Category Archives: I’m a Scientist – Live

I’m a Scientist – Live! at the Ridgeway School for STFC Bringing Science to Swindon programme

On Tuesday 19th March two shows of I’m a Scientist – Live! came to the stage of the Ridgeway School as part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Bringing Science to Swindon programme. The event helped STFC reach a new audience and engaged school students with the people behind the science funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) councils, all based in their hometown.

In total, 200+ secondary school students from 5 different Swindon schools (Ridgeway, Kingsdown, Abbey Park, Commonweal, and Warneford) attended the shows.

They put their questions to 12 members of the UKRI community, between them representing STFC, EPSRC, BBSRC, NERC and MRC: scientists, engineers and staff from the research council head offices at Polaris House.

“Which one of you is the smartest?”

Marshalled by the MC Helen Arney, these brave competitors were faced with questions from the students such as:

  • Is water wet?
  • Will we be able to live on Mars in the future?
  • Is the Earth flat?
  • How old is the Universe in comparison to the Earth?
  • How do you detect neutrinos?
  • If the sky is blue because of the reflection of the sea, why isn’t it other colours because of reflections of the land?
  • Which one of you is the smartest?
  • What was your favourite subject as a kid?
  • What different properties do the tau, muon and electron neutrons have?
  • When is Boaty Mc-Boatface going to be in action?

Each strived to impress the audience with their answers, often debating or disagreeing with responses from their fellow competitors.

At the end of each show the students voted for the person who had most impressed them and deserved the prize of a £100 donation to a charity of their choice.

The winners were:

Show 1: Dr Phil Wiseman, supernova postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton – Prize donated to the MS Society

Show 2: Mousam Rai, PhD student researching neutrinos at the University of Warwick – Prize donated to NSPCC

In total, there was time for 11 student questions to be answered. After each show, many students took the opportunity to speak to the scientists one on one.

What the students thought

Students were asked for their views on the show they watched:

  • The shows reached a new audience for the STFC – Only 12 (6%) said they had previously been to an STFC event.
  • The majority of the students enjoyed the show – 60% rated it ‘Great’, 9% thought it was ‘Rubbish’, and the rest (31%) thought it was neither good nor bad.
  • The competitors were good at engaging their audience – 75% of students felt the show was aimed at the right level for them.
  • The format was welcoming for students – 72% agreed that they felt able to join and ask questions, if they wanted to.
  • A majority of the students (53%) felt inspired by the show in some way

Teachers at Ridgeway School said: “(The students) had great fun attending I’m a Scientist: Live while also improving their scientific knowledge and gaining an invaluable insight into the life of a modern-day scientist.”

Reflecting on how it went

IAS Live works best for the brave students

The Live! format is clearly an entertaining show that gives an insight into real scientific research and the people making it happen. However the format only allows for a small percentage of the audience to have their questions answered. It also takes bravery to stick your hand up and ask your question in a crowd of 100 peers (even for adults) and occasionally it was a struggle to get a question from students.

But students do have lots of questions, as shown by the numbers lining up to talk one on one with competitors after the shows. Competitors who had also done the online version of IAS commented on how students felt more comfortable volunteering questions in that format. In future we could open an online zone to accompany the event where students can get answers to the questions they weren’t able to ask during the show.

It’s valuable to include staff from Polaris House in non-research roles and those with connections to Swindon

Effort was made to recruit competitors who worked for research council head offices at Polaris House and priority was given to researchers with connections to the local area. This seems to have paid off as Mousam Rai, who grew up in Swindon, was voted the winner of his show.

Chris Carlton, Projects Peer Review Panel Secretary for STFC works at Polaris House and had even gone to the Ridgeway School as a student. This was his first engagement activity for school students, and beforehand was slightly unsure whether he would fit the event format given his non-research role.

Afterwards Chris said “I thought the event was great fun and really connected with the important part of what we do at UKRI which can sometimes be forgotten. I was also pleased at the amount I was able to contribute as there were lots of general questions…. I was very pleased by the friendly and collaborative vibe which was generated which certainly helped in settling my nerves.”

Focus on the questions

The format includes an introduction and ‘science fact or fiction’ introduction segment for each competitor. In this case, with 6 competitors each time and only an hour for the show, this meant there was less time for audience questions and discussion than we would have liked.

In future, with this number of competitors and a similar time frame, we would shorten the intros and get to the question section faster.

