13 April 2018
The second National Natural Sciences Student conference was hosted by Lancaster’s Natural Sciences programme on 27-28 March.

Thirteen universities that offer Natural Sciences degrees were represented at the conference, which was attended by 20 academic staff and 47 students, including a number of students and teachers invited from regional sixth forms and FE colleges.

Keynote speakers included Dr Caroline Eames, a senior forensic scientist at Cellmark Forensic Services, and Professor Peter Fielden, Head of Chemistry here at Lancaster.  Dr Eames provided a fascinating insight into the role of forensics in solving murder cases and highlighted several notorious local cases that she has worked on! A lively question/answer session followed and it’s likely that many of the Natural Sciences students who listened to Caroline will now be considering Forensic Science as a career option!

Twenty Natural Science students gave oral presentations about their dissertation projects in two parallel sessions, with topics as diverse as ‘Benchmarking a cloud-based quantum computer’ to ‘Studying single-cell gene expression for identifying antibiotic tolerance biomarkers’. There was also a wide array of research posters. Best oral presentation went to Peter Vincent of UCL (Modelling the Pupillary response to surprise)and best poster prize was awarded to James Ashford & Penny Oliver of Exeter University. Overall, the standard of presentations was extremely high and many of these students will be entering PhD programmes once they’ve completed their degrees.

The conference also served as the vehicle for the biannual meeting of the Natural Sciences Network (Directors of Natural Science programmes at UK HEIs). Plans are now well underway for the creation of the Society of Natural Sciences; an exciting new development which will give Natural Sciences students national recognition and will lead to accreditation of Natural Sciences degrees. Input into how the Society should function was solicited from students during the conference dinner which was a lively event held at the Lancaster Brewery.