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BMS Seminar: Microbial Communities through a Computational Framework, Dr Sara Kalvala, Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick

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Location: A151, Medical School Building

Abstract: Micro-organisms are all around us -- usually forming rich multi-species communities where hundreds of thousands of individuals interact, whether to cooperate, compete, or feed on each other, and so affecting many aspects of our day-to-day life. There is also significant interest by mathematicians, computer scientists and even social scientists and philosophers in studying microbial communities, as concepts of cooperation and competition are relevant not only at the micro-organism level but everywhere -- between nations, between animals, between mobile phone users, and so on. 

As a computer scientist, I rely on the foundations provided by game theory and agent-based modelling, and use these to tackle the particular characteristics of spatial distribution of microbes and their short-range interactions. Simulations allow what-if scenarios to be quickly used to understand situations which are often too expensive or even impossible to set up experimentally. 

In this session I will introduce the general concepts of Multi-Agent Systems and Game Theory, from a computational perspective. I will then discuss how abstract models can be used to understand how microbes organize themselves into colonies and work together, and on the flip side how this understanding of how microbes work together can inspire new computational solutions to problems beyond life sciences.

Sara KalvalaBiography: I am a Reader in Computer Science at the University of Warwick. I work broadly in the area of Computational Biology, and I also collaborate with biologists in the interdisciplinary field of Synthetic Biology, where I use my expertise in program compilation to develop techniques to map desired cell functionalities into genetic code.

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