Dr Zingel is a senior researcher at Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Limnology, Estonia. He is qualified as a hydrobiologist, and his main interests are unicellular protozoa and the functioning of food webs in lakes. Recently, he has been involved in studying the nutrition and survival of fish larvae in both lakes and seas. In collaboration with National Institute of Amazonian Research (Brazil), he has participated in expeditions in the Brazilian Amazon to investigate the structure and functioning of food chains there. He has received a scientific award of Estonian Republic for his work and two awards of popularisation of science in Estonian University of Life Sciences.
We live in the information age, but we still do not fully understand how the surrounding nature exchanges, collects, and manages information – both at the ecosystem and cellular levels. Still, it is crucial to possess a dynamic and developing comprehension of the functioning of nature in order to understand the phenomena occurring in our ever-changing world. Sometimes we encounter an attitude that there is no need to investigate anything further, everything has already been researched. This is a very dangerous attitude. Without information we should not actually talk about the age of information. And it is worth reviewing some knowledge that is deeply ingrained in us from time to time. Occasionally, it is worth taking a step back and consider whether we ourselves may have become trapped in dogmas that may hinder understanding.
This presentation focuses on various aspects of understanding nature, starting from single-celled organisms and ending with ecosystems. The topics that will be discussed among others are:
Dr Ellison is a Science Fellow at LGC, the UK National Measurement Laboratory for chemical and biological measurement. Originally qualified as a chemist, his current interests are primarily in statistics, measurement uncertainty and reference material certification. He is a co-author of EURACHEM guides on measurement uncertainty, metrological traceability and qualitative analysis and contributes to a range of IUPAC, ISO, CEN, BSI and other committees involving applications of statistics for measurement. He is the present Chair of the Eurachem Measurement Uncertainty and Traceability working group and also chairs a CCQM task Group on establishing key comparison reference values for international comparisons.
Analytical measurements are increasingly vital to inform our understanding of our changing global environment and to support regulation of human activity that affects the environment. Environmental analysis, however, experiences particular challenges for measurement reliability. Most practical environmental measurements are carried out on relatively small samples and their results taken as indicators of the much larger area sampled. Environmental monitoring can span decades, and comparability and consistency of measurement results over time and across geo-graphical regions is important for detecting real trends. Environmentally important contaminants – often the subject of regulations – are frequently present at very low levels, often stretching the detection capability of even today’s analytical methods and instrumentation. At low levels, with significant sampling variability, and perhaps especially when environmental measurement is contentious, it is important to understand and express uncertainties clearly and accurately so that reliable policy and regulatory decisions to be made. This, with any accompanying conformity assessment decisions, can be particularly challenging in the frequent cases where sampling and even measurement distributions are far from the familiar Normal distribution. Finally, the regulatory framework controlling laboratory operations has evolved over time; for example, validation of test methods has become increasingly important as new regulatory flexibility allows wider choice of measurement methods, including ‘in-house’ methods, subject to achieving specific performance criteria. Here, these issues will be discussed in the light of experience of some of the UK’s frameworks for environmental regulation and analysis, and with attention to some important Eurachem guidance for analytical practice.
Pu Chun Ke is a Professor at the Nanomedicine Center of The Great Bay Area National Institute for Nanotechnology Innovation (Guangzhou, China) and an Adjunct Full Professor at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Melbourne, Australia). Prof. Ke was a recipient of a prestigious International Senior Scientist Award (RFIS III, 2022) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Inaugural Supervision Excellence Award (2019) from the ARC Center of Excellence at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Australia, a Faculty Achievement in the Sciences Award (2012) from Clemson University, a CAREER Award (2008) from the National Science Foundation and an LJIS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biophysics (2001-2003) from the University of California, San Diego in the United States. He has authored 168 peer-reviewed journal papers (senior author for 117 papers; 15 featured as journal covers) on protein corona, amyloidogenesis mitigation, nanomedicine, nanotoxicology and environmental science in journals including Chemical Society Reviews (3), Nature Communications (3), JACS (3), PNAS (3), Advanced Materials (1), ACS Nano (4), Advanced Science (3), Environmental Science & Technology (5), Nano Letters (4), Nano Today (4) and Small (11). His multidisciplinary research career has spanned over three continents and has been funded by NSF and EPA in the United States, by CSIRO and CBNS in Australia, and by NSFC and MOST in China. He has served on US, European and Australian federal grant panels, and as a frequent referee for 90 major journals. He is on the editorial boards of Biophysical Chemistry (Elsevier) and ACS Nanoscience Au.
The global-scale production of plastics has been instrumental for sustaining the modern way of life, while the accumulation of plastics in landfills, oceans, and anything in between has become a major stressor on environmental sustainability, climate, and, potentially, human health. While mechanical and chemical forces of man and nature can break down and recycle plastics, our understanding of the biological fingerprints of discharged plastics, especially of the nanoscale derivatives of plastics (i.e., nanoplastics), remains superficial.
In 2010, we first reported on algal photosynthesis impaired by nanoplastic adsorption.1 More recently, a host of studies have been conducted to elucidate the environmental implications of micro- and nanoplastics on the molecular, cellular, or whole organism level, typically from the toxicology point of view. In this talk, I will first introduce our early representative studies focused on nano-bio/environmental interactions.2,3 I will then report on our recent finding that anionic polystyrene and poly(methyl methacrylate) nanoparticles can elicit disruptions to vascular endothelial cadherin junctions, a new phenomenon that is biophysical/biochemical and uncorrelated with cytotoxic events such as reactive oxygen species production, autophagy, and apoptosis.4,5 The last part of my talk will be focused on the effects of nanoplastics on the aberrant aggregation of amyloid beta and alpha synuclein, two pathogenic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This talk aims to demonstrate the vast research potential towards elucidating the implications of plastics for environmental sustainability and human health protection.