Public lectures: Pushing boundaries far and near

1 February 2018

What is required for us to find life outside our solar system? How do we solve the riddle of cell regulation? At the Celsius–Linnaeus Lectures on 8 February, astrophysicist Natalie Batalha and biologist Aviv Regev present research findings literally light years apart.

Every year in February, the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology at Uppsala University arranges two lectures in memory of Anders Celsius and Carl Linnaeus. The lecturers chosen are researchers whose world-leading and highly topical research has been widely acclaimed in the research community and is of great general interest.

This year's lectures are being held in the Polhem Hall at the Ångström Laboratory in Uppsala on 8 February. The lecturers are astrophysicist Natalie Batalha from NASA Ames Research Center and NASA's Kepler Mission, USA, and biologist Aviv Regev from MIT and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, USA. In the afternoon of Thursday 8 February, a multidisciplinary Celsius–Linnaeus Symposium will be held, also in the Polhem Hall.

Media representatives are welcome to attend the lectures and the symposium. The lectures on Thursday 8 February will be filmed and can be viewed later through the University’s video portal.

Natalie Batalha is the science lead for NASA’s Kepler Mission. The Kepler probe was launched in March 2009 to detect exoplanets – planets outside our solar system, but within our galaxy. She also led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b — the mission’s first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. Kepler's observations concentrate on stars potentially surrounded by habitable, Earth-like planets. Other key issues for the research team are what a typical planetary system looks like and how this varies depending on different types of stars. In 2017 Batalha was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine.

Aviv Regev is a professor of computational biology and together with her research team has developed new experimental methods for looking at human cells. She is studying in particular the amounts of the many different RNA molecules contained in individual cells. RNA is a chemical substance that conveys genetic information and controls protein synthesis. By mapping the molecular network that regulates genes and thereby defines cells and tissues, scientists can better understand and influence diseases like cancer. Aviv Regev also leads the massive international project the Human Cell Atlas, which aims to catalogue every cell type in the human body.

On Thursday 8 February, a multidisciplinary Celsius–Linnaeus Symposium will be held from 14:00 to 17:00, also in the Polhem Hall at the Ångström Laboratory. The lecturing scientists are from Uppsala University, Karolinska Hospital and the University of São Paulo in Brazil. At the end, there will be a closing discussion with an opportunity for the audience to ask the lecturers questions.

Time and place for the events:

Both the lectures and the symposium will be held in the Polhem Hall, the Ångström Laboratory, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala University, on 8 February.
Natalie Batalha will speak at 09:15 and Aviv Regev at 10:30.
The symposium will be held from 14:00 to 17:00.

The media and the general public are welcome to attend both the lectures and the symposium - no booking is required. All programme points will be held in English.

Find out more about the lectures and download the programme.

For more information, please contact Professor Hemin Koyi of the Department of Earth Sciences, Chair of the Celsius–Linnaeus Committee, tel: +46 18 471 2563, email: