Departmental Seminar – 29 March

The Biology department welcomes Dr. Alan Cohen from the University of Sherbrooke:

How physiological complexity impacts our understanding of trade-offs, ecophysiology, and the aging process


The physiological regulatory networks that help cells and organisms maintain homeostasis are one of the best examples of a formally complex system, yet most treatment of physiology supposes that molecules have relatively simple, linear roles that can be easily understood by a reductionist approach. Here I present three examples of projects showing the importance of integrating complexity into different levels of analysis ranging from the mechanisms of aging to the evolution of life histories. First, I illustrate statistical approaches to integrate information across multiple biomarkers and extract signals of underlying processes. These approaches can be used to identify important new physiological processes, to measure condition, and to measure the aging process itself. They also point to a new mechanistic understanding of aging. Second, I present a theoretical model of how multiple physiological currencies underlying trade-offs may shape life history evolution in unexpected ways. Third, I integrate these perspectives to propose a new theory for how lifespan and aging evolve.

*This seminar will be held on Wednesday, in room 3110 of the BioSciences Complex,  from 1:30-2:30pm. *

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