Tag Archives: London

Dr Mike Shanahan – How fig trees can save the planet

On Wednesday 2nd August Dr Mike Shanahan will be making his second attempt to join us at PubSci, after the first was scuppered by disruption following the terrorist attack in Borough back in June. Mike is a freelance writer and illustrator with a research background in rainforest ecology, who will be talking about the ecological and cultural importance of fig trees.

FigTree

Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilisation. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig trees are special. They evolved when giant dinosaurs still roamed and have been shaping our world ever since.

And all because 80 million years ago these trees cut a curious deal with some tiny wasps. Thanks to this deal, figs sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees. As Mike will explain, fig trees could help restore lost rainforests, conserve wildlife and tackle climate change. In a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, their story offers hope.

Mike’s book Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future was published in 2016 – copies will be available on the night if you fancy getting the detailed inside scoop.

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 – we hope to see you there!

Jane Hallam – Fishtopia! An irreverent celebration of fish diversity

On Wednesday 5th July we have something fishy going on at PubSci.

Fish are great, and Jane Hallam loves fish. An aquarist with over fifteen years of experience in public aquaria, zoos, and billionaires’ private tanks, she’s here to talk about some of her favourite fish – the ugly, the misunderstood, the weird and the fabulous. From the mating rituals of deep-sea anglerfish to record-breaking sharks, there will be something for anyone with a passing interest in our watery friends.

Jane Hallam

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 – we hope to see you there!

 

CANCELLED-Dr Mike Shanahan – How fig trees can save the planet

Unfortunately tonight’s planned talk has been rescheduled to August due to disruption following the recent terrorist attack in nearby Borough Market. However, the Old King’s Head should be reopened today and some of the PubSci regulars will be there to socialise.

On Wednesday 7th June we’re delighted to welcome Dr Mike Shanahan, a freelance writer and illustrator with a research background in rainforest ecology, who will be talking about the ecological and cultural importance of fig trees.

FigTree

Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilisation. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig trees are special. They evolved when giant dinosaurs still roamed and have been shaping our world ever since.

And all because 80 million years ago these trees cut a curious deal with some tiny wasps. Thanks to this deal, figs sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees. As Mike will explain, fig trees could help restore lost rainforests, conserve wildlife and tackle climate change. In a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, their story offers hope.

Mike’s book Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future was published in 2016 – copies will be available on the night if you fancy getting the detailed inside scoop.

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 – we hope to see you there!

Robson & Viscardi – Dead or alive?

On Wednesday 2nd November we will have a talk by the founders of PubSci, James Robson and Paolo Viscardi. Both work with animals, but James curates live collections, while Paolo curates dead ones: so which collections are the most interesting – dead or alive?

James Robson is the new Curator of the Sea Life London Aquarium, bringing experience of working with a huge range of live animals from all over the world to London. While he’s busy ensuring the health and welfare of his aquatic charges, he’s also undertaking a PhD on jellyfish. He will be explaining why he thinks live collections are so awesome.

Sarlac Jellyfish by James Robson

Sarlac Jellyfish by James Robson

Paolo Viscardi is currently the Curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology, but is about to depart for the Emerald Isle to become the Curator of Zoology at Dublin’s Dead Zoo. He’ll be arguing why he thinks dead collections are even more awesome than the living ones.

Dublin's Dead Zoo by Paolo Viscardi

Dublin’s Dead Zoo by Paolo Viscardi

This will be the last London PubSci hosted by the original organisers, but a team of enthusiastic regulars are planning to keep things running in 2017 and an end-of-year quiz is ready for December, so fear not!

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 – we hope to see you there!

Katrina van Grouw – A Very Fine Swan Indeed: Art, Science & The Unfeathered Bird

On Wednesday 1st June we’re very pleased to have Katrina van Grouw speaking at PubSci.

KvG-Katrina van Grouw low res

Katrina inhabits that no-man’s land, slap bang between art and science. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, her formal education was in Printmaking and Natural History Illustration, but she’s also a dedicated ornithologist, a former Natural History Museum curator, a qualified bird ringer, and an experienced preparator of natural history specimens.

KvG-book cover

The book, The Unfeathered Bird, is a magnum opus twenty five years in the
making, and was originally intended as a manual for bird artists. It was only much later that it blossomed into something far more ambitious. A world away from textbooks and diagrams, this is a work equally intended for scientists and artists, indeed anyone with an appreciation of birds or an interest in their adaptations and behaviour. It includes no fewer than 385 illustrations of 200 species, all made from actual specimens, many of which are shown in lifelike positions. Virtually all the complete skeletons were prepared and reconstructed at home from specimens donated from zoos, wildlife hospitals and conservation charities.

KvG-budgie skeletonKvG-great hornbill skeleton small

Join Katrina as she explains her aims and inspirations, shares her insights about birds beneath their feathers, and relates how her home was turned upside down as more and more specimens joined the queue.

Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Dr Henry Nicholls – From Narcolepsy to Insomnia

At PubSci on Wednesday 4th May (aka Star Wars Day) we’re delighted to welcome journalist, author and full-time narcoleptic Henry Nicholls, who will reveal what it’s like to live with narcolepsy, a rare and much misunderstood neurological disorder.

Most people who’ve heard of it know it’s a sleep disorder that involves pathological levels of sleep. What few people realise is that its onset is triggered by the flu (or similar infection) and that it often involves a host of other fabulous symptoms, including collapsing fits during moments of high emotion, sleep paralysis, terrifying hallucinations and – paradoxically – insomnia. On account of the amphetamines that Henry takes, he is unlikely to doze off during the talk, but video clips of fainting dogs and excerpts from his forthcoming book will pave the way for a lively discussion of the true value of sleep.

henrynew

Henry Nicholls

Henry is a science journalist, author, broadcaster and narcoleptic. He is the author of three books: Lonesome George, The Way of the Panda and The Galapagos. His latest literary adventure, provisionally entitled “ZZZ” and due to be published next year, will examine the funny, puzzling, troubling lives of those with pathological patterns of sleep.

Join us from 6pm for a 7pm start at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Gail Austen – Citizen Science: What Makes An Expert?

On Wednesday 2nd March we’re pleased to have Gail Austen speaking about the important and evolving  role of citizen science.

Gail is studying towards a PhD in Biodiversity Management at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent. She has an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity from Imperial College, having been swayed by the course being hosted at the Natural History Museum, where she also volunteered. Prior to this (overlooking a stint in finance), she worked for a Local Records Centre and become involved in local conversation, including spending the last six years as Chair of the Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group (KRAG). Gail has a passion for UK wildlife and is an advocate of amateur naturalists and citizen science.

Gail_Austen-Price

It is generally accepted that there has been a decline in field biology skills, with some drawing a parallel between the ability to identify flora and fauna with ‘traditional country skills’. There are a number of specialists concerned with the naming and cataloguing of live, dead, extant and extinct specimens, both as part of their job and in a recreational capacity. However, there have been questions raised over the accuracy of the data collected in a ‘non-scientific’ manner, but in order to answer questions about the natural world, the reliance on citizen science and volunteer collected data is increasing.  Using established methods used in face recognition studies in psychology, my research investigates accuracy in visual species identification, what makes an expert, and whether we can improve these skill sets as a legacy for generations to come.

Join us from 6pm for a 7pm start at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!