Throughout my time as a PhD researcher I have dedicated a lot of time to teaching in underprivileged state schools around London. I created ScienceScribbles as a way to turn the topics I was teaching in schools into fun and interactive tutorials that could be accessed by a wider audience.

I’m really looking forward to taking over the @Biotweeps twitter account. I hope you all enjoy the content I’ll be sharing with you.

11th March 2019 – Hannah Brazeau, University of New Brunswick

Hannah Brazeau_2019I am a MSc student at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton, NB, Canada) studying the effects of interspecific competition on pollinator-mediated selection of floral traits. More specifically, my thesis project uses fireweed to look at how floral traits associated with attraction of pollinators (such as floral scent) can change when an unrelated, highly attractiveplant species is growing nearby. This project allows me to combine concepts and methods used in plant community ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, and floral evolutionary biology, with a dash of chemistry thrown in for good measure.

Before starting my masters in Dr. Amy Parachnowitsch’s lab (@EvoEcoAmy on twitter), I completed my BSc in Biology at Algoma University (Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada). While at Algoma University, I completed an honours thesis on co-occurrence patterns and temporal stability in an old-field plant community under the supervision of Dr. Brandon Schamp (who now co-supervises my masters project). Prior to my BSc, I completed a three-year diploma in biotechnology at St. Lawrence College (Kingston, ON, Canada).

I’m a first generation student and particularly passionate about improving learning and research experiences for undergraduates, as well as communicating science through art. This will be my second time hosting Biotweeps, (previously hosted as @moietymouse) and I’m looking forward to talking to you all again!

4th March 2019 – Patrick Kennedy, University of Bristol

Patrick KennedyI’m a postdoc at the University of Bristol, working on the evolution of animal conflict and cooperation – based in the brilliant lab group led by Professor Andy Radford. I recently finished my PhD, which explored the evolution of altruism (organisms helping others at a personal cost) in South American paper wasps. I focused on a mysterious paradox in social insect biology, and spent my PhD enthusiastically sticking tiny radio-tags to wasps in Panama, French Guiana, and Brazil. As a result, I’ve been thoroughly stung in the name of science. I’ll be biotweeping about the strange world of animal cooperation. Why do we seem to find cooperation everywhere we look, from social bacteria in the gut to elephants on the savannah to the trillions of hard-working cells that make up our bodies?

The enigma of where cooperation comes from has baffled biologists for 150 years – ever since Darwin struggled with the mystery in The Origin of Species. Those 150 years have been filled with a host of exotic characters boldly announcing their own evolutionary solutions – including legions of entomologists, game theorists, political scientists, the occasional sinister eugenicist, people doing dubious things with dolphins, and even one prison-breaking anarchist Russian prince. The controversy got so heated in the 70s that angry communists poured a bucket of water over the head of the world’s leading ant biologist mid-way through a lecture. However, the product of this intense and often acrimonious scientific debate has been the rise of a solid modern understanding of the key principles in the evolution of cooperation. Today, biologists have a spectacular general theory of cooperation. Even so, the debate is far from over, and a number of major riddles about the evolution of cooperation remain to solved…