Past events at Cafe Scientifique


Past Events at Cafe Scientifique

If you have missed any of our past events you can find out more about them here!  You can also follow the evenings conversation by using Twitter to search #CafeSciBoscanova to see what went on, or use the links below to find the talks on YouTube.  Thank you all for coming and helping make this event such a success!  Hope to see you all again soon.

Tuesday 3rd October

Breathe your way into balance – PGR Francesco Ferraro

During Daily Activity, our body needs to re-adjust itself to avoid falls. The muscles’ strength contributes to postural adjustments to stop us losing balance. But with advancing age, this mobility and strength diminishes, putting us at risk of falls.

Recent research has shown that the inspiratory (breathing) muscles may work as postural muscles. We know that muscular training programs might help to prevent fall accidents. This is why we are testing a novel theory that training the breathing muscles can reduce the risk of falling.

The talk will explain how the inspiratory muscle training works and its relationship with the deep stabiliser muscles of the trunk and lumbopelvic regions (also known as the core muscles).

Tuesday 5 September

‘All eyes on inflammation in age-related macular degeneration’ – Professor Jessica Teeling, University of Southampton

Ever wondered why so many of us lose our vision when we get old, as a result of age-related macular degeneration? Is it our genes or our environment, or both? Do you want to find out how we can use research to tackle this most common form of blindness in elderly?   In this interactive Cafe Scientifique, Professor Jessica Teeling will take you on a journey into the eye, sometimes referred to as the ‘window of the brain’ and discuss the role of our immune system driving the tissue damage to the ageing retina, which ultimately leads to losing our sight.

Tuesday 4 July

Let’s talk about genetics – Research assistant Ayesha Pyke, Bournemouth University

Our DNA shapes how we are made; this biological information is passed from parent to child through the generations.  Come listen to our 3rd Year UG students explain the fundamentals of the exciting and complex science of genetics, from the structure of DNA to mutations in our genome.  Hear how the use of genetics is now an everyday part of our world and has provided some answers but also posed even more questions.

Tuesday 6 June

New Zealand frogs –  the ancient weirdos of the amphibian World! – Professor Phil Bishop,  University of Otago

Phil Bishop has spent the last 20 years working with the ancient native frogs of New Zealand. Originally intending to discover how these unusually silent frogs communicate, his focus shifted towards amphibian conservation management as the phenomenon of global amphibian declines gained momentum. The leiopelmatid frogs of New Zealand are voiceless, earless with a number of unusual and unique morphological characters, and out of the breeding season have a daily  behavioural repertoire very similar to a small stone! Phil is a Professor of Zoology at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and in his spare time is the Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and the Chief Scientist of the Amphibian Survival Alliance

Tuesday 2 May

“Be quiet! You will wake up Alexa!” – Ethical and Legal Implications of Human-Machine Interaction in the era of Social Robots – Dr Argyro Karanasiou, Bournemouth University

Artificial Intelligence has permeated our lives in an unprecedented way: Driverless cars are now being tested in the US and the UK, IBM’s ROSS is an algorithmic tool supporting legal practitioners and virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana are nowadays part and parcel of our daily lives. This wide use of AI reflects a number of legal issues, debated by academics, philosophers, ethicists, scientists, practitioners and technology industry players, on both sides of the Atlantic.  The talk dissects the intricacies of Automated Decision Making (ADM) and urges for refining the current legal definition of AI when pinpointing the role of algorithms in the advent of ubiquitous computing, data analytics and deep learning. What is ultimately the scope for personal autonomy in the era of automation?

Tuesday 4 April

Going for Gold! 3D Scanning and 3D Printing of Ancient and Modern Jewellery: The Law and Technology – Professor Dinusha Mendis,

Bournemouth University

Ever seen 3D printing and 3D scanning happen in reality? By allowing physical objects to be replicated, 3D printing is increasing in popularity. However, there are questions relating to the technology as well as in relation to intellectual property (IP) laws.

