Category Archives: 2018

CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2018 Zone Report

The 2018 I’m a Scientist CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone was commissioned by The Royal Institution with support from Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

The online event gave school students, the viewing public, and the LECTURES attendees the opportunity to continue the conversation about the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES series, “Who am I?”, as well as the surrounding scientific, societal, and ethical themes.

This Zone Report contains key activity data from the zone, here is what we learnt:

  • This was the busiest CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone run to date; recording the highest numbers of registered users and schools taking part. The Zone saw double the average number of live CHATs run, and set a new record for lines of live CHAT in a CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone, beating the previous record by more than 5,000 lines.
  • School uptake continued to improve on previous years, with students from 41 schools actively taking part in the Zone.
  • 170 members of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES studio audience submitted questions using cards provided. This is a significant improvement on the previous year, where 18 audience members used cards to submit questions to the Zone. Increased awareness of the cards this year is likely what led to more questions being submitted.
  • 20 experts actively participated through answering students’ questions, and taking part in live chats.
  • The questions in ASK and live CHATs covered a wide range of themes and ideas related to genetics and identity. “What would happen if…” scenario type questions were popular, as were questions about the future of humanity, and experts’ motivations to get into STEM.
  • Differing to previous CHRISTMAS LECTURES zones, experts were invited to take part for the duration of the event, rather than being allocated specific weeks. This was done to allow experts more flexibility in when they would take part, and reduce the admin required by organisers. Data shows that this change was successful, and did not adversely effect weekly contributions from experts.

Read the full report [PDF]

 

Posted on April 3, 2019 Moderator - Josh in 2018, Zone Reports | Comments Off on CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2018 Zone Report

Mendelevium Zone Report – November 2018

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The Mendelevium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome. It was a secondary school zone featuring six scientists:

  • Morwenna Bugg reads and summarises scientific research for commissioners to decide how to work out what healthcare services we need
  • Jamal Kinsella is a PhD student researching how people think while they are driving cars, so they can be taught to be safer
  • Iain Staniland, the winner of this zone, works as an Antarctic wildlife ecologist researching seals, penguins and whales
  • Heidi Gardner is a research assistant working out how to improve the way we conduct clinical trials
  • Emma McEntee is a biostatistician working in drug development
  • Carl Heron is an archaeological scientist and Director of Scientific Research at the British Museum

Over half of all the questions sent to the scientists in ASK were about science topics, with students wanting to know everything about the scientists’ areas of research and more general science questions. One student stood out by researching Carl’s journal articles and sending a 4-part question to him, including a comment on their favourite article, ‘Organic Mass Spectrometry in Art and Archaeology’.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Mendelevium Zone Report – November 2018

Fermium Zone Report – November 2018

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The Fermium Zone was a general science zone for primary schools, supported by Wellcome. It featured six scientists:

  • Sophie Morse is a PhD student researching how to deliver medicine to the brain using microbubbles
  • Simon Cork studies how our brains cause us to feel hungry or full
  • Obi Umegbolu is a data analyst skills development coach, helping learners progress in the industry and supporting data analysis projects
  • Kelly Rushton, the zone winner, researches mental health and how doctors, nurses and even animals can help patients with mental health issues
  • John Midgley works as a technical manager at the British Geological Survey aiming to understand how changing the underground changes the world around us
  • Jessica Leung is a quality technician at Kerry Ingredients and tests the flavours that go in our food and drink

This zone had fewer schools than other November zones, but students still engaged well in live chats. The final live chat, open to all schools, was particularly busy, with students telling the scientists they had joined the chat from home to find out who won.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Fermium Zone Report – November 2018

Einsteinium Zone Report – November 2018

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The Einsteinium Zone was a general physics zone supported by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and featured six scientists:

  • Kathryn Harriss, from the University of Kent, investigates impacts between two objects at very high speed
  • Graeme Poole, zone winner, an astrophysicist studying meteorites to discover how the solar system began
  • Chris Davies uses data to fix problems and improve quality issues in the steel industry
  • Anne Green is a physics professor looking for dark matter as part of her research
  • Agnes Wojtusiak is a laser scientist at STFC who performs an array of different experiments and creates computer models
  • Adam McGuinness uses lasers to analyse the contents of the vesicles sent by cells to each other

