Science Cafés

Thursday 18th March – our first Science Café of 2021

It seems we called this one correctly as we made the decision a while back that this would be an on-line only event.

However it’s going to be an excellent evening with, as ever, a great line up of three speakers. Don’t miss your chance to hear from and then fire questions at top scientists from around the region* as they set out to encapsulate a key idea in just 10-15 min.

(* you may spot our wide definition of “region”: we are delighted to have one speaker who would normally be well beyond the borders of Yorkshire, but in these strange times…)

  • What has the LHC ever done for us?
    • Dr. Duncan Leggat, Institute of High Energy Physics, Beijing
    • The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland has been smashing atoms together for more than a decade now, and has made countless measurements including the discovery of the Higgs Boson, for which Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2013. But what does this mean for our everyday lives? Far beyond the scope of carrying out research ‘just for research’s sake’, the technology and methodology developed at CERN and for the LHC have had a marked impact in wider society. This talk will explore just exactly what ‘the LHC ever did for us’.
  • You are never alone – the hidden living world inside you
    • Prof. Philip Quirke, Professor of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Leeds
    • Phil will change the way you look at yourself. He will describe the intimate and important relationship you have with the life forms that live with/in you and how we are starting to understand the complex interactions that exist and how they contribute to health and disease with a particular emphasis on bowel cancer.
  • Science with a telescope ten miles across
    • Dr. Katherine Johnston, Research Fellow, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds
    • How do astronomers use telescopes many miles across to observe at wavelengths much longer than our eyes can see? And what do they uncover? I will introduce a “telescope” just like this: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and give you a glimpse of what I have discovered using this cutting-edge observatory.

The Science Café will start at 7.30pm on 18th.

It is necessary to book for the Café with tickets costing just £5 per household. You can book here and will receive individual sign in details for this live stream event.

2021 Science Café Schedule

We have scheduled the Science Café dates for 2021:

  • March 18th
    • Because of the uncertainties we have decided this will be on-line only
  • June 17th
    • Very much hoping this will be back in Otley Courthouse
  • September 16th
  • Plus a Festival week Science Café (w/c November 15th)

We have left information on earlier Science Cafés below.

2020 Festival Week Science Café – Tuesday 10th November

Following announcement of the new lockdown the 2020 Science Festival Week Science Café will be going ahead as an on-line only event.

Joining the on-line Café is free but requires pre-booking to receive the joining details. This will close at 6pm.

The Café will start at 7.30pm Tuesday 10th November.

In traditional Science Café fashion there will be three 15 minute presentation followed by the opportunity for the audience members to ask questions, with a short break between the speakers.

We have three speakers with a great set of topics:

  • A brief history of biopharmaceutical – scientific drivers for adoption of large molecule therapeutics
    • Siân Estdale BSc, MPhil, PhD, Head of Scientific Affairs, CTTS, Covance Laboratories Limited
    • This presentation will look briefly at the historical context for large molecules, the current market of approved large molecules, modalities and therapeutic targets. It will explore the mechanism of action of some block buster molecules and compare with small molecules. The major differences will be highlighted and finally the drug development pathway and probability of success.
  • Ecological risk assessment for biopesticides
    • Dr Mark Whittaker, Managing Director, Applied Insect Science Ltd
    • Biopesticides are low-risk crop protection products based predominantly on naturally-occurring bacteria, viruses and fungi. They are approved for use in Europe under the same regulatory framework as conventional pesticides, for which the assessment of environmental safety is one of the most significant aspects of the evaluation. This presentation will outline the use and benefits of microbial biopesticides in commercial horticulture, and the role of safety testing on pollinators and other non-target organisms.
  • Bragg Centre Creative Labs: Innovation through collaboration
    • Professor Lorna Dougan, Professor of Physics, Director of Research & Innovation, EPSRC Fellow
    • In 2019 and 2020 ten teams of artists and creative professionals were paired with Bragg Centre for Materials Research members to explore collaborations and create ideas together. With no expectation of an output, the process allowed partners to establish the focus of their engagement with each other from the outset. In this talk I will share our motivation for undertaking this endeavour, what we learned along the way and next steps.

Further information and tickets:

The Science Café will start at 7.30pm on November 10th.

As mentioned this is now an on-line only event. Joining is free but requires advance booking (closing 90 minutes before the event) to receive the necessary joining details.

To book:

On-line tickets free – click here

You can find Otley Courthouse at:

Otley Courthouse Arts Centre
Courthouse Street
West Yorks
LS21 3AN

01943 467466 (please note: due to Covid the phone may not be answered in person, but you will be able to leave a message).

