Cambrian Nervous Systems for Reconstructing the Arthropod Tree of Life

Lead Research Organisation: The Natural History Museum
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed legs, such as insects, crabs, spiders and centipedes. Arthropoda is by far the largest and most diverse phylum today and is closely related to two smaller phyla, Onychophora (velvet worms) and Tardigrada (water bears), together forming Panarthropoda. They first appear 520 million years ago (Mya) in the "Cambrian Explosion", marked by the sudden appearance of most major animal phyla in the fossil record. The long geological history and exceptional diversity of panarthropods make them ideal candidates for understanding the origin and early evolution of animals, and it is thus fundamental to investigate their Cambrian fossil record.

The great diversity in the external appearance of panarthropods makes it difficult to understand their interrelationships. In contrast, recent studies show that the evolution of the central nervous system (CNS) has been remarkably conservative, and while variations between species can be recognised, the general arrangement within each major group has been very stable. Therefore, the CNS provides a primary source of data for understanding the relationships of major panarthropod groups. Unfortunately, extant species cannot inform us about the earliest panarthropod brains and nervous systems, or their early evolutionary history. Only fossils, which record the earliest stages in the evolution of arthropods, can provide the answers.

Soft parts of animals tend to decay away quickly after death, so most arthropod fossils are the remains of hard parts (e.g. exoskeletons) and much less is known about their internal anatomy. However, under exceptional circumstances, the unmineralised soft tissue of organisms can also be preserved in exquisite detail, such as in two famous Cambrian fossil assemblages: the Chengjiang biota, southwest China (circa 520 Mya), and the Burgess Shale, Canada (circa 505 Mya). Both yield abundant panarthropod fossils with exceptionally preserved external morphology and internal anatomy, providing crucial information about the earliest panarthropods. Countering orthodox assumptions that neural tissue does not withstand fossilization, the applicant and her colleagues recently reported exceptionally preserved brains and nervous systems from Chengjiang arthropods, which added a fresh injection of data for understanding fossil arthropods and established a new research field, "neuropalaeontology". Further provisional studies have discovered the brain and other neural tissues in even earlier-derived fossil panarthropods, providing vital information regarding the origin of arthropod brains; as well as new discoveries of exceptionally preserved circulatory systems (previously all but unknown in the arthropod fossil record) and sensory structures (e.g. eyes and sense organs on the antennae) from Cambrian panarthropods. Together with their CNS, these provide unique insights into the ecology and evolution of early panarthropods.

The aim of this project is to accurately document the CNS, sensory structures and other internal organ systems from exceptionally preserved Cambrian panarthropods (e.g. lobopodians, anomalocaridids and arthropods) of the Chengjiang and Burgess Shale biotas and compare the data with living groups, so as to increase our understanding of the evolutionary relationships between major groups during the early stages of radiation and divergence.

Planned Impact

This project will use the earliest nervous systems from Cambrian fossils to address fundamental questions about the origin and early evolution of animal life. Its unique outcomes will appeal directly or indirectly to a diverse range of individuals/organisations.

1) Academics: the multidisciplinary nature of the research ensures its relevance to a wide range of scientists, including palaeontologists, neurobiologists, taphonomists, phylogeneticists and evolutionary biologists. Results will be published in high-impact peer-reviewed international journals. The applicant will present the results at national and international conferences. Data generated will be archived in a NERC Data Centre and/or open access websites.

2) Public sector: The Natural History Museum (NHM) in London is a world-leading research institution and a major public engagement centre that attracts 5 million visitors per year. Results from this project will contribute to enhancing the museum's research profile, increase its influence and standing overseas, and encourage more visits. The applicant will facilitate NHM and other UK colleagues establishing further international collaboration, particularly with China.

3) Educators & Students. Results will impact teachers whose purpose is to teach biological and evolutionary knowledge and concepts. The research will assist educators in providing interesting examples of key biological innovations. Consequently, the knowledge held by students of all ages will be enriched, as will their interest and understanding of evolution. The applicant will take up appropriate teaching activities and supervise research students. The NHM attracts 150,000 school visitors each year, with many targeted outreach activities and programmes to provide a forum for Museum scientists to engage with students as well as education professionals, such as "Biology AS and A-level Day".

