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Week of October 14, 2018

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Counting Microbes
Dr Janelle R. Thompson

Counting Microbes

Event date: 15 October 2018 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3D Visualization Lab (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Dr Janelle R. Thompson
About the speaker:

Dr. Janelle Thompson is an environmental microbiologist whose research and teaching activities are driven by a desire to achieve a sustainable future through careful stewardship of energy and water resources. She obtained her BS and MS from Stanford University in Biology and Environmental Engineering, respectively, and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She taught undergraduate and graduate-level Environmental Engineering courses for seven years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which included development of a laboratory-based microbiology course for engineering students. She is currently a Principal Investigator and Associate Director at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling. Her specific research projects are focused on protecting surface water quality and maintaining energy security through improved tracking and control of microbial pollutants, a better understanding of geologic carbon dioxide sequestration's microbiological footprint, and developing "green" biotechnologies for production of biofuels and bioproducts. Dr. Thompson's research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations, including undergraduate and graduate students, and employs the tools of modern molecular ecology, environmental genomics, and systems biology. Dr. Thompson currently resides in Singapore with her husband and daughter, and in her spare time enjoys gardening, traveling and sharing culinary adventures with her family.


How many microbes are in a sample? And more specifically, how many microbes of a particular type are present? These questions are asked in a multitude of contexts, from medical diagnostics to soil ecology. The methods available to address these questions have evolved with innovations in microscopy, cultivation, enzymology, and nucleic-acid based quantification. In this lecture we will learn about several different methods to quantify microbial groups, including their biases, challenges, and advantages. This discussion will be illustrated by examples from the field of water quality management where the abundance of specific microbial groups are used as proxies for health risks from exposure to human sewage contamination. After this lecture, participants will be able to outline several basic methods for determining the abundance of targeted microbial groups, identify appropriate methods for different contexts, and describe uncertainties associated with application of these methods.

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National Biobanking in Qatar and Israel: Co-productions of Global Science and Ethnic Identity
Ian McGonigle

National Biobanking in Qatar and Israel: Co-productions of Global Science and Ethnic Identity

Event date: 16 October 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3-D Visualization Lab (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Ian McGonigle
About the speaker:

Ian is a scholar of Anthropology and Science, Technology, and Society. He specializes in contemporary Middle Eastern societies, with a focus on precision medicine technologies and scientific development. Ian has Ph.D.s in Biochemistry (Cambridge 2010) and Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology (Harvard 2018). He also has a B.A. in Biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin (2007) and masters degrees in Cultural- and Social Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2013) and Harvard University (2015). He was awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship by the Israel Institute in 2015, which he used to spend a year as a fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University. He has also been an affiliate of Harvard’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society, since 2013. His 2015 co-authored article ‘Genetic Citizenship,’ which discusses the relationship between genetic definitions of Jewishness and Israel’s Law of Return, was the most read and highest impact article in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences. Ian has been awarded SG$1 million to launch a Science and Society Research Group at Nanyang Technological University as part of the prestigious Nanyang Assistant Professorship scheme which aims to bring elite faculty from around the world to build up Singapore’s academic standing.


Biobanks are a growing phenomenon in global biomedicine, as they are a key tool of precision medicine initiatives. National biobanks, however, collect data and biological material from populations in specific regions, and the knowledge that national biobanks yield can impact understandings of identity, origins, and belonging. Scholars in the social study of science have developed the concept of ‘co-production’ to reveal the relationships between scientific knowledge, technology, and the broader socio-political context. Drawing on ethnographic work and documentary analysis examining the Israeli- and Qatari national biobanks, I find that these two Middle Eastern biobanks aim to contribute to global biobanking trends, while at the same time they reinforce local ethnic and national identities. The Israeli biobank reflects pre-existing ethnic identities in Israeli society, while the Qatari biobank predominantly emphasizes the emergent national character of the Qatari population. Through a comparative analysis of the co-production of global biobanking and ethnic identities in Israel and Qatar, this article demonstrate that biobanks are a rich site for tracking emergent national identities in the Middle East region.   

