Royal Society of SA Meeting
Royal Society of South Australia, March Meeting
“From Ebola to the Cambrian Explosion: Bayesian Insights into Macroevolution”
Prof. Michael Lee (Flinders University and South Australian Museum)
Royal Society of South Australia rooms, Morgan Thomas Lane, off Kintore Ave, Adelaide
ABSTRACT: Scientists trying to understand the fossil record of life on earth are working on data very similar to epidemiologists working on Ebola outbreaks happening in real time. Both systems involve trying to infer evolutionary dynamics from sparse samples of diverse clades preserved across time. This talk will be an accessible introduction to Bayesian methods originally developed for understanding disease outbreaks, and how they are very relevant to palaeontologists working on everything from the Cambrian Explosion to bird evolution.
BIO: I am interested in broad-scale patterns of evolution, such as major changes in body plan, or why some groups speciate much more rapidly than others. Reptiles are typically the research focus, though I also collaborate with workers on other groups such as birds, mammals and even arthropods. We have recently obtained major funding to work on snake evolution (see below).
I grew up in Queensland (mainly Brisbane) in the 80s, and spent most of my childhood catching and examining any creature that moved, much to my parents horror. I now ostensibly get to do this for a living, except that with encroaching age and committments my research is moving more into theoretical and computational areas.