28 May 2013
An artistic approach to unpacking the structural components of proteins is proving revelatory for biochemists at the University of Bristol. Their back-to-basics philosophy is a useful antidote to the complexity of one of the on-going challenges in the discipline, allowing them to create new proteins entirely by design.
13 May 2013
Attempts to understand schizophrenia and its diverse symptoms have taken researchers and psychiatrists on a journey throughout the brain. Schizophrenia is one of the most common of the mental illnesses and is thought to affect about 70 million adults worldwide – yet effective alleviation of its broad range of symptoms continues to elude medical practitioners.
25 April 2013
Are there any meaningful commonalities in how the different scientific disciplines tackle complexity and can they provide a reliable definition for this constantly evolving field? A rigorous investigation that unpicks the theories and crunches the numbers finds a way through the confusion - but points out that no definition can ever be absolute.
20 February 2013
Looking at how genes function across different species is helping to answer questions about human origins as well as how we view life on Earth. Dr Davide Pisani is integrating genomic data with palaeontological data to answer fundamental questions such as when vision first originated in animals and what was the first chemical smelled.
5 February 2013
While most of us begin to feel restless and insecure in the face of uncertainty, Dr Jonathan Rougier seems to thrive in it. Rougier is a statistician who specialises in assessing the uncertainty inherent in complex systems - systems that are typical in environmental science.
20 February 2012
Understanding how fluid flow through a straight pipe changes from being steady to an irregular state – the so-called ‘transition to turbulence’ problem – is one of the greatest challenges in fluid mechanics. By combining theory and experimentation, Professor Richard Kerswell (Bristol University) and Professor Tom Mullin (Manchester University) studied how solutions to equations over 150-years-old could explain what is seen in nature. The ultimate aim of this work is to control or even prevent turbulence arising when its consequences such as increased drag are undesirable, for example, pumping oil in transcontinental pipelines and the airflow across an aeroplane wing.
20 February 2012
Dr Vanessa Didelez is a statistician developing methods to understand better causal mechanisms, the processes linking cause and effect in complex systems in motion that evolve over time, so-called dynamical systems. As many standard methods fail to handle multiple time-varying factors rendering them unusable, she is uniquely combining graphical models with background knowledge and statistical algorithms. Although her anticipated methodology could be applied in many different contexts, she foresees particular benefits for computer scientists, social scientists, geneticists and health professionals. For example, well acquainted with the biomedical community, she helps medical researchers analysing large longitudinal HIV patient data sets to enable the advancement of personalised medicine treatment programmes.