Thank you!

We’d like to give a huge thanks to all the competitors for giving their time to take part, and our fantastic MC Helen Arney. Thanks also to the staff at the Ridgeway School and Di Bulley at Swindon Borough Council who organised the venue and schools impeccably. Finally, thanks to our partners at the STFC for supporting the event as part the Bringing Science To Swindon programme.

Read the news post from the Ridgeway School about I’m a Scientist -Live!

Posted on March 28, 2019 modantony in Evaluation, I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist – Live! at the Ridgeway School for STFC Bringing Science to Swindon programme

IAS Live: Antibiotic Awareness Day

Yesterday afternoon, on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, we joined the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) at Burlington House in London, Piccadilly for a foray into antimicrobial research.


I’m a Scientist: Live at Burlington House.

We took five scientists — three of whom were I’m a Scientist alumni, having taken part in previous online events — whose research looks at the uses of antibiotics and antimicrobials, put them in a room in-front of around 100 sixth-formers, and had them answer questions on everything from Typhoid Mary, to zombie apocalypses.

Our scientists were Rob Shorten, Jess Bean, Mark Roberts, Clare Taylor, and Emma Newton.


Jess Bean and Mark Roberts go for the BAFTA puppeteering award with plush microbes.

Helen Arney, our MC for the afternoon kicked off by introducing the scientists before launching into a round of Science Fact or Fiction. The facts covered everything from bacteria flavouring cheese and yogurt, to our being only 10% human, with most of the cells in the body (by number) actually being bacteria. Clare introduced the notion that around 3% of the population can carry Salmonella their whole lives without ever becoming ill; setting up a whole round of questions on historical poisoning and Typhoid Mary.

We then moved on to the questions round: Emma presented a world first, showing us her “electronic nose”, a prototype device for sniffing out different bacteria based on the chemicals they produce. Using plush microbes, Jess and Mark acted out an Academy Award worthy demonstration of a bacteriophage’s attack on an E coli cell. Rob took us through the purposes of a faecal transplant, Mark explained how some bacteria can follow the earth’s magnetic field, while Clare took the audience award to the best piece of advice for surviving a microbial zombie outbreak: “there’s always a percentage of the population with a resistance; seek them out and make a cure.”

In the end there could only be one winner. After giving the scientists a last plea for votes the votes were counted yielding a surprisingly close spread, with Clare standing above the others to take hold the coveted I’m a Scientist: Live trophy and mug.

Let’s evaluate


Standard end of event competitors’ photo, accompanied by MC, Helen Arney.

The room was filled, with around 100 students in their seats, votes being counted using the electronic voting system were all around the 90 mark. The audience was made up predominantly of school students, with about 12% being teachers.

The use of electronic voting pads gave us the chance to do some on-the-spot evaluation of how the audience found the event. A majority of the audience who provided this feedback said they had learnt something with 49% saying they had “learnt a lot”, and 37% learning “a bit”; only 8 respondents (14%) said they had not learnt anything.

To the question, “Has the show made you want to find out more about antimicrobials?”, 50% of those who replied “got the bug”, while 18% had had enough. Owing to a slight technical fault we weren’t able to count the replies to, “Did you enjoy the show?”, what we did get were a whole lot of positive comments from students and teachers.

I'm a scientist live - RSC - Did you learn anything?I'm a scientist live - RSC - Has the event made you want to learn more about antimicrobials?
The audience seemed to really engage with the scientists, asking a good mix of in-depth scientific questions, as well as some more sillier ones. This was helped in no small part by Helen’s fabulous job setting the tone, demonstrating that there could be no such thing as a bad question; and putting the audience and the scientists at-ease.

Really informative; loved the bit when the scientists talked about their specialties; really interactive – the pads were great; great venue and they liked the refreshments (felt very adult!)

Many students stayed behind to ask more questions to the scientists once the event was over, and working by the buzz in the room, and the comments from teachers and students, it seems like the afternoon was a resounding success.

What have we learnt?


  • Scientists bringing props is a good thing.
  • Being nice and altruistic can get you lots of votes, or certainly lots of applause.
  • It’s useful to run through the technical aspects of the event maybe a couple more times than might feel necessary; can’t be too prepared.
  • Students appreciate when a refreshment buffet includes cake.
Posted on November 20, 2013 modjosh in Evaluation, I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on IAS Live: Antibiotic Awareness Day

IAS Live: Drugs, Bugs and Infections

Last night five scientists researching different aspects of antimicrobials took to the floor at the FIS Conference at the ICC in Birmingham to take part in I’m a Scientist Live: Drugs, Bugs and Infections.