This was a very busy zone, receiving over 25,000 views over the course of the activity. Students were interested in discussing physics topics such as space, matter and computing, but also wanted to get to know the scientists on a more personal level.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, STFC, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Einsteinium Zone Report – November 2018

Sustainability Zone Report – November 2018

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The Sustainability Zone was a themed zone for primary schools, supported by Wellcome. There were six scientists participating:

  • Matt Bower works at the Scottish Government to maintain safe drinking water
  • Maia Elliott writes at Global Food Security about how our food system could be made healthier and more sustainable
  • Lyndsay Christie is a PhD student researching the diseases that infect fish and how we can control these to improve the health of fish
  • Liam Taylor, the zone winner, studies how climate change affects the icy regions of our world
  • Dionne Turnbull studies plant diseases and how plants can defend themselves from these infections
  • Brendan Marrinan is a geo-environmental consultant where he assesses the contamination of land before someone can start building on it

Students in this zone showed great awareness of the current issues surrounding sustainability and the environment, and there were lots of discussions in ASK and CHAT about climate change, pollution and health. There were also a large number of questions about the scientists’ lives outside of work, their hobbies and families.

Fetlar Primary School on the Shetland Islands took part in this zone with a class of four students, who were all very engaged throughout the activity. Two of these joined both the evening chat and the 3hr open live chat from home.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Sustainability Zone Report – November 2018

Sleep Zone Report – November 2018

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The Sleep Zone was a themed zone supported by The Physiological Society and featured six scientists:

  • Yousef Alqurashi is a doctoral student researching sleep and treating patients with sleep problems
  • Rachel Sharman, the winner of this zone, is at the University of Oxford looking at sleep medicine interventions in adolescent sleep and digital therapy for insomnia
  • Petrina Lau, from MRC Harwell, researches sleep and how it relates to disease conditions
  • Michael Ambler is trying to understand why animals hibernate to see if it would be possible for humans
  • Jason Ellis is a professor of sleep science and is trying to understand what happens in a person’s brain when they are sleeping
  • Emma Gale is currently a postgraduate student in sleep medicine at the University of Oxford

Extra resources
In the Sleep Zone we asked scientists to answer an extra question – ‘What’s the most important thing about sleep?’ – on the interview section of their profiles. Featured on all student profiles was a list of ‘Tips for a good night’s sleep’ and a ‘What type of sleeper are you?’ quiz, where students could find out their sleep chronotype.

We also gave teachers a link to some extra teaching resources provided by Hayley Moulding, sleep researcher and PhD Student at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff University. These resources included a Sleep Diary, the above mentioned chronotype questionnaire, activities for younger students and links to NHS advice on sleep and tiredness.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, Physiological Society, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Sleep Zone Report – November 2018

Memory Zone Report – November 2018

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The Memory Zone was a themed zone funded by The British Psychological Society and featured six psychologists:

  • Warren Mansell uses a scientific theory of control to make an impact on diverse areas such as mental health, skill learning, coping with dementia and robotics
  • Shanti Shanker is a psychology lecturer at Bournemouth University looking to understand the role of brain structures in memory, attention and forgetting
  • Pizza Chow is a bio-psychologist aiming to better understand how animals think and behave
  • Paul Matusz studies the brain to understand how people of all ages learn new information and how those skills can be enhanced through the use of technology
  • Nadine Mirza is conducting research into why people from different cultures are not getting the necessary help needed for dementia and what to do about it
  • The zone winner, Alex Reid, is a sleep researcher at the University of York, looking at the way sleep influences the brain and the storage of memories

This zone received a higher than average number of questions in ASK compared with other I’m a Scientist zones this November. Most of the students had clearly taken time to read the psychologists’ profiles to ask specific questions about their research area or career history.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Memory Zone Report – November 2018

Crystallography Zone Report – November 2018

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The Crystallography Zone was a themed zone supported by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and it featured six scientists:

