Festival of Contemporary Science

A Science Festival for Science Teachers (Saturday 07 July 2012)

Following the success of last years Festival of Contemporary Science Bristol ChemLabS is again holding a festival of leading edge science for teachers, science communicators and technicians.
The aim of the conference is to give in service and trainee science teachers an opportunity to update on a number of areas that are touched on in the triple science GCSEs and many of the Post 16 qualifications. Academics from several disciplines will be giving lectures and many others are assisting with workshops during the day. Unlike previous festivals many of the topics generally address science themes rather than the specific sciences.
The conference is being held on a Saturday to make the conference available to as many science teachers as possible without suffering from the limitations of the ‘seldom cover’ policy in a large number of schools. It is hoped that entire science departments may use this opportunity to ‘deliver’ their departmental INSET (CPD). It should be noted that this festival would not be possible during undergraduate term time as the facilities would not be available.
The cost for delegates will only be £20 to cover the cost of the packed lunch and other refreshments being provided. The conference is being co-sponsored by Bristol ChemLabS (CHeMneT) the Bristol Alumni Association and the Science Learning Centre-southwest.
1. On booking delegates will need to nominate lectures and workshops that they wish to attend. It is the responsibility of delegates to schedule their own lunch break. Food and drink may not be consumed in lecture theatres or laboratories. Packed lunches will be provided. Coffee, tea and biscuits will be available all day.
2. Following requests from last year a maximum of two Post 16 students per teacher may attend the lectures (not the workshops). It should be noted that the lecturers will be addressing graduate teachers etc in their talks rather than Post 16 students. Any students attending will need to register through the Science Learning Centre-southwest.

To book places interested parties should go to the following link: or email the Science Learning Centre-southwest on or call 0117 915 7257.
School of Chemistry, Cantock’s Close, University of Bristol, Bristol. BS8 1TS

Sponsored by:

Bristol Alumni Fund
Science Learning Centre-south west
A-Level Chemistry LabSkills
Bristol ChemLabS

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Festival of Contemporary Science Lecture Schedule

Click on each cell for further information.

Festival of Contemporary Science Lecture Schedule

Lecture Theatre 1

Lecture theatre 2


09:15 – 9:45

Registration (Tea and coffee available)

09:45 -10:35

‘Our Place in Space’,

Dr Rhys Morris

‘Biochemical Records of Past Climate Change’

Prof Rich Pancost

Electron Microscopy [max 8]
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy [max 8]

10:35 -10:55

Tea and coffee

11.00 - 11.50

‘What can rats tell us about human emotion?
Dr Emma Robinson

Enzyme Chemistry’,
Prof. Adrian Mulholland

Electron Microscopy [max 8]
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy [max 8]

12:10 -13:00

'Cystic Fibrosis: From Gene Discovery to Drug Development in 21 Years’

Dr David Sheppard

‘From Nano to Geo.’,

Professor Neil Allan

Electron Microscopy [max 8]
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy [max 8]
AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust (AZSTT) –Science Resources for KS2 and KS3

