UK: Pendle

The Old Stone Trough Hotel, Colne Rd, Kelbrook, Barnoldswick BB18 6XY
Meeting begins at 7:30 pm prompt and ends at about 9:30 pm

Everyone with an interest in science is welcome.  To cover expenses, we suggest a donation of £2 per person at each meeting.


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Dianne Mason
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1st April 2019 -Doctor Michelle Harvie, University of Manchester

Doctor Michelle Harvie is a research dietitian from the Prevent Breast Cancer Research Unit at Manchester University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust.  Her work is focused on diet and lifestyle strategies to prevent breast cancer and its recurrence and minimise toxicity from cancer treatments.  She has over 40 peer reviewed publications.  She received the Association Study Obesity National Best Practice award 2011 for her work on intermittent energy restricted diets.  She is principal investigator for the B-AHEAD-2 trial and B-AHEAD-3 trials testing intermittent diets amongst early and advanced breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.  Doctor Harvie has published three self-help guides for the public to follow intermittent diets; The 2 day diet, The 2 day diet cookbook and the quick and easy edition.  All author proceeds go to the Prevent Breast Cancer charity.


13th May 2019 - Professor Stefano Mariani, Salford University - The Mariani Lab

Chair in Conservation Genetics, Professor Mariani is a marine ecologist and population geneticist, working primarily on fish.  His main research interests include i) the application of population genetics for the identification of management and conservation units; ii) the use of DNA barcoding and metabarcoding to explore and assess biodiversity; iii) the biological and socioeconomic drivers of seafood consumption; iv) the evolution of sex change in fish and its consequence for fisheries. The best fish!


3rd June 2019 - Professor Daryl O'Connor, University of Leeds

Professor O'Connor leads the Laboratory for Stress and Health Research STARlab at the School of Psychology, University of Leeds.  The lab aims to conduct world-leading research into the effects of stress and personality on health-related processes and behaviours.  Studies investigating the relationship between chronic stress, personality, worry, rumination, the stress hormone (cortisol) and health outcomes will be outlined.  In the second half of the talk Professor O'Connor will describe recent work investigating the role of cortisol in helping to improve our understanding of suicide risk and describe links to childhood trauma.



Recent speakers   

4th March 2019 - Professor Ian Sherrington, University of Central Lancashire
Director of the Jost Institute for Tribotechnology at UCLAN, Professor Sherrington has an inter-disciplinary background in physics, mathematics, computing and engineering.  He explained the history and applications of tribotechnology and spoke about the industrially relevant research, teaching and knowledge transfer of the institute.
4th February 2019 - Professor Marion Hetherington, University of Leeds
Professor Hetherington is a biopsychologist with interests in human appetite across the lifespan.  Her work for the Human Appetite Research Unit of the Institute of Psychological Sciences involves the characterising of appetite expression from the early years of life to the end of life.
7th January 2018 - Brian Gane - "Morality, a Tale of Three Evolutions"
After a short, accessible introduction to cosmic and biological evolution, Brian looked at the evolutionary origin of human morality in Africa and identified two sets of resulting instinct; in-group attitudes allowing small groups of hominids to survive through co-operation and the out-group attitude of tribalism.  The in-group instincts have been reshaped with the growth of modern societies but have helped to make our world the most peaceful in human history.  A refreshing journey into humanitarianism, deftly and humorously presented.
3rd December 2018 - Professor William Newman, University of Manchester
Professor Newman is Professor of Translational Genomic Medicine in the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine at the University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  He explained how a new technique called whole genome sequencing is being used in a nationwide NHS study called the 100,000 Genomes Project.

5th November 2018 - Doctor John Elliott, University of Leeds - Earthquakes and Mountain Building

Doctor Elliott's research addresses where and how the Earth's crust accommodates and releases tectonic stress.  He achieves this through measuring the deformation of the crust using satellite geodesy and integrating these measurements with seismology, remote sensing and field studies of active faulting.  He is a Royal Society University Research fellow (URF) in the school of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds. 

1st October 2018 - Doctor Russell Garwood, University of Manchester

Russell took time out from his lectureship in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences to speak to us about his research in the field of Paleontolgy using X-ray and computational techniques to study major evolutionary transitions

3rd September 2018 - no meeting

4th June 2018 - Adil Shah, University of Manchester - Methane Matters

Adil explained his work in the field of Atmospheric Science which uses unmanned aerial vehicles to study methane emissions from local scale sources such as landfill sites, fracking sites or herds of cattle.  He demonstrated the use of methane detection equipment and explained why methane is an issue in the atmosphere.

7th May 2018 - Social evening with no fixed speaker.

9th April 2018 - Professor Jamie Gilmour, University of Manchester - What we learn from metoerites about the birthplace of the Earth

Scientists think planets like ours are born in clouds of dust and gas orbiting inwards towards forming suns.  Meteorites, which are mostly samples of small rocky bodies left over from this process, are the major source of information about how this unfolded in our solar system.

5th March 2018 - Professor Robert Young, University of Salford, Manchester - Sound Pollution and its Impact on Wildlife

Chair in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Salford Manchester, Professor Young divides his time between conservation projects in Brazil and Madagascar —  and zoo-based research.  He has published research on approximately 50 different species of animal and is the author of more than 100 full scientific papers and one textbook about zoo animal welfare.