On the one hand, whilst 3D scanning and 3D printing present excellent opportunities for creating various objects, it also poses a number of questions in relation to the technology it utilises. On the other hand, it also raises various IP issues. For example, does 3D scanning and 3D printing infringe the IP rights of the creator? How much ‘modification’ is needed to create a new and non-infringing product?

Are we about to see a new wave of file sharing in 3D designs? While the technology has significant potential to expand into various sectors, including jewellery, it raises many issues in relation to ownership and craftsmanship, which will be explored in this talk.

Tuesday 7 March

‘It’s just the way it is: why humans doubt facts if they contrast belief’ – Dr Darren G. Lilleker, Bournemouth University

The human brain expends as little energy as possible on areas that represent little immediate interest. the senses are most active only at times of heightened danger or excitement. Hence information is reduced to simple associations to determine attitudes and shape behaviour.

Dr Darren G. Lilleker who is an Associate Professor in Political Communication in The Media School at Bournemouth University will explain how humans can thus be led to make decisions based on weak arguments, minimal facts and rely on beliefs rejecting expert advice.

Tuesday 7 February – How well can you hang a picture frame? – Dr Sharon Docherty, Bournemouth University

Our environment is full of information that allows our brain to make decisions about whether or not we are in an upright position. How we interpret this upright position (vertical) is based on the combination of signals our brain receives from the visual (eyes) and vestibular (inner ear) systems as well as muscles and joints throughout our body (proprioception).

This talk will outline what we know about how vertical is perceived in different age groups and also how it can be affected by clinical conditions such as neck pain and diabetes.


Tuesday 6 December – Would you have your genome sequenced? – Dr Catherine Mercer, University Hospital Southampton and Dr Frank Ratcliff, Wessex Academic Health Science Network.

Dr Catherine Mercer is a consultant in clinical genetics at University Hospital Southampton, and is also rare disease lead and education lead for Wessex Genomic Medicine Centre, based in Southampton.Dr Frank Ratcliff is a senior project manager at Wessex Academic Health Science Network, a company wholly owned by NHS England to drive the uptake of innovations into the NHS. He also has a PhD in genetics.

Wessex Genomic Medicine Centre is one of 13 centres across the UK delivering the 100,000 genomes project. This exciting project aims to help scientists and doctors understand more about diagnosing and treating conditions such as cancer and rare diseases. It relies on collecting and decoding 100,000 complete sets of people’s genes – the human genome and analysing that alongside personal medical records. We are at the start of a genomics revolution, which will change diagnosis and treatment from one-size-fits-all to personalised medicine. How will this affect patients and their families? Is this a no-brainer, or a moral-maze? Would you have your genome sequenced? Come along and join the discussion.


Tuesday 1st November – Antibiotic Resistance: Urban Myth or Zombie Apocalypse? – Dr Liz Sheridan, Poole Hospital

nasty-bacteriaPoole Hospital’s very own microbiologist Dr Liz Sheridan sets out to demystify the murky world of bacterial resistance to antibiotics armed with assorted office equipment, a few sharp things and
some graphic Swedish material…”




Tuesday 4th October – Getting drunk with 302 brain cells – what we learn from a worm?

– Prof Lindy Holden-Dye, Southampton Univeruntitled-1sity

To celebrate our birthday, we’ll be joined by some drunken nematode worms who are able to demonstrate how alcohol affects the nervous system – they will be joined by their “handler” Prof Lindy Holden-Dye from the University of Southampton. She will explain what we can learn about how our own brains, with 86 billion brain cells, work by studying the brain of a simple nematode worm which has just 302.


Tuesday 6th September – Are you a digital addict? – Dr John McAlaney, Bournemouth UniversityiStock_000080782517_XXXLarge

Social media and smartphones enable us to do a lot of things, but could excessive use of these digital technologies be causing harm? This talk will explore if there is such a thing as digital addiction and how we might be able to use technology to better reach a balance between our online and offline lives.



