James Maclaine – The dark, warped world of deep sea fishes

On Wednesday 7th November we’re excited to welcome James Maclaine, Senior Curator of Fish at the NHM, London. James will be talking about some of the bizarre fishes he has encountered at the NHM and their adaptations for life in extreme environments.

James Maclaine with Great White Shark jaws, via Wildlife Photographer of the Year on Twitter

James Maclaine with Great White Shark jaws, via Wildlife Photographer of the Year on Twitter (@NHM_WPY)

James Maclaine studies the fishes found in the some of the deepest parts of the ocean. In over 20 years curating the Fish Section at the Natural History Museum, James has assisted scientists, artists and Hollywood megastars access the huge research collection at South Kensington, and he recently assisted with the NHM’s current Life In The Dark exhibition with regard to deep sea species.

Humpback Anglerfish, by Javontaevious, 2011

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

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Luís Tojo – Psychedelic Drugs as Antidepressants

On Wednesday 3rd October we’re delighted to welcome Luís Tojo, grants adviser in neuroscience and mental health for the Wellcome Trust, who will be talking about current research on the use of psychedelic drugs as antidepressants. We expect this event to be extremely popular based on previous talks about related topics, so please reserve your free place using this link as we will need to limit numbers on the night for the sake of comfort and safety.Luis2

Luis has previously published an extensive review on novel psychoactive substances (aka legal highs), and researched the fast-acting effects of ketamine on human stem cells (specifically IPS cells) and the effects of conventional antidepressants and fatty-acids on neurogenesis and as anti-inflammatories.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6:30pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses and you will need to book to ensure a place.

Dr Rebecca Nesbit – Honeybees or Hairworms?

On Wednesday 5th September we’re pleased to welcome Dr Rebecca Nesbit, who will be asking the question “Honeybees or Hairworms – which would you save?” to explore conservation priorities and the nature of “Natural”. Ecologist and writer Rebecca Nesbitt trained honeybees to detect explosives before starting a career in science communication. She currently works for Nobel Media, visiting universities around the world with Nobel Laureates. She published her first novel in 2014, and a popular science book ‘Is that Fish in your Tomato?’ in July 2017.

Rebecca Nesbit portrait photo small

‘Save the Honeybee’ stories are never far from the news, but is the species really under threat? Given that they are managed by beekeepers, should we see them as livestock not wildlife? Parasites such as the hairworm, on the other hand seldom attract attention – would they be a better use of conservation funds? This PubSci, Dr Rebecca Nesbit will examine how we set conservation priorities, and whether the arguments for protecting nature really stack up. Expect lively debate!

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Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

Dr Erin Walker – Your health, your say?

On Wednesday 1st August we’re excited to have Dr Erin Walker at PubSci, talking about patient involvement in health care and research. Erin is the Patient Insight and Involvement Lead for UCLPartners, with expertise in patient and public involvement and engagement (PPI/E).

Erin Walker headshot BRC website

How much of a say do you have in your health services, and how they’re delivered? What about health research, and how it takes place? Are you even interested in having a say?!  This talk will present arguments for, and examples of how, people ought to and can be involved in health services delivery, and health research, including big data.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

Katrina van Grouw – Unnatural Selection

On Wednesday 4th July we’re delighted to welcome Katrina van Grouw back to PubSci, where she will be talking about Unnatural Selection: Evolution at the Hand of Man.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Katrina is the author of The Unfeathered Bird – a beautiful book published by Princeton University Press, which she shared the trials and triumphs of producing with us a couple of years ago at a very enjoyable PubSci.

Katrina inhabits that no-man’s land slap bang between art and science. She holds degrees in fine art and natural history illustration, and is a former curator of ornithological collections at a major national museum. She’s a self-taught scientist with a passion for evolutionary biology and its history. After a long and varied career on both sides of the art/science divide she now devotes her time exclusively to her books which, for her, “tick all creative and intellectual boxes.” front cover design low resolutionAt the next PubSci Katrina will be talking about her new book, Unnatural Selection (also published by Princeton University Press), which marks the 150th anniversary year of the publication of Darwin’s great work on domesticated animals Variation under Domestication. When Charles Darwin contemplated how best to introduce his controversial new theory of evolution to the general public, he chose to compare it with the selective breeding of domesticated animals. Katrina will explain why this analogy was more appropriate than even Darwin had realised. Artificial selection is, in fact, more than just an analogy for natural selection – it’s the perfect example of evolution in action.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs. Katrina will also be selling and signing books on the night. We hope to see you there!

Dr Jennifer Rohn: Boffins, Beards, and B-Movies…

On Wednesday 6th June we’re absolutely delighted to welcome back Dr Jennifer Rohn, who was our first ever PubSci speaker from way back in 2011. This time she will be talking about Boffins, Beards, and B-Movies: An illustrated story of science stereotypes from Socrates to Sci-fi – an exploration of the portrayal of scientists in fiction.

Dr Jennifer Rohn, image by Richard P. Grant, 2011

Dr Jennifer Rohn, image by Richard P. Grant, 2011

Jenny is a molecular cell biologist at UCL and author of three science-based novels. She coined the term Lab Lit to describe her writing, now a popular genre worldwide, and founded Lablit.com in 2005. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs. Jenny will also be signing books on the night. We hope to see you there!

Jack Ashby: The unnatural nature of natural history museums

On Wednesday 2nd May we’re excited to welcome author and zoologist Jack Ashby to PubSci, where he will be talking about the unnatural nature of natural history museums.

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Natural history museums are magical places. They inspire awe and wonder in the natural world and help us understand our place within the animal kingdom. Behind the scenes, many of them are also undertaking world-changing science with their collections. Their specimens help us explore incredible evolutionary stories.

But they are places for people, made by people. We might like to consider them logical places, centred on facts, but they can’t tell all the facts – there isn’t room. Similarly, they can’t show all the animals. And there are reasons behind what goes on display and what gets left in the storeroom.

The biases that can be detected in how people talk about animals, particularly in museums, is one of the themes of Jack Ashby’s new book, Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects. Museums are a product of their own history, and that of the societies they are embedded in. They are not apolitical, and they are not entirely scientific. As such, they don’t really represent reality.

Animal Kingdom cover hi res

Jack is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London. He is a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and the Society for the History of Natural History, and regularly writes and comments about the roles of natural history museums in science and society. His main zoological interest is in Australian mammals.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs. Jack will also be signing and selling copies of his book if you want a copy (they’ll be going at £20). We hope to see you there!