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Soapbox Science comes to Bristol

Image of Bristol's Soapbox Science event in 2014

This year there are Soapbox Science events taking place in Bristol, London, Exeter, Swansea, Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast, and over 90 female scientists participating

Press release issued: 3 June 2015

The National Soapbox Science Festival comes to Bristol this Sunday [7 June], bringing 12 inspirational local female scientists to the streets to share their research, engage the public and inspire the next generation of scientists.

The event in Millennium Square offers everyone the chance to meet scientists who are researching everything from climate modelling and the social lives of insects to brain science and astronomy.  And the main thing all these scientists have in common, apart from their passion for science?  They’re all women.

The Festival, now in its fifth year, has two aims: to bring science to the streets and highlight the work of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM), traditionally male dominated fields.

The events are free of charge, fun, informal and inspirational.  Expect props, interactive games and specimens, not to mention bags of passion and enthusiasm.

Soapbox Science co-founder, Dr Seirian Sumner of the University of Bristol said: “Soapbox tries to target the less obvious audience – the public who'd not normally have the chance or inclination to learn about science, or those who'd thought of scientists as being far too unapproachable.  Soapbox takes a truly fresh approach to science outreach – we bring science to the everyday person on the street.  Science is for everyone.”

Founded five years ago by Dr Seirian Sumner and Dr Nathalie Pettorelli of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Festival has grown exponentially and this year there are seven events taking place in Bristol, London, Exeter, Swansea, Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast, and over 90 female scientists participating. 

This year, the second time the festival has run in Bristol, the scientists come from universities in Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Aberystwyth, as well as research institutes, for example the UK Research Council’s Rutherford Laboratories in Harwell.

Dr Susan Quadflieg (University of Bristol) will shine a light on the secrets of the brain and how and why we make snap decisions.  Dr Jo Barnes (University of the West of England) will help us understand how our transport choices affect our health.  If you’re a fan of chocolate, Dr Lynne Thomas (University of Bath) promises to explain why and how it goes off.

It’s clear that the public are interested in knowing more about science; 72 per cent of the general public agree that it’s important to know about science in their daily lives and 68 per cent would like scientists to spend more time discussing their work with them, according to the 2014 Public Attitudes to Science survey conducted by Ipsos Mori.

With speakers ranging from PhD students to Pro Vice-Chancellors, Soapbox Science represents the full spectrum of the academic career path, and gives speakers themselves the chance to meet and network with other women in science.  The festival aims to help increase the profile and confidence of the female scientists who participate.

Soapbox Science co-founder Dr Nathalie Pettorelli of ZSL said: “It’s unique in the sense that it is the only science communication initiative that really focuses on women.  Female scientists are doing some incredible work, but they aren’t as recognised as their male counterparts.  Soapbox Science increases their visibility, and helps show the diverse faces of science.“

“Everyone of any age is welcome, and each scientist will take to one of our four soapboxes for an hour – plenty of time to get involved, ask questions, and be inspired!

“We’re trying to show that science is more than labs, microscopes, computers – it’s also about meeting people, working in teams, solving questions that can benefit society, creating, and being open minded about how things work and how they might work in the future.”

Soapbox Science Bristol takes place on Sunday 7 June from 2 – 5pm in Millennium Square, near @Bristol

Further information


Dr Jo Barnes (@aqmrc_uwe), University of West England (UWE) “How are our transport choices are affecting our health?”

Dr Lynne Thomas (@lynnehthomas), University of Bath “Why does chocolate go off? Adventures with crystals”

Dr Charlotte Pascoe (_@CharlottePascoe), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) “The insides of a climate model and how we use them to ask questions about the future”

Dr Annika Lohstroh,  University of Surrey “Overcoming challenges in radiation detection in medicine, industry and security”

Dr Anne Osterrieder (@AnneOsterrieder) Oxford Brookes University “The inner life of plants: Calm on the outside, but buzzing inside!”

Dr Carina Fearnley (@CarinaFearnley), Aberystwyth University “What natural disasters will we face in the future? Learning from dinosaurs, ancient civilisations, and rocks!”

Professor Jane Memmott, University of Bristol “The Birds and the Bees”

Ms Becky Smethurst (@becky1505), University of Oxford “Anyone for a holiday to Andromeda?”

Dr Susanne Quadflieg, University of Bristol “Not handsome enough to tempt you? The brain science of snap judging conspecifics”

Miss Anna Tiley (@tileyanna), University of Bristol “Investigating a Cereal Killer”

Miss Emily Bell (@EmilyfBell) University of Bristol  “How to have a social life – lessons from the wasps”

Dr Maaike de Jong, University of Bristol “Butterflies and global change: can evolution come to the rescue?” 

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