Lecture Report: Molecular Evolution & Adaptation - Birds, Bears, Bowhead Whales and Beyond!

Submitted by admin on Fri, 11/20/2015 - 16:30
Brown Bear

Report written by Frank McGourty, IBIOLI Secretary, Hons

Dr MJ O'Connell
Dr Mary J O'Connell
Evolution of Birds

This is the IBILOI Report on Lecture: "Molecular Evolution and Adaptation: Birds, Bears, Bowhead Whales and Beyond!", which occurred on the occasion of the Institute of Biology of Ireland AGM 2015, at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. This lecture was presented by Dr. Mary J O'Connell, 250 Great Minds University Academic Fellow in Computational Evolutionary Biology, University of Leeds, UK.

In this inspiring lecture, Dr. O’Connell set out to show what happens to living organisms when catastrophe strikes and to recognise some important features that are key to survival. 

She stimulated the audience when she discussed some principles of evolution and adaptation to ecological niches, calling on recent research from her group, and her collaborators, on terrestrial, volant and marine vertebrates. 

She argued that each species is unique at the level of its DNA and every organism has the history of the past locked within that DNA. She went on to explain that by studying these molecules, it allows them to understand the processes and patterns of evolution that have shaped life on our planet for billions of years.

She elaborated on the discoveries that have been made from studying the DNA of organisms such as the polar bear, the bowhead whale, the hummingbird and, of course, ourselves! 

The lecture generated a very high level of interaction from the audience answering the many questions raised by the audience. A truly excellent lecture to mark the AGM 2015.