Soapbox Science speaker biographies 2013
Our speakers come from a wide variety of disciplines and institutions. Take a look at their biographies and their talks below:
Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Professor of Microbiology at University of Swansea
From gums to bums, bacteria through the body
Hilary Lappin-Scott is Professor of Microbiology and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Swansea University. She was the President of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) from 2009-2012 and the first female President of the SGM for over 65 years and only the second ever female President of the Society. Prof Lappin-Scott was President of the International Society for Microbial Ecology from 2006-2010, a founder of the European Academy of Microbiology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the European Academy of Microbiology and the Society of Biology.
Dr Cath Waller, Lecturer in Marine Biology & Ecology at University of Hull
Life at the bottom of the world
Originally trained as an architect Cath finally settled down to become an Antarctic scientist about ten years ago. She was hoping for a PhD somewhere warm and on a species she could eat at the end of the research. Instead she was offered PhD in Antarctica. Surprising herself, she took to the frozen continent like a penguin to an iceberg. Cath is now a lecturer in Marine Ecology at the Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences (CEMS) at the University of Hull. Most of her research involves studying small things living on or under rocks around the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. This is one of the fastest warming places on the globe. She is interested in how invertebrates arrive and survive in this hostile environment and how they may cope under rapidly changing conditions. She has made several trips “South” and the “lure of the little voices” keeps calling her back to the ice.
Professor Jane K Hill, Professor in Biology at University of York
Dr Emily Cross, Senior Lecturer of Physiology at University of Bangor
What does it take to Strictly Come Dancing? How our brains learn and perceive complex movement
Emily Cross is a senior lecturer at Bangor University and Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands) where she co-directs the Social Brain in Action cognitive neuroscience laboratory. She studied psychology and dance as an undergraduate in California, followed by an MSc in cognitive psychology in New Zealand, and then earned her PhD in cognitive neuroscience while performing and touring with a contemporary dance company in New Hampshire. As a dancer, she is interested in the remarkable plasticity of the human brain to learn highly-skilled and complex movement, as well as how and why observers derive pleasure from watching certain actions (and not others). She addresses her research questions through the use of dance, gymnastics, contortion, video games and robots (among other things). Her work is currently supported by an ESRC Future Research Leaders award as well as funding by the European Union, the Dutch Science Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation.
Julie Dunne, PHD student in Archaeological science at University of Bristol
Milking it – how small molecules from ancient pots tell us when humans first started dairying'
I am a biomolecular archaeologist researching for a PhD at the University of Bristol, In my research, which was published in Nature last year, I have used molecular and isotopic analyses of absorbed food residues from 7000 year old ceramics from the Libyan Sahara to identify the inception of dairying practices.
Professor Laura Piddock, Professor of Microbiology at University of Birmingham
Antibiotic resistance and why we need new treatments
I am Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, Deputy Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection and also 20% FTE British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Chair in Public Engagement and Director of Antibiotic Action. My current research focuses on understanding mechanisms of antibiotic resistance as a basis for antibacterial drug discovery and includes (1) multidrug efflux (pumping out of the bacterial cell) and regulation (switching on and off) of multidrug efflux pumps, and (2) furthering understanding of the mechanism of transfer of plasmids (mobile genetic elements) between bacteria. I have experience of drug discovery, research and development (despite my current basic research focus being on mechanisms of antibacterial resistance), which started in 1982 with research for my PhD on the target of β-lactam antibiotics (penicillin and similar molecules) (supervised by Professor Richard Wise and Dr Nigel Curtis (ex-Glaxo, ex-ICI now Astra Zeneca). My research career has since spanned studies on Gram positive bacteria, Gram negative bacteria and also Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I have published over 150 original articles, plus 36 invited review and leading opinion articles.
Maria Grazia Vigliotti, Senior Research Associate in Computer Science at Imperial College
Be aware! Computing is everywhere!
Maria Grazia Vigliotti is a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Computing, Imperial College London.
Her research focuses on the principles of computer science, statistical analysis of complex systems, and security in computer systems.
She has uncovered vulnerabilities on the Oyster Card. She is currently working on statistical analysis of information obtained from social networks, such as Twitter, like using statistical analysis of public data to decide who is the most influential contributor.
The main focus of Maria’s research is to study the fundamental principles of complex systems and to use these principles to address problems that arise, like security, performance and correctness of computer systems.
Dr Zoe Schnepp, Fellow in Chemistry Department at University of Birmingham
Superconducting seaweed (an adventure in green nanotechnology)
Zoe Schnepp is a Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. She is from the UK but has worked in the US, Germany and Japan. She is passionate about Green Chemistry and designs new materials for water treatment and solar energy capture using simple resources such as seaweed or sawdust.
Dr Sabrina Maniscalco, Reader in Photonics & Quantum Sciences, department of Engineering at Heriot-Watt University
Sabrina Maniscalco is a quantum physicist and a Reader at Heriot-Watt University. She is the Leader of the open Quantum Systems and Entanglement group (www.openquantum.co.uk) currently consisting of 8 members (6 of them women!). After obtaining her PhD in Palermo (Sicily) she worked as a researcher in Bulgaria, South Africa and Finland, before finally settling down in Scotland. Her main research field is quantum physics and, specifically, quantum computers and other quantum technologies
Playing the Quantum Computer Game
Dr Ravinder Kanda, Research associate in Paleovirology and Genomics, department of Zoology at The University of Oxford
Genome Invaders: Friend or foe?
Ravinder Kanda is a researcher in the department of Zoology, University of Oxford. Since her PhD at Imperial College in human evolutionary genetics, she has spent time working in industry (paternity testing / forensic science) and as a schoolteacher, but found that she couldn’t stay away from her passion and eventually returned to research science. Her research focuses on the various evolutionary processes that shape genomes, in particular the endogenous retroviruses that infest the genomes of humans and other vertebrates.
Maria Ocampo-Hafalla, Research Fellow at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Unit
Lord of the cohesin rings: protecting the blueprint for life
Human tumors arise as a consequence of genetic changes in cells that allow uncontrolled growth and proliferation. Two major types of genetic changes observed in tumors are: a) single base pair mutations (my MS and PhD research at New York University) and b) chromosomal instability (my postdoctoral work at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute). As a Senior Scientific Officer in the Chromosome Segregation Lab, I am investigating the mechanisms that regulate chromosomal stability, with the aim of providing crucial insights into the processes that impact healthy cellular growth and proliferation.
Jassel Majevadia, PhD student, Departments of Physics, Materials, and Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London
Crack! Why hydrogen is a menace inside metals
Jassel has studied theoretical physics, music and materials science in St Andrews, Atlanta and London. She is currently pursuing a PhD in hydrogen embrittlement in nuclear reactors - a hot topic in both politics and science. Her 'spare' time is focused on projects in science communication, which include public science events, and training researchers in communication techniques.