Research Seminar Series

Research Seminar Series

The 2022-2023 season of seminars has arrived! 

We are still in the process of inviting some great external speakers, so we hope that as many of you as possible will be able to attend in person or follow on Zoom. 

The seminars will cover a broad range of areas, from biodiversity, evolutionary biology, ecosystems and conservation through to areas of pathogen biology, transmission, epidemiology and modelling. we hope there will be something for everyone. 

Before each seminar an email will go out on our regular channel, as well as social media comms, with details of the speaker, the title, the host and the zoom url. we also hope to introduce post-seminar breakout rooms for individuals and small groups to meet with the speaker via zoom so watch this space for details. the acknowledged start time for the seminars will be 13:00 unless otherwise stated. please also keep checking our institute calendar for updates.

Also see our listing for upcoming internal seminars (friday seminar series) which features talks by phd students and also the postdoc & pi seminars.

We hope to see you all soon...

Dr Blake Morton - University of Hull - Urbanisation of red foxes - Wednesday 23rd of November at 1PM - LT1 Graham Kerr Building

Headshot of Dr Blake MortonTitle: “Does urbanisation encourage wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) to exploit unfamiliar food-related objects when first discovered?”

Abstract: Urbanisation is the fastest form of landscape transformation on the planet, but our understanding of how wildlife responds to such changes is still in its infancy. Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are renowned for thriving in urban settings where they have many opportunities to exploit food within or in close proximity to a wide variety of human-made objects (e.g., litter and contents of outdoor bins). The visibility of such behaviour has likely contributed to urban foxes being labelled as ‘bolder’, ‘cunning’, and a general nuisance to people. Indeed, studies in other animals show that frequent exposure to novel objects can sometimes lead them to overcome their aversion to unfamiliar objects in general (e.g., stimulus generalisation). However, it is unclear whether this applies to urban fox populations’ willingness to exploit food-related objects, particularly when first discovered and hence the most novel. This presentation will focus on the results of a year-long study of 87 free-ranging foxes across a large urban-rural gradient in Scotland and England, which aimed to test whether urbanisation encourages wild foxes to exploit food-related objects. The results of the study will be discussed in light of the general public perception and management of this species 

We will also provide a zoom stream of the seminar but we encourage everyone to turn up in person. 


Meeting ID: 874 5041 1075

Passcode: 618904

Dr Rick Reylea - Freshwater Salinization: From Ecology & Evolution to Real-World Solutions - 16th November 2022 - LT1 Graham Kerr Building

Image of Dr Rick Reylea with title of his talk

Dr Sara Silva - "Sticky parasites, reactive hosts, and how they drive acute cerebral trypanosomiasis" 9th November 2022 1pm LT1 Graham Kerr Building

Image of a cow with small insert picture of Dr Sara Silva

Title:  Sticky parasitesreactive hosts, and how they drive acute cerebral trypanosomiasis 


Trypanosoma congolense causes different pathologies in animals, in Africa. Cerebral trypanosomiasis is an acute form of disease, but the mechanism underlying its severity remains unknown. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we developed a mouse model of acute cerebral trypanosomiasis and characterized the cellular, behavioral and physiological consequences of this infection.  

By intravital microscopy, we showed that T. congolense 1/148 strain parasites heavily sequester in the brain vasculature for long periods of time (up to 8 hours). Endothelial-specific ribosome profiling showed that parasite presence results in a strong pro-inflammatory response. We further observed that mice infected with this strain displayed significant and quantifiable neurological clinical signs, which were associated with an overwhelming ICAM1-mediated, CD4+ T cell extravasation into the brain parenchyma. Antibody-mediated ICAM1 blocking and lymphocyte absence reduced parasite sequestration in the brain and prevented the onset of cerebral trypanosomiasis. Furthermore, adoptive cell transfer experiments showed that CD4+ T cells, alone, are sufficient to cause the neuropathology that culminated in mouse death. 