5th February 2018 - no meeting

8th January 2018 - Professor Des Tobin, University of Bradford - Rolling Down the Years

Our skin as a mirror of the world outside and the world within.  Des Tobin is Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Centre for for Skin Sciences at University of Bradford.  Over the past 20 years he has researched in basic and applied skin/hair sciences, with a particular focus on the biology of human melanocytes/pigmentation and hair growth disorders.

5th June 2017 - Doctor Stephen Lax, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds - DABbling in Radio

The chequered past and uncertain future of digital radio.  As digital broadcasting enters its third decade, it has yet to establish itself as the preferred option for most listeners.  Like digital television, digital radio, based on the DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) system, offers technical advantages, more stations and potentially better quality.  So why — unlike television — has it failed to replace its analogue forbear?

8th May 2017 - Doctor Tyron Louw, Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds

Doctor Louw's research work at Leeds University for the Institute of Transport Studies includes human factors of highly automated driving.  He talked about areas of his recent work and potential future developments in transport.

3rd April 2017 - Professor David Schultz, University of Manchester - Why do good weather forecasts go bad?

Professor of Synoptic Meteorology at the University of Manchester, Professor Schultz has published more than 135 articles on topics in synoptic and mesoscale meteorology, forecasting, cloud and precipitation microphysics and scientific publishing.  He has won multiple teaching awards and is the Chief Editor of Monthly Weather Review.  He described the history of weather forecasting, how we do it and why forecasts are not perfect and never can be.

6th March 2017 - Doctor Thomas Hughes, St James's University Hospital, University of Leeds - The Biology of Breast Cancers

In his position of Associate Professor, Doctor Hughes' research aims to increase understanding of the biology of cancers, particularly breast, colorectal and brain cancers with a view to using these new insights to improve cancer outcomes.  Particular research areas are the regulation of gene expression in cancers, the roles of the tumour micro-environment and the use of predictive markers for cancer therapies.

6th February 2017 - Professor Brendan Barrett, Bradford School of Optometry and Vision Sciences - Vision and Sport

Is there anything elite about the vision of elite sportspeople?  There are claims that vision is superior in elites but little evidence to support this assertion or the assertion that vision training can lead to better sports performance.  Professor Barrett's research for a major BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) funded project aims to investigate these issues.

9th January 2017 - Doctor Christopher Hassall, University of Leeds - The Evolution of Mimicry and Camouflage

Doctor Hassall gave an overview of animal colouration, beginning with camouflage and the transition from art to science in the late 19th century with a focus on the work of Abbott Thayer.  He covered dazzle camouflage in World War One which was adopted to counter the U-boat threat then discussed various kinds of mimicry, including why some species seem to be "imperfect" mimics.

5th December 2016 - Doctor Andrew Thomas, University of Manchester - The Role of Surfaces in Chemistry, Physics and Medicine

Doctor Thomas' work in the area of biomaterials aims to elucidate the mechanisms involved in healing following dental implantation and why seemingly similar surface treatments lead to changes in healing rates.

7th November 2016 - Doctor Stefano Vanin, University of Huddersfield - CSI - Crime Scene Insects

Senior Lecturer in Forensic Biology in the School of Applied Sciences, Doctor Vanin is the forensic entomologist of the project for correct recovery of skeletons of World War One soldiers found in the Italian Alps.  His current work includes human DNA extraction from non-conventional substrata, the detection of post-mortem injuries caused by arthropods and other animals and PMI estimation from burned remains.

3rd October 2016 - Doctor Karen Hampson, Bradford School of Optometry and Vision Science - "Stars in Your Eyes - Optometry meets Astronomy"

Researcher in adaptive optics at the University of Bradford, Doctor Hampson is Secretary of the Institute of Physics Medical Physics Committee and Committee member of the Institute of Physics Optical Group.  Her research interests are in the field of  ocular aberrations and adaptive optics and she has developed three adaptive optics systems at Bradford including the first ever binocular Shack-Hartmann sensor.

5th September 2016 - Doctor Lynn Austin, University of Manchester - The REMORA Project

REmote MOnitoring of Rheumatoid Arthritis using a smartphone app is a project being used to develop an app to facilitate routine recording of patient symptoms.  Doctor Austin, a research fellow, explained the aims of the project and what progress has so far been made.

13th June 2016 - Doctor Arati Iyengar, University of Central Lancashire - Solving Crime using Non-human DNA

Doctor Iyengar has extensive experience in the field of genetics.  Her research has been diverse, initially on transgenics, cancer genetics and population genetics, but a strong interest in wildlife has led her into the fields of conservation genetics and wildlife forensic genetics.  Research active within the area of forensic science, she is a member of the Forensic Genetics Research Group.

9th May 2016 - Phil Dykes, Lancashire Wildlife Trust - The Flora of Salthill and Cross Hill Quarries

A look at the flora of these two former limestone quarries in Clitheroe, which are now managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust as local nature reserves.  The talk followed the seasons through the year looking at some of the flowering plants associated with the two sites.

4th April 2016 - John Ball, Lancashire Wildlife Trust - Red Squirrels

The project to protect our native red squirrel and the habitat which allows it to thrive after the onslaught of squirrel pox and the invasive challenger, the North American grey squirrel.  We considered the work done by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and other conservation organisations to maintain numbers in its own habitat and sampled its popularity with artists of many disciplines.

