UK: London (Cosy Science)

The Cittie of Yorke, 22 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BN
Last Tuesday of the month at 7pm

Cosy Science is a monthly informal gathering in which we discuss the hottest topics in science over a beer or a glass of wine with interested people of all backgrounds. It is a unique opportunity to meet a top scientist and share  ideas in a friendly environment.!events

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Tuesday 27th of January 2015

  Puzzling out the Protoceratops: did dinosaurs live in groups?

Dr. Dave Hone

Reconstructing the behaviour of long extinct animals is obviously a tricky task but can be done with some exceptional fossils. Learn how a series of finds from Mongolia of the small dinosaur Protoceratops are giving new weight to the idea that some dinosaurs spent considerable parts of their lives in groups.

Dr Dave Hone is a palaeontologist and writer. His research focuses on the behaviour and ecology of the dinosaurs and their flying relatives, the pterosaurs.


Recent speakers   


Have a look at our Archive:!archive


Tim Hunt: How to win a Nobel Prize (24th of April 2012)


Sir Tim Hunt has won numerous prizes and awards, most remarkably he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2001 for his discovery of Cyclins - proteins, which control the division of cells by being produced/degraded in an oscillating fashion. This discovery was a fundamental contribution to our understanding of how the cells divide.

"But none of these pleasures, great and satisfying though they are, match the joy of discovery."


Emma Byrne: The Turing Enigma (29th of May 2012)


Emma Byrne holds a PhD in Computer Science from University College London. Her research interests broadly cover the area of artificial and human intelligence. She is a widely published freelance writer, with articles and features appearing in the Financial Times, eHealth Insider and Global Business Magazine among others.She is an accomplished and enthusiastic teacher who has lead large lectures, small workshops and one-to-one sessions. She has also been involved in a wide range of public engagement activities. 


Jason Rihel: I'll sleep while I live (26th of July 2012)


Jason Rihel has recently started his own research lab at University College London (UCL), where he investigates the mechanisms of sleep in zebrafish. Prior to UCL, he did both his PhD and postdoctoral research on the genetics of behaviour while at Harvard University. He fell in love with animal behaviour as a small boy growing up on a farm in the United States.


Steve Fleming: The brain on trial (17th of July 2012)


Steve Fleming is a cognitive neuroscientist. He holds a Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellowship, working at New York University and University of Oxford. This summer he is spending time at UPenn as a Fellow in neuroethics. His research combines brain imaging and computational models to study decision-making. Steve lives in Manhattan and dabbles in music and various sports, placing weight on enthusiasm over talent.


David Nutt: Current controversies over drug and alcohol control (7th of August 2012)


David is a Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and a consultant psychiatrist in the Central and NorthWest London mental health trust, where he conducts research into the be mechanisms of addiction and the effects of drugs on be function. He was chair of the ACMD until sacked by Alan Johnson and now is currently the Chair of the ISCD (Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs) a charitable group that provides unbiased evidence about drugs actions and harms (


Simon Watt- Sexy Science (25th of September 2012)


Simon is an evolutionary biologist who thus far has had a very unusual career path.Though he has spent the vast majority of his working life as an educator in one form or another he has somehow bypassed becoming a teacher. Instead, he has favoured jobs which allow him to dress up funny and flit through the centuries with reckless abandon. His true love however lies in science. Particularly the weird stuff. Particularly the weird stuff that we think is normal. 


He is perhaps best known for his work as a presenter on Channel 4′s BAFTA winning series  ”Inside Nature’s Giants” and the 90 minute special “The Elephant- Life After Death”.  As a writer, his work has been published in The Times, The Sunday Times, and many other national newspapers and magazines.  His science based plays, lectures, demos and stand -up routines have become a regular feature of science festivals and other live events around the country. 


Gaudenz Danuser- The symphony of cancer (17t of October 2012)


Gaudenz Danuser is currently Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. His lab combines molecular cell biology, live cell imaging, and mathematical modeling to study how (cancer) cells migrate. He was trained as a musician and electrical engineer. Before moving to Harvard he held faculty appointments at ETH Zurich (his alma mater) and at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

This talk was sponsored by the Company of Biologists 


Steve Miller- Chemical Cosmos (30th of October 2012)


Steve Miller is Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science at University College London. He advises the UK and European Space Agencies on their science and exploration programmes. Steve’s research interests include exploring the way in which astronomy is communicated in culturally diverse communities, such as the island of Hawaii, and understanding the atmospheres of giant planets like our own Jupiter and Saturn, and some of the extrasolar planets that have been found orbiting stars “close” to our Sun. At UCL and in the wider European community Steve teaches scientists young and old how to engage and communicate with their fellow citizens. He is  the author of The Chemical Cosmos: a guided tour, published by Springer. 