4) General Public. This research will be attractive and accessible to most laypersons interested in nature. The project will also act as a compelling springboard for communicating to the public the fascination of how life evolved and showing how scientists understand evolution as a process. NHM scientists have a unique opportunity to publicize their results to a wide audience. The applicant will take part in Museum scientific engagement activities, such as Nature Live, and the annual event "Science Uncovered", which attracts 12,000 visitors in one night. To reach a broader public audience, the applicant will work with the NHM Press Office to promote major discoveries from the research.

5) Policy makers. High-impact research on the Chengjiang Lagerstätte will influence international understanding and collaboration between the UK and China. In 2012 UNESCO declared the Chengjiang fossil locality as a World Heritage Site, providing new opportunities to local communities, but also causing conflicts with local phosphate miners. This research will win more conservation support, bring more funding, and attract tourists to the site as a new way to generate economic growth. This international collaboration will bring together Western and Chinese experts who can contribute their knowledge and experience to local policymaking and International collaboration. In 2013, the applicant and her UK and US collaborators held a strategic meeting with the Yuxi Government to discuss how to protect the Chengjiang fossil site and how to use its World Natural Heritage status to benefit local people and the regional economy.

6) Commercial sector. Given that the extensive media and popular science coverage of palaeontology is almost invariably reported in an evolutionary context, various commercial media, such as TV, Internet, newspapers, magazines and books, will profit from this research as will the recipient public.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/L011751/1 01/08/2014 31/05/2018 £430,643
NE/L011751/2 Transfer NE/L011751/1 01/06/2018 30/04/2020 £211,073
 
Description 1. We have discovered more fossilised neural structures from 520-million-years old Cambrian fossils, which provide crucial insights into the early evolution of panarthropod central nervous systems. 2. The discovery of further fossil material also allowed us to carry out rigorous studies on the preservational pathways of these labile tissues in fossils. 3. The research on the exceptionally preserved internal organ systems and their preservation shed new light on understanding the physiology and ecology of these earliest animals on earth. 4. The oldest evidence of metazoan symbiosis was discovered.
Exploitation Route Academically: I will continue to present and share our research results with other researchers/research groups, and also I will develop a wider collaboration to work with scientists from different disciplines. Following our publications, the new research field "neuropalaeontology" is now growing, and I am glad to see other palaeontologists are starting to explore and to make new discoveries of fossilised neural structures from other exceptionally preserved fossils.

Non-academically: I will continue to work with media or to take part in scientific engagement activities to introduce our work to the general public. I will take more teaching activities to share my knowledge and expertise with more students. I will continue to work with my host institution and Chinese local government to help them with the development of the economy, culture, education, etc. We will generate reconstructions from our research animal and use these model to develop commercial products with manufactures.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/44765/title/To-Retain-a-Brain/
 
Description Our research findings have been widely reported by the media globally, which generated a huge amount of public interest. I have also took part in various scientific engagement activities and talked with general public about my research project. Influenced by our research, the policy makers have made text book on Chengjiang biota including many of my research findings to Chinese school nationwide. Local government also decided to build new museum and develop local tourism based on our research.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Collaborating with Yuxi government
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact With the increasing research achievements from the Chengjiang biota and its World Heritage Site fame, Yuxi government wants to use this brand to develop local economy, eduction and culture, and I have been in collaborating with them. So far, a text book about Chengjiang biota including my own research have been published and distributed nationally in China, and it become the mandatory reading material for schools in Yunnan Province. The government decide to built a large Chengjiang (Natural History) museum and develop local tourism industries (including geological tours and production of artefacts inspired from Chengjiang fossil animals).
 
Description Help with the visit of Chinese Minister Counsellor of Cultural Affairs to the NHM
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Negotiation between the NHM and the Yuxi Government
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact As part of the NHM policy for increasing the oversea influence and income, I am working with the International Engagement Department at the NHM for negotiating a potential project to design and construct of a Chengjiang museum near Yuxi, Yunnan Province, China. The NHM will provide expertise to the Yuxi government on this museum project.
 