7th March 2016 - Professor Richard Bardgett, Manchester University - Terrestrial Ecosystems

Professor Bardgett's research is broadly concerned with understanding the role of interactions between plant and soil communities in regulating the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems and their response to global change.  A particular focus of his research is ecosystem nitrogen and carbon cycling and he works in a range of ecosystems, from tropical forests to grasslands and alpine and arctic tundra.

1st February 2016 - Doctor Sarita Robinson, University of Central Lancashire - The Psychobiology of Survival

Doctor Robinson's research in the domain of health and forensic psychology looks at the impact of acute environmental events on health and well-being.  Currently undertaking several research projects which monitor cognition, HPA axis activation and immune function in people exposed to threat, she is keen to investigate psychosocial and nutritional intervention which could stop negative effects of stressful events.

4th January 2016 - Professor Philippa Browning, Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics - "Bringing a star to Earth - Power from Nuclear Fusion"

Professor of Astrophysics in Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy.  Professor Browning has research interests in the theory and computer simulation of solar and fusion plasmas.  Chair of the Institute of Physics Plasma Physics committee and the UK Solar Physics Council, member of STFC Astronomy Grants Panel, Chair of STFC Women in SET group.

7th December 2015 - Professor Stuart Allan, Manchester University - Stroke Research

In his research, Professor Allan is trying to understand how it is that inflammation causes brain cells to die.  By doing this, it is hoped that one day we will be able to design treatments which can stop the inflammation and hence brain cells from dying.  This will lead to better outcome for patients who have a stroke.  Further information

2nd November 2015 - Professor Awais Rashid, Lancaster University - Anatomy of Cyber Attacks

Have you ever wondered what role Zero days, viruses, trojans, rootkits and other such technologies play in cyber attacks? How do hackers compromise systems, what information do they extract and should we even care?  Professor Rashid discussed these issues as well as provided insights into how attackers extract what is most valuable in the modern digital world - data.  Professor Rashid is Director of Security Lancaster Research Centre at Lancaster University.  He studies cyber security issues in large-scale systems in order to unravel their impact on individuals, organisations and infrastructures.  He also researches privacy, in particular how to empower users of online services and development of software technologies to protect vulnerable user groups (e.g. children and young people) online.

5th October 2015 - Professor Matthew Cobb, Manchester University - How the Nose Knows

Professor Cobb studies behaviour, communiation and perception and the way in which they are shaped by genes, environment and their interaction.  Most of his research has focused on insect behaviour and its evolutionary genetic bases, in particular on genetic and developmental factors involved in chemical communication - olfaction and pheromones.  He has recently branched out into human olfaction, studying the evolution of a particular gene coding for an olfactory receptor.

7th September 2015 -Doctor Chris Ward, Manchester University - Stem Cells and Cloning

Doctor Ward's talk explained the origins of research in the field of stem cells and applications of these cells in medicine, research and drug discovery.  The presentation also included information on cloning and the use of this technology in farming, ecology and medicine.

1st June 2015 - Professor Sue Kilcoyne, Huddersfield University - Iron in the Soul

Professor Kilcoyne presented a journey through her research career using iron as the thread, starting with iron in the soil, to iron in plants and food, iron uptake by the human body then humans' use of iron in weapons with particular emphasis on cannon balls including those of the Mary Rose.

11th May 2015 - Doctor Jonathan Aitken, Sheffield University - Smart Robotics

Dr Aitken is a research fellow working in the Autonomous Control Laboratory within the Autonomous Systems and Robotics group.  His work focuses on autonomous reconfiguration of robotic systems, especially quadcopter platforms.  He also has interests in computer vision and spatial awareness of robotic systems.

13th April 2015 - Doctor David Cole, The Jeremiah Horrocks Institute - Galaxy Evolution

Doctor Cole's research concerns the complex physics driving the formation of galaxies, one of the fundamental science questions driving billion-pound technology investments such as the European Space Agency's Gaia mission or the International Square Kilometre Array.

2nd March 2015 - Professor Ross King, Manchester University - The Automation of Science

Professor King is professor of Machine Intelligence in the School of Computer Science working at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and Machine Learning and Optimisation (MLO) group.  His talk covered the background of automated science and the Adam and Eve robot scientists.

 2nd February 2015 - Professor Jurgen Denecke, Leeds University - The Plant Secretory Pathway

The Jurgen Denecke Research Facility studies the secretory pathway, a group of several membrane bound organelles which play key functions in virtually every process of eukaryotic life.  It is a fundamental area of plant biology which impacts on stress physiology, development, growth and the biosynthesis of renewable plant products.  The research group use biochemical transport assays, cellular engineering and in vivo imaging techniques to capture the exciting micro-cosmos of plant cells.

5th January 2015 - Karen Palmer and Nichola Verstraelen - Lancashire NHS Trusts

The Dementia Challenge is an ambitious programme of work designed to make a real difference to the lives of people with dementia and their families and carers, building on progress made through the National Dementia Strategy.  We were very pleased to welcome the Clinical Research Nurse Manager and Lead Research Nurse from Lancashire NHS Trusts who explained to us how the trusts are meeting the needs of the Dementia Challenge through research.

1st December 2014 - John Davies and Nick Chetwood - Population Matters

Population Matters is a charity which campaigns on issues related to population and its impact on environmental sustainability.  Their patron David Attenborough has said "All environmental problems become harder, ultimately impossible, to solve with ever more people".