Chris Cocking- Don't Panic (2th of November 2012)


Chris Cocking‘s interests are in the psychology of crowd behaviour (particularly during mass emergencies), collective resilience and post disaster psycho-social support. He has also worked in the crowd management sector, consulting on crowd behaviour at large events in the South East. He also advises on emergency planning, and is a visiting speaker at the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College. Other one-off consultations he has provided have been for the London Resilience Team (part of the Government Office for London), and the Greater London Assembly (where he contributed to their report into the 7/7 terrorist bombings). Along with colleagues, he has had his research findings published in various peer-reviewed academic and applied journals. He is also a qualified Psychiatric Nurse with experience of working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 


John Pickett- Food Crisis (18th of December 2012) 


Professor John Pickett is a world-renowned organic chemist who specialised in the so-called semiochemicals. These compounds affect the behaviour of specific insects and serve as an alternative solution to wide-spectrum pesticides. Recent practical successes include a programme for controlling stem borer pests and striga weeds in Africa, where thousands of subsistence farmers have already adopted systems for exploiting the natural product chemicals of certain companion crops.  John now holds the first Michael Elliott Distinguished Research Fellowship at Rothamsted.  As well as fulfilling this prestigious new role, he continues to lead research into the field of chemical ecology.


Nessa Carey: Epigenetics- Nature vs Nurture (29th of January 2013)


Nessa Carey has a virology PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is a former Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at Imperial College, London. She has worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for ten years. She lives in Bedfordshire and has recently published her first book: The Epigenetics Revolution


Dean Willis: What grandma told me about inflammation (26th of February 2013)


After completing his PhD at the William Harvey Research Institute in London Dean undertook a research fellowship in Rheumatic Diseases at the same institute. He is currently a principal investigator at UCL. The focus of his lab’s research is cell signalling mechanisms in inflammatory diseases and the identification of therapeutic targets. He also has an interest in the mathematical modelling of disease and the drug discovery process.


David Pellman: Jerky or smooth: The evolution of cancer (13th of March 2013)


Professor David Pellman is currently the Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Professor of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His lab studies the mechanisms underlying normal cell division and the cell division defects in cancer cells that cause genetic instability. David completed his medical training at the University of Chicago before moving to Boston for his clinical fellowship training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute, MIT, he was appointed as an assistant professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1995.

This talk was sponsored by the Company of Biologists


Chiara Ambrosio: Art for science's sake? (26th of March 2013)


Chiara Ambrosio is a Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London. Her research focuses on the relations between art and science, as well as general topics in history and philosophy of science. She works in close collaboration with artists, scientists, museums and galleries across London to ensure that her (occasionally quite abstract) philosophical ideas find a concrete counterpart in real life and practice. 


Jack Price: Repairing the brain with stem cells (30th of April 2013)


Jack Price is Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and is Head of the Institute's Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour.  He is also a consultant for ReNeuron Ltd., a UK biotech company, developing stem cells for therapeutic and drug discovery applications.  Jack Price has worked on neural stem cells in various guises for about twenty-five years, and has more recently being pursuing an interest in modelling neurodevelopmental disorders using stem cells.


John Hardy: What you shouldn't forget about Alzheimer's disease (28th of May 2013)


John Hardy is the director of the Institute of Neurobiology at UCL where he works on neurodegenerative disorders. In 1991 he found the first mutation in the amyloid gene that caused Alzheimer’s disease, whilst at Imperial College. After moving to NIH in the US, he worked on the research that found triplications in the synuclein gene, which caused Parkinson’s disease.  He returned to the Institute of Neurology (UCL) in 2007 and most recently has led the group which found the first high risk variant for Alzheimer's disease found for 20 years. 


Richard Jackman: Diamonds as a gemstone? What a waste! Let's make something useful instead... (11th of June 2013)


Richard Jackman gained a BSc in Chemistry at the University of Southampton, before completing a PhD in Surface Science at the same institution in 1986. Following his appointment as a Lecturer within the Electronic and Electrical Engineering department at UCL in 1989, Richard established a research group exploring the use of diamond for electronic device fabrication, a topic new to UCL and one only just emerging worldwide. Richard became a Senior Lecturer in 1993, a Reader in Electronics in 1996 and took up a Personal Chair in Electronic Devices in 2008. Professor Jackman is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and aChartered Engineer and Physicist.  He currently serves on the committee of the IOP¹s Semiconductor Physics group (2007-).


