Why is life the way it is?

Wednesday 26th April 2017 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00

Dr Nick Lane, Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Imperial Alumnus

Earth teems with life yet we do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, how life first began. Nick Lane draws on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and cell biology, to deliver a compelling account of evolution from the very origins of life to the emergence of multicellular organisms.

Dr Nick Lane is a biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost's Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry.

Dr Lane’s research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and  bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells.

Dr Lane was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is leading the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme. He was awarded the 2011 BMC Research Award for Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution, and the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his sustained and diverse contribution to the molecular life sciences and the public understanding of science.

His research focuses on three major transitions in evolution: the origin of life itself; the origin of the eukaryotic cell; and the evolution of fundamental traits shared by all eukaryotic cells, notably sex, sexes, speciation and senescence.

Nick's most recent book is entitled The Vital Question: Why is Life the Way it Is?

It attacks a central problem in biology - why did complex life arise only once in four billion years, and why does all complex life share so many peculiar properties, from sex and speciation to senescence? The book argues that energy has constrained the whole trajectory of evolution, from the origin of life itself, to the properties of complex organisms including ourselves.

This lecture is for people who want to be bang-up-to-date with current research into the fundamentals of life.

"Nick Lane is an original researcher and thinker and a passionate and stylish populariser. His theories are ingenious, breathtaking in scope, and challenging in every sense ... intellectually what Lane is proposing, if correct, will be as important as the Copernican revolution." Peter Forbes GUARDIAN

"A bold, eloquent, confident book… Nick Lane is not only a master storyteller, but this is his research… he’s that rare species, a scientist who can illuminate the bewildering complexities of biology with clear, luminous words" Adam Rutherford, OBSERVER

"This is a book of vast scope and ambition, brimming with bold and important ideas... The arguments are powerful and persuasive... an incredible, epic story." Michael Le Page NEW SCIENTIST

"An exciting tale, thrillingly told... This is a potent book, one that not only brings you up to date with biology but also stuns you with the wonder of it all." Bryan Appleyard, SUNDAY TIMES



Venue: SAF Building, Imperial College London

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