3rd November 2014 - Ben Thompson, The Jeremiah Horrocks Institute - Cosmological Voids

What is 250 million light years big, almost empty and full of answers?  Ben Thompson is a research student from the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute who talked about how the study of essentally "nothing" can be as important, if not more important, than the study of "something".  The majority of the volume of the universe is empty, corresponding to cosmological voids.  His talk took us back in time to the formation of the universe, described how this structure formed, historical cosmological advancements and current research going on with voids and explained why these are just as interesting, if not more so, than the smaller and more massive galaxy superclusters.

6th October 2014 - John Ball, Lancashire Wildlife Trust - Wildflowers of Lancashire

John Ball is a member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, meeting co-ordinator of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Botany group, a walk leader at Brockholes nature reserve and an authority (which he denies) on local wild flowers.  He told the story of wild flowers from the writers of Ancient Greece, via the herbalists and plant hunters of the 17th century and beyond, to the great variety of species to be found in England's north west.

1st September 2014 - Professor Hassan Ugail - Major scientific discoveries lie beyond the 'uncanny valley'

Professor Ugail is the Director of the Centre for Visual Computing at the University of Bradford.  His talk focused on some of his work on computer graphics and realism, interaction between human and machine for emotion detection and analysis (eg non-invasive lie detection) and his thoughts on the future of this area.

2nd June 2014 - Dr Andrew Wilson - Inca Child Mummies

Dr Wilson leads a number of digitisation and visualisation projects working with human and animal remains and works on ancient keratin remains (hair/wool,nail) which brings him into contact with the field of Mummy Studies including frozen Inca child sacrifice victims from Volcan Llullaillaco.  Andrew also has research interests in taphonomy (the study of decay processes) and is interested in the variables affecting the decay of human remains subject to surface exposure/soil burial and other modifications.  In particular he has worked on histological changes to hair and fibres and on laboratory microcosm studies.

12th May 2014 - Kate Risely - Head of Garden Birdwatch, British Trust for Ornithology - Citizen Science and Monitoring the Fortunes of Garden Wildlife

Private gardens make a significant contribution to the amount of urban green space and are arguably the main contributors to urban biodiversity within developed countries, yet the wildlife populations they support are difficult to monitor with conventional approaches.  In this talk, Kate Risely explored the use of "citizen scientists" in the collection of new information on garden wildlife through schemes like the weekly BTO Garden Birdwatch.  Her examples revealed how gardens are used at particular times of the year, how garden bird feeding leads to the micro-evolution of migration strategies and how best we can help wild birds in our immediate vicinity.

7th April 2014 - Paul Neaves (with Dominic Curran) from Keighley Astronomical Society - Elements of Astrophysics

Paul Neaves gave a very informative presentation outlining how the properties and constituent elements of distant astronomical bodies might be assessed.  The presentation was streamed live on the internet and can be viewed on the following link ;

Pendle Cafe Scientifique 7th April 2014

3rd March 2014 - David Beattie - A Rocha

A Rocha is a Christian environmental and nature conservation movement.  Their projects are frequently cross-cultural in character and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education.

3rd February 2014 - Doctor Samuel Illingworth - The Thin Blue Line : Observing Earth's Atmosphere

The atmosphere is a thin sheet of air extending from the surface of the earth into space, it is about 60 miles thick and constitutes less than a millionth of the Earth's total mass, yet human beings depend on it as a nourishing essence to their continued existence.  But what exactly is the atmosphere?  And more importantly what on earth is going on up there?  In this presentation Dr Illingworth, a research scientist at the University of Manchester, talked about the thin blue line separating the habitable environs of Earth's surface from the harshness of outer space, describing how scientists monitor the atmosphere using a variety of observational techniques and instrumentation.

6th January 2014 - Professor Ian Bruce - Arthritis Research

Professor Bruce is an NIHR Senior Investigator and Professor of Rheumatology at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, University of Manchester and the Kellgren Centre for Rheumatology, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust.  He is currently Medical Director of the NIHR/Wellcome Trust Manchester Clinical Research Facility and the Manchester Centre Academic Lead for the NIHR Transitional Research Partnership in Joint and Related Inflammatory Conditions.  His major clinical interest is connective tissue diseases and his academic interest is in cardiovascular outcomes in rheumatic diseases especially SLE and RA.  He is Chief Investigator on several ongoing prospective SLE studies and he leads a study examining risk factors for artherosclerosis before and after the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

2nd December 2013 - Professor Bob Cywinski - An Alternative Nuclear Future

There is considerable debate about whether the twin global crises of energy shortage and climate change can be mitigated by nuclear power.  Indeed, there is continuing concern about the safety of uranium and plutonium fuelled nuclear reactors, the management of nuclear waste and the issue of proliferation.  But what if we had a nuclear fuel that was low risk, low waste and sustainable?  Surprisingly such a fuel does exist: It is thorium.  In this talk Professor Cywinski discussed the need for nuclear power as an essential part of a balanced energy economy and suggested innovative methods by which thorium could be used to fuel an alternative - and safer - nuclear future.

 4th November 2013 - David Beattie -Lancashire Badger Group

The Lancashire Badger Group is a registered charity which is dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of the protected Eurasian/European badger (Meles meles) in the county of Lancashire.  David's talk was packed with information about badgers plus the topical issue of culling.

7th October 2013 - Richard Hall, Lancashire Wildlife Trust - The Plight of the Humble Bee

The many species of bee found in the UK, the threats they face and what Lancashire Wildlife Trust is doing to help with some useful tips about what individuals can do.