  • William Glass is a PhD student at the University of Oxford where he is using computers to simulate proteins
  • Rebecca Roddan is studying for a PhD, looking at an enzyme with the aim of making new drugs
  • Martyna Pastok is a Postdoctoral Research Associate working at Newcastle University where she is trying to understand how molecules regulate cell division
  • Callum McHugh, the zone winner, is a senior lecturer in chemistry and makes organic crystals to work out what their structure is
  • Alice Loasby works at the University of Bristol performing protein purifications, assays and crystal tray setups
  • Adam Berlie is an instrument scientist at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, STFC, and works with muons

In this zone students asked mainly about career advice, questions to get to know the scientists a little better and more general science topics. Where questions were linked to the zone theme, they were often asking what crystallography actually was, or questions focused on crystals.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, STFC, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Crystallography Zone Report – November 2018

Fast Computing Zone Report – November 2018

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The Fast Computing Zone was a themed zone supported by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and involved six scientists:

  • Stewart Martin-Haugh is a particle physicist who writes code to ensure the right data from the Large Hadron Collider is recorded
  • Miriam Hogg is a PhD student, using computers to study planets and stars as a theoretical physicist
  • Marton Olbei is also a PhD student and his research uses computers to study bacteria
  • Laura Kent tests electronics to ensure they work in extreme environments as a research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory
  • Kathryn Coldham uses code to analyse data taken from the Large Hadron Collider to research a particle called the top quark
  • David Ho, this zone’s winner, uses computer models to calculate the properties of theoretical particles that have never been seen

Discussions between the students and scientists in this zone mainly focused on how technology, computing and physics could be used to help people or the wider society. The students were also keen to get to know the scientists on a personal level.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, STFC, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Fast Computing Zone Report – November 2018

Epidemic Zone Report – November 2018

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The Epidemic Zone was a themed zone supported by Wellcome with six scientists participating:

  • Verity Hill is a PhD student, using genetics to better understand the spread and evolution of the Ebola virus
  • Trystan Leng uses maths to study the spread of sexually transmitted infections through populations and how to control that spread as part of his PhD research
  • Raquel Medialdea Carrera is a field epidemiologist at the European Centre for Disease Control and identifies epidemics and how to control them
  • Danny Ward, the winner of this zone, is a PhD student trying to understand how bacteria are able to infect living things and how we can stop them doing so
  • Catherine Smith is an infectious disease data scientist working at UCL using coding to assess disease epidemiology
  • Andy Guise conducts research and lectures on inequality, health and homelessness at King’s College London

Students were very interested in the zone theme, asking about each of the scientists’ areas of research in addition to general questions about epidemics and diseases. A third of the questions put to the scientists in ASK concerned careers and education, but students were also interested to know about the scientists’ spare time and hobbies.

Posted on January 14, 2019 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Epidemic Zone Report – November 2018

Childhood Zone Report – November 2018

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The Childhood Zone was a themed zone supported by The British Psychological Society. It featured six psychologists:

  • Tom Gallagher-Mitchell’s PhD focuses on how we learn numbers from a young age. He’s also a lecturer in psychology at Liverpool Hope University.
  • Sarah Hodge specialises in Cyberpsychology and she is interested in how we make moral decisions in videogames.
  • Owen Jones doing a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University looking at how children travel to school and what they like, and dislike, about how they travel.
  • Nathan Hook works for Ofsted, using data to generate insight about the Further Education & Skills sector.
  • Lorna Camus is a PhD student, looking at how secondary school affects autistic children’s mental health.
  • Abbie Jordan, the winner of this zone, is a working with young people who experience ongoing pain.

Being a sixth-form zone, the questions were often linked to university and degree choices. Students asked about specific areas of psychology and sometimes asked for links to studies. Popular topics included ‘Nature vs Nurture’, sexuality and social media.

Posted on January 11, 2019 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Childhood Zone Report – November 2018

MRC Festival Zone 2018 Zone Report

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The MRC Festival Zone was a four-week-long event funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research. There were 25 MRC scientists and support staff taking part.

32 schools from all over the UK participated in the zone, with 1,404 students logging in over the four weeks. Over half the schools were widening participation and/or under-served. Teachers from 45 schools accepted places in the zone. However, several were unable to participate, mostly due to scheduling difficulties.