Photo courtesy of @biologyatkinge1

Photo courtesy of @biologyatkinge1

Our five were:

Mark Webber

Richard Bax

Amy Wedley

Anne-Marie Krachler

Peter Hawkey


Photo courtesy of @PharmaMix

Our MC for the evening, Simon Watt, kicked off by spending 10 minutes interviewing Laura Piddock, Chair of Public Engagement at BSAC about the current situation in research. The scientists introduced themselves and gave their Science Facts and Fictions before the 100-strong audience launched with their questions.

30 mins later with time running out, Simon brought the event to a climax by asking the scientists to spend 30seconds telling the audience why they should get the votes and the winner’s trophy. The vote that followed confirmed that Anne Marie’s promotion of the IMI’s Summer School for Year 12 students was enough to edge her into the lead and win the vote.

Some numbers:

IASLIVE FIS Who are you

181 tickets ordered.

105 attendees on the evening (105 voting handsets were used).

Over half the audience were students evenly split between schools and undergraduates. This means a lot of the students who asked for tickets failed to show. We had a capacity of 150 for the evening with a maximum limit of 200 for the room. Whilst we expected some dropout we are surprised by the level of no-shows. We will need to over-book more heavily in future.

Voting was close. Only one vote separated Anne-Marie from the scientist who was second-placed. We discussed what to do in case of a tie beforehand, but were clear it wouldn’t end up as a draw. We need to take those plans more seriously in future.

Having the electronic voting cards allows us to ask some immediate evaluation questions. A healthy majority enjoyed the show and learnt from our panellists. A slightly smaller majority have caught the antimicrobial bug.


What else did we learn/have confirmed from last night?


  • Allowing a 30 minute turnaround between a lecture and IASLive with only one sound engineer is a little optimistic.
  • We should brief participants that they will be using a lapel mic and that they therefore need a lapel.
  • Some sort of stage helps if the audience are on the same level
  • Enthusiasm and energy will give rise to a decent discussion whatever the subject.
Posted on November 20, 2013 ModShane in Evaluation, I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on IAS Live: Drugs, Bugs and Infections

I’m a Scientist Live: Birmingham, 11th November 2013

IAS-LiveDuring November, we're running two I'm a Scientist: Live events. The first, titled Drugs, Bugs, and Antibiotics will be in Birmingham on the 11th November as part of the FIS Annual Conference, with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, and the Society for General Microbiology.

This foray into the world of microbial nasties will be hosted by Simon Watt, and a few weeks ago we put out a call for riveting researchers, scintillating scientists and absorbing antimicrobialists. The call was answered, and it's time to meet the scientists:

Amy Wedley: University of Liverpool

Amy has recently completed a PhD with research focusing on antimicrobial resistant bacteria in the UK dog population.

Dogs are often valued members of people’s families and their health and welfare is considered of the utmost importance. When they become ill, we want to make sure they get better and, in some cases, this means treatment with antimicrobials.

Ann-Marie Krachler: University of Birmingham

Ann-Marie is a Fellow at the University of Birmingham. Her research group looks at how bacteria attach themselves to host tissue, and how this process influences bacterial infections. They looking for a way to prevent bacteria from sticking to tissue, thereby preventing disease.

We hope that down the line, this approach will complement existing antimicrobial therapies and be useful in cases where bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.

Mark Webber: University of Birmingham

Mark is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on antimicrobial action and resistance.

I’m interested in working out how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and identifying new ways to prevent infection from occurring.

Peter Hawkey: Heart of England NHS Trust

Peter is Professor of Clinical and Public Health Bacteriology at the University of Birmingham and Consultant Microbiologist at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

My research is in the molecular evolution and epidemiology of antibiotic resistance, Clostridium difficile, tuberculosis and molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases.

Richard Bax: TranScrip Partners

Richard is a Senior Partner at the biopharmaceutical product development company, TranScrip.

I am a medical doctor with interests in science and have developed more antibiotics than anyone else from within the pharmaceutical industry.

Booking and Information

For more information on I'm a Scientist: Live, as well as the event being run in London on the 18th, see this post:

Update: 7/11/2013

Tickets to this event are sold out. We will be organising more live events in the future, check back for details.

