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Lunch Pitch with Eduardo Gracia and Per Stenberg: Nanoscale Beauty and Complete Biodiversity

To encourage cross pollination of ideas between researchers from different disciplines, IceLab hosts interdisciplinary research lunches with the vision of allowing ideas to meet and mate. During the Lunch Pitch Season, the creative lunches take place at KBC every other Tuesday.

Place: KBCon Lilla Fokusrum  (KBC Focus Environment’s glass room), KBC
Time: Tuesday 11 December at 12:00.

Sign up here for a free sandwich before Monday 10:00! 

First Pitcher:

Eduardo Gracia

Associate senior lecturer (assistant professor) at Department of Physics

Title: Beauty at the Nanoscale

I am a researcher at the Physics Department where I study minuscule materials whose wonderful textures and features often go unnoticed to the untrained eye. These materials unveil rich topologies often accompanied by unexpected and interesting properties, and knowing that we are able to build an enormous variety of structures using just a few distinct building components amaze me every day, and makes me eager to know what they are capable of, and what we can do with them. In other words, I enjoy studying the physical and chemical properties of highly defective and non-stoichiometric nanomaterials.


Symmetry in nature is generally associated with attractive and healthy individuals, and at the nanoscale, symmetric nanomaterials are often regarded as energetically favourable with distinct properties. But, what about materials whose crystal structure is not well defined? Low symmetric nanomaterials characterized by a high concentration of defects and impurities often exhibit unique and more interesting properties than their idealized stoichiometric counterparts. But they have a catch, their complex composition and atomic structure represent a challenge during their design and optimization. So how can we speed up their discovery? Or probably more relevant, are they still beautiful?

Second Pitcher:

Per Stenberg

Researcher at Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Title: How can we get the most out of 40 years of weekly measurements of complete biodiversity?

Per Stenberg is a geneticist who started out studying the evolution of beetles that reproduces clonally and then moved on to genomics and epigenetics in fruit flies. I started my own group in 2009 where we mainly use various types of sequencing technologies and computer modelling to understand the dynamics and evolution of genomes and ecosystems.


WHAT WE WANT TO DO: We want to study how a warming climate affects the variety and variability of life and how the prevalence of pathogens and environmental antibiotic resistance has changed over the past decades, using 40 years of weekly air filter samples and DNA sequencing. We also plan to use this data to make models aimed at studying interactions between organisms as well as weather conditions, and make predictions of future trends.

WHERE INPUT AND COLLABORATION COULD HELP: How can we normalize the data we have? How can we visualize highly complex time-series data? How can we construct meaningful models of the ecosystem that can be used for predictions of future trends? Which other important biological questions could be addressed using the massive data we now have?

DATA: We have recently mapped complete biodiversity in Northern Sweden over a 40-year time period with a resolution of one week. We do this by sequencing the DNA captured in air filters that have been collected weekly over the last decades. In these filters we can identify all types of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and viruses) from all types of habitats (soil, water, land and air). The filters capture even vertebrates along with the parasites living in their intestines. We can also study genetic diversity within species and frequencies of individual genes such as those providing antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

LIMITATIONS: We can measure changes in relative abundance of organisms over time, not absolute levels.

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