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Gee Research Blog

Was Fermentation Key to Yeast Diversification?

Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:30:43 +0000

From bread to beer, yeast has shaped our diets and our recreation for centuries. Recent research in GEE shows how humans have shaped the evolution of this important microorganism. As well as revealing the evolutionary origins of modern fission yeast, the new study published in Nature Genetics this month shows how techniques developed for detecting […]

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Planning for the Future – Resilience to Extreme Weather

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:13:14 +0000

As climate change progresses, extreme weather events are set to increase in frequency, costing billions and causing immeasurable harm to lives and livelihoods. GEE’s Professor Georgina Mace contributed to the recent Royal Society report on “Resilience to Extreme Weather”, which predicts the future impacts of increasing extreme weather events, and evaluates potential strategies for improving […]

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Forecasting Extinction

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:33:21 +0000

Classifying a species as either extinct or extant is important if we are to quantify and monitor current rates of biodiversity loss, but it is rare that a biologist is handy to actually observe an extinction event. Finding the last member of a species is difficult, if not impossible, so extinction classifications are usually estimates […]

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Changing Perspectives in Conservation

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:15:44 +0000

Our views of the importance of nature and our place within have changed dramatically over the the last century, and the prevailing paradigm has profound influences on conservation from the science that is conducted to the policies that are enacted. In a recent perspectives piece for Science, GEE’s Professor Georgina Mace considered the impacts that […]

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Function Over Form: Phenotypic Integration and the Evolution of the Mammalian Skull

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:05:52 +0000

Our bodies are more than just a collection of independent parts – they are complex, integrated systems that rely upon precise coordination in order to function properly. In order for a leg to function as a leg, the bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels must all work together as an integrated whole. This concept, […]

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Phenotypic Integration and the Evolution of the Mammalian Skull
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Darwin Building

Darwin Plaque ©Cain

Darwin rented a house on the site where the Darwin Building now stands and lived there with his newlywed wife, Emma, for about 4 years. He moved in on New Year's Eve 1838-9, eager to start his married live in a few weeks time. He and Emma named the house "macaw Cottage" because of the ghastly red and yellow decorating scheme of the previous occupant. To see what the house looked like in Darwin's day, just look across the street.  At the time this was "Upper Gower Street" and it was a quiet cul de sac with a gate at the corner of University Street, where the Grant Museum is now. Darwin liked to jog in the back garden. (Steve Jones likes to call the Darwin Lecture Theater "Darwin's coal basement". Not quite! In Darwin's day the basement served as a kitchen.) Darwin selected Gower Street to live because it was close to Euston Station, brand new in the late 1830s, and he and Emma travelled frequently to see their family in Shropshire.

After the Darwins left the house, it was rented further to various undistinguished people until late in the Century when several houses were bought up by a Tottenham Court Road furniture company. They created a boarding house for 300 men. Two houses over they created a boarding house for 100 women. One would fret for the single family living in the house in the middle! The furniture company went bankrupt in the early 20thC -bought up by Harrod's.

Later the boarding house was used by the Indian Student's Association.

The house was destroyed during the blitz in a raid that destroyed the row of terraced houses and also destroyed what is now the science library (and what had been Darwin's back garden). After the war the plot was cleared and left vacant.

In the early 1960s the Biological Science Building - the present building on the site - was built.  It was controversial for its modernist facade - not at all what some people thought of as classical Bloomsbury.

The building was rechristened "Darwin" in 1982 thanks to the Darwin scholar and bibliographer  RB Freeman, as part of the centennial commemorations of Darwin's death.

Upper Gower Street 1835 © English Heritage

Illustration right by George Scharf 1835:  View looking south along Upper Gower Street. The Darwins’ rented house (no. 12) is in the distance on the left. The Porter’s Lodges at the entrance to the university are on the near left. University Street and Grafton Street are on the near right. Also on the near right is North London Hospital, also called University College Hospital. (Credit: English Heritage 00754062001).


A brief history of the Darwin Building by Professor Joe Cain

Page last modified on 18 aug 14 15:59