Posted on November 4, 2013 modjosh in I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist Live: Birmingham, 11th November 2013

I’m a Scientist Live: London, 18th November 2013

IAS-LiveWe're running two I'm a Scientist: Live events this November, and on European Antimicrobial Awareness Day on the 18th, we will be with Helen Arney at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

We asked for antimicrobial chemists and scientists to entertain, edify, and enlighten sixth-form students, and other members of the public as part of a programme of events being run in Burlington House.

Well, we've picked our antimicrobial analysts, and infection-fighting inventors; let's meet them:

Rob Shorten: Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Rob is a clinical scientist working in a joint diagnostic and research laboratory at the Royal Free/UCL in Hampstead. His research interest focuses on the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in tuberculosis.

We face the challenge of identifying resistant organisms in the community and healthcare settings on a daily basis and the associated clinical problems that this involves.

Mark Roberts: Queen Mary University, London

Mark is a biochemist working on bacterial signalling and cell division; the very foundations of antibiotic research. Previously, Mark has been involved in work on bacterial "sense of smell"; on how bacteria sense and respond to chemicals in their environment. His current research focus is the affect of cell division on these signalling pathways.

Why is that important I hear you cry? Well if you can "confuse" the signalling pathway this could result in a new antimicrobial treatment. One way we may disrupt them is to disrupt what happens when the cell divides.

Jess Bean: University of Bath

Jess is a third year PhD student at the University of Bath, and former I'm a Scientist: Get me out of here! champion, having won the Indium Zone in June. From a background in chemistry, she has moved into biology, as well as a little engineering. Her research group look at alternatives to antibiotics, and new ways of delivering them.

We work with the South-West Children’s Burn centre at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol on bacterial species that they find frequently in burn wound infections. My research is on bacterial viruses called bacteriophage (and bacteriophage enzymes), which kill bacteria but without the resistance problems found with antibiotics.

As a materials chemist, Jess's research group are looking at "smart" release systems, where the antimicrobials are released only when there is a bacterial infection present, preventing or slowing the onset of resistance.

Emma Newton: University College London

Emma does not consider herself a microbiologist, rather a chemist-cum-engineer. She is a PhD student at UCL looking at the detection of microbials using an "electronic nose"; design and building metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors, and developing a portable device which can be used in the field. Emma's main research area is security related, looking at obvious targets such as smallpox, but she is also looking at e.coli and s.aureus.

My heart lies in the detection of TB however where there is a great need for early-warning detection.

Clare Taylor: Edinburgh Napier University

My research is all about trying to harness the power of bacteria to act as Trojan horses in the battle against infection.

Clare is a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. Salmonella has the ability to cleave human proteins inside the body, and one area Clare’s research group is working on looks at exploiting this to synthesise antibiotic "prodrugs" that would be cleaved by Salmonella itself, turning the "prodrug" into an active drug at the site of infection.

Booking and Information

Tickets to the I’m a Scientist: Live event at Burlington House, London Piccadilly — the last few remaining — can be booked on the RSC’s events page.

For more information on the I’m a Scientist: Live events being run this November, see this post:

The RSC have organised a range of events during the week, including a Forensic Science Event: Chemistry in Law Enforcement, aimed at 16–18 year-olds; and Materials Science in Surgery: Hip Detectives, aimed at 14–18 year-olds.

For more information on the RSC’s programme of events, contact Vicki Symington at:

Posted on November 1, 2013 modjosh in I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist Live: London, 18th November 2013

I’m a Scientist Live: Antimicrobial Infections

In November we will be running two new I’m a Scientist: Live events on the theme of antimicrobial infections. I’m a Scientist: Live is an event targeted at teachers and sixth-form students which puts five scientists on stage to compete for audience votes, answering questions on—in this case—antimicrobial research, and infectious diseases.

Simon Watt

Simon Watt

The first event, titled “drugs, bugs, and infections”, in association with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), and the Society for General Microbiology will take place on the evening of Monday, 11th November, at the International Conference Centre, Birmingham. The evening will be hosted by biologist, and TV presenter, Simon Watt, and will run as part of the public engagement programme for the Federation of Infection Societies (FIS) Annual Conference.

