The Physical Sciences Colloquia are intended for a broad audience – from undergraduate students to retired professors. The topics encompass the interests of all research groups in the School: from Applied Optics, through Astrophysics, Planetary Science and Forensic Imaging to Functional Materials Physics and Chemistry.
The colloquia are held on Wednesdays at 2 pm in the Ingram Lecture Theatre (ILT) unless otherwise specified. The programme is constantly updated. Click on the speaker’s name and the talk’s title for biographical information/contact details and an abstract, respectively.
Everybody welcome!

Present Term

All our colloquia for this term will be on our Events Calendar which we regularly update when we have a confirmed speaker so make sure to check back regularly! You can also have a look at speakers for our present term by clicking on their entry below:

15th January 2019  – Marcel Jaspers, Marine Biodiscovery Centre, University of Aberdeen

Extreme Drug Discovery: Finding New Medicines From Extreme Environments

Abstract: Natural products have an excellent track record in the discovery of novel pharmaceuticals to treat infections and cancer. The use of plants and microorganisms is common, but two major problems are the repeated rediscovery of known compounds and the difficulty in sourcing a sustainable supply for downstream clinical applications. In this presentation, I will show how both these roadblocks to the effective use of natural products in pharmaceutical discovery can be overcome. The solutions rely on the use of novel biological diversity to source novel chemical diversity and the application of molecular genetics to create a biotechnological platform to increase supply and make analogues.

The use of marine invertebrates has shown itself to be a valuable source of structural diversity with a significant degree of difference between ‘marine’ and ‘terrestrial’ carbon frameworks. However, marine invertebrate-derived compounds still suffer from the lack of a reliable supply. For this reason we have started to investigate marine bacteria, in particular those from deep-sea and cold habitats. Other extremophile habitats we have been exploring for unique bacterial diversity are the hyper-arid Atacama desert and high and low pH environments. All these habitats give taxonomically unique bacteria with a high degree of divergence from known strains, and produce novel chemistry.

The use of bacteria gives a sustainable supply of the compound of interest and a limited set of analogues. However, to access further analogues is difficult without a synthetic chemistry approach. We have recently shown the use of biosynthetic enzymes in vitro to generate complex macrocyclic peptides containing heterocycles, commonly known as the cyanobactins. This platform technology promises to make available a vast Universe of novel chemical entities using a biotechnological approach.


30th January 2019  – Angela Murray, University of Birmingham

The intersection of synthetic biology, nanotech and chemical catalysis

Abstract: TBC


13th February 2019  – Sarah Ragan, School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University

Title: Connecting the initial conditions of star formation to their Galactic origins

Abstract: Galactic plane surveys of the Milky Way in a variety of gas or dust tracers give us different perspectives on how the physical conditions of the interstallar medium vary throughout the Galaxy. The Herschel Infrared Galactic Plane Survey (Hi-GAL) covers the peak of the spectral energy distribution of dense, cold dust and thus supplies an essential part of the observational description of the conditions necessary for star formation in our Galaxy. With a catalogue of over 100000 compact Hi-GAL sources, I will discuss how star formation varies as a function of Galactocentric radius and proximity to spiral arms. This allows us to revisit several long-standing questions about the effect large-scale Galactic properties have on star formation on parsec scales. Moreover, with a comprehensive profile of the Milky Way over kiloparsec scales, these results provide a more detailed context in which to understand star formation in external galaxies.


13th March 2019  – Yann Garcia, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC


3rd April 2019  – Petra Szilagyi, QMUL

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC


8th May 2019  – Ashley King, Natural History Museum, London

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC


Past speakers are on the next page.