Working under a theme encourages an interdisciplinary approach and collaboration

Why is there such a great variety of species in tropical countries compared to the rest of the world? What role can museums and herbaria play in research on evolution? These are some of the questions that are the focus of the Origins of Biodiversity programme organised by the Gothenburg Centre for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology (GoCAS) in the spring.

Biodiversity brings together researchers in two centres of expertise and research. Professor Alexandre Antonelli (left) and Allison Perrigo from the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre together with Professor Scott Edwards, who is leading the Origins of Biodiversity theme within the Gothenburg Centre for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology.

Origins of Biodiversity is led by Professor Scott Edwards, an evolutionary biologist from Harvard University. ‘Evolution and biology involve taking a step back and considering the world objectively’, Scott says.

The programme brings together researchers and students in the fields of biology, medicine, mathematics, physics and computer science to discuss the theory of evolution and biodiversity based on their respective fields.

THE PROGRAMME consists of workshops with five different themes relating to subjects such as phylogeography – that is, the geographic distribution patterns of species and their genetic kinship.

Scott Edwards has not encountered anything like GoCAS before and anticipates many dividends from the programme. ‘The nice thing about the collaboration between the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology is that it brings people together’, says Scott. ‘Research no longer takes place in isolation, but is a collaborative effort. It’s a matter of bandying about ideas with each other and saying, “What if we do it this way?” Or “What kind of experiment can we conduct to test this idea?”’

Biologist Karin Hårding is coordinator for the spring programme. ‘GoCAS seeks to promote curiosity-guided research under a theme that has an interdisciplinary nature and encourages collaboration among multiple departments.’