The next week, on the afternoon of Monday, 18th November, we will be in London at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) headquarters, in Burlington House, Piccadilly. Hosted by science songstress, Helen Arney, the event takes place on European Antibiotic Awareness day, and will follow a talk by Dr Nicholas Brown on the fight against infections.

If you’d like more information about our I’m a Scientist: Live event, take a look at how our Live at the Barbican, Neuroscientist event went back in March.

Helen Arney

Helen Arney

Take Part


We’re looking for five scientists and researchers to take part in each event, to answer questions antimicrobial research, and infectious diseases. If you’re interested and will be in the Birmingham or London area on the 11th or 18th of November, we want to hear from you! Send a quick email to, including your name, contact number, the event you would like to take part in, and a couple of sentences summarising your work.

Please do pass this information along to anyone you think might be interested.

Teachers and Students

BSAC, Birmingham: Monday, 11th November

The event will take place from 6pm on Monday, 11th November, at the International Conference Centre, Birmingham.

Tickets are available here. The event is targeted at adults, and sixth form students.

RSC, London: Monday, 18th November

The event will take place from 1pm to 4pm, on Monday, 18th November, at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

Email Vicki by 31st October for more information on the afternoon’s programme, or to book. Spaces are limited so please respond early. The event is an afternoon targeted at sixth form students, and will follow a talk by Dr Nicholas Brown on the fight against infections.

Update: 7/11/2013

Tickets to these events are sold out. We will be organising more live events in the future, check back for details.

Posted on October 9, 2013 modjosh in I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist Live: Antimicrobial Infections

I’m a Scientist Live: Case Study

I’m a Neuroscientist Live at the Barbican  

In March and April 2013 we organised the heats and final of I’m a NeuroScientist Live at the Barbican as part of Wonder season: Art and science on the brain.

In the first heat on Saturday 30th March the five scientists taking part were: Thomas Butts and Irene Jacobson from Kings College London, Martin Coath from the University of Plymouth, Sarah Jarvis from Imperial College London and Esha Massand from Birbeck, University of London. While on Sunday 31st the next five scientists competing were Amy Birch from Imperial College London,  Jonathan Webb from the University of Oxford, Eva Feredoes from the University of Reading, Mark Horowitz from Kings College London and Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster. We found all 10 of these participants and gave them a full briefing before the event.

Neural network modeller Sarah Jarvis from the first heat and depression researcher Mark Horowitz from heat two won the audience vote giving them each a place in the final. They were joined by Jen Todd Jones from the University of Bristol, winner of the Brain Zone in our March online event, brain collector Pascal Durrenburger from Imperial College London and Lauren Stewart who looks at the effects of music on the brain at the University of Goldsmiths in London.

These events were a great success, with each heat attracting around 150 people and the final selling out of 260 £5 tickets (approximately 218 of those who bought a ticket showed up on the night). We kept the format simple, in the heats handing out coloured voting cards to match each scientist for the audience to use to vote. During the final we took advantage of the availability of electronic voting cards to enable even greater audience participation.

The weekender heats appealed to all, with those from 1 to 80 years taking part, and no gender bias. While there were no young families at the final, due to it being a ticketed evening event with a lower age limit of 12, there was still a broad range of ages in the audience. 35% of the audience who came to the final were scientists themselves, while the rest were members of the public with an interest in science.

After the final we gathered some quick audience feedback using the electronic voting system. Here’s what they thought of the event:

Click here to read the full evaluation for I’m a Neuroscientist Live.

Interested in running your own I’m a Scientist Live? Check out what we’re offering here – I’m a Scientist Live: The Package, then please get in touch!

Email or call us on 01225 326892.

We’d love to help you to get the public thinking and talking about your science.

Posted on August 28, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist Live: Case Study

I’m a Scientist Live: The Package

IAS-LiveI’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! Live puts five scientists on stage to compete for audience votes by answering the public’s burning science questions. Whichever topics you’d like to be talked about, we can work with you to find enthusiastic experts in their field who are keen to engage the public with their work.

The event is based on the successful online format, where school students take part in live online chats with scientists and vote for their favourite. The live format takes advantage of the public’s curiosity, allowing them not only to engage with the scientists but to decide for themselves the best science communicator.

Click here to find full details of our most recent I’m a Scientist Live event, which was held at the Barbican and included two heats in March and a final in April.

