Alec’s fellowship project has two key stands: 1. Finding ways to assess different forms of evidence (e.g., the scientific literature and indigenous and local community knowledge) to help improve evidence-informed decision-making; and 2. Developing new approaches to assessing the reliability and relevance of evidence to different decision-making contexts. Alec’s work helps to ensure that in the future, evidence-informed decision-making combines diverse sources of knowledge for decision-making, whilst making sure to assess the reliability and relevance of each piece of evidence so we can provide tailored recommendations to decision-makers based on their local context. Alec is also particularly interested in how the effectiveness of conservation interventions varies geographically, taxonomically, and socioeconomically, and whether we can predict this – i.e., how can we predict whether a conservation intervention is likely to work in a given local context?
A key and rewarding part of his work is co-designing and developing online tools to help practitioners in the field to determine the best conservation interventions for them to use in their local patch for a given issue using a structured evidence-based process. This has involved a fruitful collaboration with over a dozen different conservation organisations in the UK and abroad called ‘Evidence Champions’ that promote and deliver evidence-based conservation. Alec is continuing to work to create decision support and evidence assessment tools that combine different forms of evidence and knowledge to make better evidence-based decisions in conservation. He works within the Conservation Evidence project and was recently part of the team that won the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Impact and Engagement 2023 for their work on transforming conservation through promoting and facilitating evidence-based practice and decision-making.
A newer element of Alec’s research focuses on Artificial Intelligence and whether machine learning can help to accelerate the evidence synthesis pipeline, translating scientific evidence into useful recommendations for practice and policy more quickly and rigorously. He is also working on applying AI to invasive species surveillance to see whether Open Source Intelligence can help us better stop biological invasions before they become too difficult to control. Overall, Alec’s work is tied together by the unifying theme of applying the patchy global evidence base to inform more effective, local conservation actions.
The maintenance of oxygen homeostasis is a key physiological challenge, inadequate oxygen (hypoxia) being a major component of most human diseases. The lecture will trace insights into human oxygen homeostasis from the founding work of William Harvey on the circulation of the blood to the molecular elucidation of a system of oxygen sensing that functions to measure oxygen levels in cells and control adaptive responses to hypoxia. The lecture will outline how the oxygen sensitive signal is generated by a set of ‘oxygen splitting’ enzymes that modify a transcription factor (HIF) to signal for its degradation (and hence inactivation). It will attempt to illustrate and rationalise the unexpected in biological discovery and discuss the interface of discovery science with the development of medical therapeutics.
Please Note: This lecture will NOT be recorded and is an in-person lecture only.
The human brain sets us apart as a species, yet how it develops and functions differently to that of other mammals is still largely unclear. This also makes it difficult to understand how disorders of the brain arise, and therefore how to treat them. To understand such a complex organ, we have developed cerebral organoids, or brain organoids, 3D brain tissues made from stem cells that mimic the fetal brain. Such organoids are allowing us to tackle questions previously impossible with more traditional approaches. Indeed, our recent findings provide insight into various factors that influence the developing brain, and how the human brain becomes so uniquely large enabling our special cognitive abilities.
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