We propose a mechanism whereby acute cerebral trypanosomiasis depends both on parasite (sequestration) and host factors (ICAM1 and CD4+ T cells). This is a new experimental model that adds novel tools to understanding trypanosomiasis. It will allow researchers to understand the variety of different clinical outcomes in T. congolense infections. 


Sara Silva Pereira, PhD 

Sara Silva Pereira completed a PhD in Veterinary Parasitology from the University of Liverpool (2018), which was dedicated to the characterisation of antigenic diversity of trypanosome parasites on a population scale, as well as the development of software to track it from ‘omics datasets. Then, I joined the Figueiredo Laboratory, at the Institute of Molecular Medicine (Portugal)as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellow, to investigate the dynamics of trypanosome gene expression in tissues. I have dedicated the past four years to understanding the mechanism of parasite adhesion to the vascular endothelium, using a mixture of computational and non-computational methods. Currently, I am focused on determining the molecular mediators and biomechanical determinants of trypanosome sequestration. 

Jorge Francisco González, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Wednesday 19th October - McCall LT1 @ 1 pm

Image of Jorge Francisco GonzalezPlease join us to welcome Jorge Francisco González from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and listen to his talk on the 'Resistance of the Canaria Hair Breed sheep to gastrointestinal nematode parasites'.

The seminar will be held on Wednesday 19th  in the McCall building lecture theatre at 1 pm.

If you would like to meet with Jorge, please contact Michael (


As a consequence of anthelmintic resistance, alternative or complementary methods for controlling gastrointestinal nematodes in ruminants to drugs are needed. One of the most attractive options is the exploitation of animals that are resistant to these parasites. In this seminar, we will present data obtained in different studies which show the particular resistance of a local breed of sheep from the Canary Islands (Spain), the Canaria Hair Breed sheep, to these parasites. We will show the implication of Tgd cells, IgA and eosinophils in these protective mechanisms and the possible contribution of several galectins and genes in this resistance. Finally, we will discuss the potential biotechnological contribution of these ancient breeds, as the Canaria Hair Breed, in the identification of new markers for disease resistance and to improve current helminth-vaccine prototypes.

We will also provide a zoom stream of the seminar, but we encourage everyone to turn up in person.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 833 3601 5178
Passcode: 151730

Dr Al Nisbet, Moredun Research Institute - Wednesday 12th October @1pm, Graham Kerr LT1 (or zoom option)

Image of Dr Al Nisbet on a banner with copy

Title: Controlling parasitic nematodes with vaccines – prospects for the future 

Abstract: The development of effective recombinant vaccines to control gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) of livestock and humans has been a long term goal for many research groups across the last few decades. Using an immunoproteomic approach, we have successfully developed a prototype recombinant vaccine against one of the most common and important GIN of sheep, Teladorsagia circumcincta. This vaccine induced significant (up to 75% reduction in worm numbers) protection against challenge in lambs, was effective in periparturient ewes and a simplified prototype also gave good levels of protection. However, efficacy of this novel vaccine was variable across multiple trials and, in an effort to understand and control this variability, we combined serial biopsy of vaccinated and challenged animals with a machine learning algorithm to identify sheep immune gene modules correlated with optimal vaccine efficacy. This gave us new insights into the direction needed to optimise vaccine-induced immune responses for effective control of T. circumcincta. Further optimisation of these types of vaccines, including moving towards targeting multiple species of GIN simultaneously, will also rely on a deeper understanding of the intimate host-parasite relationship during the development of parasites and parasite immunity in the gut; understanding how worms recognise where they need to establish in the gut (their niche); the exact mechanisms by which protective immunity is generated by worms in the gut; and how best to formulate parasite antigens or components in vaccines to produce the protective responses needed to expel the parasites from their gut locations. Recent progress with novel techniques, including parasite:organoid co-culture, to answer some of these questions will be presented.