13:00 -14:00


14:00 - 14:50

‘Indoor Air and Outdoor Air: What is the Difference?’
Prof Dudley Shallcross

‘Searching for the Higgs Boson’,
Dr Helen Heath

‘Chemistry Demonstrations Liquid: nitrogen and dry ice [Max 8]
Tim Harrison

15.10 - 16.10

 Molecular Gastronomy
Professor Peter Barham

16:10 – 16:20

Feedback and End of Conference


Reserve Lecture: In the unlikely event of a lecturer being unable to present Dr Preeti Kaur will present ‘Exobiology and Extremophiles’.
09:45 -10:35
Person: Dr Rhys Morris
Topic: Observing the Universe (Astronomy)
Title: Our Place in Space
‘Our place in Space’ is a talk about the Milky Way, and our position within it. We will look at how we know where we are, and our attempts to conduct a census of the nearby Universe around us. Using this data, we can piece together the history of the formation of our Solar System, and plot its future development.
Dr Rhys Morris is a member of the Astrophysics Group, Physics Dept at UoB. He holds degrees from Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Rhys has also worked in Science Education, at Techniquest Science Centre (Cardiff) and Liverpool Planetarium. He is a specialist in Astronomical software/hardware and researches the Milky Way using large scale surveys, with a particular interest in Planetary Nebulae.
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Person: Prof Rich Pancost
Topic: Climate Change
Title: Biochemical Records of Past Climate Change
Current concerns about global change have re-invigorated our interest in ancient climate systems and how the Earth switches from one climate state to another. The field of palaeoclimatology is based on interrogating the archive of physical, biological and chemical signatures in the rock record, from which ancient climate conditions, such as temperature or rainfall, can be inferred. Of these climate 'proxies', we will focus on those related to the organic compounds preserved in sediment: the same (or similar) compounds that comprise petroleum can reveal what types of organisms were living in the past, how much carbon dioxide was available to them, or the temperatures of the waters in which they lived. We will discuss the types of lipids that are typically present in living organisms, how they are preserved and what specific information they can impart. This is an exciting field, where chemistry, biology and geology collide, and we will discuss how knowledge of all of these disciplines can tell us much about the past.
Rich completed a Geosciences PhD in 1998 at Penn State University, where he studied how the preserved lipids of algae and bacteria can be used to study ancient environments. From there, he went to a post-doctoral position at the Netherlands Institute of Research where he refined his knowledge of organic geochemistry. In 2000, he joined the School of Chemistry; he is based in the Organic Geochemistry Unit, which has been a world leader in organic geochemical investigations for the past 40 years. Rich's own research interests are rather broad, encompassing the microbiology of As-contaminated aquifers and the preservation of fossil leaves, but a central component is the study of ancient climate systems using the organic remains of ancient organisms preserved in sediments.

11.00 - 11.50
Person: Dr Emma Robinson
Topic: Neuroscience, ethics of animal use in biomedical research
Title: What can rats tell us about human emotion?
‘What can rats tell us about human emotion? discusses recent developments in the study of emotion in animals and how we can use these advances to understand more about human psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety’
Dr Emma Robinson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology. Specialising in studying the brain mechanisms that control normal and abnormal behaviour, her research investigates the cause and treatment of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and addiction.
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Person: Professor Adrian Mulholland
Topic: Enzymes in Action
Title: Enzyme Chemistry
How enzymes dock with target molecules is a fundamental question in the biological sciences. In order to understand the processes occurring at the active site computational methods are extremely useful. In this talk we will look at some systems and modelling approaches used. We will also look at how our understanding of active sites allows us to design effective drugs.

Professor Adrian Mulholland carried out his first degree in Chemistry at Bristol and his PhD at Oxford University with Professor Graham Richards, where he developed computer based methods to understand enzyme reactions. He then worked with Prof. Martin Karplus at Harvard University as a research fellow. On returning to Bristol he has held two prestigious fellowships (currently an EPSRC leadership fellowship) and has continued to work in the area of enzyme chemistry and drug design.

12:10 -13:00
Person: Dr David N Sheppard
Topic: Genetics and Genetic disorders
Title: Cystic Fibrosis: From Gene Discovery to Drug Development in 20 Years
The common, life-shortening inherited disease cystic fibrosis causes ducts and tubes in the body to become blocked by thick, sticky mucus leading to breathing difficulties and problems with the digestion of food. Current therapies for cystic fibrosis treat the symptoms of the disease not the underlying genetic defect. In 1989, the defective gene responsible for cystic fibrosis was identified and its protein product called CFTR. This lecture will explore how CFTR works, how genetic defects disable or destroy CFTR and how this knowledge has been used to develop drug therapies for cystic fibrosis that target the root cause of the disease.
David N. Sheppard is a Reader in Physiology at the University of Bristol. David investigates the structure and function of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) with the goal of developing rational new therapies for cystic fibrosis (CF) and related diseases.
After obtaining a PhD in Cell Physiology from the University of Cambridge with Dr. Francisco V. Sepúlveda, David undertook postdoctoral research with Prof. Michael J. Welsh at the University of Iowa in the period immediately following the demonstration that CFTR forms a regulated Cl- channel. Returning to the UK, he was a BBSRC Advanced Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh before becoming a Lecturer at the University of Bristol.
Working with Michael Welsh, David demonstrated that CF mutations associated with a milder clinical phenotype form Cl- channels with residual function. His own group has elucidated how different types of small molecules interact with CFTR to modulate its channel function. David is Coordinator of EuroCareCF, the European Commission-funded Coordination Action for Cystic Fibrosis and Related Diseases and an Editor of the Journal of Physiology.
Person: Professor Neil Allan
Topic: Solid materials and their properties
Title: From Nano to Geo
Understanding the properties of solids at the molecular level is one of the grand challenges in science. In this talk we will look at aspects of the solid state and in particular look at the impact of doping of solids (incorporation of elements that shouldn't’t be there) and its relevance to conductivity and Earth Science.
Professor Neil Allan is Director of the Centre for Computational Chemistry at the University of Bristol, whose research interests cover all aspects of the solid state. He carried out his undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Oxford and after working at ICI for a number of years moved to the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol.

