24 Hour Inspire 2016 – detailed programme

All lectures take place in Lecture Theatre 1, Hicks Building, Hounsfield Road, University of Sheffield, S3 7RH


17.00: Introduction & Welcome – Catherine Annabel, Chair of Inspiration for Life

Professor Allan Pacey – The Voices of Young People Living with Cancer

Allan Pacey

A diagnosis of cancer is rare in young people, but when it occurs it can be challenging to their life trajectory. Organisations such as the Teenage Cancer Trust have recognised this and through their work can make a significant difference to the outcome and life trajectory of those young people who have a cancer diagnosis. In this session, Professor Allan Pacey will be joined by two cancer survivors, Lucie Carrington and Tom Grew, who will discuss their experiences of cancer and how this quite literally changed their lives and made them the outstanding young people they are today.

Allan Pacey is Professor of Andrology at the School of Medicine & Biomedical Science, Department of Human Metabolism and Head of Andrology for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. His research interests include aspects of male infertility, from laboratory projects investigating the basic biology of human sperm to large epidemiological studies. In 2016 he was awarded an MBE for services to Reproductive Medicine.  Allan is an accomplished broadcaster and regularly appears on the Today programme and Woman’s Hour. You can follow his general musings about science, sperm, male fertility and the life of an academic at  twitter @allanpacey.

Professor David Mowbray, Physics & Astronomy, introduces:
17.30: Professor Shearer West – Selfiehood


Shearer West examines the ways in which our current obsession with selfies both does and does not relate to the history of self-portraits in art.  Artists have been producing self-portraits for centuries, but arguably we are living in an age when self-obsession, narcissism, solipsism and body dysmorphism gives a different kind of meaning and quality to these images, while the ubiquity and user-friendly potential of smartphones and selfiesticks enables everyone to capture their own image.  Before the 21st century, most ‘selfies’ were produced by artists.  This talk will range widely over some of those self-portraits by artists such as Jan Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Käthe Kollwitz, Robert Mapplethorpe and others to consider the relationships between the artistic past and the social media present.

Shearer West is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield.  She undertakes a wide range of roles, including oversight of strategic planning and international engagement.  Previous posts include Head of Humanities at Oxford, Professor of Art History and Head of Historical Studies at the Birmingham and Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).  She has published nine authored and edited books on 18th, 19th and 20th century European art, and many peer-reviewed essays and articles, including prize-winning publications. Her specialist area is the history of portraiture. She has held two visiting Fellowships at Yale University, and a number of international roles.


18.00: Professor Claire McGourlay – Unmaking a Murderer

Claire McG

Interested in Miscarriages of Justice? What would Sheffield’s Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre do if they were to agree to review the cases of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, the subjects of Netflix’s ten episode documentary, Making a Murderer? Find out by coming along to Claire McGourlay’s talk at the 24 Hour Inspire!

Professor Claire McGourlay joined the School of Law in 2002 after completing her PhD at Sheffield. She was the first person in the Faculty of Social Sciences to be promoted to Professor of Student Education in 2013. She helps run the School of Law widening participation and is also the senior admissions tutor. She manages the student-led Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre and co-manages the FreeLaw Legal Clinic. In September 2014 Claire became Faculty Director of Teaching Enhancement.


18.30: Dr Jenny Freeman – How (not) to present data and results


Dr Jenny Freeman is Associate Professor of Medical Statistics at the University of Leeds. Before this she worked at Sheffield for nearly 20 years and prior to that, at the London School of Hygiene. She has been an academic statistician for almost all of her career, with the exception of time out to study for a degree in Embroidery. She has received several awards for her teaching, including two Senate Awards from Sheffield and the Keith Boddy Prize from the Institute of Physics & Engineering in Medicine for the best educational article in their journal, SCOPE. Jenny has been involved with the Royal Statistical Society for many years and is currently vice president for external affairs.

twitter jv_freeman

19.00: Dr Marek Szablewski – Broadcasting to the enemy: ‘Super’s’  tale of survival and resistance from the Warsaw Uprising of  1944


Dr Marek Szablewski, a senior lecturer in Physics at Durham University researching in materials physics, born and brought up in Sheffield, was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 2010-11. The aim of his Fellowship was to research his hidden Polish family history and the journey that brought his parents to Yorkshire after World War Two. Marek travelled to Warsaw to work on this project, digging up information from archives and museums, talking to relatives and visiting sites of special interest in order to fill in the gaps in his late father’s stories and documents. After the war his father ended up in Britain, married and joined the toolmakers W Tyzack, Sons & Turner where he rose to become technical director. He died in 2008.

