9 Things that Lit up the British Science Festival

9 Things that Lit up the British Science Festival
27th November 2018 alumni

Some of the biggest names in science visited the city as the University of Hull hosted this year’s British Science Festival. Here’s a flavour of how the University’s experts illuminated important issues and sparked debate


New discovery could drastically improve ovarian cancer survival rates


Eradicating cancer using a patient’s own immune system is on the horizon. Cancer immunologist Dr Barbara Guinn gave a preview of yet-to-be-published findings of a research project that has identified a biomarker with the potential to make early detection and diagnosis of ovarian cancer easier. This significant development could see survival rates increase from 20% to around 90%.


A fresh perspective on protecting our seas


Satellites used to monitor the natural world have transformed our knowledge of Earth’s wildlife and habitats. They are a non-invasive way of capturing highly detailed images of inaccessible environments. Marine biologist Dr Rodney Forster showed a captivated audience images of our seas from space. He explained how his work with both industry and Government relies on satellites to help understand our seas, observe changes and protect them.


Liar, liar …


When recalling the past, we often create false memories that are so convincing that we believe them to be true. Based on philosophical principles and the latest research, Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience Giuliana Mazzoni explored the reasons why we lie to ourselves and how this impacts our everyday lives.

What does your dog think about?

Dr David George, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, attempted to unlock the secrets of the canine mind, sharing techniques to assess how smart man’s best friend really is, what their behaviour tells us about their personalities and how they really think.

AI: there’s a reason it’s so bad at conversing


Dr David Benoit, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Physics and Astrochemistry, and Dr Nina Dethlefs, Lecturer in Computer Science, jointly explored how AI is detecting tumours, repelling cats and even picking up signals of potential alien technology in space. But what about fundamental human applications? The duo’s talk addressed why AI falls behind in this field and explored whether it will ever get there.

Meet Tilly the Turtle


Visitors to the British Science Festival came face to face with a giant sea turtle made from plastic and other pollutants, aimed at asking visitors to take a moment to consider how they could reduce their own plastic waste. The need to reduce plastic pollution in the environment has never been more pressing. Researchers from the University of Hull making important contributions in the field highlighted their findings to date.

Toothpaste, soap and painkillers putting waterways under threat


Professor Jeanette Rotchell discussed how chemicals found in personal care products and pharmaceuticals are accumulating in our waters. A €4.4-million Europe-wide project, led by the University of Hull, is revealing the impact of these chemicals and will offer solutions for their efficient removal at water treatment plants, ensuring they don’t re- enter the waterways.


Virtual reality gaming to tackle dementia


Jason Hayhurst, Lecturer in Digital Media, showed how virtual reality and augmented reality games can be used to improve the quality of life of those suffering with dementia.The technologies can provide easily accessible and highly personalised ways of accessing memories, calming those in states of distress, and reducing depression and anxiety. Jason hopes GPs will one day prescribe it as ‘digital medicine’.


Pioneering research revealed to help people fight germs and combat disease

Lecturer in Immunology Dr Stefano Caserta and Lecturer in Microbiology Dr Cheryl Walter shared their latest research on viruses, bacteria and other deadly germs. They explored how we can improve the immune system’s memory to survive a deadly germ attack and looked at what drugs already exist that could cure the big viral killers like HIV.


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