Inaugural Lecture of Professor Luisa Orsini

School of Biosciences
Wednesday 13 December 2023 (16:30-18:00)

Contact Jessica Heaven.


Join Professor Luisa Orsini for her Inaugural Lecture, hosted at Lecture Theatre 301 Biosciences (R27 on the campus map) on Wednesday 13 December 2023, 4:30pm - 5:30pm. In-person registration for the event can be found here

The time machine chronicles: resurrected crustaceans and ghost DNA

Register for hybrid access via Zoom here.

My mission is to improve environmental health by pushing the frontiers of research and innovation. In this lecture, I will show the use high throughput sequencing technologies, data science and AI to understand the impact of environmental change on freshwater ecosystems. I will leverage ghost DNA (environmental DNA) and resurrected crustaceans to identify the causes of biodiversity loss and the mechanisms of evolution that allow species to persist.

My multidisciplinary approach to science inspired development of innovative and sustainable technologies to improve environmental and human health. I will share recent advances in deploying a water reclamation and waste valorisation technology that meets the net-zero carbon emission goals and delivers clean water for all. By translating cutting-edge multidisciplinary science into practical applications, I contribute to regulatory science and the development of tools and processes for mitigation interventions that enable green growth and meet UN developmental goals.

Luisa was born in Italy, in the sunny city of Naples. She completed her studies in her hometown, earning a Masters Degree in Oceanography and a PhD in marine biology. Her innate curiosity and sense of adventure meant she has lived and worked in six countries to date; what's more, she's previously worked with some of the most prominent biologists, including Hilkka Hanski, the father of the metapopulation theory, and Luc de Meester, The Daphnia ecologist.

During her PhD, Luisa started appreciating the value of multidisciplinary research by bridging genetics and environmental science. Over the years, she moved from genetics to genomics, but her training in environmental science still played a key role in her scientific discoveries.

During her countries-hopping, she landed in the USA as a visiting scientist in John Colbourne’s lab in 2011 – this is when she started learning about bioinformatics and big data science. By the end of her stay in Bloomington Indiana, John was relocating to Birmingham and invited her to become a Brummie.

Luisa was positively surprised by Birmingham and decided to apply for a faculty position. Fast forward 9 years - she is a professor at UoB, deputy director of CERJ, director of the Daphnia Facility, and CTO and founder of EnviSion, the BioSequencing and BioComputing facility many of you have used. In 2019, she became an Alan Turing Fellow, bringing AI into the monitoring and forecasting of biodiversity, which she still pursues to date.

During COVID Luisa trained in business. At the end of 2021, she founded Daphne Water Solutions Limited, a company to commercialise a sustainable water remediation technology that translates fundamental research into sustainable technological applications. Luisa’s drive to leave a legacy of her research and innovation can also be seen through the recent developments of monitoring tools for biodiversity both for regulators and industry. Finally, in her (limited!) spare time, Luisa loves traveling, swimming with wildlife and enjoying life to the full. 

Everyone is welcome to this event, and all are invited to join Luisa after the lecture for refreshments at Café Aroma (Staff House).