Another resistance fighter from the Warsaw Uprising who settled in Sheffield was his friend Janusz Kulesza – Johnny Kenning – whose code name was ‘Super’. During the uprising he was part of a special detachment which transported loud speakers around the besieged city, broadcasting in German to encourage the enemy to surrender. His remarkable story of survival is told from extracts of his beautifully illustrated diary, and genuine rare film footage from 1944.

Dr Aneurin Kennerley, Department of Psychology, introduces:
19.30: Philippa Fibert – Making Life easier for kids with ADHD – the STAR project

Philippa Fibert

Life for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their families can be really challenging. Researchers at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) are testing some adjunctive treatments (treatment by a nutritional therapist, and treatment by a homeopath) using a novel pragmatic trial design suitable for testing complex interventions and providing useful information for stakeholders. The study measures real world outcomes, and tests treatments as experienced in clinical practice. Philippa describes ADHD and the difficulties associated with it, and the effectiveness of current management. She gives an overview of the treatments being trialled and their evidence base, explores the trial design and its rationale and presents some preliminary feasibility findings. The study is still looking to recruit more families, and recruitment suggestions are welcomed. Families can get involved by going to www.starsheffield.com.


After studying English and Education at Cambridge, Philippa worked with children with special needs as a teacher and parent educator. She undertook a BSc in Homeopathy at Thames Valley University, where she conducted a literature review of the trials of homeopathy for ADHD, then a research MSc at Goldsmiths. Philippa’s PhD explores the feasibility of the cmRCT trial design to provide information for decision-makers (e.g. patients, parents, teachers, doctors) about the clinical and cost effectiveness of complex interventions for children with behavioural disorders.

twitter @PhilippaFibert

20.00: Sanna Raninen – Harmonious Marriage: music-making in fifteenth-century wedding chests


In Renaissance Italy, a marriage within the social elite included the exchange of objects that had both high symbolic and monetary value. In particular the cassoni – a large chest that would contain the bride’s dowry items or personal belongings, which would be carried in procession to the bride’s new home and placed in the bedchamber. The chests were richly decorated, and they gave the commissioner of the artwork an opportunity to display their taste and high status to the spectators of the bridal procession. The Classical myths or allegories chosen for the images would also instruct and remind the married couple of virtuous life. Then, as now, music and dance played an important role in weddings.  Sanna focuses on the role of music and the musicians depicted on the wedding chests and how they relate to the narratives displayed in the artwork.

Sanna is a researcher of early music, with a special interest in object history and visual culture in the Renaissance. She is a Research Associate for the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Music and Art in Renaissance Italy’.  Sanna completed a BMus and MMus at the University of Glasgow and is completing a PhD at the University of Manchester focusing on the physical properties of printed books of polyphony, and their close relations between music manuscripts by a systematic comparison of the elements of the page (music, text and images).

20.30: Professor Dominique Heymann and Dr Hannah Brown – Bad to the bone:  osteosarcoma and how we can help to fight it

Professor Dominique Heymann and Dr Hannah Brown will give a short description of a rare bone cancer affecting children and young adults and will explain as simply as possible what osteosarcomas are. They will give a short overview of:

  •  their origin,
  •  their epidemiology,
  •  their diagnostic
  •  the current therapeutic approaches
  •  the future, and more precisely future therapeutic approaches and research lines for their team in the Medical School

Dominique studied cell biology, biochemistry and immunology at the University of Nantes and defended his PhD in 1995. He successively obtained a technician and an engineer position at the University Hospital of Nantes before being appointed Associate-Professor in 2001 at the Department of Histology and Embryology. In 2009, he was awarded a personal Chair. At the Nantes Hospital, he was quality control manager of the Tissue bank and Gene and Cellular Therapy Unit and in 2014 became Head of the Tissue Bank. At the Faculty of Medicine of Nantes, he led a laboratory research group studying the pathogenesis of primary bone tumours. Dominique is now Professor of Bone Oncology based at the University of Sheffield Medical School.

