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MRes Biosystematics


Course Description

This is a full-time research-based postgraduate degree, run jointly by Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, London.

OPEN DAY

visit the course pages for more information about the next Open Day at NHM 15 June 2016.

OUTLINE

Taxonomy and systematics provide the foundation for studying the great diversity of the living world. These fields are rapidly changing through new digital and molecular technologies. There is ever greater urgency for species identification and monitoring in virtually all the environmental sciences, and evolutionary ‘tree thinking’ is now applied widely in most areas of the life sciences. These courses provide in-depth training in the study of biodiversity based on the principles of phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, palaeobiology and taxonomy. The emphasis is on quantitative approaches and current methods in DNA-based phylogenetics, bioinformatics, and the use of digital collections.

LOCATION

The course is a collaboration of Imperial College London (Silwood Park) with the Natural History Museum. This provides an exciting scientific environment of two institutions at the forefront of taxonomic and evolutionary research.

[[SYLLABUS ]]
The MRes in Biosystematics features hands-on research projects that cover the main methodological approaches of modern biosystematics. After 6 weeks of general skills training, students will ‘rotate’ through three research groups each conducting a separate 14-week project in specimen-based phylogenetics, molecular systematics/genomics, and bioinformatics. The projects may be of the student’s own design. Students attend small group tutorials, lab meetings and research seminars.

TRANSFERABLE SKILLS]

The GSLSM (Graduate School of Life Sciences and Medicine) at Imperial College London provides regular workshops covering a wide range of transferable skills, and MRes students are encouraged to undertake at least four during the year. Topics include: Applied Writing Skills, Creativity and Ideas Generation, Writing for Publication, Introduction to Regression Modelling, Introduction to Statistical Thinking.

RECENT PROJECTS

MORPHOLOGICAL

The Natural History Museum’s Dorothea Bate Collection of dwarfed deer from Crete: adaptation and proportional size reduction in comparison with larger mainland species
Cambrian lobopodians and their position as stem-group taxa
Atlas of the Caecilian World: A Geometric Morphometric perspective
Tooth crown morphology in Caecilian amphibians
Morphometrics of centipede fangs: untapping a possible new source of character data for the Scolopendromorpha
Phylogeny of the Plusiinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): Exploring conflict between larvae and adults
A comparison between species delineation based on DNA sequences and genital morphometrics in beetles (Coleoptera)

MOLECULAR

Geographical distribution of endemic scavenger water beetles (Hydrophilidae) on the island of Madagascar based on DNA sequence data
Cryptic diversity within Limacina retroversa and Heliconoides inflate
Phylogenetics of pteropods of the Southern Oceans
Molecular discrimination of the European Mesocestoides species complex
A molecular phylogeny of the monkey beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Hopliini)
The molecular evolution of the mimetic switch locus, H, in the Mocker Swallowtail Papilio dardanus Brown, 1776
Phylogenetic and functional diversity of the Sargasso Sea Metagenome

BIOINFORMATICS

A study into the relation between body size and environmental variables in South African Lizards
Cryptic diversity and the effect of alignment parameters on tree topology in the foraminifera
Delimiting evolutionary taxonomic units within the bacteria: 16S rRNA and the GMYC model
Testing the molecular clock hypothesis and estimating divergence times for the order Coleoptera
Taxon Sampling: A Comparison of Two Approaches
Investigating species concepts in bacteria: Fitting Campylobacter and Streptococcus MLST profiles to an infinite alleles model to test population structure
Assessing the mitochondrial molecular clock: the effect of data partitioning, taxon sampling and model selection

ON COMPLETION OF THE COURSE, THE STUDENTS WILL HAVE:

• a good understanding of the state of knowledge of the field, together with relevant practical experience, in three areas of biosystematic science in which he or she has expressed an interest;
• where applicable, the ability to contribute to the formulation and development of ideas underpinning potential PhD projects in areas of interest, and to make an informed decision on the choice of potential PhD projects;
• a broad appreciation of the scientific opportunities within the NHM and Imperial College;
• knowledge of a range of specific research techniques and professional and transferable skills.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Students are encouraged to view the NHM website for further information, and to contact the course administrator if they have any queries. Visits can be arranged to the NHM to meet the course organisers informally and to be given a tour of the facilities. Applications should be made online on the Imperial College London website.

Visit the MRes Biosystematics page on the Imperial College London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

2:1 (Hons) science discipline

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