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CIVIS has been established as a University that reaches from the local level to the international dimension, focused on responding to local needs, contributing to regional development strategies, and addressing global challenges. The development of Research and Innovation (R&I), as an integral component of its educational mission, has been part of the CIVIS mission from the very beginning.

It is in this perspective that RIS4CIVIS has been elaborated and now operates. The overall objective is to produce an integrated, long-term R&I Strategy that, will over time enable the constituent members of the CIVIS European University to seamlessly integrate their know-how, expertise, and resources in the service of Research and Innovation that effectively addresses current and future societal challenges, at local, regional and international level.

As part of the activities developed to reach this objective, the Cups&Cakes meetings aim to create a discussion forum for researchers to connect and get an overview of what is happening in other partner universities on a specific topic. In the longer term, these exchanges also aim to foster exchanges and develop potential collaborations within the CIVIS Alliance.

These Cups&Cakes will be scheduled for one hour and will consist of two phases:

  • A 40-minutes presentation of current research work chosen by the speaker (including a 5-minute introduction of general expertise and work in progress within the university on the topic of interest).
  • Open discussion of about 20 minutes.

These meetings will take place on Mondays every two weeks from 10h00 to 11h00. Each partner University, in turn, will have the opportunity to present to the CIVIS Community a subject of their research.

Presentation abstract

The Earth’s surface is modulated by fascinating interactions between climate, tectonics, and biota. These interactions are manifested over diverse temporal and spatial scales ranging from seconds to millions of years, and microns to thousands of kilometers, respectively. Investigations into Earth surface shaping by biota have gained growing attention over the last decades and are a research frontier. Examples of the scales of biotic interactions with surface processes range from microbial and fungal consumption of mineral surfaces over short temporal and small spatial scales, to vegetation interactions with climate, sedimentation and erosion over time scales of hours (individual storms) to millennia (global climate change), and spatial scales of centi-  to kilometers (encompassing individual plants to catchment scale biomes). In this lecture, I present an integration of research activities and opportunities related to this topic with an emphasis on processes spanning from human to geologic timescales. This lecture is intended for a general audience of viewers.

About the speaker

Todd Ehlers is Professor of Geosciences at the University of Tübingen, Germany.
His research interests are in the interactions between climate, tectonics, surface processes, and biota as applied to the evolution of Earth’s topography. 
His research involves an integration of field and geochemical observations with physics-based models of landscape evolution, plate tectonics, dynamic vegetation modelling, and climate. Professor Ehlers is the speaker for the German priority research program EarthShape (Earth Surface Shaping by Biota), an elected member of Academia Europaea, and a recipient of the European Geosciences Union Bagnold Medal.

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Presentation abstract

Soils are valuable ecosystems that support biomass and food production and make life on earth possible. The soil uppermost layers are colonized by small-sized communities formed mainly by cyanobacteria, lichens, and bryophytes that are essential for maintaining healthy and fully functional soils.

However, the spatial distribution of the soil cover communities and their ecosystem functions as well as their responses to climate are largely unknown.

In this talk, we will present the main results of the citizen science project SoilSkin that is focused on engaging non-professional volunteers in the collection of data on biological soil cover at a regional scale.

More about the speakers

  • Nagore G. Medina is an Associate Professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In her PhD she studied the organization of moss communities across scales, developing novel approaches that allow the simultaneous analysis of the multiple drivers of biodiversity. She has also worked on different aspects of plant functional and community ecology and biogeography at Imperial College London and the universities of Northern Arizona, Lisbon, and South Bohemia (Czech Republic). Currently, she leads SoilSkin, a citizen science project investigating the climatic dependence and vulnerability to climate change of biological soil covers, and SCENIC, a coordinated project on the scaling of biodiversity organization, both in collaboration between the UAM and the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Madrid (MNCN-CSIC). 
  • André Mira obtained his MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, where he later worked as a research fellow in the ERC project COMPCOM. He is currently starting his PhD at MNCN-CSIC and UAM, and also collaborating with SoilSkin project.

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Presentation abstract

Advances in molecular genetics and imaging have allowed for the dissection of neuronal connectivity with unprecedented detail while in vivo recordings are providing much-needed clues as to how sensory, motor, and cognitive function is encoded in neuronal firing. However, bridging the gap between the cellular and behavioral levels ultimately requires an understanding of the functional organization of the underlying neuronal circuits. In this talk, I will present experimental evidence for the existence of hub neurons, cells critically contributing to the maturation of functional cortical circuits during brain development.

More about the speaker

Rosa Cossart, INMED (INSERM U1249), Aix-Marseille Université, Turing Center for Living Systems, NeuroMarseille Institute

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