Update: The most recent I’m a Scientist Live event was on antibiotics and antimicrobials, at the Royal Society of Chemistry in November 2013:

We can run this exciting and interactive event with ease, providing a presenter, scientist recruitment and briefing, voting cards and trophy. You just need to provide a venue and audience. It’s perfect for science festivals, academic conferences or awareness weeks.

The package – what we’re offering

  • Scientist selection

Based on your particular event requirements we will work with you to find five suitable and passionate scientists to take part. We will not only organise the logistics of their attendance but also ensure they are fully briefed beforehand.

  • Materials

As part of our package we will send you all of the materials necessary to run the event effectively. This will include coloured voting cards, winner’s trophy, runner up prizes and golden envelope. And the MC will do all of the rest…

  • MC and scientist briefing on the night

Helen Arney, experienced science communicator and MC, will be booked for the event to brief the scientists, warm up the audience and lead the show, ensuring the audience have both an entertaining and informative experience.

The cost of an I’m a Scientist Live event varies from £1,000 for a less formal event up to £2,500 for a high-production value formal ticketed event, and of course the exact price will depend on your requirements.

Read the case study here: I’m a Neuroscientist Live at the Barbican

Update: A more recent case study with the Royal Society of Chemistry on European Antibiotics Awareness Day:

Interested? Then please get in touch!

Email or call us on 01225 326892.

We’d love to help you to get the public thinking and talking about your science.

Posted on August 28, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a Scientist Live: The Package

I’m a NeuroScientist LIVE – And the winner was…

Helen Arney leading the show by Shane McCracken

Helen Arney leading the show

Last night saw the final of I’m a NeuroScientist live at the Barbican Centre, with over 200 audience members asking questions and voting as the five neuroscientists battled it out to win £200 for charity and the much-coveted I’m a NeuroScientist winner’s trophy.

Both scientists and science-lovers came to see neuron network modeller Sarah Jarvis, March I’m a Scientist Brain Zone winner Jen Todd Jones, depression researcher Mark Horowitz, brain collector Pascal Durrenberger and music-lover Lauren Stewart.

At £5 a ticket, audience members – 35% scientists themselves and the rest members of the public with an interest in science – were keen to have their brain questions answered by the experts. Questions included I’m a girl, I can read maps but I can’t multitask – am I broken? and can stress ever be good?

Winner Mark by Kate Arkless Gray / Wellcome Trust

Mark Horowitz won the audience vote, photo by Kate Arkless Gray / Wellcome Trust

At the end of the evening Mark Horowitz walked away with the trophy after some great answers on how stress and depression affect us.

Lauren Stewart won the fact or fiction round, fooling 27% of the audience into believing that listening to Mozart makes you smarter, when actually listening to music increases milk production in cows. We also learnt that it’s a myth that we only use 10% of our brains, if people were neurons our brains would be the size of 12,000 Londons, the adult brain can grow new neurons, and mitochondria don’t communicate with us through our dreams!

Over 88% of the audience enjoyed the show and 97% said they learnt something, so we’d class that as a pretty successful event – looking forward to future live I’m a Scientist shows!

– – –

Take a look at our photos from the whole event – from the heats through to the final:

Posted on April 10, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a NeuroScientist LIVE – And the winner was…

I’m a Neuroscientist Live – The Final line-up

Sarah Jarvis

On Tuesday April 9th at 7.30 the following five fearless neuroscientists will walk out under the glare of the spotlights in the Barbican Cinema One prepared to be interrogated by the sell-out crowd who have come to hear the answers to their questions.

Only one can become King or Queen of the Barbican. Who will it be?

Will it be Sarah Jarvis, our neuron network modeller who won the first heat?

Or enthusiastic, thoughtful, jokey Jen Todd Jones who won the Brain Zone in our March I’m a Scientist event?

Perhaps Mark Horowitz who travelled to London from Sydney in order to study depression will walk away with the prize.

Could Brain Collector Pascal Durrenburger collect the prize for his charity.

Or maybe Music, Mind and Brain maestro Lauren Stewart will be singing with joy as the winner.

Who knows but it’ll be the 280 strong audience that decides on the night. Unless you’ve already got a ticket you won’t get to decide. The event is sold out. Follow #wonderseason on the night for updates – if we can get a connection in the bowels of the Barbican…

Posted on April 3, 2013 ModShane in I'm a Scientist - Live | Comments Off on I’m a Neuroscientist Live – The Final line-up

I’m a NeuroScientist – Live: Last call for nominations for final

I'm a NeuroScientist Live LogoSo here’s the plan.