After obtaining a Biology Diploma in the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg Hannah completed her PhD at Sheffield. She developed strong interests in the field of bone oncology particularly in the initiating phases of tumour development and the interactions with the bone microenvironment.  She continued working on defining the metastatic niche in bone as a CRUK funded postdoctoral researcher before working as a senior scientist at AstraZeneca. She is currently working with Dominique on the early events of osteosarcoma.

twitter @shefsarcoma

21.00: Dr Mike Weir – Giant microscopes: the big science of very small stuff

Somewhere in a field in Oxfordshire are two very large – in fact, giant – microscopes, that are used to peer deep down into materials, molecules, and even living things, and tell us about how they are put together. In this talk, we’ll find out about these fascinating facilities. We’ll use them to iron out the wrinkles in a wonder material, watch molecules stand on end and explore some very, very small spaghetti.


Mike Weir is a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Sheffield. He is also the Treasurer for Inspiration for Life.

twitter @michaelpweir

twitter @scienceontoast

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Cultural Engagement, introduces:
21.30: Andy Tattersall – How to be a Digital Academic

Andy T

What does it mean to be a digital academic? And how does one become one? In a digital economy how do students and academics communicate their research, especially when there are other demands on their time to meet deadlines, publish research and win grants. Andy Tattersall will talk about the merits of getting your work on to the web and how by communicating your research you can reach new global audiences.

Andy joined ScHARR in 2001 after working as a journalist, with a remit to provide support and guidance to staff and students in their use of technology and information resources. His role is to scan the horizon for opportunities relating to research, teaching and collaboration and maintain networks that support this.

twitter @Andy_Tattersall


22.00: Professor Alastair Goldman – Sex: Can it help us Fight Cancer?

alastair goldman

To have sex we need sperm and eggs. The cells that make sperm and eggs use some proteins that are not used much in other parts of the body. But some of these proteins keep showing up in cancer cells from different organs. What they are doing there is a mystery! Can they be used to signal the presence of a cancer, or might they even represent new drug targets for cancer therapy?

Alastair Goldman is Head of Department in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. He has been researching for about 20 years, in both the UK and USA, how sex cells are made. In recent years he has been wondering about the links between male gametes and cancer. Most of his work has been done using yeast cells as a model for what happens in mammalian cells, and his talk will help explain how model systems like yeast can tell us about ourselves.

22.30: Professor Matthew Gilbert – How Far is a Bridge too Far?


Why do long span bridges take the forms that they do?  What are the
maximum distances these forms can span?  Can alternative forms allow
us to span further?  Matthew Gilbert is a Professor in the Department of Civil and
Structural Engineering.  On 17 July 1981 he went on a school trip to
the official opening of the Humber Bridge, which at the time spanned
further than any other bridge in the world; some 35 years later he is
starting to realise that this event probably made a lasting

twitter @mathgilbert


 23.00 – Dr Andrew Heath – Using History to Make Sense of the American Presidential Race


Commentators have often called 2016’s race for the US presidency ‘unprecedented’. But does the election really make such a break with the past? This lecture will try to put the present battle for power in its proper context by considering the longer history of American electioneering. We’ll discover the tricks it took to win the White House in the age of Abraham Lincoln and beyond.

Andrew Heath is a lecturer in American History at Sheffield, with interests in the Civil War-era and post-industrial cities. He occasionally ventures on to Twitter as @andrewdheath

Dr Chris Sexton, Director of Corporate Information & Computing Services, introduces:
23.30: Chella Quint – It’s Not You. I Just Need Space (interplanetary letters of love and rejection)


It’s not often you can say a comedy show has been peer reviewed by astronomers and is supported by the Institute of Physics, but then, this is not your average comedy show. Chella Quint, menstruation education researcher and founder of #periodpositive, moonlights as an amateur astronomer and has a deep love of physics. She hosted a comedy show live from CERN in 2014, and comperes Comedy in Space: a touring show featuring funny physics-loving women. She’ll perform extracts from her solo show from the Off the Shelf Festival, ‘It’s Not You. I Just Need Space’, featuring current events communicated through letters, memos and postcards sent and received, using humour, pathos and more than liberal sprinkling of puns… all performed in her space onesie, of course.  www.chellaquint.com #ijustneedspace

twitter @chellaquint


FRIDAY 13 MAY 2016
00.00: Dr Aneurin Kennerley – Wookiees can be Jedi Masters too


“These aren’t the physicists you’re looking for”. Why was it never a Wookie implanting thoughts in the head of a weak minded Stormtrooper? Can only the ‘chosen’ ones read and manipulate minds? As the graveyard shift begins Aneurin will entertain you with Jedi mind trickery and bore you with the occasional bit of science; as ye proves that with modern day functional MRI technology pretty much anyone, including Wookiees (and yes, he will be dressed as one), can be Jedi Masters too. No Toydarians allowed.