Finding your way: understanding how environments can influence navigational abilities – Mary O’Malley, Bournemouth University Dementia Institute

Trying to find your way around a large office building with corridor upon identical-looking corridor is difficult enough, especially when these surroundings are unfamiliar. Now imagine what it is like if you have memory difficulties? This talk will discuss the findings of a study exploring how older adults with memory difficulties learn environments, as well as their possible causes of disorientation. It will outline how the memory of different aspects of a recently learned route changes across students, older adults with no memory difficulties and older adults with memory difficulties. The study highlighted the aspects of route memory which were more sensitive, to the effects of ageing and possible atypical ageing (i.e. identifying the route from a map perspective), as well as those which remained to appear little affected (i.e. the order-memory of landmarks seen along the route). The talk will finish with a discussion on how these findings can feed into the design of buildings used by older adults.


Thunderbolts & Lightning – Are they really frightening? – Rhys Phillips

Paraphrasing that famous line from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Research Engineer and science broadcaster Rhys Phillips will look at the phenomenon of lightning. In a light hearted and informative talk, Rhys will explain the processes which lead to a lightning strike and the different types of lightning that can exist. He will then move on to show what happens to aircraft when they are hit by lightning and explain how we protect against damage from this. This talk will also give the audience a chance to see exactly what happens in our lightning lab and answer the question that everyone is asking – can a piggy bank survive a lightning strike?



Psychiatric Genetics – Professor Kevin McGhee

For over a century Scientists have been using the humble fruit fly to study genetics and how our genes can impact our health. BU has research into all kinds of diseases our genes have an impact on, however this talk was on something you may not have considered before – how can our genes influence our mental health? For an insight into some of Kevin’s research take a look at this video.


Maintaining Authority – The BBC, the Home Front and Women Power – Kathryn Terkanian

We were joined by Kathryn Terkanian, discussing women’s roles at the BBC during World War II. On the outbreak of war in 1939, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Home Front became intimately intertwined.  The war years dramatically changed the BBC in both scale and structure.  A rapid expansion in war-related output resulted in the tripling of staff numbers.  A significant proportion of these new employees were women.  Despite this growing feminine presence, the BBC strove to publically maintain a masculine image.

Previous research on the BBC’s policies and wartime programming by researchers have demonstrated that the BBC sought to maintain this image through its programming, its music policy, and its vocal styling.  Through an examination of the BBC’s wartime publications, and through the BBC’s own archive, Kathryn explored how the BBC fashioned this image through its public relations department and in-house publications.  She related how it maintained and controlled this image by emphasizing its male news announcers and its war correspondents.  In addition, Kathryn discussed how the maintenance of this image influenced how female staff were utilized within the organization and how female staff were represented to the public.


The Function of Nonverbal Behaviour in Human Courtship- Martin Graff

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we will be taking a closer look human courtship behaviours.

Unless we are very bold, we don’t just walk up to someone and ask for sex. Rather, most of us engage in well established scripts for this purpose, which means we have an idea of what we think or expect should happen in a certain situation. These scripts are often nonverbal displays using our eyes, face, body orientation and gestures. All of this means that nonverbal communication is an important part of human romantic relationship initiation.

As well as looking at nonverbal communication, this talk will provide some insights into the psychology behind the types of ‘opening lines’ people use and, examine the function of self disclosure and touch in sexual flirtation. Finally, we’ll look at the differences between males and females in what they seek in a romantic partner.


Fear in childbirth: Is the media responsible? – Edwin van Teijlingen & Vanora Hundley, Bournemouth University

The media is often blamed for influencing society’s attitudes and views. At november’s Café Scientifique we were joined by Professors Vanora Hundley and Edwin Van Teijlingen to debate the impact of the mass media on women’s views of childbirth. The motion is:  “Fear in childbirth: is the media responsible?”baby

Social perceptions and beliefs about childbirth can increase women’s requests for interventions, such as
caesarean section, with long-term health implications for mothers and babies. They explored the role of the mass media in shaping these beliefs and identify whether media portrayals are responsible for rising rates of intervention. Join us for an interactive debate on the impact of the mass media on women’s views of childbirth. The motion is:  “Fear in childbirth: is the media responsible?”  The audience were given the opportunity to vote on the motion before and after the debate.


