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The University of Manchester at ESOF / 23 to 27 July

Manchester is hosting the European Science Open Forum – and The University of Manchester is playing a big part in the celebrations.

Stay up to date with all the breaking news from ESOF

Our keynote speakers

Close the overlay Anna Scaife

Brian Cox

Professor of Particle Physics

Speaking at: In conversation with Brian Cox

Brian Cox FRS is Professor of Particle Physics at The University of Manchester and The Royal Society Professor for Public Engagement in Science. He is active in the public and political promotion of science, and is known to the public for his documentary work on BBC television.

In this session Professor Cox sits down with Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at The University of Manchester to talk about Life, the Universe and Everything. Topics that may come up include: why Newton's apple stayed still while the Earth fell up towards it, the life and death of soft fruit, and what chance we have of finding out what's really going on in the Universe.

Close the overlay Anna Scaife

Andre Geim

Regius, Langworthy and Royal Society Research Professor

Speaking at: In conversation with Sir Andre Geim

True science is as creative as any art form, but what is creativity? Join us as John Lloyd, BAFTA award winning television producer and writer, quizzes Sir Andre Geim, Nobel laureate in physics, on where ideas come from, what drives him as a scientist and the secret to his success. Was there a moment when he realised he had discovered something that will radically transform the world? How does he design testable hypotheses? And what drives him on through the inevitable setbacks?

John will seek to learn the secrets of how a world-class scientist thinks, but we expect that Andre may have some questions for him too!

Also speaking at: What's so funny about science?

Close the overlay Anna Scaife

Sir Konstantin Novoselov

Honorary Professor of Physics and the Royal Society Research Fellow

Speaking at: Graphene and beyond: a revolution in two dimensions

Hear from graphene Nobel laureate Sir Kostya Novoselov, as he presents how 2D materials research could spark a revolution in real-world applications, and from Professor Frank Koppens, who discusses how the Graphene Flagship is ensuring that Europe can compete globally in making graphene products a reality.

Scientists and industry representatives will then debate the challenges of taking graphene and 2D materials to the market, and what sectors could be transformed by the ground-breaking research taking place all over the world.

Close the overlay Anna Scaife

Michael Wood

Professor of Public History

Speaking at: Science, industry and revolution: some thoughts on England, China and the ‘Great Divergence’

One of the great questions of modern history is why the Industrial Revolution happened in Britain and North-West Europe, and not in China. It was in China that most of the key technological advances and industrial processes which made industrialisation possible, along with many other key scientific discoveries, had been made long before the West. In the 18th century China had the world's biggest population and economy: capitalism was also developing there with banking and some aspects of what we would call Civil Society.

So why did the West take the lead from the late 18th century? Following up his BBC 2 series on the history of China, Michael Wood will look at some of the current thinking about what historians have come to see as the Great Divergence, with special reference to the North-West and the city of Manchester itself, and to the role of science in the rise of the West - asking whether it is inevitable that the East will rise again to the position it held for much of pre-modern history.

Find out more about our speakers and what ESOF means to them

Close the overlay Richard Bardgett

Richard Bardgett

British ecologist and Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester

Speaking at: No soil, no life

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

Soil is teeming with life. A single handful of soil can contain more living organisms than there are people on the planet. Our session focuses on soil, its rich biological diversity, and the importance of the diversity for the health of soil. The session will also explore ways of managing soils in a sustainable way and how to harness benefits from its rich diversity of life.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

A major goal of our research at Manchester is to better understand how changes in the diversity of soil communities influences the way soils and ecosystems function. Our research is providing new insights into how soil biodiversity helps to supply nutrients to plants and how it can help to buffer the effects of environmental fluctuations, such as extreme weather events, on the functioning of soils. We hope to use this knowledge to optimise the way land is managed to reap benefits from the living soil.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

Manchester is a dynamic and vibrant city, and I am very excited about having the opportunity to bring the excitement of studying soils and their diversity to the wide audience present at ESOF.

Close the overlay Cyrill Bussy

Dr Cyrill Bussy

Lecturer in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences and the National Graphene Institute

Speaking at: Nanomaterials and medicine, the building blocks toward an enhanced human?

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

The session is about debating the question of converging technologies and how this could open, or is progressively opening the door to human enhancement, and in particular how developing “safer-by-design” engineered nanomaterials may voluntary or not help toward achieving these goals.