14:00 - 14:50
Person: Professor Dudley Shallcross
Topic: Atmospheric Chemistry
Title: ‘Indoor and Outdoor Air:
What is the Difference?’
While the bulk of the air remains constant whether indoors or out the trace gases and the physical conditions they are exposed to differ. The inside environments of our homes schools and other workplaces can provide a wide range of volatile organic compounds from paint solvents to air fresheners. Internal lighting uses different wavelengths to the Sun. Diffusion rates are also different. Trace gases can breakdown, adhere to surfaces and build up in concentration more so than if they were outside. The talk will touch on all these areas.
Dudley Shallcross is Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and visiting scientist at the UK Met. Office. He designs and develops new sensors to measure key species in the atmosphere and also conducts laboratory and computer modelling studies to understand the processes occurring in the atmosphere on urban to global scales. In addition he is Director of the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust and is a well regarded public speaker. He is a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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Person: Dr Helen Heath
Topic: Large Hadron Collider and Particle Physics
Title: Searching for the Higgs Boson
I will give a general introduction to the Standard Model of Particle Physics which describes how the particles we currently regard as the fundamental building blocks of matter interact. I will discuss the complexity of the detectors needed to study the fundamental particles and point to some possible new physics that the Large Hadron Collider might reveal.
Helen Heath is a Particle Physicist whose work has concentrated on the development of detectors for experiments to understand the smallest constituents of matter. Most recently she has been involved in the construction of part of the CMS experiment which will study collisions of protons at the Large Hadron Collider.
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15.10 - 16.10
Person: Professor Pete Barham
: Molecular Gastronomy
Title: ‘Molecular Gastronomy’
This final lecture aims to be entertaining as well as informative.
Food preparation and cookery involve many processes which are well described by the physical sciences. Understanding the chemistry and physics of cooking and the psychology of food should lead to improvements in performance in the kitchen, Why do certain recipes work and why others fail? An appreciation of the underlying physical and psychological processes will inevitably help in unraveling the mysteries of the good cooking."

Peter Barham is a Professor of Physics at Bristol University UK, honorary Professor of Molecular Gastronomy in the Life Sciences faculty of the University of Copenhagen and honorary Research Associate at the Animal Demography Unit in Zoology at the University of Cape Town. In Bristol, as well as carrying out his own original research in fundamental Polymer Physics, and in the conservation of penguins, he is involved in undergraduate and post-graduate teaching and a range of administrative tasks. In Copenhagen, he is helping to create up research and teaching activities in the new and emerging area of Molecular Gastronomy (the application of physical, biological and medical sciences to understanding our appreciation of food as prepared in the home and high quality restaurants). In Cape Town he is involved with a group trying to save the endangered African penguins.
In addition, Peter is very interested in raising the public awareness of science and its relevance to everyday life. In this context he has developed a series of lecture demonstrations (or performance science) mostly based around the science involved in cookery and on penguins.
In 2003 he was awarded the 2003 Kelvin Medal by the Institute of Physics for his contributions to the promotion of the public awareness of science.
Peter has a real passion for penguins which has taken him around the world to see, in the wild, all 17 species of these fascinating birds. However, more recently he has managed to combine his knowledge of the physics of materials with his love of penguins to develop novel means of tagging penguins. New rubber based flipper bands are now being tested on penguins in South Africa.
Peter Barham's interest in the Science of food has led him to meet many professional chefs and food writers with whom he has been able to collaborate in several projects; for example, in 1997 he won of the Sci-Art Prize jointly with the artist, writer and broadcaster, Leslie Forbes. In 1999 he was awarded the Institute of Physics Prize for the Promotion of Public Awareness of Physics. He has also appeared in numerous radio and television programmes and is a regular contributor to the Guardian in both the food and science sections. Peter’s book “The science of cooking” published in 2001 by Springer, is not only popular with the general public, but is also used as a text in many catering colleges.
In the last few years Peter has been collaborating with a number of chefs (notably Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck) with the idea of bringing science more closely into the kitchen, both at home and in the restaurant.