Aneurin Kennerley is an experimental physicist who came to Sheffield in 2002. He completed his PhD in neuroimaging techniques – specifically functional magnetic resonance imaging (Fmri) and optical imaging spectroscopy (OIS) – and became an MR physicist for the Department of Psychology. His research concerns the mathematical/biophysical modelling of neuronal activity to the Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) Fmri signal for investigation of brain function. Aneurin is an amateur mentalist and is currently combining this hobby with thought identification using MRI: Is it really possible to read minds? Follow Aneurin on Twitter: @MagneticDr_K


00.30: Dr Matt Mears – Science Fiction? Double Feature?

Matt Mears

Matt Mears is a lecturer in Physics with a penchant for giving odd talks. Previous talks included ‘How To Make The Perfect Cuppa’ and ‘Physics, Feminism and Pole Dancing’, but this year he will be critiquing the work of Dr Frank’n’furter.

If he meets his target for donations to Inspiration for Life, he will be delivering the talk dressed in his full splendour. This is not a sight for the faint-hearted, but will hopefully raise some tongue-in-cheek money for a great charity.


twitter @matt_mears

Dr Matt Mears, Department of Physics & Astronomy, introduces:
01.00: Dr Nate Adams – My favourite fireballs, and how to make them at home


Some colleagues have expressed the opinion that Nate Adams perpetuates a stereotype of the ‘mad scientist’. He says: “I just happen to have a healthy fascination with fire – why else would you get multiple degrees in chemistry?  Scholarship and research was a surprising by-product… Over the last few years I’ve had the chance to make a large number of fireballs, clouds, explosions, foams, detonations, devices and so on for a number of very important people and organisations, (mainly my friends’ children – they seem to get the same enjoyment out of fire that I do).” Fireballs and Nate’s flamebow are a particular specialty.  In this late night, responsible adults only talk, he will look at the science of some of his favourite fireballs, how he makes them at home, and how you (if you don’t hold him responsible) can also set fire to your kitchen, ruin your dining table and enjoy the anger of your significant other…

Dr Nate Adams is a research scientist at the University of Sheffield.

twitter @nateadams

01.30: Dr Robyn Orfitelli – Language Myth Busting 


Humans use language every day to interact, explore, learn, and create. Understanding how language works is a crucial part of understanding ourselves, and yet misconceptions and myths abound, compounded and even created by the popular press. Do bilingual children get their languages confused? Does our language alter the way we think? Do birds have a grammar? This talk explores both sides of the some of the most common language myths and how they have come to be.

Robyn joined the School of English as a lecturer in 2014. Prior to that, she studied at Harvard University (BA in Linguistics and Biochemistry, 2006), and at UCLA (PhD in Linguistics, 2012).  Following her PhD, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa from 2013-2014.  Robyn’s research is focused on the intersection between first language acquisition and generative syntactic theory.

twitter @rorfitelli

02.00: Dr Ed Daw – The Blues of Physics


Ed Daw is a Reader in Physics who also plays the piano, and has done since he was too short to reach the pedals. He plays in a local band, the Sleepless Knights, and he runs the gravitational wave group here at Sheffield that was involved in the first direct detection of gravitational waves by LIGO last autumn. He also researches new ways to control electric motors, mobile phone communications protocols and technology, and detectors for the axion, an elusive dark matter candidate. In his spare time he loves playing with his kids, hanging out with his wife Anne, cooking, and traveling.
02.30: Professor Patrick Fairclough – Posh Birds: Colour in Nature


The striking and beautiful coloration of bird feathers is determined by materials structured on a small scale. These structured are as intricate and beautiful as the colours they produce. These structures reflect only certain colours depending on the size of the structure, in the same way that an oil film on water is coloured. The talk will be a brief meander through our existing knowledge of the structures, how they create colour and the rules that govern them.