The fundamental (and philosophical) question we will try to address during this interactive session, using the world café style, is whether or not human enhancement will be the next step of human evolution.

Using our expertise, we will try to question how or whether the daily work of nanoscientists is creating the scientific ground for this future (human) revolution to happen.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

My main research focuses on nanosafety, or the safety of nanomaterials, which ultimately aims to find a way to create nanomaterials that are safe-by-design so that the society can use the outstanding properties of nanomaterials for its benefit.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

Personally, it is a great pleasure to be part of a conference that aims to gather scientists and their stakeholders from around the world to think about science in a slightly “outside of the box” fashion and discuss current and future scientific breakthroughs.

Professionally, I will be a good opportunity to showcase the work I am currently doing, identifying the toxicological limitations of these materials or working alongside scientists interested in using graphene for biomedical applications to assess graphene biocompatibility.

Close the overlay Cinzia Casiraghi

Cinzia Casiraghi

Professor in Nanoscience

Speaking at: Arts and sciences: the crossroads of creativity

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

The title of the session is: "Arts and Sciences: the crossroads of creativity" and it aims to discuss similarities and differences between art and science. I was invited to this session because last year I hosted the music composer, Sara Lowes, with the aim of composing a new piece of music inspired by graphene (The graphene suite). The project was supported by Brighter Sound, a producer of creative music projects and events, and the National Graphene Institute.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

The project got a lot of visibility. For example, Sara and I gave an interview in Nature.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

I am honoured to be part of ESOF in Manchester: it is an opportunity for me to talk about my research, but more importantly to directly contribute to Manchester-based activities. I would like to show that it is possible to overcome the "apparent barriers" between science and music, and that creativity and discovery are fundamental processes in both fields. Finally, the project also focuses on the relative scarcity of women in the fields of science and composition.

Close the overlay Sheena Cruickshank

Sheena Cruickshank

Academic Lead for Public Engagement at The University of Manchester

Speaking at: Public involvement in biomedical research: a science revolution?

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

Our session is chaired by Bella Starling, a Wellcome Trust Engagement fellow, and aims to explore the role of public engagement and involvement with science – the challenges, the approaches and the ways it can add to the development of modern research and policy making.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

My work on parasitic worm infections has led to me engaging with immigrant communities of African, Asian and South American origins which has enabled them to communicate more confidently about health and science. In response to their concerns about allergy and infection, my research has become more focused on translational projects such as #BritainBreathing, a new citizen science project about allergies. We hope to learn more about why allergies are increasing which may help us to intervene better. The education resources we have developed are being used as far afield as rural Madagascar to help educate rural communities about the impact of neglected tropical diseases and work towards their eradication.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

ESOF is the biggest open science conference in Europe. It’s fantastic to be a part of this and to be able to share the work we do here in Manchester and get the opportunity to learn from others.

Close the overlay Lisa Dale-Clough

Lisa Dale-Clough

Industrial innovation: managing the ecosystem

Speaking at: Industrial innovation: managing the ecosystem

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

My session at ESOF2016 focuses on how companies are responding to an increasingly global and networked innovation system. It will debate issues like how companies decide what innovation activities to do collaboratively, openly and privately; how European companies can be competitive in global innovation ecosystems and what roles country, regional and global innovation policy mechanisms can continue to have? The session is based on interviews with companies across Europe completed under a research project called ‘Industrial Innovation in Transition.’

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

The next stages of the research will involve direct engagement with national innovation policy makers across Europe and will provide best practice guidance for companies in different industrial sectors. We are also developing a toolkit so the study can be reproduced by other researchers and have interest in replicating the study from institutions outside Europe. So we hope to continue creating impact for some time!

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

I am very excited to be part of ESOF2016 in Manchester. As a social scientist this is my first general science conference and I think ESOF is a special forum due to its holistic approach to science as an activity that interacts with society, business and governments. Having lived in Manchester for over eight years I am also very proud that we are showcasing the city and its scientific, cultural and business opportunities to the world.