Description 1000plan Program for Young Professionals
Amount ¥1,000,000 (CNY)
Funding ID c6153002 
Organisation National Natural Science Foundation of China 
Sector Public
Country China
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description Provincial Innovation Team of Yunnan Province
Amount ¥1,000,000 (CNY)
Funding ID 2015HC029 
Organisation Yunnan Science and Technology Department 
Sector Public
Country China
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Title Cambrian Trace Fossils 
Description My research team have been collecting trace fossils from the Cambrian strata in Southwest China, and we are also compiling database for the Cambrian trace fossils records in China. The fossil specimens are protected by Chinese fossil legislation, so they are deposited at the Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology, Yunnan University, China. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This work is sill in progress, and the database will be shared with my collaborators and published when the research work is done. 
 
Description Cambrian trace fossils 
Organisation University of Florida
Department College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead the project and a research team of five people in this project. I organise fossil collecting, manage the research team, and guide the team to carry out the research work.
Collaborator Contribution My partners are experts in trace fossils, so they provide their expertise and training for my research team.
Impact A collaborative field work and training have been organised last year, and the detailed project programme has been defined. We are currently prepare for a review article on Cambrian trace fossils from Southwest China.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Genomic and fossil data of Cycloneuralia 
Organisation University of Bath
Department Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provide my expertise in Cambrian cycloneuralian fossils (e.g. priapulids and their relatives) and access to some of these fossils. I monitor the progress of the whole project and I am the main supervisor of the PhD student involved in this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution My Bath partners provide expertise in morphometric and phylogenetic analysis and is also the main supervisor of the PhD student. My Bristol partners provide expertise in molecular phylogeny, molecular clock and expertise on s to some other Cambrian fossils.
Impact We applied for a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust, which unfortunately was not successful. However, I have successfully recruited a PhD student who will be fully funded by the NERC DTP scheme, and the student will be co-supervised by all of us.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Genomic and fossil data of Cycloneuralia 
Organisation University of Bristol
Department School of Biological Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provide my expertise in Cambrian cycloneuralian fossils (e.g. priapulids and their relatives) and access to some of these fossils. I monitor the progress of the whole project and I am the main supervisor of the PhD student involved in this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution My Bath partners provide expertise in morphometric and phylogenetic analysis and is also the main supervisor of the PhD student. My Bristol partners provide expertise in molecular phylogeny, molecular clock and expertise on s to some other Cambrian fossils.
Impact We applied for a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust, which unfortunately was not successful. However, I have successfully recruited a PhD student who will be fully funded by the NERC DTP scheme, and the student will be co-supervised by all of us.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Synchrotron Analysis 
Organisation Stanford University
Department SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I provide the fossils material and designed the Synchrotron research project on these specimens to find out their geochemical composition
Collaborator Contribution My partners provide their expertise in geochemistry and access to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL)
Impact We have carried out some analysis on the fossil material and obtain interesting data.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Synchrotron Analysis 
Organisation University College Cork
Department School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provide the fossils material and designed the Synchrotron research project on these specimens to find out their geochemical composition
Collaborator Contribution My partners provide their expertise in geochemistry and access to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL)
Impact We have carried out some analysis on the fossil material and obtain interesting data.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The Central Nervous Systems and Sensory Structures of Cambrian Panarthropods 
Organisation University of Arizona
Department Department of Neuroscience
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am leading this research project and carry out day to day research work. I provide my expertise in fossilised neural structures from exceptionally preserved Cambrian fossils. To my partners at Yunnan University, I also provide access to geochemical analysis and expertise at my host institution NHM; to my partners at the University of Arizona, I also provide access to fossil material and expertise in fossil study.
Collaborator Contribution My partners at Yunnan University collect Chengjiang fossils all year around and provide me access to all available fossil specimens for the research project. During my research trips to Yunnan University, they also paid for some of my costs, including flight tickets, accommodation and some field work fees. My partner at University of Arizona is a world-leader in the field of neuroanatomy and he provides expertise in interpreting neural structures.
Impact Since the start of my project from August 2014, six papers have been published as a result of this collaboration, four of which are in high-impact journals. The DOI numbers of the five papers are: 1) doi: 10.1038/nature13486; 2) doi: 10.1038/nature13861; 3) doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2015.07.005; 4) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.063; 5) doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0038; 6) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.012. Our research results were reported by the media globally. This is multidisciplinary project, involving disciplines of palaeontology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology, ecology, geology, geochemistry, and sedimentology
Start Year 2014
 