You can email Otley Science Festival here:
or follow us on Twitter @otleyscience

September 2020’s Science Café went virtual

We didn’t manage to go ahead with a Science Café in June but for September we decided to go ahead and have an on-line only event. We had two great speakers and this was what was covered on the night:

  • Education for the 4th Industrial Revolution (e4i4)
    • Professor John Baruch, Visiting Professor Leeds Beckett University, Tsinghua University
    • The 4th Industrial Revolution will replace about 50% of UK jobs with robots using AI control systems either for talking to people and answering questions or for driving vehicles and everything in between.  Close human support tasks are impossible to robotise such as nursing or teaching but many others will go. The cost of goods will continue to fall but the key challenge is developing the new economy with its new jobs and new types of work based on technological innovation and creativity. The talk will focus on how the under 28 year olds can rebuild their lives, and opportunities exploiting the unique situation they now find themselves in with the Tsunami of Covid 19.
  • Baby Talk – How connection in infancy supports connection throughout life
    • Dr Vivien Sabel, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University
    • Psychotherapist, Author, Lecturer, Filmmaker and Artist, Dr Sabel is attending the Science Café to share her learning regarding how understanding the language of infants has supported the development of a non-verbal communication model for use in clinical and everyday settings. Her ‘back story’ and educational journey are key to understanding the development of the model and have proved fascinating to audiences in both nationally and internationally.

2020’s first Science Café was on Thursday 12th March

Before everything closed down our topics for that evening were:

2019 Festival week Science Café was on Wednesday 13th

On this enjoyable evening we covered:

  • A civic plan for a climate emergency
    • Professor Paul Chatterton, School of Geography, University of Leeds
    • The climate emergency is a huge threat, but also a huge opportunity. Many people feel powerless in the face of huge global changes out of our control. At my talk I will be discussing how we can organise and take meaningful action to create liveable affordable, green and climate safe neighbourhoods. I’ll be talking about car free cities, biophilia, blue green infrastructure, community led housing, civic energy, and how we can build common wealth. This is a huge opportunity to change our places for the better. We have to think big, start small and act now.
    • Paul is the author of “Unlocking Sustainable Cities”
  • My memory and me – the importance of remembering our own life
    • Dr Jelena Havelka, School of Psychology, University of Leeds
    • Jelena investigates the impact of life changes and transitions on our sense of self and how major public events play a role in organising autobiographical memory.
  • The Analogue Moon
    • Mr Mark Wrigley, Chair of the Yorkshire Branch of the Institute of Physics
    • Mark’s interest in science and technology stemmed from watching the first moon landing live on television as a schoolboy. He filmed the screen with a Super 8 camera, in the days before domestic TV recording technology existed, and his footage of the 1969 event forms part of a display at the Science and Media Museum.
    • A session in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and in anticipation of tomorrow night’s film, Apollo 11

The September 2019 café was on Thursday 26th

The topics for this café were:

  • Molecular music: the sound of chemistry
  • Sugar, fat, alcohol… what’s worse for the liver?
    • Dr J. Bernadette Moore, School of Food Science & Nutrition, University of Leeds
    • She will be presenting her recent research on sugar versus fat in non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease pathogenesis
  • Caricatures and Dancing Homers: The maths of shape
    • Dr Kevin Houston, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds
    • Discussing using mathematics to animate shapes to move in time with music. You may have seen Kevin at the Bradford Science Festival on a stall representing MathsWorldUK (dedicated to establishing the first maths museum in the country)

The June 2019 Science Café was held on Thursday 13th

That night the discussions covered:

  • What can dirty teeth tell us about the past
    • Dr Anita Radini, Department of Archaeology, University of York
  • Drowning: how science can help us avoid it.
    • Dr Martin Barwood, School of Social and Health Sciences, Leeds Trinity University
  • Blockchain – What’s all the fuss about?
    • Andy Thomas, CTO, Aprexo Ltd and Codel Ltd

The first Science Café of 2019 was on March 14th

On that evening the sessions covered:

  • Phage Display: why the Nobel prize went viral
    • Dr Christina Rauber, Senior Scientist, Avacta Life Sciences
  • Jumpers for goalposts or is there more to football science?”
    • Prof. Mark Russell, School of Social and Health Sciences, Leeds Trinity University
  • Decontaminating my grandfather’s chemical legacy
    • Prof. Mark Lorch, School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Hull
    • This was a surprising, interesting and entertaining tale of a (literally) dangerous family legacy. If you’d like to read it or share it with friends, you can find it on line here

Earlier Science Cafés

For the record we have also left available information about our Science Cafés from 2017 and 2018. This can be found here.


September ’17 Café follow up: local air pollution

Professor Pilling C.B.E. (Emeritus Professor, School of Chemistry, Univ. of Leeds) provided the following links related to local air quality issues for us to share here.

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