Monday 2nd September 2013 - Katie Slocombe - Chimpanzee Vocal Communication

Dr Slocombe is working on this BBSRC funded project which aims to investigate the mechanisms and motivations underlying call production in chimpanzees.  She is working with wild chimpanzees from the Sonso community in Budongo Forest, Uganda and captive chimpanzees at Edinburgh Zoo.  Observational and experimental behavioural studies are being combined in this project.

Monday June 3rd 2013 - Lee Thompson - Hunting for the Higgs Boson

Lee explained what particle physics is all about and why we need 27km long particle accelerators to do it.  In the wake of the Higgs Boson discovery. Lee highlighted our current understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter and the forces which act between them.

Monday May 13th 2013 - Carole Mundell - Gamma Ray Bursts

Big Bangs & Black Holes: although the idea of 'black holes' dates back over two hundred years, they remained speculation until the late twentieth century. Their existence has now been confirmed by observation but questions regarding their creation and influence are at the forefront of modern astronomy. Astronomers can never hope to travel to black holes and so instead rely on the coded information contained within the light detected from these distant objects. The visible light to which our human eyes are most sensitive has enriched culture for thousands of years. However, this light represents only a small fraction of the total light available for collection; technological advances in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have ensured that we can collect light ranging from the highest energy gamma rays, through X-rays to long wavelength radio waves - the whole range of the 'electromagnetic spectrum'.

 Monday April 8th 2013 - Paul Kabrna - Unveiling the secrets of ancient rocks

Paul will concentrate mainly on the geology of Anglesey, because it contains perhaps the greatest variety of geology of any comparable area in the UK. There are 12 geological periods covering the best part of 1800 million years of earth history. All the three main rock types (igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary) can be seen together, with spectacular structures. For those with an interest in mining and mineralogy, Parys Mountain was thought to have been at one time the largest copper mine in Europe. Not only that but most of the classic localities can be seen by following the coastal footpath. Its hardly surprising then that Anglesey has attained Global and European Geopark status (UNESCO assisted) from 6th November 2009.

Monday March 4th 2013 - Tim Stevenson - The Square Kilometer Array

Monday February 4th 2013 - Hugh Tuffen - Volcanoes

Some volcanoes are gentle, others inconvenient, and others still, deadly. What makes volcanic eruptions explosive? What happens when volcanoes are covered in ice, as in Iceland or Chile - and what happens when the ice melts?

Monday January 7th 2013 - Rayaz Malik - Preventing major side-effects of diabetes

Monday December 3rd 2012 - Jurgen Denecke - Bio-fuels

Despite popular concerns regarding food security and alleged competition between food and fuel crops, the most promising strategies for sustainable biofuel production have either never been considered or hardly begun to make a global impact. For this reason, it is of growing importance to raise awareness of the specific role biofuels can play in the future energy strategy. To be competitive, we must explore systematically how bio-fuel production can interface with the need to produce more food and more materials from plants per time and land occupied. This presentation will introduce a remarkable number of popular misconceptions that currently prevent full exploitation of the tremendous potential plant-based fuel strategies have to offer. It will also illustrate how thinking outside the box can lead to surprisingly simple opportunities to increase both food and fuel production efficiencies.

 Monday November 5th 2012 - Robert Dryfe - Graphene

Robert presented an overview of the properties of graphene, the two-dimensional form of graphite, discovered at Manchester in 2004 by Geim and Novoselov for which the Nobel Prize was won . He summarised the current developments in this area and discussed the future applications of graphene which are driving large public and private investment in what is seen as a strategically important material.

 Monday October 1st 2012 - Peter Coventry - Recent research in mental health

Managing depression in long term conditions: overcoming mind-body dualism in primary care.  Peter gave a talk not only on the study which won the RCGP prize for his department but added more detail about other work they are involved in at Manchester on understanding how to manage depression in people with long term physical conditions.

Monday 3rd September 2012 - Phil James - Dark Energy

The last two years have been remarkable ones for supernovae, and in particular for the scientists who use these powerful stellar explosions to probe the large scale structure of our Universe.  The 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Perlmutter, Schmidt and Riess for their discovery that the properties of distant supernovae imply an accelerating expansion of the Universe.  Last year also saw supernovae explode in two of the nearest and most spectacular spiral galaxies in the sky, M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy) and M101 (The Pinwheel Galaxy).  

Monday 5th December 2011 - Ruth Itzeki - Role of a virus in Alzheimer’s disease and prospects of treatment with antiviral agents

Almost 18 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and this figure will rise as longevity increases. The need for effective treatments is therefore extremely urgent. However, the causes of the disease and of the characteristic abnormal features of patients’ brains are unknown. Our research has strongly implicated a common virus in the development of the disease and offers a direct route to treatment: very effective and safe antiviral agents are available to combat the virus and thus to treat Alzheimer’s disease patients. It indicates also the future possibility of preventing the disease by vaccination against the virus in infancy.

 Monday 9th January 2012 - Dr Alison Laird Nuclear Astrophysics - from the lab to the stars

The oxygen we breathe, the iron in our blood, and almost all the other elements that make up the world around us, were formed during the lives and deaths of stars in the distant past of our Universe. Nuclear astrophysics brings together the physics of the very very small with the physics of the astronomical! Physicists try to understand how the tiny heart of the atom, the nucleus, can influence how stars live and die, and how galaxies evolve. By studying the way nuclei interact with each other in the laboratory, we can recreate the conditions in the centre of stars and gain insight into the processes that lead to the formation of the chemical elements. In this talk I will discuss what we know and describe some of the recent work by the group at York, as part of the quest to understand the origin of the elements.