In the Ask section students asked 740 approved questions. Of these, over 50% were relating to science and medical research topics, a figure higher than the average for an I’m a Scientist two-week, general science zone.

76 online, text-based live chats took place during the MRC Festival Zone, three of which were evening chats, where students could access the chat from home to show their families, increasing parental engagement with the activities students do in school.

Posted on August 3, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, MRC, Zone Reports | Comments Off on MRC Festival Zone 2018 Zone Report

Food Zone Report – June 2018

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The Food Zone was supported by Wellcome and involved six scientists.

  • Stephen models the environmental impact of livestock farming, and looks at the effect of food sharing on the sustainability of food systems in cities
  • Simran is a PhD student using design and technology to tackle the problem of food production and consumption in future cities
  • Paul is researching how to get the most from permanent grassland, including food production, supporting wildlife and reducing the risk of flooding
  • Mark is looking at Salmonella Typhimurium: how it responds to different conditions, its physical characteristics and the genes within the bacteria
  • Jenny is looking at the effects different types of fishing can have on the environment, helping make fish products more ‘eco-friendly’
  • Ali, the winner of the Food Zone, is a sports nutritionist who works with athletes to find out how foods can make you better at sports

In this zone there were great conversations between students and scientists about all things to do with food. The winner of the zone, Ali, attended nearly every live chat and made up over half of all chat lines from scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Food Zone Report – June 2018

Heart Zone Report – June 2018

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The Heart Zone was a primary school zone supported by Wellcome.

  • Samuel, the winner of the zone, works on new technologies for assessing the state of the heart and its arteries
  • Pankaj is a doctor and scientist, who also lectures in cardiovascular medicine
  • Lucy looks at the heart and blood vessels of unborn babies to see how they are affected by changes in their environment
  • Kate is studying for her PhD and is focusing on the shape of the heart in patients with aortic stenosis
  • Jordan processes blood samples, separating them into groups and filtering them before they are ready for testing
  • Emma programs pacemakers, monitors patients during operations and performs ultrasound scans on the heart in her work at a hospital

Students in this zone were very excited to talk with scientists which came across in the lively and fun chats. Students wanted to know about all things to do with the heart, as well as getting to know the scientists on a personal level.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Heart Zone Report – June 2018

Healthy Cities Zone Report – June 2018

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The Healthy Cities Zone was supported by Wellcome and encouraged students to think about how we could build healthier places for us to live.

  • Urslaan is a data scientist who makes sure databases for roads, railways and other transport are correct
  • Nicola is an environmental geologist, looking at maps and ground investigation information to test the soil for chemicals
  • Helen specialises in designing infrastructures for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Daniel, the winner of the Healthy Cities Zone, is an environmental scientist who measures air pollution within the demolition and construction industries
  • Becky teaches courses in ecology and conservation and researches how people’s actions affect wildlife
  • Andrew is an environmental scientist looking at how we pollute our environment, the impact of this influence and possible solutions

This was the busiest zone in June’s event, with the highest number of students logging in and questions in Ask. We also ran an evening chat in every zone for students to show their families the zone, and 20 students from the Healthy Cities Zone logged in from home to chat again with the scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Healthy Cities Zone Report – June 2018

Society Zone Report – June 2018

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The Society Zone was a themed psychology zone, funded by the British Psychological Society, with six psychologists taking part.

  • Stephen is a PhD student looking at the biases that people tell themselves, and how to encourage happiness from rational thoughts
  • Maria is interested in how words are organised and divided into categories in our brains
  • John is a lecturer and forensic psychologist working in a secure hospital to treat mentally unwell offenders
  • Daniel, the winner in this zone, researches why some people believe in conspiracy theories
  • Claire is studying language for her PhD, specifically the way we talk about alcoholism and drinking
  • Amy is a lecturer interested in the differences in how Autistic and Neuro-typical people see the world

This zone was very on topic with students engaging really well with the theme. They could easily relate a lot of the psychologists’ research to their own lives, such as Amy’s work with autism and Stephen’s research into happiness.

