Science festival shines a light on North talent

The British Science Festival which starts in Newcastle on Saturday will highlight the North East’s role as a centre of expertise

British Science Festival
British Science Festival

A festival featuring some of the country’s most celebrated scientists and thinkers will highlight the North East’s role as a centre of expertise, a university chief said yesterday.

Newcastle University is hosting the British Science Festival, which starts on Saturday, with a week of debates, presentations and events designed to inspire would-be scientists of all generations.

The spotlight will also be turned on research being undertaken in the city by Newcastle and its associate partner Northumbria University and visitors can meet the brains trying to crack some of society’s toughest challenges

Yesterday, Professor Ella Ritchie, deputy vice chancellor at Newcastle University, said: “We are a research-intensive university with a civic agenda focusing on the global societal challenges of ageing, sustainability and social renewal, and as hosts of the 2013 Festival we will have the perfect platform to bring our expertise to life.

Professor Ella Ritchie, deputy vice chancellor at Newcastle University
Professor Ella Ritchie, deputy vice chancellor at Newcastle University
 

“The events we are leading on will bring visitors face-to-face with our researchers to hear for themselves about their discoveries and how they have potential to positively impact on our lives.

“These events include a debate on diet and ageing with scientist and BBC presenter Michael Mosley who is credited with popularizing the 5:2 diet and our own Professor Tom Kirkwood, dean for ageing, as well as award lectures given to early career researchers who are skilled communicators on climate change and the environmental threat to coral reefs.

“Science engagement is very high on our agenda and we are pleased to be working with our partners to throw the spotlight on Newcastle’s science and technology strengths. The festival is so much more than just a six day science event – we expect to see lasting legacies in innovation, industry and investment.”

Among those taking part are geneticist Lord Robert Winston, climate change expert Prof Hayley Sweet and educationalist Prof Sugata Mitra, who helped inspire the movie Slumdog Millionaire and winner of the TED Prize 2013, Sugata Mitra. The Newcastle University professor of educational technology will tell the story of how, in 1999, he installed a PC with internet in a wall near a New Delhi urban slum, and how local children intuitively used it to learn on their own and from each other.

He will also discuss his inspirational new vision to build a school in the “Cloud”.

Many festival events will be drop-in activities but for some booking will be required.

Places can be booked by visiting www.britishsciencefestival.org or calling 0845 680 7207.

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