Monday 6th February 2012 - Robin Crompton - The origins and age of human bipedal walking?

Over thirty years after the discovery of Lucy and of the Laetoli footprint trail, controversy still rages over the nature and origins of bipedal walking in early human ancestors. To a considerable extent, this reflects an ability to understand the relationship of bone morphology and external function in what is supposedly our most distinctive feature, our feet. Robin will review some of these debates and discuss some of the contributions made to them by his group and others in the North-West of England, which is fast becoming a national centre of studies in human locomotion and its origins.

 Monday 5th March 2012 - Kevin Anderson, Head of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research - The environmental impact of shale gas extraction

Dr Anderson told us about shale gas in the context of the environmental impact of this potentially important new resource.

 Monday 2nd April 2012 - Jamie Gilmour - What we learn from meteorites about the birthplace of the Earth

Scientists think planets like ours are born in clouds of dust and gas orbiting inwards towards forming suns. Meteorites, which are mostly samples of small rocky bodies left over from this process, are the major source of information about how this unfolded in our solar system. Jamie discussed what they tell us about where and when the solar system formed, what the material that it formed from was like and other details of the process.

 Monday May 14th 2012 - Grace Burke -New materials for nuclear reactors

Professor Grace Burke is internationally-recognised in the fields of advanced microstructual characterisation, electron microscopy and irradiation embrittlement. Grace joined the Materials Performance Centre, at the University of Manchester, in September 2011; prior to this, she was a Consultant in Materials Technology at the Bettis Laboratory in Pittsburgh.  Prof. Burke's research has dealt with the role of microstructure in the environment-sensitive behavior of materials, particularly austenitic stainless steels, low alloy steels and welds, and Ni-base alloys. She has extensive expertise in the application of advanced analytical techniques (AEM, STEM-EDXS microanalysis, HVEM, SEM, APFIM, etc.) to characterize metals and alloys with the objective of understanding material behaviour.  She is a Fellow of ASM International, the Microscopy Society of America, and the Royal Microscopical Society, and is a member of TMS, IMS, IOM3 and the International Group on Radiation Damage Mechanisms in Pressure Vessel Steels. Grace was also President of the Microscopy Society of America (2005). She has been an Associate Editor of Materials Characterization and has served as an Editor of the Journal of Materials Science and a member of various University Advisory Committees and DOE review panels.



 Monday 7th November 2011 - Ed Daw - The hunt for gravitational waves

Gravity clearly carries information across the cosmos - it causes clusters of galaxies to be bound together. What carries this information? 

Monday 3rd October 2011 - Stephen Quayle - High-lift for tidal stream energy devices

Tidal energy is becoming increasingly attractive for investment as a green energy source, with the advantage over other renewable technologies in that it is a predictable form of renewable energy. Stephen outlined the resources available, before concentrating on existing concepts and devices being deployed and concluding with discussion of some of the ongoing research behind the next generation of improved efficiency devices.

Monday 6th June 2011 - Rich Haley, Lancaster University - Experimenting with extreme cold

The pursuit of extreme cold is a never-ending quest towards the “infinity” of the absolute zero of temperature at a very chilly -273.15 degrees Celcius. The element helium plays a pivotal role in this conquest. Initially discovered as a mystery spectral line in the sun (“Helios”), it was later isolated on Earth as a rare gas and first liquefied just over 100 years ago, at 4 degrees above absolute zero. When cooled further by forced evaporation rather than solidifying, a completely new state of matter appeared. The helium had undergone a phase transition from a regular liquid into one that flows without any friction: a “superfluid”.

Monday 16th May 2011 - Alex Smith - Stem cell research

Alex is a post-graduate researcher at Manchester University. He will be telling us about his own research, current advances in this field and potential consequences of the use of stem cells.

Monday 4th April 2011 - Rob Walsh, University of Central Lancashire - Our high resolution Sun: a new view of our closest star

With an impressive set of instrumentation, solar astronomers are now examining the Sun in greater detail than ever before. Professor Walsh showed some of the latest images and movies of our dynamic star and demonstrate that our basic understanding of the solar atmosphere is more challenging than thought previously.

Monday 7th March 2011 - David Allison, Manchester University - Bugs and Drugs

It is both a cliché and a truism that antibiotic resistance has been around for as long as antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections. However, while early treatment failures did not represent a significant clinical problem, because different types of antibiotics were available, the emergence of multiple resistance is causing major problems in clinics today. 

 Monday 7th February 2011 - Maxwell Irvine, Manchester University - When the Lights go out

A detailed analysis of the UK electricity situation, which leads him to conclude that electricity will be rationed in the UK by 2020!

 Monday 10th January 2011 - Becky Seviour, Lancaster University - Metamaterials and particle accelerators

Metamaterials are materials artificially structured at a molecular level, which can have unique electromagnetic or optical properties. 

 Monday 1st November 2010 - Bill Newman - Pharmacogenetics

The new field of pharmacogenetics, which seeks to explain the relationship between the effectiveness or side-effects of drugs and the genes of the patients taking them.