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Microbial Ecology and Engineering for Energy and Water Security
Dr. Janelle Thompson

Microbial Ecology and Engineering for Energy and Water Security

Event date: 16 October 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Dr. Janelle Thompson
About the speaker:

Dr. Janelle Thompson is an environmental microbiologist whose research and teaching activities are driven by a desire to achieve a sustainable future through careful stewardship of energy and water resources. She obtained her BS and MS from Stanford University in Biology and Environmental Engineering, respectively, and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She taught undergraduate and graduate-level Environmental Engineering courses for seven years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which included development of a laboratory-based microbiology course for engineering students. She is currently a Principal Investigator and Associate Director at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling. Her specific research projects are focused on protecting surface water quality and maintaining energy security through improved tracking and control of microbial pollutants, a better understanding of geologic carbon dioxide sequestration's microbiological footprint, and developing "green" biotechnologies for production of biofuels and bioproducts. Dr. Thompson's research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations, including undergraduate and graduate students, and employs the tools of modern molecular ecology, environmental genomics, and systems biology. Dr. Thompson currently resides in Singapore with her husband and daughter, and in her spare time enjoys gardening, traveling and sharing culinary adventures with her family.

If you would like to arrange a separate time to meet Dr. Janelle Thompson, please contact Asst. Prof. Patrick Martin to arrange a meeting.

 


In this talk I will discuss my research to advance technology for careful stewardship of energy and water resources. My team and I work to protect surface waters through improved tracking and control of microbial pollutants, and to promote energy security through a better understanding of geologic carbon sequestration's microbiological footprint, and development of "green" biotechnologies for making biofuels and bioproducts. Our research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations and employs the tools of modern molecular ecology, environmental genomics, and systems biology.  Specifically, in the water domain, we have tested and identified best-performing assays for tracking human fecal contamination in the tropics, developed methods to assess pathogen activity in marine microbiomes, and are leveraging next-generation sequencing (NGS) of environmental DNA in order to link waterborne microorganisms with the water quality properties that they mediate. In the energy domain, we work with microorganisms isolated from deep geologic CO2 sequestration (GCS) sites as models for GCS-microbiology and biotechnological development. To the latter end, we have developed a genetic system for synthetic biology in one of our supercritical (sc) CO2-tolerant strains and are currently working towards developing a two-phase system for engineered bioproduction of advanced biofuels with in situ scCO2 extraction for product purification. These projects open exciting new possibilities for enhanced water quality monitoring and control, as well as the production of advanced fuels and chemicals to support water and energy security in a sustainable future.

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Structural control of the seismicity in Western Nepal revealed by the Hi-KNET seismological network
Dr Laurent Bollinger

Structural control of the seismicity in Western Nepal revealed by the Hi-KNET seismological network

Event date: 19 October 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Dr Laurent Bollinger
About the speaker:

Seismo-tectonician in a laboratory specialised in geological hazards, I had the chance to participate and animate research works in Nepal these last 20 years.
My researches focus on the study of the spatio-temporal behaviour of the seismicity along the Main Himalayan Thrust as well as on the historical and paleo-earthquakes along the Himalayan range.

 


According to historical chronicles as well as preliminary paleoseismological trenches, the latest devastating great earthquake in Western Nepal happened more than 500 years ago in 1505 AD .
Despite its inescapable repeat in the future, the seismic behaviour of the Main Himalayan Thrust fault segments ruptured during this earthquake are poorly known. Among others, large uncertainties remain on the downdip extent and geometry of the locked fault zone and its lateral variations as well as their relations with large and great earthquake ruptures.

A first temporary seismic experiment, the “Himalaya-Karnali-Network” (Hi-KNet), was therefore deployed for two years in western Nepal in order to image the thrust at depth and reveal the behaviour of the seismicity along the brittle-ductile transition zone. A total of 15 temporary seismic stations were installed above the main seismic belts in Chainpur-Bhajang and Karnali region, complementarily to the Regional Seismological Network.
More than 2000 local earthquakes were located below the network during the first year of experiment. Most of these events were clustered within pluri-kilometric long swarms that lasted a few days or weeks. The finest relocations of the local earthquakes reveal a complex pattern of along strike variations of the seismicity. Most clusters develop at the intersection between the megathrust and contacts between Lesser Himalayan tectonic slivers. Some of the seismic swarms migrate with time. Altogether, the swarms and individual earthquakes reveal ramps and flat geometry of the megathrust. Some of these structures, among them the largest active ramps, are likely to partially control the rupture of intermediate to large earthquakes. The structural segmentation revealed by the seismicity leads us to propose a fault model involving intermediate, large and great earthquakes in West Nepal.

 

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