Patrick completed a BSc in Physics at the University of Birmingham in 1990. He then started a PhD in Neutron Scattering at Birmingham but moved part way through to Salford.  He graduated from Birmingham with his PhD in 1995. A postdoc in polymer science took him to UMIST in Manchester in 1994 (after briefly working as a service engineer).  The postdoc lasted until 1997 when he was recruited to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield.  In 2013 he took up the chair in Composite Engineering in the department of Mechanical Engineering. Patrick’s research covers a wide variety of polymers, soft materials and composite systems. He is director of the Composites Systems Innovation Centre at Sheffield (CSIC).

Professor John Cockburn, Physics & Astronomy, introduces:
03.00: Dr Matthew Malek – A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Away


The death of a massive star in a supernova explosion is one of the most violent events in the universe. For a short time, the light of the supernova outshines an entire galaxy, yet that is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Although invisible to us, one hundred times more energy is carried away by nature’s most ‘ghostly’ particle: the neutrino. If we are clever enough to find them, these elusive messengers can bring us information from the heart of the dying star. Matthew will introduce the neutrino, explain how they are produced in supernovae, describe the one time that we have been able to see supernova neutrinos, and discuss what discoveries lie in store.

Matthew Malek was born and raised in New York City. After completing his PhD on the Super-Kamiokande neutrino experiment in Japan, he worked on the Argentina-based Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory and also an Italian dark matter experiment. His travels brought him to the UK in 2006 and he liked it enough to stick around, moving to Sheffield in 2015. For his work on neutrinos, Matthew is a recipient of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. When not hunting for exotic particles in remote corners of the globe, Matthew can be found ringing church bells or training for his next Olympic triathlon.

03.30: Catherine Annabel – Mad Travellers
Cath 2014Throughout myth and literature there are many wanderers who cross seas, continents and centuries. For some it’s a pastime, a means of avoiding commitments or encumbrance, for others a compulsion or a curse.  Catherine explores the origins of two particular kinds of wanderer – the flaneur and the fugueur – and shows how they have evolved over the last century and how they connect with today’s refugees.  We’ll look at Edgar Allen Poe’s story, ‘The Man of the Crowd’, Michel Butor’s diary novel L’Emploi du temps which records the compulsive wanderings of a young Frenchman through the industrial English city of ‘Bleston’, and W G Sebald’s Austerlitz, whose protagonist wanders Europe in search of the parents who sent him to safety on the Kindertransport.Catherine is a part-time PhD student at the University of Sheffield, in the Department of French.  She recently retired from her post in the University, where she worked for a number of years in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, along with various secondments to Research & Innovation Services and to HEFCE, and more recently was KTA Manager for the Faculty of Science.  She is the Chair of Inspiration for Life.

twitter @cathannabel


04.00: Dr Kate Shaw – Working Around the Clock, Looking Back in Time: Exploration and Discovery with ATLAS at the Large Hadron Collider

kate shaw.jpg

The Large Hadron Collider works around the clock 24/7, colliding particles millions of times every second inside the four main experiments at CERN. Join us at 4am GMT to see LIVE collisions inside of the ATLAS experiment, to find out how these collisions are used to explore the nature of universe and understand what happened milliseconds after the Big Bang, and what scientists are looking to discover next.

Kate is a researcher in the High Energy Physics division of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, working on the ATLAS experiment. Kate’s present research focuses on luminosity calibration as well as Higgs boson and top quark physics. Kate is also the Outreach Co-Coordinator for ATLAS and Associate project officer of the ICTP Physics Without Frontiers Program working to support physicists and students in developing countries.


04.30: Dr Jonathan Aitken – Taking Robotics into Fields

Jonathan Aitken

Jonathan Aitken explores field robotics, what we’re doing at Sheffield and where we are in the world with it. Surely we’re already there, and the technology exists to do everything right now? He outlines our current research and use of facilities, and shows why doing any robotics out of an laboratory environment is difficult, and then why doing things in the real world becomes even harder with wind, rain and unfriendly terrain!

Jonathan is a Research Fellow focusing on autonomous reconfiguration of robotic systems, especially on quadcopter platforms. He also has interests in computer vision, spatial awareness of robotic systems and operation of multi-robot teams in the field. Jonathan holds a Master’s (2005) and PhD (2009) in Electronic Engineering, both from the University of York. He previously worked in the Computer Science Department at York, where he was a member of the High Integrity Systems Engineering Group, working on safety in Systems-of-Systems, especially dynamic risk assessment, and developed interests in evolving justifiably safe systems.