 Monday 11th October 2010 - Mark Lewney - Rock guitar in 11 dimensions

What causes the revolutionary, history-changing sound of rock guitar, and how does it help us to understand the nature of the stuff we’re made of?

 Monday 6th September  2010 - Julie Gough, University of Manchester - From head to toe: Biomaterials and tissue engineering strategies to repair damaged or diseased organs and tissues

Despite constant advances in the development of drugs and clinical procedures, many treatments for the repair of the human body are not ideal. 

 Monday June 7th - Jim Wild - Effects of solar wind on power lines and satellites

How the sudden outbursts of the solar wind can affect both life down here on the Earth’s surface and our important telecoms satellites.

 Monday May 12th - Kath Wallis - Genetic counselling

 Monday April 12th 


Joanna Verran, Manchester Metropolitan University

Joanna will talk about her research on biofilms and the attachment of micro-organisms to surfaces. Her work raises issues about the effectiveness of anti-microbial surfaces. Joanna has interests in cross-disciplinary work between microbiology and art


Monday March 1st

The Future of Fusion Power

Howard Wilson 

Howard is at the forefront of research into the next generation of fusion reactors and will be explaining to us why he is convinced that commercial fusion reactors are not far off. 


Monday February 1st

The Work of a Forensic Ballistics Unit

Deborah Gaskell

How do they analyse guns, bullets and bullet impacts to help solve serious crimes?  


Monday January 4th 2010

Lancashire Owls and Hawks 

The group will be bringing some of their birds and flying them to help us understand the life cycles of these lovely creatures.

 Monday December 7th 

The Work of The Lancashire Fire Investigation Team 

Aidan Fortune, Lancs Fire and Rescue 

Aidan will be telling us about the forensic techniques that he uses to investigate the causes of major fires. 

 Monday November 2nd

Proving Einstein Right

Ian Morrison, Jodrell Bank, Manchester University

A gentle introduction to General Relativity and tell us about past and present ways that scientists have proved Einstein's theory.

 Monday October 5th

Spectroscopy demonstrations at Nelson & Colne College

The Science team of Nelson and Colne College

Spectroscopic analysis underpins enormous amounts of scientific research and advances yet many people know little about it.  

 Monday September 7th 2009

Project bloodhound: the fastest car in the world?

Andrew Makin

The new land speed record car being planned by Richard Noble and his team.  It's called Bloodhound and should be capable of 1000 mph.  

 Monday June 1st

Geobiology, Mars and AMASE

Liane Bening, Leeds University

The AMASE project is an interdisciplinary international research collaboration between engineers, scientists and artists from the USA, UK and Norway on astrobiology and life on Mars.  

 Monday May 11th (not first Monday)

Darwin's blind spot

Frank Ryan

The work and theories of Charles Darwin.

 Monday April 6th

Learning from the past: climate change, famines and sustainable agriculture

Evan Fraser, Leeds University

As the world looks forward to a future full of extreme weather and some worry about the planet's ability to feed us under these new weather conditions, it's helpful to remember that we've 10,000 years of experience producing grains.  We have, therefore, many examples of situations where farmers have (and have not) been able to adapt to problems like droughts.  

 Monday February 2nd

Alzheimer's Disease

Salman Karim, Manchester University

What causes this awful condition and what hope is there of a real cure?

 Monday January 5th 2009

Is critical care crucial?

Christine Barnes, East Lancashire Health Care Trust

Intensive care units have developed rapidly over the last twenty-five years but have they had any impact on survival? Does having an ICU mean that every sick patient can and should survive? Is every piece of equipment vital? Does an admission to ICU prolong death or prolong life?

 Monday October 13th

Can we mend a broken heart?  Strategies to reduce adverse myocardial remodelling

Neil Turner, Leeds University

A long-term consequence of a heart attack is adverse myocardial remodelling, in which the heart undergoes structural changes that progressively reduce its pumping capacity, leading to heart failure. A particular type of heart cell (the cardiac fibroblast) plays a key role in regulating this process. 

 Monday September 1st

Particle Physics and CERN

Lee Thompson, Sheffield University

The HADRON particle accelerator at CERN near Geneva is due to be switched on for the first time sometime during September this year after many years of construction.

 Monday June 2nd

Tony Sung, Manchester University

The technologies needed in new houses to conform to the forthcoming zero carbon regulations

 Monday May 12th

Galaxies and dark matter

Phil James, Liverpool John Moores University

In present-day astronomy, the main processes occurring in stars are known in remarkable detail, and on the largest scales it is claimed that we are in an era of `precision cosmology', with the principal numbers that describe the content and the expansion of the Universe being known to within a few per cent.  However, the nature of galaxies, the systems of millions or billions of stars that comprise the building-blocks of the large-scale Universe, remains mysterious on many levels.

 Monday April 7th

Origins of Life

Gerhard Zieboll

 Monday March 3rd

And What Have You Brought Along With You Tonight?

Paul Langdale, Chief Biomedical Scientist, Leeds Infirmary

Most of the world's population are infected by one or more parasites.  Some of these organisms are microscopic, some surprisingly large, some are seemingly harmless and others may prove fatal.  

 Monday February 4th

Medical Imaging

David Royal

 Monday January 7th 2008

Hydrogen fuel cell cars

Ian Morrison, Salford University

How to store hydrogen safely and efficiently.

 Monday December 3rd

Wildlife conservation in the Yorkshire Dales

Tim Thom, Chief Wildlife Conservation Officer of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

The wildlife conservation work carried out in the Yorkshire Dales throughout the year.

