RSC Belgium Forthcoming Events

This page acts as a handy aide-memoire for forthcoming RSC Belgium events and activities. We also post information on interesting events notified to us by colleagues in the Belgian chemical community. Why not bookmark this page to ensure you know what is happening and when?

2 October 2014 - Bioenergetic Constraints on the Origin and Evolution of Life, Dr Nick Lane, University College London
Nick Lane is an evolutionary biochemist and writer in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London (UCL). He was awarded the inaugural UCL Provost's Venture Research Prize for his research on evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics and his current work focuses on the origin of life, and the origin and evolution of eukaryotes. He was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and leads the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme.

He is also the author of three critically acclaimed books on evolutionary biochemistry, the most recent of which, Life Ascending, won the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books. His other two popular publications are ‘Power, Sex, Suicide’ and ‘Oxygen’.

All complex life on Earth is eukaryotic, and all eukaryotes (the cells found in plants and animals) share a common ancestor that was already a complex cell. Despite their biochemical virtuosity, prokaryotes (cells found in bacteria) show no tendency to evolve eukaryotic traits or large genomes. I will argue that prokaryotes are constrained by their membrane bioenergetics, for fundamental reasons that stem from the very origin of life. Eukaryotes arose in a rare symbiosis between two prokaryotes, which broke the energetic constraints on prokaryotes and gave rise to mitochondria - often described as power plants for our cells. Loss of almost all mitochondrial genes produced an extreme genomic asymmetry in eukaryotes, in which tiny mitochondrial genomes support, energetically, a massive nuclear genome, giving eukaryotes 3 to 4 orders of magnitude more energy per gene than prokaryotes. The requirement for endosymbiosis radically altered selection on eukaryotes, potentially explaining the evolution of unique traits, including two sexes, germline, speciation and ageing.

Nick Lane was on BBC Radio 4's 'In Our Time' on May 15 with Melvyn Bragg talking about Photosynthesis. Programme details and listen again here.

12 October 2014 - Solvay Public Lectures - Flagey Studios, Brussels
This year's Solvay Public Lectures will feature 2013 Nobel prize winner Francois Englert (ULB) on the Higgs Boson, Conny Aerts (KULeuven) on Starquakes and exoplanets, and Sir Martin Rees (Cambridge) on the Big Bang followed by a panel discussion and audience questions. Registration is now open. More information here.

18 November 2014 - From X-ray tubes to X-ray lasers: A Whistle-stop tour of facilities for Crystallography - Dr Gordon Leonard, ESRF Grenoble
2014 is International Year of Crystallography and Dr Leonard is one of European leading crystallographers. This event will take place at the British School of Brussels. More details to follow.

16 January 2015 - Section AGM and Annual Dinner
More details to follow.

27 January 2015 - Cafe Chimique
More details to follow.

10 May 2015 - Waterloo Walk.
2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. To mark the occasion RSC Belgium is organising a Sunday afternoon walk round the British right flank of the battlefield including the Hougoumont farmhouse, starting at 14:30. The starting point will be the Panorama building and will be led by Alasdair White a leading authority on the battle. Further details and costs to be announced.

You can also find out about RSC Belgium activities via our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter! To get in contact with the section for more details of forthcoming events, of if you have an idea for a future event, please contact the Section secretary, Tim Reynolds.