The Maritime Archaeology of Poole – Tom Cousins, Bournemouth University

Poole’s maritime archaeology spans most of man’s seafaring past and is a recognised international resource. It includes examples of palaeoenvironmental deposits, Bronze Age sites, Iron Age port facilities and logboats, Medieval quays, 16th and 17th century shipwrecks, 19th century hulks, WWI aircraft carriers, WWII aircraft and amphibious tanks.

Many of these have been investigated by BU’s Maritime Archaeology stude
nts and staff as part of teaching and research projects over a decade since maritime archaeology was first taught at BU in 2004. This has included the second largest shipwreck excavation undertaken in the UK, the first archaeological investigation in the UK of amphibious armoured vehicles and the investigation of one of the largest collections of abandoned watercraft in the UK. This work has involved teaching and research facilitating co-production with students working alongside staff, in many cases being involved in both the conception and publication of this work.


Monitoring our environment from space: how can we do it and why should we care? – Dr Robin Wilson, University of Southampton

There are hundreds of satellites in orbit and many of them are taking detailed pictures o
f the Earth. In this talk, Robin explained how we can use these pictures (and, more importantly, the raw data behind them) for environmental monitoring, with a focus on two particular applications: vegetation change and air pollution. His talk showed how data from these satellites are becoming essential in a wide range of fields, and will answer the question.

Robin Wilson has just finished his PhD at the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, University of Southampton. His research and teaching work focuses on the scientific application of satellite images – a field known as ‘remote sensing’. Over the last few years he has developed a revolutionary new technique to allow monitoring of air pollution at over ten thousand times the level of detail previously possible. His work is described at, and he tweets @sciremotesense.

The Cyber-landscape: You, Your Data and the Dark Web

The line that separates our physical existence and the cyber landscape is becoming increasingly blurry with our daily activities moving online and our actions online having a direct consequence on our daily existence. A majority of our transactions (such as shopping, bill payments, banking, etc.) and social interactions are now undertaken online.
Our personal data facilitate these transactions and interactions. They enable and sustain the idea of a “free” internet in which personal data is exchanged for “free” apps and access to information. This has made personal data highly valuable in the cyber landscape. So much so that a vast array of encryption technologies and legislation such as the Data Protection Act have been put in place to protect and govern the use of our personal data.
This talk highlighted the importance of our personal data in the cyber landscape. The legitimate and illegitimate use of our personal data is highlighted along with mechanisms in place to keep our person data secure and procedures for handling circumstances when the security of our personal data is comprised.

Artists Doing DIY Science: is it really art or science?

Artists and scientists have often found themselves at odds with each other, but the emergence of new relationships and strategies for interdisciplinary working looks set to change that. Andy’s own artistic projects and collaborative initiatives fall within this new way of working. During his talk he discussed some of his own work including…

Throughout history, artists have capitalised on any new technology and methodology available and have used them as a means of creative expression. Science offers rich pickings for such new technology, but in recent years, a shift in the relationship between art and science means that people are far more inclined to ‘go it alone’ rather than relying on formal collaborations between institutions.

The origins of DIY science and its influence on artistic practices are complex and elusive. Through exploring the emergence of the hobbyist and the beginnings of the maker scene, Andy consider the social, political and cultural implications of practicing science outside of formal institutions.

Resurrecting Pop Royalty: Holographic Telepresence

Have you ever wondered about the technology behind the holographs that are able to bring the likes of Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson or Elvis back to life for “live” performances? In this Café Scientifique, Oliver Gingrich (BU EngD candidate and Producer at the Analema arts collective, London)  talked about the use of Pepper’s Ghost in creating these effects. Oliver  gave a practical demonstration of technology that allows us to visualise sound and brain waves.


