Best of European Science
In partnership with the European Research Council
What do the topics of evolution, moral responsibility and equal opportunities have in common? Scientific excellence, that's what! This event brings together three top Belgian scientists whose research is supported by the European Research Council (ERC). Join Dominic Bowman, Karine Van Doninck, Kristien Hens and Dirk Jacob for this very special journey through space, genetics, bioethics and sociology.
The music of the stellar symphony
Postdoctoral Researcher, member of an ERC-funded team
Stars are the building blocks of galaxies in the universe, and are responsible for making most of the chemical elements on the periodic table. Star quakes in vibrating stars cause their surfaces to twinkle and shimmer, which astronomers use to study what is going on inside them, similarly to how geologists study earthquakes on the Earth. From pulsars to even our own star – the Sun – there are many different types of pulsating stars in the universe, each providing a different piece of the puzzle to understanding the cosmos.
Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven
Innate vs acquired: what epigenetics tell us about moral responsibility
Bioethicist , ERC Grantee
Psychiatric conditions are traditionally conceptualized as innate or acquired, biological or psycho social, genetic or environmental. But it is never that simple, is it? Findings in the field of epigenetics indicate that the social and physical environment influence how genes are expressed, leading to a far more complex and nuanced view on psychiatric disorders, with ethical implications. Kristien Hens focuses her research on such ethical implications, and what it means for our perception of moral responsibility
University of Antwerp, Department of Philosophy
Bringing equal opportunities to immigrant children
Professor in sociology , ERC Grantee
The home situation of children has a considerable impact on educational attainment, for a multitude of reasons. On top of that, pupils who find themselves in schools with a high concentration of children of disfavoured background tend to score badly. School systems in Europe that are highly segregated often do poorly in assuring equal opportunities, particularly for children of migrant background. Prof. Dirk Jacobs and his team from the EQUOP project examined why this is the case and explore pathways to combine equal opportunities and excellence in education for all children.
Université Libre de Bruxelles
The evolutionary scandal: all you wanted to know about a strange little creature living in your garden moss
Karine Van Doninck
Professor, ERC Grantee
Have you ever heard about bdelloid rotifers? Chances are you have not, though these microscopic animals living in moss and lichen have been around for millions of years, and they are quite interesting fellows. This all-female species can survive in extreme conditions, and has persisted all this time despite the expected negative consequences of asexuality. Karine Van Doninck and her team are studying the mechanisms that prevent genome deterioration and promote diversification in the absence of sexual reproduction, shading some light on this "evolutionary scandal".
Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Ecology (LEGE), University of Namur