Katherine L. Wilson and Michael Rout: Origins of the nucleus- the mothership of our genome (26th of June 2013) 


Katherine L. Wilson studied microbiology in Seattle (BS, University of Washington), biochemistry and genetics in San Francisco (PhD, UCSF) and cell biology in San Diego (UCSD) before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where she is Professor of Cell Biology. She and her colleagues study the proteins (lamin filaments, LEM-domain proteins and their enigmatic partner, BAF) that form nuclear 'lamina' structure, and seek to understand how mutations in these proteins cause diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cardiomyopathy, lipodystrophy/metabolic syndrome or progeria ('accelerated aging').


Michael Rout received his Ph.D. from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge, working with J.V. Kilmartin. He joined the Rockefeller as a postdoctoral fellow with Günter Blobel. He continued as an independent investigator at the Rockefeller, where he is now Professor of the Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology. He and his colleagues study the structure and evolution of nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) and their interactions and reactions with soluble nuclear transport factors, to understand how NPCs contribute to nuclear function.  



Barry Thompson: 10 Big ideas in science (30th of July 2013)


Barry Thompson completed his PhD in 2004 at the University of Cambridge. He joined the European Molecular BIology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, as a postdoctoral fellow before moving to London where he is now a Principal Investigator at the London Research Institute.  His lab studies how cells co-operate to construct tissues and how epithelial tumours arise.



Chris Brierley: Perdicting future climate (24th of September 2013)


Chris Brierley is a climate modeller with a background in uncertainty quantification and palaeoclimates. He gained his PhD in Meteorology at the University of Reading in 2007, studying the effects of parameter uncertainty on climate projections. Since then he has been a Post-Doctoral Associate and Associate Research Scientist in the Yale University Geology and Geophysics department, working on tropical climate change. He is now a researcher and professor of climatology at UCL, where he works on how uncertainties in ocean model parameter values affect the total uncertainty of climate projections.


Mary Collins: Viruses as our friends? (15th of October 2013)


Mary Collins is a Professor of Immunology at University College London. Her research team engineer viruses for experimental and clinical gene delivery. Recently they have produced the first stable packaging for lentiviral vectors, and have investigated the use of lentiviral vectors as cancer vaccines.


Dominique Chu: Is it worth doing science? (29th of October 2013)


Dr. Dominique Chu has a degree in theoretical physics from the University of Vienna and a Dr. scient. from the University of Bergen in Norway. He is currently an academic based at the University of Kent, researching in the area of computational biology. However, ever since his days in graduate school he has maintained an active interest in philosophy of science and still publish in this field.


Unlocking the secrets behind regenerative medicine

5 excellent BIRAX Scientists as speakers


 Regenerative medicine is a field of great promise and great trepidation. By unlocking the secrets of stem cells, scientists hope to be able to repair damaged tissues and organs in the body and thus fight some of the world’s most insidious diseases. Similarly, regenerative medicine empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and has the potential to solve the growing organ shortage, one of the major health crises of our time. Stem cell science isn’t all promise and potential, of course. Ethical, social and scientific questions abound, and our panellists will discuss their work in these contexts as well as giving a rare window into this cutting-edge field.




Stem cells from amniotic fluid, a new hope?25th of February 2014

Prof. De Coppi in 2010 reported a unique success in transplanting a replacement windpipe grown from a patient’s own stem cells. His work is fundamental in finding vital cures and treatments for children affected by rare diseases.  


Dr Cataeno Reis y Sousa: Everything you wanted to know about your immune system, but were afraid to ask (25th of March)

Caetano Reis e Sousa obtained his DPhil in 1992 working with Jonathan Austyn at the University of Oxford on phagocytosis by dendritic cells. He subsequently spent five and a half years as a postdoctoral fellow with Ron Germain at the NIH where he studied various aspects of antigen presentation and T cell activation. In 1998, he joined the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, now known as Cancer Research UK. 


Dr Alan Burns: The Brain in Your Belly (29th of April 2014)

Dr. Alan Burns


Alan Burns obtained his DPhil at the University of Ulster. He subsequently did his post-doc in Nevada  where he did important work and discoveries on the gastrointestinal tract. A second post-doctoral position in Prof. Nicole Le Douarin’s laboratory in Paris established his career on development of the enteric nervous system from neural crest-derived precursors. There followed a brief faculty appointment at the University of Ulster before moving to University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health as senior lecturer and Principal Investigator in 2001, where his group is mainly based. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary appointment as associate professor in the Department of Clinical Genetics at the Erasmus MC.


 21th of May 2014 (Special sponsored by the Company of Biologists)

Dr. Suzanne Eaton:How do cells communicate to form tissues?


Suzanne Eaton obtained her Ph.D in Microbiology at the University of California in Los Angeles. She then moved into a one Post Docs in San Francisco followed by one in Germany, working with fruit fly development. She started her own group in 2000 in the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. Her lab is interested in understanding how do cell specific mechanisms can be coordinated in a global level to define how tissues and animals develop.  She has done brilliant work on how cells know how to generate animals and tissues of different sizes and shapes. This knowledge may help us understand basic mechanisms underlying cancer. 


