Research in Biological Science

Research in the School is organised into three major interdisciplinary centres: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) and Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD). Together these centres encompass the full spectrum of research in biological sciences, spanning investigations on the properties and behaviour of individual molecules to planetary environmental dynamics.

Research Impact

In REF2014 Biological Sciences in
St Andrews was rated top in Scotland and second across the UK.
Biomedical Sciences Research Complex
World class innovative multi-disciplinary research focussed on the broad theme of infection and immunity
Centre for Biological Diversity

Advancing science that underpins the diversity of life
Scottish Oceans Institute

A key focus for research excellence in marine-related science



28 Sep 2016
BSRC Seminar: It’s the little things that make a difference – towards an understanding of the replication of FMDV

Professor Nicola Stonehouse (University of Leeds, Faculty of Biological Sciences)
Lecture Theatre, BMS: 1:00 PM, 28 Sep 2016
RefID: 1834 click to edit (admin only)

28 Sep 2016
IDIR Talk: Biology Network Alignment Comes of Age

Dr Wayne Haynes (University of California Irvine, School of Information and Computer Science)
Lecture Theatre C, Mathematical Institute: 3:00 PM, 28 Sep 2016

Biological network alignment has the potential to be as useful as sequence alignment has in relation to learning about biology, evolution, and disease.  Although about two dozen network alignment algorithms have been proposed, none as yet have proven to fulfill this potential, due to many shortcomings.  Some of these shortcomings include: lack of knowledge about how to best use network topology to recover biological information (EC? S3? Graphlets? Spectral?); how to balance biological information such as sequence against topological information; confusion in the literature between an alignment algorithm and the objective function used to guide the alignment, as well as confusion between how to produce the alignment vs. how to measure it's quality post-alignment; lack of a good multiple network alignment algorithm; lack of an effective method to eliminate the 1-to-1 nature of global network alignment, since 1-to-1 mappings are not faithful to the evolutionary relationship between proteins; and finally, due to the NP-complete nature of the problem, a lack of knowledge about how far we are from producing the best alignments possible?

In this talk, Dr Hayes will introduce a novel method that already solves some of these problems and for which there is a clear path towards solving all of the others listed above, and more. We clearly delineate the measure(s) M that measure the quality of an alignment, from the algorithm S that searches the space of all alignments looking for good ones according to M. This allows us to directly compare many measures M. We also demonstrate that our new algorithm S outperforms all existing algorithms by all the various measures M that we've tried.

RefID: 1833 click to edit (admin only)

29 Sep 2016

Dr Liz Galley (Mara Environmental)
Lecture theatre, SOI: 1:00 PM, 29 Sep 2016
RefID: 1814 click to edit (admin only)

04 Oct 2016
CBD Seminar:Atypical birdsong and artificial languages provide insights into how communication systems are shaped by learning, use and transmission

Olga Feher (University of Edinburgh)
Seminar Room, Dyers Brae: 1:00 PM, 04 Oct 2016

I will present experimental findings in zebra finches and humans that make use of abnormal song and atypical linguistic input to study processes shaping communication systems: individual learning, social interaction, and cultural transmission. Atypical input places increased learning and communicative pressure on learners, so exploring how they respond to this type of input provides a particularly clear picture of the biases and constraints at work during learning and use. Furthermore, simulating the cultural transmission of these unnatural communication systems in the laboratory informs us about how learning and social biases influence the structure of communication systems in the long run. Findings based on these methods suggest fundamental similarities in the basic social–cognitive mechanisms underlying vocal learning in birds and humans.

RefID: 1811 click to edit (admin only)

05 Oct 2016
Biology Management Group meeting

( )
4.14, BMS: 10:00 AM, 05 Oct 2016
RefID: 1794 click to edit (admin only)

06 Oct 2016

Iosu Paradinas ( )
Lecture theatre, SOI: 1:00 PM, 06 Oct 2016
RefID: 1820 click to edit (admin only)

06 Oct 2016
Jellyfish and fish farms: UK and China collaborative research

Dr Zhang Fang and Dr Anna Kintner (Chinese Institute of Oceanography and St Andrews)
LT, SOI: 1:00 PM, 06 Oct 2016
RefID: 1831 click to edit (admin only)

06 Oct 2016
BSRC Seminar: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Innovative Biomedical Education and Training

Dr. Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann (Drexel University College of Medicine)
Lecture Theatre, BMS: 4:00 PM, 06 Oct 2016
RefID: 1836 click to edit (admin only)

18 Oct 2016
CBD Seminar:TBA

Jennifer Jackson ( )
Seminar Room, Dyers Brae: 1:00 PM, 18 Oct 2016
RefID: 1812 click to edit (admin only)

19 Oct 2016
BSRC Seminar: Inhibiting asparagine biosynthesis in human cells: a new approach to developing anti-cancer agents

Professor Nigel Richards (Cardiff University, Head of Biological Chemistry)
Lecture Theatre, BMS: 1:00 PM, 19 Oct 2016
RefID: 1835 click to edit (admin only)

27 Oct 2016
Ecological applications for molecular biomarkers of animal age

Prof. Simon Jarman (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto)
LT, SOI: 1:00 PM, 27 Oct 2016
RefID: 1788 click to edit (admin only)

01 Nov 2016
CBD Seminar:

Lauren Brent (University of Exeter )
Seminar Room, Dyers Brae: 1:00 PM, 01 Nov 2016
RefID: 1813 click to edit (admin only)

03 Nov 2016
Scottish Natural Heritage

Dr John Baxter (Scottish Natural Heritage)
Lecture Theatre, SOI: 12:00 AM, 03 Nov 2016
RefID: 1810 click to edit (admin only)

09 Nov 2016
Biology Management Group meeting

( )
4.14, BMS: 10:00 AM, 09 Nov 2016
RefID: 1795 click to edit (admin only)

17 Nov 2016

Yuuki Watanabe (National Institute of Polar Reserach)
Lecture Theatre, SOI: 1:00 PM, 17 Nov 2016
RefID: 1819 click to edit (admin only)