Unearthing ancient environments with microbes
Thursday, January 24
11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
William G. Davis Centre, Room 1302
A panel presentation and discussion, hosted by the Office of Research and the Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research, to explore the evolution of microbes featuring:
Human-environment interactions in past populations
Computational prediction of protein functions and evolutionary adaptations
Andrew Doxey is an assistant professor of biology and a bioinformatician with research interests in biological data mining, protein function prediction, and evolutionary genomics. At the Doxey lab, computational methods are used to support research to develop new protein function-prediction methods, detect functional shifts in protein families, and discover and characterize novel protein families.
Nuclear waste storage, microbial degradation, and long time scales
Peter Keech is manager, engineered barrier science, at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). He is responsible for developing science-based descriptions of engineered barriers used to contain nuclear waste and study possible degradation processes. This involves investigation of chemical, radiation, mechanical, and biological processes, among others, that may occur over the hundreds of thousands of years on which the safety case is made. Among the possible corrosion degradation mechanisms, the effects of the microbiological community in the deep underground remains an extremely important topic, comprising roughly 80% of the corrosion allowance as a result of the metabolic processes that may occur. At Research Talks, he will discuss nuclear waste management issues, the very long time scales, and microbial studies that support the research.
Red algae, the evolution of sexual reproduction, and multicellularity
Kirsten Müller is a professor of biology and assistant vice-president, graduate studies and postdoctoral affairs, at Waterloo. She is considered a world expert on Bangiales – an order of red algae that is an ancient lineage with some members in the fossil record as far back as 1.2 billion years. In addition to the significant economic importance in food and aquaculture, the red algae are a critical group in the evolution of photosynthetic life on earth. For example, red algae are the common ancestors to the chloroplasts contained in the division Heterokontophyta (i.e. large kelps common to Atlantic and Pacific coasts). Professor Müller will discuss the evolution of photosynthetic life and why studying the early members of the red algae is helpful in understanding the evolution of sexual reproduction and multicellularity.