Description The Central Nervous Systems and Sensory Structures of Cambrian Panarthropods 
Organisation Yunnan University
Department Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am leading this research project and carry out day to day research work. I provide my expertise in fossilised neural structures from exceptionally preserved Cambrian fossils. To my partners at Yunnan University, I also provide access to geochemical analysis and expertise at my host institution NHM; to my partners at the University of Arizona, I also provide access to fossil material and expertise in fossil study.
Collaborator Contribution My partners at Yunnan University collect Chengjiang fossils all year around and provide me access to all available fossil specimens for the research project. During my research trips to Yunnan University, they also paid for some of my costs, including flight tickets, accommodation and some field work fees. My partner at University of Arizona is a world-leader in the field of neuroanatomy and he provides expertise in interpreting neural structures.
Impact Since the start of my project from August 2014, six papers have been published as a result of this collaboration, four of which are in high-impact journals. The DOI numbers of the five papers are: 1) doi: 10.1038/nature13486; 2) doi: 10.1038/nature13861; 3) doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2015.07.005; 4) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.063; 5) doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0038; 6) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.012. Our research results were reported by the media globally. This is multidisciplinary project, involving disciplines of palaeontology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology, ecology, geology, geochemistry, and sedimentology
Start Year 2014
 
Description The Ecology and Environment of the Chengjiang Biota 
Organisation University of Leicester
Department Leicester Precision Medicine Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution I provide my expertise in taphonomy and Chengjiang ecology. I monitor the progress of the project and actively involve in all aspects of it. I co-write the manuscript.
Collaborator Contribution My Leicester partners provide their expertise in taphonomy, stratigraphy and palaeoecology. My Yunnan partner provide his expertise in geochemistry.
Impact We have finished one manuscript from this collaborative project, which is currently under review in Geology.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The Ecology and Environment of the Chengjiang Biota 
Organisation Yunnan University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provide my expertise in taphonomy and Chengjiang ecology. I monitor the progress of the project and actively involve in all aspects of it. I co-write the manuscript.
Collaborator Contribution My Leicester partners provide their expertise in taphonomy, stratigraphy and palaeoecology. My Yunnan partner provide his expertise in geochemistry.
Impact We have finished one manuscript from this collaborative project, which is currently under review in Geology.
Start Year 2016
 
Description ToF-SIMS Geochemical Analysis 
Organisation Lund University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are investigating the remains of molecular compound from the dark carbonaceous parts of Cambrian fossil specimens, particularly the eye regions. In this collaboration, I provide: 1) my expertise in Chengjiang fossil taphonomy and Cambrian panarthropod fossils and their visual systems; 2) access to fossil material for geochemical analyses; 3) intellectual discussion with my partner regarding the project development and interpretation of the analysis results.
Collaborator Contribution In the collaboration, my parterner provide: 1) his expertise in pigment preservation in fossil material; 2) access to Time-of-Flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS); 3) he leads the project, carries out TOF-SIMS analysis and interpret the raw data.
Impact We have generated some interesting data, and now we are preparing for a manuscript that is near submission.
Start Year 2014
 
Description An International Conference on the Rise of Animal Life-Cambrian and Ordovician biodiversification events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Unlocking Central Nervous Systems of Cambrian Chengjiang Panarthropods and Their Preservation Pathways".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Engaged with "Women in Science" activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed and written about for the article called "Inspiring women in science and research at the Natural History Museum", which is published at the NHM website and various social media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/women-in-science-and-research-at-the-natural-history-museum.html
 
Description IGCP Project 591-Field Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Deep Thoughts from Deep Time-Central Nervous Systems of Cambrian Panarthropods" at this conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Talk at the EuroEvoDevo 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk at the symposium "Old Questions, Young Approaches" at the Sixth Meeting of European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, in Uppsala, Sweden, 26-29th July 2016.

The audience was dominantly biologists, so they were intrigued by my talk about evolutionary developmental and neurobiological studies in palaeontology, so I have been approached a lot during the conference for questions or discussion.