Heat winners Sarah Jarvis & Mark Horowitz are confirmed. Sarah models networks of neurons, to identify certain principles and test out scenarios, to establish why the neurons in our brains are connected to each other the way they are. Mark studies the molecular causes of depression using a human hippocampal stem cell model to understand what effect stress hormones, inflammation and antidepressants have on the brain.

brainzonesciThey will be joined by one of these five who are currently battling it out online for supremacy of the Brain Zone.

That leaves two spaces in the I’m a NeuroScientist Live final. We’ve had a few nominations in, but we’re giving one more chance for final suggestions. Please email with your nominations by Friday 15th March 2013.

Talking of spaces. There aren’t many left for the audience. Book online now. £5 plus a booking fee.

Posted on March 12, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a NeuroScientist – Live: Last call for nominations for final

I’m a NeuroScientist – heat winners

“Do we need a brain?” “Can you ever stop thinking?” “Why does depression come on so quickly?”

One sign of success with a public Q&A session is that the public mob the panel afterwards with the questions they couldn’t ask during the main event. Thank you to all the scientists who hung around for ages after the events last weekend.

Congratulations to Sarah Jarvis and Mark Horowitz our I’m a NeuroScientist – Live Weekender Heat winners.

The events at the Barbican last weekend were a real blast. The place was packed. People queueed to take part in science activities about the brain.

It was a great feeling on both days to come out of the green room to find a large audience of about 150 people already sat down waiting for our show to start. Saturday had a distinctly youthful feel to it. they were excitable, noisy and ready to wave their voting cards around.

Once Helen Arney, our MC, warmed up the crowd our five scientists, Esha Massand, Thomas Butts, Martin Coath, Irene Jacobsen and Sarah Jarvis marched on stage and introduced themselves. Clad in Red, White, Blue, Green and Yellow they then amazed us with their Science Facts and Fiction. Questions from the audience followed. The answers were fabulous, the audience were rapt. People joined the crowd and spread out into the wings and filled the gaps at the front of the stage. As the time for the vote approached my over-riding thought was, “How can the audience choose between them?” As the photo shows they couldn’t. Getting the audience to cheer in addition to waving their voting cards gave Sarah a slight edge and she ended up with the cup for that heat.

Sunday saw a slightly older crowd. Perhaps less excitable, but certainly no less inquisitive. Questions rained in about thinking, depressions and metaphysics of reality. Mark Horowitz, Eva Feredoes, Amy Birch, Jonathan Webb and Catherine Loveday amazed, answered and argued for 45 minutes before Helen called a vote.

Voting cards were raised showing a sea of yellow meaning Mark Horowitz gets a place in the final on April 9th. Tickets, £5 each, can be booked here:

Thank you to @LiveSkeptic for a detailed live report of the event:


Posted on March 8, 2013 ModShane in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a NeuroScientist – heat winners

I’m a NeuroScientist – LIVE this weekend

Join us at the Barbican in London this weekend for two free live I’m a Scientist events giving you the chance to quiz real neuroscientists on the brain.

Neuroscientists will be on stage taking audience questions at 3:45pm on Saturday and again at 3:15pm on Sunday as part of the Barbican Weekender. Each day, five scientists will compete for the votes of the audience to win a place in the final which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 9th April in Cinema One at the Barbican.

Meet the NeuroScientists


Thomas Butts – Kings College London
We study the evolution of the brain and its associated nerves – how does the developing embryo make neurons that allow it to sense the world around it? and how did it evolve new neurons, and in really large numbers?

Personal photograph uploaded by Martin CoathMartin Coath (@mcoath) – University of Plymouth
I write computer programs and help to design machines that are “neuromorphic” – that is they work in the same way as the brain. In particular I model the way in which we process sound in the ear and in the brain. This is a complex and controversial issue that is not as well understood as many workers in the field like to believe. This work could be called “computational neuroscience” but because we also transfer our ideas in to silicon chips that incorporate silicon neurons it also falls under “neuromorphic engineering”.

Irene Jacobsen (@RIJacobsen) – Kings College London
I’m interested in the way the adult brain forms new connections between neurons, and my PhD focuses on why only some new connections are kept. Why are some new connections removed soon after they have been formed, and what processes are involved in creating new stable connections?