This zone had a higher number of sixth form classes than normal, and as these have smaller class sizes the chats and Ask were quieter than expected. In the future, we will be over-filling psychology zones to compensate for having fewer students.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Society Zone Report – June 2018

Wellbeing Zone Report – June 2018

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The Wellbeing Zone had five psychologists and was supported by The British Psychological Society.

  • Viren is a social psychologist studying body image, how we feel and think about our bodies, and how we can develop a more positive view
  • Sam, the winner of the Wellbeing Zone, is a PhD student researching self-control and how this can cause people to drink more, or less, alcohol
  • Noel lectures in sport and exercise psychology and is interested in how a person’s thoughts while exercising influences their performance
  • Amy is a biomedical scientist who uses rats to investigate the relationship between happy moods and how often we eat
  • Abby is a health psychologist looking to find the most effective ways to help people quit smoking

A sixth member of the zone unfortunately had to drop out early in the first week due to personal circumstances and will be included in a future zone.

This zone was quieter than other zones in June’s event, due to a higher number of sixth form classes than normal taking part, with small class sizes. We anticipate more sixth form classes will apply for future psychology zones, so will be over-filling these zones to compensate for the smaller student numbers.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, BPS, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Wellbeing Zone Report – June 2018

Berkelium Zone Report – June 2018

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The Berkelium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome.

  • Yewande is researching the use of nitric oxide as an anaesthetic and the affect the gas has on brain cells
  • Tim is studying earthquakes and how they behave, the dangers they pose and the opportunities they offer
  • Melanie is a technician in the Biomedical Science department at the University of Sheffield
  • Hayley is a PhD student using mathematics to model WiFi signals
  • Carl is a manager at a chemical plant responsible for the quality and productivity the plant delivers
  • Alex, the winner in this zone, is studying the impact of non-native plants on small rivers and streams

Students in this zone really engaged with the scientists’ work, as well as generally about areas such as space and animals, with nearly half of all questions asked being about science topics.

We also ran an evening chat in every zone for students to access from home and show their families, increasing parental engagement with the activities students are doing in school. The Berkelium Zone evening chat was the busiest out of all the zones, with 27 students logging in from home to chat again with the scientists.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Berkelium Zone Report – June 2018

Californium Zone Report – June 2018

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The Californium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists from a range of fields.

  • Thomas investigates the earth beneath our feet to make sure buildings and tunnels don’t collapse, and homes don’t flood
  • Hayley works in cellular pathology, turning biopsies into slides to help diagnose a patient
  • Ella, the winner of this zone, is a first-year PhD student researching how neurons talk to each other
  • David designs and builds new CT scanners for research in dentistry
  • Alison is a PhD student researching how to utilise microalgae for biotechnology applications
  • Alex is a neurosurgeon in training, performing brain and spine surgeries

Students engaged well with the scientists’ research, with one of the most popular topics both in Ask and Chat being Ella and Alex’s work with the brain. This zone was the quietest of all June’s zones as two schools with a number of classes unfortunately had to drop out at the start of the event, and we weren’t able to replace them.

 

Posted on July 17, 2018 modamy in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Californium Zone Report – June 2018

Climate Zone Report – March 2018

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The Climate Zone was supported by Wellcome and specifically for students in Year 6 and Year 7. In this zone, we worked with a PhD researcher who will be analysing the language of the questions asked to find out what students think about the climate. Because of this, we asked teachers not to brief their class on the climate before taking part. We edited the questions on the profiles of the scientists to try and prompt students to think about the climate, and within chats moderators encouraged students to stay on topic.

Six scientists took part in the zone: Stephen is a Climate and Environmental Specialist for the United Nations, Stephanie, the winner of the zone, is looking for ways to improve wind turbines to make renewable energy cheaper and Rehemat is studying 50 million year old plankton fossils to see how they lived through climate change. Christopher writes computer code that generates weather forecasts, Caroline is a social scientist studying the public’s attitudes to climate change and Aileen is a PhD student looking at how fungi react to extra greenhouse gases to predict how forests will grow in the future.

 

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Comments Off on Climate Zone Report – March 2018