The organisers invited me to write a book chapter on my talk topic, and the book will be published by Springer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited article on Nature Ecology & Evolution Community 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following the publication of our paper on Nature Ecology & Evolution, I was invited to write the story behind the research at Nature Ecology & Evolution Community website. The article is entitled "A Cambrian Can of Worms".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/users/25939-xiaoya-ma/posts/19679-a-cambrian-can-of-worms
 
Description Invited speaker at 16th Annual Meeting of Japanese Society of Evolutionary Studies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As an invited speaker, I presented a talk titled "Deep Thoughts from Deep Time-Central Nervous Systems of Cambrian Panarthropods" at this conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited talk at the Department of Geology, University of Leicester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk titled "Deep Thoughts from Deep Time-Exploring the Oldest Fossil Brains from Cambrian Panarthropods and Their Exceptional Preservation".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited talk at the GeolSoc Events, University of Derby 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk titled "Exceptionally preserved fossils from China".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited talk at the JT Biohistory Research Hall, Takatsuki, Japan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk titled "The Chengjiang Biota-The Flowering of Early Animal Life".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited talk at the LLPS in Leicester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk at the the Geology Section of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society on 30th November, 2016.

The audience showed a great interest in my talk, which sparked many questions from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited talk at the Palaeontology Research Group, Bristol University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk titled "The Chengjiang Biota: 30 Years of Research".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the NHM team, I participated the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in 2016 and communicated with the general public about palaeontological research. It was a great event and have attracted a large number of visitors over the three-day event, which sparked many questions and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.fossilfestival.co.uk/
 
Description NHM Nature Live Public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I have taken part in the regular scientific engagement activities "Nature Live" at the Natural History Museum, during which about I present my research to 50 public visitor and answer their questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Organise the 1st AsiaEvo Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I organised and chaired a symposium titled "Origin and early evolution of organ systems" at the 1st AsiaEvo Conference, which was held at Shenzhen, China on 17-20th April. I also give a keynote talk during this session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://asianevo.org/programme/topics.html
 
Description Palaeontological Association 59th Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Unlocking the Preservation Pathways of Cambrian Neural Tissue".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Present a talk at PalAss 2017 Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I present a talk entitled "The Earliest Evidence of Metazoan Symbiosis", which sparked some questions and discussion afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Press release on symbiotic worms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Various activities related to the press release on our paper published on Nature Ecology and Evolution
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170830121110.htm
 
Description Science Uncovered-European Researchers Night 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This is an annual scientific engagement event funded by EU and hosted at the NHM, and it attracts thousands visitors for an one-evening event. I have stand to display fossils, models and digital reconstructions from my research to the general public, during which I talk with visitors and answer their questions. In 2015, I proposed to use this event as one of NERC's 50th celebration activities, so after the cooperative organisation between the NERC and the NHM, several NERC ambassador took part in this event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2015
URL http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/science-uncovered-2015.html
 
Description Systematic Association Biennial Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Phylogeny and Evolutionary Significance of Cambrian Scalidophorans".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description The 28th Annual Meeting of Palaeontological Society of China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "The Central Nervous System of Cambrian Panarthropods and Their Exceptional Preservation".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description The 3rd International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Central Nervous Systems and Sensory Organs of Cambrian Panarthropods" at this conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The 4th International Palaeontological Congress 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "Origin and Early Diversification of Arthropod Visual Systems" at this conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The First Forum of Young Palaeontologists in China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a talk titled "The Central Nervous System of Early Cambrian Panarthropods and Their Exceptional Preservation".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Work with the media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Each year we have research papers are published in high-profile journal (e.g. Nature, Nature Communications, Current Biology, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society), and press officer from the NHM and my collaborators' institution have done really good job for press release, therefore we have attracted a huge amount of media attention globally. As part of this activities, I have been interviewed by radio, newspaper, magazine, website etc., and I have to respond to various request by the journalists. There are too many such engagement activities to be listed out individually here. Below is the URL of one of the latest report by The Scientist.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/44765/title/To-Retain-a-Brain/
 
Description the Royal Society focus group meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to participate a focus group meeting about how the Royal Society can best make fellowship schemes available to strong early career individuals seeking to move into the status of independent researcher. The meeting was held on 2nd September, 2016, at the Royal Society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016