27th of May 2014:Customised Grafts-Printer is optional. The power of tissue engineering for Healthcare

Professor Robert Brown



Professor Robert Brown directs the UCL Centre for Tissue Regeneration Sciences.  He was trained in Zoology and Rheumatology leading to research in industrial blood-products and then academic orthopaedics.   Early research in collagen and angiogenesis led him to establish the UCL Tissue Repair Centre based in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.   Interdisciplinary links with Mechanical Engineering produced new basic science understanding of cell and matrix mechanics, in 3D, and cell-mechanical techniques to control both scarring and simple tissue growth (now in commercial use).    Over 10yrs, this has evolved into effective technologies for fabricating (rather than growing) both 3D model tissues for screening and testing -eg drugs & customised treatments-  and clinically useful graft tissues for surgical repair and reconstruction.  This tissue layer-fabrication process, invented in 2005 by the group is known as collagen plastic compression (commercially available as ‘RAFT’ kits).   As UCL’s first professor of tissue engineering he has developed this process into many forms of machine-fabrication of tissues (cornea, skin, tendon, nerve, urothelium) described in ~200 peer-reviewed publications and 18 patent families, most of which have been licenced to industry.  He teaches and promotes interdisciplinary research internationally.  In the course of which, he has established international networks of research scientists, in Europe and China, and written the first single entry cross-disciplinary entry textbook on Tissue Engineering. 


 24th of June 2014- 

Being smart; staying safe: why we make mistakes and how to avoid them


Ann Blanford is a professor of Human–Computer Interaction in the Department of Computer Science at UCL, and a member of UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC, jointly supported by the Department of Computer Science and the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences). Director of UCLIC 2004-2011.


Her first degree is in Mathematics, from Cambridge University, and her PhD is in Artificial Intelligence and Education, from the Open University. She started her career in industry as a software engineer, followed by a period managing the Computer Assisted Teaching Unit at QMUL. She gradually developed a focus on the use and usability of computer systems. In 1991, she joined the Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge as a research scientist, working on the AMODEUS project. She moved to Middlesex University, initially as a lecturer, and subsequently as Professor and Director of Research in Computing Science. She moved to UCL as a Senior Lecturer in 2002 and became a professor (again) in 2005.


She have been technical programme chair for IHM-HCI 2001, HCI 2006, DSVIS 2006 and NordiCHI2010. She chaired AISB (1997-1999), and was a member of the EPSRC Information and Communications Technologies Strategic Advisory Team (2004-2008). She was Vice Chair of IFIP Working Group 2.7/13.4 (2010-2013). She is a Fellow of the BCS.






29th of July 2014 Anthropology of disasters


Dr. Zuzana Hrdličková is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Sociology of Goldsmiths, University of London. She is an anthropologist with a background in South Asian Studies currently working on the ERC-funded project ‘Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and Population’. Besides anthropology of disaster, her interests include conflict, gender and Science and Technology studies. She has worked for humanitarian organizations in disaster relief and war contexts.




30th of September 2014 Neuroenhancement- can we get any smarter?

Dr. Alex McKeown is a postdoctoral researcher in the University of East London's Institute for Health and Human Development. He holds a PhD in Biomedical Ethics from the University of Bristol on the subject of human enhancement, and previously spent several years working in education and policy research in genetics. He is currently researching ethical issues in healthcare economics relating to non-pharmaceutical strategies for improving community mental health and wellbeing.



28th of October Averting comfortable life style crisis- shoud everyone take statins?

Rodney F. Bilton is Professor Emeritus in Applied Biochemistry in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. Following a Cancer Research Fellowship in the then infant science of genetic engineering at the Institute of Molecular Biology, Syntex Corpn. Palo Alto, California, he returned to a lectureship in the UK. After a sabbatical year as a Royal Society/SERC Fellow at ICI Corporate Bioscience, he set up a laboratory in genetics and free radical toxicology at Liverpool Polytechnic. A study of the effects of dietary components on mutagenesis and the cancer process led to a wider interest in diet and disease prevention.
He has co-authored a book with Dr Laurence A. Booth, entitled ‘Know what to eat’, which discusses the problems of modern diets and lifestyles and offers potential solutions.



Tuesday 25th of November 2014 How to find a meteorite?

Dr. Günther Kletetschka worked amongst others in NASA, Charles University in Prague, Catholic University of America, National Research Council of USA and Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. He teaches geophysics courses and publishes in many scientific journals (Nature, Nature Geoscience, Rejuvenation Research, PNAS, and many others). He is interested in popularization of science.