Sarah JarvisSarah Jarvis – Imperial College London
I’m working in a neuroscience group where we’re trying to understand why the brain is built the way that it is, using a new technique called optogenetics (which is quite nifty, actually – you insert light-sensitive proteins from bacteria into neurons, which means you can record or stimulate groups of neurons by turning a light on or off. Really ingenious idea). My own work is actually done from behind a computer – I make models of networks of neurons, to identify certain principles and test out different scenarios. Much like a battle enthusiast, trying to reconstruct and replay different versions of battles, to work out why the winning tactic was successful.

Esha MassandEsha Massand – Birkbeck, University of London
I am interested in human development. I study the electrical activity in the human brain during various cognitive tasks, and its response to various kinds of stimuli. I want to understand where and when the neurons of the brain ‘fire’ given different scenarios, for example in typically developing individuals where memory is impoverished, or if the individual has Down syndrome or a neurodevelopmental disorder such as Autism.


Personal photoAmy Birch (@amy_goodgorilla) – Imperial College London
I study the role that inflammation plays in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I use mouse models of AD and treat them with drugs that either decrease or increase the activity of astrocytes in the brain and study their effects on the symptoms of AD.

Jonathan WebbJonathan Webb (@jjbw) – University of Oxford
I study how the brain processes sound, as a PhD student in the Auditory Neuroscience Group at Oxford. In particular I’m looking at multisensory inputs to the auditory cortex. I’m also a 2013 Famelab UK finalist.

Eva Feredoes – University of Reading
I’m interested in where and how in the brain short-term memory occurs. We think that the frontal part of the brain tells regions in the back when it’s important to remember something. And it also appears that distractors might be the key reason why we forget, by overwriting the information we should be remembering. My aim in studying short-term memory is to try and improve my own…it’s appalling!

Mark Horowitz – Kings College London
I am a training psychiatrist from Australia, doing a PhD related to the molecualr causes of depression. Our lab focuses on the role of stress and inflammation in the development of depression. I am using a human hippocampal stem cell model to understand what effect stress hormones, inflammation and antidepressants have on the brain.

Catherine Loveday – University of Westminster

Posted on February 28, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, News | Comments Off on I’m a NeuroScientist – LIVE this weekend

I’m a NeuroScientist, Get me out of here – LIVE

I'm a NeuroScientist Live LogoAre male and female brains different? Is the brain more like a sponge or a computer? Do we really only use 10% of our brain?

We’re taking I’m a Scientist on the road again. In March and April as part of Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain, a partnership between the Barbican and Wellcome Trust supported BNA2013: Festival of Neuroscience we are running 3 live I’m a Scientist live events. Instead of answering questions from the safety of your lab we’re asking Neuroscientists to get on stage to take questions directly from an audience.

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd March, comedian and geek songstress, Helen Arney will be compering the events as part of the Barbican Weekender.  Five scientists will compete for the votes of the audience to win a place in the final which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 9th April in Cinema One at the Barbican.

UPDATE: the heats will run at 3:45 on Saturday 2nd and 3:15 on Sunday 3rd March. The final on 9th April is at 7:30pm in the Barbican Cinema 1.

Take part

If you’d like to take part in the Weekender events just send a quick email to with your name, contact number, preference of day and a couple of sentences about the work you do. Please pass this information on to anyone you think would be good at taking questions from the general public.

Nominate a Neuroscientist

The April event ups the ante. Not only will the 300 strong audience include some delegates from the BNA2013: Festival of Neuroscience, but they’ll be voting on real money.

The Weekender winners will join the champion from our March I’m a Scientist Brain Zone and two Neuroscientists nominated by you. The overall winner will get to nominate a charity to receive £200 as their prize.

We want to know who you would like to see taking questions. If there someone you’ve always wanted to ask a question? Someone who’s work needs more exposure? Or perhaps someone so engaging they are simply a pleasure to listen to? Send an email to with the person’s name, where they work and one sentence telling us why they should be included.

Ask a question

Come along to the Barbican. The Weekender events are free and we’ll publicise times here soon. The April event is ticketed and we’ll post a link as soon as they go on sale.

UPDATE: Book your tickets here: .

UPDATE: We’ve two places left on the Sunday bill.

Posted on January 9, 2013 in I'm a Scientist - Live, IAS Event, News, Project News, Scientists | Comments Off on I’m a NeuroScientist, Get me out of here – LIVE