Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsWelcome to Bugs, Brains and Beasts. Over the next three weeks we will explore aspects of biology that are linked to some of the exciting research being carried out here at the University of York. Building biological order from a chemically chaotic world requires energy. Life has found ways of harvesting and concentrating the energy that surrounds us into quantities that can speed up chemical reactions, sometimes making them many millions of times faster than they would otherwise occur. This harvested energy powers our bodies, our brains and has even shaped the planet. We’ll start our first week with the planet-shaping biology of Bugs.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsAlthough microbes are invisible to the naked eye, over billions of years they have turned the Earth into the habitable planet it is today. They averted a serious energy shortage by solving the problem of capturing energy from sunlight, developed biochemical pathways that resulted in a breathable atmosphere, convert gaseous nitrogen from the air into fertiliser for plants using symbiosis and are experts at recycling carbon. We’ll explore how biotechnologies exploit various microbial characteristics.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsIn week two you’ll explore the anatomy of the brain, techniques that are being used to understand how neurons develop connections and send signals, and get to grips with how this information allows us to dissect the energy-burning processes responsible for learning and memory… In the final week of our course we’ll examine how biology organises itself into complex ecosystems, the competition for resources that drives interactions between species and how we can build models to better understand these complex interactions that result in the concentration of sunlight harvested by plants into top food-chain predators. We’ll provide you with videos and articles, a way to ask us questions about what you’re learning and experiments you can try at home.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsWe hope that by the end of this course you’ll have gained some exciting insights into the biology that is all around us. We hope you’ll be inspired to learn more about the life sciences and consider the career opportunities a deeper understanding of biology offers. Most of all we hope that you’ll have fun learning more about bugs, brains and beasts

Welcome to our course

Dr Setareh Chong, a Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of York, introduces our course.

In Week one explore the challenges life in the form of single-celled Bugs - or microbes - had to overcome and how this shaped the Earth into the world it is today. Discover more about microbial interactions and the ways in which microbes can be exploited to make useful products.

We get inside your head in Week two to understand how Brains work. Learn more about the techniques that have been used to allow us to understand how the processes that allow you to learn work. And what this means for making memories.

Start looking at the world differently in Week three when we examine how our interactions with the environment can have profound consequences on the Beasts that make up our ecosystem.

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The Biology of Bugs, Brains, and Beasts

University of York

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Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: