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School of the Biological Sciences

How do new species arise? What makes living organisms so diverse? How do plants and animals function in different environments? What drives some species to extinction whilst others thrive?  These are just some of the questions at the heart of the Organisms, Evolution and Ecology Research Theme which brings together over 70 leading researchers from across 10 different Departments and Institutes around Cambridge. Integrating theory, mathematical principles and engineering with biological research to address these questions will allow us to understand the mechanisms that underpin how organisms interact with the world around them and how the environment can influence the development of organisms through time. Working together, our researchers are making ground-breaking impacts on sustainability, biodiversity, ecosystem engineering, global change, biological engineering and food security.

Grand Challenge Topic

 

Molecular Biology for Climate Solutions

Molecular biology allows scientists to study biological phenomenon at the level of atoms, molecules and cells. Commonly used in health and disease research, scientists in Cambridge are harnessing modern biological techniques to transform our understanding of climate change and accelerate much needed solutions in this area. Read more

Recent Discoveries

Lack of transparency over cost of conservation projects hampers ability to prioritise funds for nature protection

A new study has found that costs of conservation projects are rarely reported, making it difficult for others to make decisions on the most cost-effective interventions at a time when funding for biodiversity conservation is severely limited.

A review of 1,987 published reports of conservation interventions has found that only 8.8% reported the total cost of the intervention, and many of these were not detailed or standardised. The authors say this makes it very difficult to determine the cost-effectiveness of different interventions, and to make decisions on how to spend limited funding for biodiversity conservation. The study, by researchers in the Department of Zoology, is the first time that cost reporting across a broad range of wildlife conservation interventions has been reviewed. Read

Wider Impact

BioBullets against pests in water supplies

Invasive non-native mussels and clams are some of the world’s most economically and ecologically important pests, costing the UK water supply industry £8 million each year and driving dramatic ecosystem shifts and declines in native biodiversity.

David Aldridge and Geoff Moggridge have developed a ‘BioBullet’ against invasive non-native mussels and clams. BioBullets encapsulate toxins in a harmless edible coat, enabling efficient, targeted product delivery and dramatically reducing environmental pollution. The BioBullet has been successfully tested by seven water companies in England, Northern Ireland and Wales which collectively supply 52% of the UK population (34.7 million people) with drinking water, and at one waterworks, and has been identified as 69% cheaper (saving £188,000 per year) than the alternative, more hazardous control methods. Read

Theme Leads


Beverley Glover

Plant Sciences/ Botanic Garden


Jason Head

Zoology/ Museum


Kiran Patil

MRC Toxicology Unit

 

Adam Pellegrini

Department of Plant Sciences

Learn More

Members of the School can find out more about the Research Themes on the School Information Hub.

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Cambridge Global Impact

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