2019 Seminars

The-Not-So-Sterile Womb: New Data to Challenge an Old Dogma

Date: 29 March 2019
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Lisa Stinson

The human body plays host to a complex ecosystem of trillions of bacteria. These microorganisms are essential collaborators in human physiology, providing nutrient breakdown in the gut, contributing to metabolic function, calibrating the immune system, and defending against pathogens. We have co-evolved with this ecosystem, or “microbiome”, for millennia. It has long been assumed that the womb is sterile and that the establishment of the human microbiome commences with the birthing process. Recently, bacterial DNA has been identified in umbilical cord blood, placentas, amniotic fluid, and the fetal gut in uncomplicated pregnancies, leading to the hypothesis that the seeding of the human microbiome may commence in-utero. However, these data have remained contentious due to entrenched methodological errors that plague this field of research. Lisa has spent the past four years developing and optimising new techniques to study the microbiome of the human fetus. Her research demonstrates that bacterial DNA, intact bacterial cells, and bacterial metabolites are present in-utero, and have the potential to influence the developing fetal immune system. In this presentation Lisa will present her PhD data, providing new evidence to overturn the sterile womb dogma.

Lisa Stinson is a reproductive biologist and molecular microbiologist at The University of Western Australia and the Women’s and Infants Research Foundation. Her research interests include the early life microbiome, the developmental origins of health and disease, and preterm birth. She recently submitted her PhD thesis titled “The not-so-sterile womb: New data to challenge an old dogma”. When she’s not in the lab, Lisa actively partakes in science communication and outreach.

Behind the Lens: Visual Perception in Humans, Insects and Other Animals

Date: 1st March 2018
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Drew Thornton

Experience visual phenomena and take a glimpse into alien thought-bubbles with Behind the Lens — Visual Perception in Humans, Insects and Other Animals.

In this seminar and discussion group:
⁍ Examine the physiology of vision, and the meaning of seeing.
⁍ Discuss the significance of sight in philosophy of mind.
⁍ Look at—and through—the eyes of other animals, including spiders, flies, toads and cuttlefish.

Drew Thornton is working on his project and dissertation with SymbioticA, exploring perceptions of non-human consciousness. At the end of 2019, Drew will complete his Master of Biological Arts and exhibit his final project, wherein audiences will come eye-to-eye and go toe-to-toe with a buzzed-up colony of houseflies.