Is humanity really in the existential danger zone? – Dr James Dyke

The Earth’s climate has always changed. All species eventually become extinct. But humans have, in the context of geological timescales, produced near instantaneous planetary-scale disruption. We are sowing the seeds of havoc on the Earth, and the time is fast approaching when we may reap this harvest. A few decades ago, such claims would have probably been considered at best far fetched, at worse dangerous. However, over the past few years, a number of high profile scientific studies have brought into sharp relief the impacts that humans are having on the Earth system, and how such impacts are in danger of driving the Earth into a state that will not support our industrialised, globalised civilisation.

In this talk James will review the main areas of concern and consider to what extent our civilisation and perhaps humanity itself is entering an existential danger zone.

Dr James Dyke is a lecturer in Complex Systems at Southampton University. As well as using models to investigate how the Earth works and how we interact with it, James writes a column for The Conversation and is the organiser and host of TEDxSouthamptonUniversity.


“Poisoning and the development of Forensic Toxicology from the Victorian era to the present day” David Osselton

David Osselton is one of the country’s most experienced and senior practising forensic toxicologists. This lecture took you on a trip through the history of poisons, poisoners and the development of modern day forensic toxicology.

Is Reproduction in the Sea Lunacy? – Professor Matt Bentley

Lunacy, a term no longer in common usage, was used to describe brief periods of insanity related to phases of the moon. In the marine environment many marine organisms reproduce by shedding their eggs and sperm into the water column where a sperm then needs to find an egg for fertilisation to take place. Many species show reproduction that involves highly synchronised spawning to bring eggs together in time and space. Often these reproductive crises are associated with a particular phase of the moon, so represent what could be regarded as a type of lunacy. This Café Scientifique  explored the influence of the moon and other environmental cues in coordinating reproduction in marine animals.


Who Stole Christmas?

This was our last Cafe Scientifique of the year as we brought you our Christmas themed evening run by Bournemouth University’s Forensic Society. We learnt all about finger print collecting, foot prints and Hair analysis and about how Crime Scene investigators do their work day to day. This event was a huge success with a great turn out and interactive session on the evening as we finally discovered who really did steal Christmas…

You also can view the evenings talk here.


How does light intensity and our ability to recognise patterns affect what we “see”? – Jeff Bagust

For any of you long time followers of Cafe Scientifique you may remember Professor Jeff Bagust who gave the very first Cafe Sci talk about Cardiac Heart Rhythms.  Jeff came back for more, this time he talked to us about how light intensity and our brains ability to recognise patterns can affect what we actually “see”.  We learnt all about how optical illusions work, as well as how we can produce our own 3D images using nothing more than an ordinary camera!


The role of physiotherapy in elite sport – My experience of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – Colin Paterson and Phil Smith

Colin Paterson gave an interesting insight into how physiotherapy is used in elite sport and what his experience of working at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was like.  This included an insight into the different methods used to help prevent and treat injuries, as well as looking at how research is now teaching us about the importance of fascia in physiotherapy.  Fascia is the white connective tissue that surrounds our muscles and continually sends information back to the brain on how things are working.  In the future this is likely to be a key research area as it’s impact on athletic performance is recognised.

Phil Smith is a GB Beach Volleyball player, former pro, former Sporting Giants Sport England Athlete, played pro in Europe indoor and internationally on the Beach circuit.  He gave us an overview of how physiotherapy has impacted on his career and how it affects his training programme.

You can view both parts here: Part 1 & Part 2


The Scandal of Poverty & Child Mortality in the Western world: Are British children especially disadvantaged? – Professor Colin Pritchard

Can it be true that British children are really worse off than in most other Western countries? These are results that UK and the USA governments would rather not talk about but this event reports the evidence (even if it might offend).

Professor Colin Pritchard, Ph.D.,MA., AAPSW; AcSS; FRSA, Research Professor in Psychiatric Social Work, School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, and, Emeritus and Visiting Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

You can view this talk here