Close the overlay Danielle George

Danielle George

Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering

Speaking at: ALMA array at bluedot

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

To celebrate Manchester as the European City of Science, makers from across Manchester have been collaborating to recycle, code and make musical robots to play together as an orchestra. This interdisciplinary crowdsourcing project is acollaboration between engineers, musicians, STEM educators and the public.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

We want to show the interdisciplinary nature of science, engineering and music. Our impact will be legacy within primary and secondary schools as well as the public. By reflecting on the making of the Robot Orchestra, we can explore the opportunities, challenges and benefits of innovative STEM educational approaches in preparing the next generation to tackle global challenges

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

I love this project and its core vision to get people tinkering and making, and for them to think about where being involved in such a fun project can take them. If people have lost fun doing this then I’d like them to realise that they could use their skills to solve some of the big global challenges we all face – and this project will have started them on that journey.

This is an amazing city for engineering, science and music and our machine will be built from the city’s imagination.

Close the overlay Kris Matykiewicz

Kris Matykiewicz

Head of Business Engagement at The University of Manchester

Speaking at: Synthetic biology, the pathway to commercialisation

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

The issues of commercialising new technologies from research and development through regulatory to public acceptance, using Synthetic Biology as exemplar.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

As Head of Business Engagement for the University, I have experience from industry of commercialising technologies.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

ESOF is a great opportunity to showcase the region of Manchester as a leading innovation hub in many fields, building on the history of technological and political/social innovation in the city’s fabric. The University is a major contributor to the innovation here and it is a fantastic time to contribute to another rebirth of the city. Synthetic Biology has huge promise to support a more sustainable future and access chemicals and materials that are impossible or uneconomic to produce any other way. Public support for such technologies is critical for acceptance.

Close the overlay Alexandra Mullock

Alexandra Mullock

Lecturer in Medical Law at The University of Manchester

Speaking at: Medical innovation at any cost?

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

We examine the frontiers of transplantation in the light of recent advances (i.e. face transplants, womb transplants) and future possibilities, such as whole body transplants, that might soon become reality. We consider the legal and ethical challenges emerging from these advances. For example, should men be permitted to receive wombs in order to gestate their own child?

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

This type of theoretical research advances the field of research and encourages people to engage with the emerging legal and ethical dilemmas which such developments bring.

Close the overlay Marieke Navin

Marieke Navin

Deputy Director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Speaking at: The art and science of song

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

My session focuses on citizen science – science experiments where the general public contribute to scientific research. In my previous role before joining the University I was the Director of the Manchester Science Festival and we created an experiment to investigate catchy music called #HookedOnMusic – the game has now had over 250,000 unique players and over 300,000,000 people have been exposed to the experiment via online, print and world news outlets.

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

The results from the people playing the game are analysed by a computation musicologist who is investigating what makes music memorable. The long term aim is to find out more about musical memory and how that can be applied to people who are suffering from memory degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

I am thrilled to be part of ESOF – this experiment was created with scientists from Amsterdam so is a truly European venture.

Close the overlay Anna Scaife

Anna Scaife

Head of the Jodrell Bank Interferometry Centre of Excellence

Speaking at: From Turing to the Big Data deluge

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

Big Data (From Turing to the Big Data deluge)

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project will be one of the world's largest Big Data engines. Big Data is starting to affect everything around us, from the way our supermarkets stock their shelves to how aircraft are designed.

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

It's exciting to be involved in such a huge scientific forum.

Close the overlay Tony Walker

Tony Walker

Director of Innovation Optimiser at The University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP)

Speaking at: So you want to start a company? The spin-out game

What does your session at ESOF focus on?

I am part of an EU-wide group of innovation professionals who are managing a university-spinout game ‘So you want to start a company? The spin-out game’.

This is a role-play exercise that was tried at the last ESOF, and it was a real hit! Our role, after a very short intro, is to be the coaches on different tables of game players. Each player takes a different role: the inventor, the TTO, the vice rector, the angel, the corporate exec, etc. They all start with one sheet of info describing the situation: A university researcher(s) has come up with a cool innovation and wants to start a company around it. Challenge: What terms will satisfy all the conflicting interests around the table, so money can be raised and work start?

What impact is your research having/will have in the future?

It will raise awareness of how enterprise and innovation is a key part of a university’s contribution to economic and social wellbeing. How IP and its commercial application is a collaborative process that recognises the value of the contributions of many parties and is a team sport!

What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be part of ESOF here in Manchester?

It is really exciting to be able to show what we do on a daily basis in UMIP in transferring the exciting and life-changing technologies of our Manchester researchers and students to a wider audience , in a light-hearted and engaging way. It shows that Manchester has reached a zenith in its science and is being recognised alongside its global peers, so professionally it’s very exciting to be part of a rare event.