14th January 2015, 11:29am
Great Minds: what maths can tell us about animal antics
Dr Lisa Collins An expert in animal welfare will illustrate how mathematics can help us better understand the complex and sometimes bizarre behaviour of animals in a free public guest lecture as part of the University of Lincoln’s Great Minds series.

Dr Lisa Collins, from the University’s School of Life Sciences, will demonstrate how fractal analysis – typically used to describe the complexity in swirling galaxies, the ruggedness of a stretch of coastline and the structural detail of a snowflake – can be used to understand the feelings of everything from chickens to Chihuahuas, and even what it can tell us about ourselves.

Dr Collins will present her talk, entitled What can maths tell us about how an animal is feeling?, on Wednesday 4th February 2015. The event will take place at the EMMTEC building on the University’s main Brayford Pool Campus, with registration at 5.30pm. Admission is free but booking is essential.

Dr Collins said: “Mathematics can tell us a lot about the world around us, but it isn’t widely known that it can also have a lot to say about feelings. I will delve into a little-explored wonderland of behaviour hidden to the human eye, but not to an algorithm.  

“When we examine a galaxy through a powerful telescope, the level of detail we can see changes with the magnification; amazing repeating patters-within-patterns emerge the higher the magnification we use.  In a similar way, my research team has been looking to find repeating patterns-within-patterns with changing magnification in the behaviour of animals, and investigating what they mean for animal feelings.”

Last year Dr  Collins was invited to deliver the same talk for the prestigious Charles Darwin Award Lecture at the British Science Festival in 2014. Organised by the British Science Association, the festival is the largest public showcase for science in the UK. She is also a lecturer on the Maths Inspiration international theatre tour.

She will introduce the audience to mathematical concepts such as fractal analysis, Markov chain analysis, and agent based simulation models.  

The University of Lincoln’s Great Minds guest lecture series aims to provide inspirational insights into different aspects of society – from the entertainment world to elite sport – for school and college students in Years 11, 12 and 13. A limited number of places are also available to the public.

Previous Great Minds speakers include the multi-award-winning John Hurt, the Olympian and sports broadcaster Steve Cram,  Senior Curator at the Natural History Museum Dr Mark Spencer, and leader of the Red Arrows, ‘Red 1’ Squadron Leader David Montenegro.

To register for the Great Minds talk by Dr Lisa Collins, or find out more about upcoming events at the University of Lincoln, visit www.lincoln.ac.uk/events. Keep up with the conversation on Twitter using #GreatMindsUoL
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