UK: Wantage

The Beacon Cafe
OX12 9BX
Second Tuesday of the month, doors open at 7 for 7:30pm start


Runs on the second Tuesday of most months

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Faith Culshaw
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Aliens vs Aliens – biocontrol of


invasive species


  9th July 2019


with Dick Shaw


Humans have a long history of moving species around the world, mostly with considerable benefits.  However, some of these can become problematic as “invasive non-native species” and require considerable efforts to manage them.  Where certain invasive weeds are having a serious impact on a very large scale, using their natural enemies may offer the only potential solution.  

This talk will demonstrate how bad invasive weeds can be and the principles and practice of weed biocontrol - an established technique in most of the world but only recently gaining acceptance in Europe. 

Dr Dick Shaw has been working on the biocontrol of invasive species for 25 years as an applied entomologist. He is currently the Country Director for CABI’s UK research Centre in Egham and Regional Coordinator for CABI’s Invasive species activities in Europe and the Americas.


7pm for 7.30pm start. Refreshments available.


Recent speakers   

11th June 2019: A Brief Tour of the Universe, with Tony Hersh


14th May 2019: Clearing the Air: Enabling lower emissions from internal combustion engines, with Alisdair Brown


9th April 2019: Autonomous, connected, electrified and shared transport: the next generation, with Sally Povolotsky


12th March 2019: Oxfordshire going 'Smart', with Tony Hart


12th February 2019: Gene therapy: is a cure for blindness in sight? with Laurel Chandler of the Univeristy of Oxford 


8th January 2019: 'Hydrotropia':  a post-fossil fuel sustainable energy system? with Kevin Fothergill of the Hydrogen Hub


13th November 2018:  The Living Ash Project: securing a future for our ash trees, with Jo Clark of Future Trees Trust 


9th October: Earth Observation and Agriculture: Pieces of a Jigsaw. With Mark Jarman of the Satellite Applications Catapult, Harwell.


11th September:  Energy: it's not just about the technology! with Dr Sarah Darby of hte Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University


10th July 2018: Osney Lock Hydro with Dr Barbara Hammond MBE, Chief Executive of the Low Carbon Hub

12th June 2018 Valuing the Environment with Professor Rosie Hails,Director of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology 


8th May 2018 Has Science killed God? with Sharon Dirckx, Academic Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics


10th April 2018 Climate Change with Richard Harding, Director of Biogeochemistry at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology


13th Mar 2018 The Space Sector


13th Feb 2018 Battery Electric Cars


9th Jan 2018: Solar & Wind Energy with Chris Church


14th November 2017: Spotlight on Temperature With Matt Hills


12th September 2017: Do My Genes Make me Sad?


11th July 2017: Wantage: The Last 600 Million Years with Mike Simmons


13th June 2017: Fusion - Why we need it and how to achieve it with Alan Sykes


9th May 2017: Going Viral! with Dr Mike Skinner


11th April 2017: Cryogenics - How low can you go? with John Vandore


14th March 2017: Transforming Chernobyl with Tony Powell


Feb 2017: Kite Technology - Creating a Power Plant with a Difference Dr Lucas Wilkins & Dr James Thorniley


 Jan 2017: The 100,000 Genomes Project with Jennifer Whitfield


14th June 2016: Testing for Space: the story from design to launch with Christina McQuirk


12th April 2016 Cancer Immunotherapy Dr Demin Li from the Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Oxford talk


8th March 2016 Scientific Computing at Diamond: The challenges of large-scale data collection and processing


9th February 2016 Valentine's special: The Psychology of Romantic Attraction Dr Martin Graff (University of South Wales)


10th November: Festive Cheer: From Humble Yeast to Brewing Industry

Skylon and the SABRE engine - the future of space flight

Driven by an extensive and pioneering technology programme, Reaction Engines Ltd has made a breakthrough in aerospace technology that is now allowing the development of engines that will propel aircraft at speeds of up to five times the speed of sound or directly into Earth orbit. Richard Parker, Principal Design engineer, will be taking us through the worlds of SABRE, Skylon and the future of space flight!

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Under Pressure: The Science of Aerosol Containers

Robert Fell, R&D Manager for Aerosols at Ardagh Group and a Director of the British Aerosols Manufacturers Association will be talking about the different types of metal aerosol containers currently available for purchase in the UK, and cover how aerosol containers are made and what steps the industry takes to ensure these pressurised containers are safe for the consumer to use. The talk will also cover the topic of the sustainability of metal aerosol containers.

Tuesday 11th Aug 2015

Fragmented Sleep, Fragmented Mind

Christopher-James Harvey and Dalena Van Heugten from the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences are joining us to talk about the science of sleep - an overview of what it is, the circadian system and a look at sleep and dissociation.

Tuesday 14th Jul 2015

Fusion - within our grasp?

With fossil fuel reserves diminishing and concerns over climate change increasing, the hunt for alternative sources of energy has never been more important. In the middle of rural Oxfordshire, a thousand scientists and engineers are undertaking a project to develop a new source of energy – nuclear fusion.

Join us to hear Chris Warrick from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy talk about the quest for this seemingly ideal power source...

Tuesday 9th Jun 2015

What is Forensic Science?

Amy Kuzemka from LGC Forensics joins us to talk about the work carried out in a Forensic Biology department, including item examinations, DNA profile interpretation, case reporting and attending court. 

Tuesday 12th May 2015

Why are snowflakes hexagons? A Diffraction Story...

All snowflakes that fall from the sky have a hexagonal shape and all salt crystals are cubic, but why? Both of these observations can be explained by crystallography, a field in which there have been nearly 30 Nobel Prizes awarded and which is vital to modern science, yet remains not widely known outside the lab. Drawing on his research experience, Dr Michael Wharmby will tell the story of crystallography from its roots in 18th century studies of minerals, through to its more recent use to understand the role of proteins in biological systems, explaining along the way how this important technique works with the aid of lasers & marshmallows…

Tuesday 14th Apr 2015

Was it right to build the LHC? The moral and ethical implications of Big Science.

In this cafe sci accelerator physicist and science communicator Dr. Suzie Sheehy from STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is going to share some of the questions that keep her awake at night, tough questions about her own field of research. Is it right to spend billions of pounds on building the Large Hadron Collider when there are people living in extreme poverty? What are the moral and ethical implications of Big Science? Is it justifiable for scientists to fly thousands of miles to conferences while the rest of us are encouraged to cut down our carbon footprints? With many scientists just down the road at RAL and in Oxford working on current and future ‘Big Science’ projects, this is a chance to examine and discuss these projects and how we spend taxpayers money on them from a wider perspective, be that moral, philosophical or scientific.

Tuesday 10th Mar 2015

The Clever Science of Canned Food

Bryan Donald, Senior Microbiologist for local company Crown Technology, joins us to talk about the science behind a very everyday item - canned food! There is more to canned food than simply metal containers...Microbiology and other sciences play a major role in ensuring the safety of canned food. Bryan will explore the process behind canning food, with an emphasis on microbiology and other interesting areas!

Tuesday 10th Feb 2015

Catalytic Science for the Future

Dr Josie Goodall joins us to talk about Catalysis - a process at the core of today's and tomorrow's science research and industry.  Catalysis is helping deliver new fuels from bio fuels to Hydrogen, helping make more efficient batteries, solving rising Carbon Dioxide levels, dealing with pollution and finding more efficient cleaner routed to existing chemicals.  Catalysis is a core area of contempory science posing major fundamental and conceptual challenges, while being at the heart of the chemical industry - an immensley successful and important part of the overall UK economy (generating in excess of £50bn each year).