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Department of Biochemistry

Dr Bruce Alberts' seminar

Cambridge University Biological Society had a vibrant term with many successful events. Here's a rundown of what happened.


Michaelmas Term is over; it is getting quieter every day as the undergraduates are leaving for the vacation and soon Christmas bells will be ringing!

Cambridge University Biological Society had a vibrant term with many successful events organised through the support of departments from the Faculty of Biology, including the Biochemistry Department. Here's a rundown of what happened. 

After a lively social for the bioscience-minded, Dr Tim Weil, a much-loved Senior Lecturer from the Department of Zoology, kicked off the academic year with an enthusiastic talk about his scientific career and research. Another highlight was the talk from Dr Bruce Alberts. The author of the 'bible' of molecular and cellular biology led us through the successes and failures of his career, emphasising that learning from your mistakes may turn out more beneficial than getting everything right straight away. Educational events about PhDs and internships were organised for later in the term. These were aimed at undergraduates, with the knowledgeable speakers, including Sally Todd from the Careers Service, advertising opportunities and advising on how to apply.

BioSoc invites speakers who conduct research in various branches of biology – from neuroscience to palaeontology. Dr Julija Krupic addressed the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of place cells and talked about how the brain creates an internal map of the external world. She took BioSoc members through the extraordinary rate experiments which exposed how the brain records the borders of the environment, how the scale of the map varies on different gyri of the brain, and how virtual reality is being used in further research. A few of the speakers were not only distinguished academics, but have also achieved success in writing and publishing, and are authors to many best-sellers. As such, cryptozoologist Dr Darren Naish, and evolutionary biochemist Dr Nick Lane joined BioSoc to discuss their latest books (and sign them too, of course).

As science is all about working together, the Society also tries to collaborate with other societies at the University. This term, BioSoc co-hosted Dr Caitlin Black and Dr Derek Murphy with the Cambridge Wildlife Conservation Society, who talked about their work with researchers at Elephants Alive, a South Africa-based NGO that promotes harmonious co-existence between people and elephants. The term rounded off with another joint event, this time with the Cambridge Synthetic Biology Society. Professor Christina Smolke came all the way from Stanford University, US to speak about her ambitious goal of generating opioids from sugar through engineering different strains of yeast.

There is more to come next term, but for now, BioSoc is keeping its cards close to the chest. The term card will be available and published in the first week of Lent Term.


Dr Bruce Alberts' seminar.

Credit: Cambridge University Biological Society.


Biological Society Committee

Publication date

11 December 2017