Reserve Lecture
Person: Dr Preeti Kaur
: Extremophiles
Title: ‘Exobiology ad Extremophiles’
Extremophiles are organisms that live in conditions that are too extreme for most organisms to survive easily. They thrive in conditions that are, for example, hot, cold, acidic, alkaline, high pressure or high salinity. Many of these conditions are likely to be present on moons and planets. Knowing how the organisms survive such conditions on Earth and knowing their chemical indicators of their presence should contribute to their future detection, or not, on bodies outside of the Earth.
Preeti graduated from the University of Bristol in 2004 with an MSci (Hons) in Chemistry. During the summer before her final year she spent eight weeks working as a medicinal research chemist at GlaxoSmithKline in Harlow. In her final year she joined the OGU, and, under the supervision of Rich Pancost and Sam Kelly, looked into the anaerobic oxidation of methane occurring in ocean margin sediments, as part of project METROL .
Preeti started her PhD in October 2004, supervised by Dr (now Prof.) Rich Pancost and funded by EPSRC. The project title for this research was Using microbial membrane lipids in hot spring deposits to elucidate geothermal chemistry and microbiology. This work was in collaboration with Bruce Mountain, GNS, NZ, and Helen Talbot and Rob Gibson, Newcastle University, UK.
Since the completion of her PhD Preeti has enjoyed a two month placement at MIT before becoming a post doctoral research assistant with the Organic Geochemistry Unit within the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol.
Preeti has been actively engaged in outreach activities since 2005 working with primary and secondary students in the UK, South Africa, Singapore, and Jersey. In recent years she has given more than 40 lectures on the topic of ‘Extremophile Chemistry’ to school groups and science festivals. Preeti has also worked with organisations in the promotion of science amongst young women. She is now the Bristol ChemLabS Outreach Administrator.


There will be sign posted meeting points for the workshops from outside main lecture theatres from where you will be collected.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy
Person: Dr Craig Butts
Maximum group size: 8
Description:Dr Craig Butts will demonstrate both proton (1H,) and 13C spectroscopy in the School of Chemistry’s NMR centre.
Biog.Dr Craig Butts is a senior lecturer and the Director of NMR Facilities in the School of Chemistry, University of Bristol.
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Electron Microscopy
Person: Dr. Sean Davis
Maximum group size: 8
Description:Dr Sean Davis will take groups of teachers through the techniques of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) using biological and non-biological specimens.
Biog.Dr Sean Davis is a senior lecturer in chemistry and the Manager of the Electron Microscopy Unit of the School of Chemistry, University of Bristol.


Person: Tim Harrison
Topic: Practical Chemistry
Title:Demonstration Practical Chemistry

This session will be a ‘see and do’ session involving some of the typical experiments performed with liquid nitrogen and dry ice. This session is suitable for those new to science teaching or those that want to have a bit of fun!
Tim studied Chemistry at King’s College, University of London from 1978-1981 a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) at Warwick from 1981-1982 and a masters degree in Science from the Open University awarded in 2003. He has 27 years experience in teaching chemistry in secondary schools and at Bristol.
Tim is the Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow, the Science Communicator in Residence and the Director of Outreach of the School of Chemistry at Bristol.
Tim was awarded a Royal Society of Chemistry Schools Education Award in 2005 and the University of Bristol's Engagement Award for the Faculty of Science in 2007. Most recently in March 2010, Tim was awarded one of the Royal Society's new prestigious 'Hauksbee Awards' to recognise excellence in science teaching.'

Title: AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust (AZSTT) –Science Resources for KS2 and KS3
Person: Ms Sophie Franklin
Maximum group size: 12
Sophie will describe the support given by the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust for KS2 science. The talk will include a description of the resources produced, the primary science teacher awards and information about applying for funding for projects. There will be an opportunity to both see the software resources and to take some away.
Biog. Sophie Franklin is the Astra Zeneca Science Teaching Trust (AZSTT) Postgraduate Researcher, based at Bristol ChemLabS.
After leaving school, Sophie attended the University of Bristol, and in June 2010, graduated in Chemistry. As part of her final year degree project, Sophie participated in the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS), where she attended St John's Primary school, Bristol, 3 times a week and wrote her dissertation titled; "After the removal of KS2 science SATs, is the 'practical approach', the best way to educate, inspire and assess?". Sophie gained experience not only in teaching, but also had the opportunity to be involved in the ChemLabS Gifted and Talented day held at Badminton School, where she assisted in workshops for 30 Year 5 & 6 pupils from local primary schools.
Wanting to continue research involving primary school education, Sophie started studying for a Masters Degree in Chemical Education in September 2010, researching and evaluating projects set up by the AZSTT over the last 12 years. Sophie aims to help ensure that the AZSTT projects are successful and beneficial to pupils across the UK. Sophie has now progressed to the PhD stage in this area.