Science Week 2022
FST Science Week 2022 will take place from Monday 28th March - Friday 1st April. The schedule will provide a hybrid of in-person and online talks from each of our Departments.
We are delighted to introduce our second Science Week where we have a range of fascinating talks around the theme of impactful research.
The talks, hosted by academics from our departments, showcase the interesting research taking place in the Faculty, from the impacts upon climate change with our use of information technology, to hearing challenges and the effects on our brain’s function.
We kick off the week with our fantastic keynote speaker, Dr Ian Levy OBE, Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre.
We hope you can join us throughout our fantastic programme.
Dr Ian Levy draws on his work as Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre in his talk about 'Protecting our Country for Fun and Profit'. In his role, Ian leads on developing defences to manage cyber threats and fostering technical innovation to find undiscovered solutions to protect the UK from large scale cyber-attacks, and day-to-day malicious cyber activity.
Tuesday 29th March - Harnessing our Resources
These talks will take place from 5.30pm-7.30pm online.
Join researchers from our Physics Department, our Engineering Department, the Quantum Base, and the National Nuclear Laboratory in the first of our twilight sessions this week as they explore innovative ways of efficiently, and sustainably harnessing our world’s resources.
Tuesday research talks Accordion
Professor Rob Young and Phillip Speed - Fighting counterfeiting with quantum technology
In this session Professor Rob Young and Phillip Speed will talk about how technology invented in the Quantum Technology Centre, led to the creation and growth of Quantum Base Ltd, a Lancaster University spin-out company focusing on generating anti-counterfeiting solutions using quantum technology. This innovative approach has a number of potential applications and the speakers will be sharing exciting details of their upcoming first product.
Dr Michael Thompson - Computing’s cold future
The electronics industry has pushed the humble silicon transistor almost to its limit. As demands for computing power continue to grow, the technology is failing to keep up and the energy requirements are becoming unsustainable. From quantum computing to superconducting processors, it seems increasingly likely that in order to address these challenges, the future of computing will require a host of cryogenic electronic technologies. This talk will discuss how Lancaster’s research is tackling some of the challenges in building the cryogenic electronics of tomorrow.
Professor Colin Boxall and Robin Taylor - Back-to-Front: The nuclear fuel cycle is closed
With the Government having committed to a legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, there is a pressing need for the rapid implementation of all low carbon energy source. This has led to a renewed interest in nuclear energy for the provision of non-intermittent baseload power. This is at the same time as an expansion in nuclear power globally, especially in China, India and South Korea. The main fuel for nuclear reactors is uranium of which the Earth has a total endowment of just ~15 million tonnes in economically recoverable ore deposits. However, modern reactor designs use just 5% of the uranium in their fuel, the remaining 95% being essentially treated as a waste - leading to projections that the Earths uranium will be exhausted in as little as 80 years. If the uranium that is currently treated as waste were to be recycled then, in conjunction with the implementation of new, recently proposed reactor designs, the lifetime of the Earth's uranium supply could be extended to 5000 years or even longer. Working in partnership with the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and funded by Her Majesty's Government, scientists and engineers at Lancaster have been researching new, more efficient and economic fuel recycle routes. The presentations in this session will describe the rapid progress that has been made in this area through the university-industry partnership between Lancaster and NNL.
Dr Riccardo Degl'Innocenti - Far-infrared science and technology; a frontier for imaging, spectroscopy and wireless communication
Despite the unique features offered by the far-infrared or Terahertz range, this part of the electromagnetic spectrum which lies between the photonics and the electronics realms, has not been fully exploited. Imaging in this frequency range allows to see through carboard and plastic materials. At the same time, narcotics, explosives and noxious gases have typical fingerprints at these frequencies, thus lending itself naturally to security, surveillance and monitoring applications. Further to this, THz radiation is non-ionizing and at the same time extremely sensitive to the materials’ water content. These characteristics have been used, amongst others, for diagnostics and skin cancer imaging. Finally, next generation wireless communications beyond 5G will inevitably operate in the THz range, where large bandwidths and high data rate transfers are available. Research in this spectral region aims to address all these challenges and therefore has a profound impact on policy makers, strategic industrial sectors as well as on the layman quality of life.
In a series of face-to-face talks and activities, these sessions will explore innovative ways to help counteract the impact we have on our planet.
Wednesday research talks Accordion
Dr Kelly Widdicks - The climate impacts of ICT
ICT is estimated to form 1.8-2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet this share is likely underestimated and there are large variations in estimates for ICT’s future impact. In this talk, Dr Kelly Widdicks will discuss the research she conducted with colleagues at Lancaster University and Small World Consulting (published in Patterns), exploring why emission estimates for ICT vary, the threats that will potentially increase ICT’s environmental impacts, and the efforts required to align the ICT sector with global carbon targets.
