Tag Archives: Science Communication

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!

Barbecue, roasts and toast – how humans evolved a nose for cooked food

On Wednesday 3rd May we’re pleased to welcome Tom Husband who will be talking about the chemistry of cooked food and how (and why) we’ve evolved to want it.

TomHusband

Tom Husband

Tom Husband is a science writer and teacher who is fascinated by the chemistry of the every day. This talk combines his twin passions for the chemistry of food and of life. His book The Chemistry of Human Nature was recently published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is aware that the word “chemistry” has been over-used during this introduction.

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!

Fireproofing an iconic building

On Wednesday 5th April we are delighted to welcome Dr Fiona Nairn Scott who will be talking about fireproofing an iconic building. Fiona has a background in Materials Engineering and is now a Principal Consultant with a major Built Asset consultancy firm, with experience in the automotive, aerospace and rail industries, in both the UK and overseas.

An iconic building. Photo by Mike Gimelfarb, 2008

An iconic building. Photo by Mike Gimelfarb, 2008

Fiona’s last project was part of a major refurbishment of an iconic building with national significance. She will discuss issues around maintaining and retaining historic features, while at the same time making the building fit for the 21st Century’s needs – which is no small undertaking!

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!

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!

PUBSCI NEWS

New venue for monthly PubSci

After nearly two years of PubSci in the Upstairs bar at the Ritzy in Brixton, we have decided to move on. The Ritzy was a great place to run the events thanks to the helpful staff, but noise from the downstairs bar was an ongoing issue and we are moving on in search of slightly quieter pastures (we were also keen to find a venue with more ales than lagers).

The new venue for PubSci is the Albert Arms, which is a traditional boozer (with some proper beers) located in Southwark, just a short walk from Elephant & Castle tube.

The Albert Arms. Photo by Ewan-M

Starting with a BANG!

The first event at the Albert will be Claire Benson telling the stories of fire and explosions from the 19th century that captured imaginations, changed the face of the planet and the very way we see the cosmos.

So, if you want to know how spontaneous combustion led to the London Fire Brigade creation, how explosives actually saved many lives, and how the development of 1 small piece of laboratory equipment lead to us understanding the very makeup and expansion of the universe, then join us at 6:30pm on Monday 14th January (yes, the day before the pub quiz – our last event in Brixton).

We hope you like the new venue!

November PubSci: Museums and Science

Why museum collections are vital to life on Earth

On Tuesday 20th November we will have museum curator and regular PubSci host Paolo Viscardi talking about museum collections and their value to science, society and species survival.

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