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Science Week 2019

This year’s programme, running from 24-29 June 2019, will see discussions on the intriguing science behind the adolescent brain, the search for life on Mars, and how we can tell what dinosaurs were like.

Model of a dinosaur, one of the topics covered during Birkbeck’s Science Week

What do dinosaurs, aliens and teenagers have in common? They’re all topics featured at Birkbeck’s Science Week, returning to Birkbeck from 24-29 June when the College will open its doors to the public. Academics will offer a series of free talks exploring the research taking place at the College, and its practical impact on the world. The 2019 programme reflects the issues that have made science headlines over the past year: from synthesising life to the search for life in the universe, from understanding what happens in the adolescent brain to how we track babies' attention skills.

The annual Rosalind Franklin Memorial Lecture, given each year by an eminent female scientist in honour of the former Birkbeck crystallographer who was instrumental in the discovery of DNA, will be given by Professor Emily Rayfield. Rayfield is an expert in paleobiology at the University of Bristol and will be discussing how computational tools can help us to understand the anatomy of dinosaurs.

All tickets are free but booking is recommended via the links below.

Monday 24 June 2019

  • Synthesising Life (5.30pm, B01, Clore Managment Centre): Dr Salvador Tomas, Department of Biological Sciences.

    Abiogenesis is a hypothesis about the origin of life on earth. It assumes life arose spontaneously from non-living matter, a few billion years ago. Finding out exactly how it happened is extremely unlikely because we lack fossil records stretching that far back in time. To validate this hypothesis we need to reproduce abiogenesis in the laboratory. In other words, we need to learn how to synthesise life. This talk focuses on research directed to the development and study of protocells, which are produced in the laboratory as plausible ancestors of living cells and can be used as models to study abiogenesis. In the future, we'll be able to use this knowledge to create programmable, cell-like robots. Book your free ticket. Book your free ticket.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

  • The Adolescent Brain (5.30pm, B01, Clore Management Centre): Dr Iroise Dumontheil, Department of Psychological Sciences.

    The talk will start with the presentation of a short video about the adolescent brain created by two former Birkbeck PhD students. Dr Iroise Dumontheil will then present the research behind this video and explain how various brain networks, in particular those linked to emotional reactivity, the control of behaviours, and social interactions, continue to develop during adolescence. Book your free ticket.
  • Babies' Attention Skills (6.30pm Foyer outside B01, Clore Management Centre) Dr Emily Jones, Department of Psychological Sciences.

    This MQ-funded (Transforming Mental Health) study uses gaze-tracking technology to train babies' attention skills in their homes. The technology allows the team to tailor training to each baby's concentration span. Come and try out the games used in this research, in this live demonstration - no booking required.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

  • Rosalind Franklin Lecture: Engineering a dinosaur: how computational tools are reshaping our understanding of form and function in fossil animals.(5.30pm, B01, Clore Management Centre): Professor Emily Rayfield, University of Bristol.

    Fossils typically preserve only the mineralised tissues of the animal, soft tissues having long since rotted away, save for exceptional circumstances. In the absence of muscles and ligaments, how can we gain an understanding of how extinct animals functioned and behaved? In this talk, Professor Rayfield will describe how she and her lab are using imaging analysis and computational tools more commonly used to design-test bridges and cars, to describe the function and capabilities of long dead animals, uncovering how dinosaurs fed, how tiny mammal jaws evolved and how the earliest terrestrial vertebrate adapted their skulls for the challenges of life on land. Book your free ticket.

Thursday 27 June 2019

  • The New Science of Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Universe (5.30pm, B01, Clore Management Centre): Professor Ian Crawford, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

    The talk will summarise the new interdisciplinary science of astrobiology, beginning with the planetary and evolutionary context of life on Earth and its implications for finding life elsewhere. Building on this perspective, the talk will consider the prospects for finding life, or evidence for past life, elsewhere in our Solar System, for example on the planet Mars and the icy moons of the outer solar system, before moving on to consider the potential habitability of planets recently discovered orbiting other stars. Appropriately, the ExoMars rover will be named after Rosalind Franklin, one of Birkbeck's most eminent scientists, whose work and life are celebrated in our annual lecture. Book your free ticket.

Saturday 29 June 2019

  • Psychology for Education Day: free workshops for experienced, new and aspiring Education Professionals. Book your free ticket.

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