Dr Laura Glendinning, University of Edinburgh - Wednesday October 5th at 1PM, Graham Kerr Building, Room LT1 (with zoom option)

Title: The gut microbiota in commercial and village chickens

Abstract:  The gut microbiota plays many important roles in livestock, such as pathogen protection, immune system development, and improving host nutrition. Chickens raised in commercial farms are unusual, in that they are normally raised without contact with a maternal hen. The development and composition of their microbiota is therefore quite different from other animals, who acquire much of their microbiota from their mother. In this seminar I will discuss my work in both commercial chicken breeds and in indigenous Ethiopian village chickens. In commercial breeds, we have found that the gut microbiota has a low diversity, and is dominated by clostridial species. Many of these clostridial species are also abundant across European poultry farms. In contrast, maternally-raised, indigenous Ethiopian chickens are colonised by a far more diverse microbiota that varies based on climate. We have constructed the genomes of hundreds of novel bacterial species from both commercial and indigenous birds. These genomes encode diverse carbohydrate degrading enzymes and metabolic pathways for the fermentation of various forms of fibre, highlighting their importance in fermenting indigestible carbohydrates. Our findings demonstrate the value of conducting microbiota studies in less investigated livestock populations, and highlight the need for further research in indigenous livestock from other regions. 

We will also provide a zoom stream of the seminar but we encourage everyone to please turn up in person. 


Meeting ID: 832 6499 9074

Passcode: 102506

Host: Dr Jess Clark

Professor Pete Edmunds - Wednesday 28th of September at 1PM, Graham Kerr Building, Room LT1 (with zoom option)

Dr Edmunds did his PhD here at the University of Glasgow in 1986 with Peter-Spencer Davies and is keen to speak with current graduate students. Prof. Edmunds will be around after the seminar and we will also be organising a meeting with graduate students (Masters and PhD) for after the seminar, and also meetings with interested staff. 

Title: Four decades of change on coral reefs in the Caribbean and South Pacific: A long series of unfortunate events

Abstract: The contemporary coral reef crisis presents modern coral reefs in a homogeneous state of greatly reduced coral cover, enhanced macroalgal abundance, and depleted fish populations. Within the context of the Anthropocene Epoch, this state does not bode well for the future of reefs in warmer seas at lower pH. Explanations of how we got to this point tend to emphasize the role of single disturbances (e.g., bleaching), which suggests that the cause(s) of the crisis, and its possible solutions, might require mitigation of one, or a few, stressors. Using up to four decades of ecological time series data from the shallow reefs of St. John, US Virgin Islands, and Moorea, French Polynesia, I make the case that the present state of coral reefs is: (a) more varied than often is described, and (b) a product of a long series of “unfortunate event” that have interactive and cascading effects that will be highly challenging to reverse. Yet, despite the gloomy state of modern reefs, a deeper understanding of coral ecology, and emerging functional analyses of scleractinian corals, reveals ways through which at least some corals might persist in a rapidly changing world.

We will also provide a zoom stream of the seminar but we encourage everyone to turn up in person. 


Meeting ID: 832 6499 9074

Passcode: 102506

External Seminar Schedule 2022-2023

DateTimeSpeakerSpeaker's InstitutionComments
14/09/22 1PM Dr Jean-Michel Fustin University of Manchester Online
28/09/22 1PM Prof Pete Edmunds California State University, Northridge In Person
05/10/22 1PM Laura Glendinning Roslin Institute SULSA Lecture
12/10/22 1PM Al Nisbet Moredun Research Institute In Person
19/10/22 1PM Jorge F Gonzalez Instituto Universitario de Sanidad Animal y Seguridad Alimentaria (IUSA) In Person
26/10/22 4PM Lisa Reynolds University of Calgary  
02/11/22 5PM Prof Kevin Laland University of St Andrews BLB Lecture
09/11/22 1PM Dr Sara Silva Pereira Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa   
16/11/22 1PM Rick Relyea Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute  
23/11/22 1PM Dr Blake Morton University of Hull