Dr Peter Garraghan - The befuddlement in creating highly secure yet sustainable AI infrastructure
There's lots of exciting ideas as to how AI infrastructure deployed at a national scale may unlock a path towards a safer and green society. However did you know that computers currently consume approximately 10% of global electricity, and this figure may be 20-30% in a matter of decades? Is it even possible to create an advanced and highly secure AI infrastructure whilst reducing global electricity use? What are the complications in operating secure AI infrastructure whilst simultaneously achieving energy security independence? In this talk I will discuss the challenges and my vision towards creating the first generation of sustainable and secure AI infrastructure at scale. Topics include (1) what are the complications of operating a highly secure AI infrastructure and energy security independence, (2) how improving energy-efficiency counter-intuitively increases overall consumption, (3) why we should take inspiration from the natural world to create AI infrastructure.
Professor Mariana Rufino - Restoring African degraded grassland by exploiting biodiversity
Across sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 660 million hectares of land is degraded, with extensive areas deforested for farming. After conversion to agriculture, a combination of low nutrient inputs, high grazing pressures, and social and climatic changes lead to degradation, causing instability of agricultural production. Here we present research conducted in the highlands of Kenya investigating the potential for restoration of degraded soils. Our work shows large variability in grassland biodiversity, which show promise to identify combination of plant species that could be actively sown to restore soils. Changes in measures of carbon and nitrogen cycling, and a shift in species dominance indicate a deterioration of soil functioning in degraded soil, a sign of reduced resilience. Our social science research identified opposing perspectives between farmers and scientists of what defines a degraded soil, and therefore contrasting desirable targets for restoration.
- Dr Phillip Donkersley - BEEBOX: Exploring the secret hidden lives of bumblebees
Thursday 31st March - Improving our Health
These talks will take place from 3pm-5pm online.
Colleagues in the Chemistry Department, the Mathematics and Statistics Department, and the Psychology Department will discuss how their research has contributed to advances in health and healthcare.
Thursday research talks Accordion
Dr Kate Slade - Hearing loss and the brain: It’s not all in the ears
Think about chatting to a friend in a busy café full of people, and how remarkably you are able tune into a single conversation despite the noise. This is an example of the brain’s extraordinary problem-solving abilities. When we are faced with hearing challenges, our brain adapts to help us hear and understand sounds. This talk will discuss how hearing loss affects the ears and brain, and what this means for our brain’s wider functions, like memory and thinking.
Professor Sandra Sunram-Lea - Food for thought: carbohydrates, sugars and cognitive function
Carbohydrate rich food and sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a major component of our daily energy intake. The impact of dietary sugars has become a public health issue as excessive sugar consumption can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In this talk I will present research conducted in collaboration with the food and drink industry in an effort to reduce sugar content in products whilst maintaining consumer appeal.
Professor Andrew Titman - Adaptive clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments
Professor Andrew Titman will be sharing innovative research undertaken in Mathematics and Statistics for use in clinical trials, and how this is now being used by HM Government to quickly test the efficacy of new drugs being developed to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. Adaptive platform clinical trials seek to rapidly assess multiple treatments for safety or efficacy. The focus of the talk will be on the design of the Phase I/IIa AGILE platform trial. Two novel COVID-19 treatments, molunpiravir and sotrovimab, were tested for safety and potential for efficacy in the AGILE trial, contributing to their ultimate approval for use by the MHRA.
Dr Erick Chacon Montalvan - A model-based approach for integrating spatial data with different supports
This talk will discuss a new approach to analysing environmental and health data. Environmental and health data analysis commonly deals with spatial data derived from multiple sources with different supports. Ignoring the support can lead to different types of biases, we propose a Bayesian model-based approach that can handle data with different supports in the response variables and predictors.
Dr Mark McLaughlin - Sustainable synthesis for future healthcare
This talk will discuss the requirement for more sustainable processes in drug discovery, and showcase the research currently being carried out in Dr McLaughlin’s lab to achieve these goals. The research has wide ranging potential to impact a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical sector, and the talk will highlight how new methods can produce important medicinally relevant molecules in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Dr Susannah Coote - Making "difficult to make" molecules using light
The use of light to promote chemistry, photochemistry, is underdeveloped, and renewed interest in this area is attributed to its complementarity with traditional approaches, as well as its promising role in sustainability. The specific molecules we produce are of great interest in the pharmaceutical industry as building blocks that could be incorporated into drugs. This talk discusses how the creation of new types of molecules could change pharmaceutical practices and lead to the discovery of new drugs.
Friday 1st April - Shaping our Future
In our final interactive event of Science Week, our postgraduates, the Physics Planetarium, and H-Unique will be showcasing their projects.
10am: PhD student posters - LUMS Hub
Visit the poster display in LUMS Hub and vote for your favourite poster.
10am-2pm: Physics Planetarium - Outside Lecture Theatres 1 & 2 in LUMS Hub
Visit this amazing space dome for a fascinating show and tell display. Tickets will be available for a 25 minute slot.
In search of uniqueness and harnessing anatomical hand variation. H-unique is a five year, €2.5m programme of research that will be the first multimodal automated interrogation of visible hand anatomy, through analysis and interpretation of human variation via images. It is an interdisciplinary project, supported by anatomists, anthropologists, geneticists, bioinformaticians, image analysts and computer scientists.
11am-12pm: PhD speed talks - Lecture Theatre 1 in LUMS Hub
Our PhD students have just 3 minutes to impress you with research. This fast paced session is always good fun and very informative.