 Monday 5th November

The Aurora Borealis: nature’s light show

Jim Wild, Lancaster University

For as long as people have walked the Earth, the aurora borealis or “northern lights” have captivated those who saw them.  These ghostly lights in the night sky are one of nature’s most beautiful spectacles, but what causes them and what do they tell us about our planet’s intimate link with the Sun?  

 Monday 1st October

Is there any chance for the climate without tackling aviation?

Alice Bows, Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester

The need to urgently address the growing contribution of the aviation sector to the UK's CO2 emissions and some of the barriers to slowing down the rate of growth in CO2 emissions from the airline industry.

 Monday 3rd September

John Milne - the man who mapped the shaking (?) earth

Paul Kabrna (Craven & Pendle Geological Society) and mathematics teacher at Sir John Thursby Community College, Burnley

The life and work of the great Lancashire Victorian pioneer John Milne (1850-1913) is not particularly well known in Britain. He became known affectionately as 'Earthquake Milne' or the 'Father of Modern Seismology'. 

 Monday June 4th  2007

Ian Redfearn  

Bridging the gap between science and practice in dentistry

What has been the impact of science on the practice of dentistry; past, present and future? What is tooth decay? What is that nasty tasting stuff you put in my mouth? What are implants? Why do we still use silver fillings? Surely there is something better than the needle? 

 Monday May 14th 2007

Police Accident Investigation

James Boothby, Senior Accident Investigator, Lancashire Constabulary

The use of accident investigation techniques for the reconstruction of road traffic accidents. 

 Monday April 2nd 2007

Aero Engine Manufacturing

Mark Turner, Rolls-Royce

The advanced manufacturing techniques used in making the most up to date aero engines.

 Monday February 5th 2007

Paul Langdale, Lead Biomedical Scientist, Leeds General Hospital

MRSA - a view from the laboratory bench

How this multiply-resistant microbe has evolved and how modern techniques can help control hospital-acquired infections.

 Monday January 8th2007

Molecular Archaeology

Ben Stern, University of Bradford

Molecular archaeology covers the interpretation of information recovered at the molecular level. A number of recent case studies such as finds of birch bark tar, bitumen, pistachio resin, fish and milk residues will be used to illustrate how the faintest traces of molecular residues can inform us about past technological processes, trade and diet.

 Monday December 4th  2006


Andrew Wilson, Leeds University

 Monday November 6th 2006

Bats: conservation, caves, rabies and other issues

John Altringham, University of Leeds

The UK has sixteen species of bat; at least nine of which are found in the Dales. The talk will provide an overview of the biology and ecology of bats in the Yorkshire Dales, focusing on how bats use the landscape, in particular, Dales' caves. 


TUESDAY October 3rd 2006

Lightning and the X-rays generated

Clive Saunders, Manchester University

Thunderstorms have excited mankind for centuries, although it is only in the last 100 years that scientific theories of the processes of electrification have appeared. 


Monday September 4th 2006

Lasers in medicine

Caroline Sudworth, Research Director, Medical Laser Institute, Liverpool University

Since a resurgence of interest in the application of light to medical treatments in the 1970s, the response to developing novel techniques to aid treatments and diagnoses for a wide variety of diseases has shown great promise. The collaboration of engineers, scientists and medics has allowed the advancement of technology for the generation of patient needs driven medicine.


June 5th 2006

Unveiling Titan

Ian Morrison Jodrell Bank (University of Manchester)

What scientific conclusions about Titan and the outer solar system have been gleaned from the Cassini Huygens mission?  


Monday May 8th

Isolate your own DNA


Monday March 6th 2006

The UK response to the threat of climate change

Garth Ratcliffe Principal lecturer, Dept of Environmental and Geographical Sciences  Manchester Met University

What are the causes and potential environmental impacts of climate change? What remedial actions could be taken by the UK government? These involve energy efficiency measures as well as the development of renewable energy. Is the development of a low carbon economy an interim solution?  What about sustainable development and the ultimate solution – the hydrogen economy?


Monday February 6th 2006

The Hair and the Tortoise

Chris Hall and Glennis McBain of Daresbury Research labs

A tale of scientific technique, of methodology and how the results from science are used and abused in our culture.


Monday January 9th 2006

The songs of the stars

Don Kurtz University of Central Lancashire

The ancient Greeks believed that the planets and stars were embedded in crystal spheres that hummed as they spun around the heavens, making the "music of the spheres". Pythagoras thought that the orbits of the planets had harmonic relationships. 


Monday December 5th 2005

Sonya Hill, Head of Research, Chester Zoo

The similarities and differences between personality disorders in human and non-human primates.


Monday November 7th 2005

How Chemistry (and other Sciences) can Assist a Forensic Investigation

Pete Weirden, University of Central Lancashire

Fingerprints, hair, footprints, tool marks, DNA profiling and inks/dyes.


Monday October 3rd 2005

Nuclear Reprocessing

Neil Stagg, Sellafield

The nuclear fuel cycle, fuel manufacturing, reprocessing and waste management and the challenges of decommissioning redundant nuclear facilities on the Sellafield Site.


Monday September 5th 2005

Send in the Clones

H Hughes, Manchester Met University

The reproductive cloning of animals has resulted in much debate whilst the potential for a full reproductive human clone arouses highly emotional responses.