Celebrating Manchester – European City of Science 2016

By Helen Albert, Community & Press Editor

IMG_0204In 2013, Manchester was awarded the accolade of being the 2016 European City of Science in recognition of the city’s status as a world leader in scientific research and technology. While conferences, educational events and cultural activities have and will continue to go on throughout 2016, the highlight of the year is the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) conference held in the city this week, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton, a famous Manchester scientist. In addition to ESOF 2016, which is the largest general science meeting in Europe, a week-long festival of science related events and exhibitions has been going on across the city.SciCity

I was fortunate enough to be in Manchester on Sunday and checked out a couple of the festival’s events.

As well as the interesting science being discussed and presented at ESOF2016, Number 70 Oxford Street has been a key venue for festival events.

I attended an entertaining talk, on dramatic and improbable research hosted by Mark Abrahams, founder of the notorious Ig Nobel prizes. For those of you who haven’t come across these before they honour research achievements that “make people laugh and then think”! The talk featured many such achievements including the Blonsky device – a strange device invented to ‘facilitate the birth of a child by centrifugal force’!Blonsky

While at Number 70, I went to visit the Live Lab of artist Di Mainstone who was in the process of creating the Sensory Soundpit, exploring ways the brain responds to sound by representing movement in a sandpit with different musical sounds.  The finished work will be presented at the Manchester Science Festival in October this year.

There are also two interesting exhibitions currently showing at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, a lovely, if somewhat hidden, building in the north of the city.

IMG_5636The Fabric of Research with Cancer Research UK has involved designers from both Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University working with researchers and patient volunteers from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute to create mostly textile-based artwork inspired by scientific advances and individual patient journeys.

Biological Atelier: The Showroom is a solo exhibition by Amy Congdon, a designer and researcher who splits her time between Central Saint Martins and King’s College in London. This exhibition provides a fascinating insight into what biotechnology and tissue engineering could bring to the world of fashion and design 66 years into the future. Look out for a more in depth interview with Amy in the upcoming August issue of The Biochemist magazine, which will be published next week.

If you were a part of or visited Manchester for any of the European City of Science events this year and would like to tell us about your experience or write about them for this blog, please do get in touch.

Post-Brexit science landscape – Parliamentary Links Day 2016

By Dr Aoife Kiely, Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Neurology

Intro panel
From left: Stephen Metcalfe MP, Nicola Blackwood MP, Jo Johnson MP, Dr Stephen Benn and Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Photo: RSB

The morning of the Parliamentary Links Day I woke up nervous. I’m not generally a ‘business formal’ style of scientist so the imposter syndrome fear of standing out, or going wrong loomed large. However, any nerves were dwarfed by my excitement to take part in the event and meet other delegates and find out what plans politicians had to support UK science post-Brexit.  Continue reading

Why should scientists care about communication?

By Anna Leida, PhD Student, Manchester Metropolitan University

As a young scientist working in a controversial field, I sometimes get called on to defend the ethics and policies behind what I do. Anna LeidaDespite this, I have so far focused mainly on my role as a researcher, trusting that if faced with the challenge of speaking about what I do, I would be up for it. Or so I thought, until I got paired up with a couple of student journalists whilst volunteering as a research mentor for a science writing competition with the British Science Association. In research we handle facts. In communication we deliver an opinion, without the 95% confidence intervals. I felt outside my comfort zone.

So when I got the chance to attend a Standing up for Science media workshop through the Biochemical Society, I decided to attend to find out more. Continue reading

Science Communication Competition winners announced

By Rachel Burnett, Education and Public Engagement Officer, Biochemical Society

We are pleased to announce the winners of our Science Communication Competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition attracted 63 entries which were reviewed by our panel of expert judges. The competition asks entrants to create an engaging, creative article or video explaining biomolecular topics to the general public. More information about the competition can be found on our website.

The first prize entries to the competition will be published on the Society’s website and in the August issue of The Biochemist. The second prize winners will be published in the October and the third prize winners in the December issue. Continue reading