Professor John Flint, Head of Urban Studies & Planning, introduces:
05.00: Dr Ashley Cadby – Measuring the Effects of Cuddling in Guillemots


Ashley Cadby’s talk is about the journey of self-discovery he undertook when asked to measure a bird’s heart rate.  Ashley  is a Lecturer in Soft Matter Physics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. He is currently working hard on his tan in San Diego. Ashley is interested in high-resolution imaging and nanoscience and is a member of the IoP Nanoscience group as well as the PARC consortium.

05.30: Dr Caroline Ardrey – Poets and Pop Idols: literary lyrics and music-making in modern French culture


From Charles Trenet, Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel —among the founding fathers of the chanson française tradition — to contemporary singers like Carla Bruni Sarkozy and Camélia-Jordana, taking the words of great poets as song lyrics is commonplace in French popular music. Similarly, however, the lyrics of chanson française are often considered to be poetic in their own right, in contrast to the tendency in British and American cultures to consider literature and classical music as ‘highbrow’ and popular music as ‘lowbrow’. Caroline looks at the close relationship between poetry and song in French, considering which poets are most frequently set to music by modern musicians, and exploring what it is about their words, and their reputations, that make these literary figures so popular with contemporary singers and songwriters.

Caroline joined the University of Sheffield in September 2015 as Research Associate on The Baudelaire Song Project. Her current work involves building a database of song settings of Baudelaire’s 200+ poems, as well as developing digital word-and-music analysis techniques to examine how composers and singers have interpreted the poet’s oeuvre through song. Caroline completed a DPhil at St Anne’s College, Oxford, which examined La Dernière Mode, an unusual fashion magazine, published in 1874 and written almost entirely by the poet Stéphane Mallarmé. She has a particular interest in 19th-century French poetry and its interaction with other art forms, in particular, with journalistic culture, fashion and, of course, music, and she enjoys developing her eclectic musical tastes, by seeking out unusual song settings of French poems!

twitter @carolineardrey


06.00: Dr Chris Nelson – The World’s Local Star

Chris Nelson

The Sun is the main source of energy to our planet, providing the light and heat required to make the Earth habitable. In this talk, Chris Nelson will examine a range of observed data to explore the key physical processes occurring in the solar atmosphere, the apparent halo surrounding the moon during a total eclipse, which somehow combine to form dangerous coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These CMEs travel at speeds of around 1000 km per second into the solar system, wreaking havoc on any planetary body which happens to get in the way.

Chris joined the University of Sheffield in 2007 as an undergraduate in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, before continuing to study for a PhD in Applied Mathematics which he completed in 2015 (as a joint student between the UoS and Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland). He now works as a post-doctoral researcher at both the UoS and Queen’s University, Belfast, trying to understand the importance of small-scale events in the global processes of our closest star, the Sun.

twitter @CJNelSun

06.30: Professor Gwilym Pryce – The False Economy of Welfare Cuts

gwilym price

A tougher benefits system. That’s what’s needed to reduce welfare dependency and encourage lazy claimants to find a job. At least, that’s the argument used to justify welfare cuts. And it’s an argument that many appear to be persuaded by. Gwilym challenges the foundations on which the argument is based and in so doing debunks a myth that has become synonymous with austerity Britain.

Gwilym is Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics and Director of the Sheffield Methods Institute. He was born in 1970 in Cardiff, the son of a steelworker and former miner. He graduated from Leeds Business School with a degree in Economics & Public Policy, and then completed an MSc in Economics at the Warwick.  After a short stint at Aberdeen University researching capital charges in the NHS, he was awarded a Research Fellowship in the Centre for Housing Research and Urban Studies, University of Glasgow in 1995. He was appointed as Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics in 2006.

twitter @GwilymPryce1

 Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, introduces:
07.00: Dr Casey Strine – Can the Bible Help us Solve the Migration Crisis?


Migration is ever-present in the media, political discourse, and even casual conversations. This situation may strike us as new, a departure from the past, perhaps particularly acute right now as the EU referendum approaches. This is far from the truth. Migration, with its attendant questions of migrants’ social status, legal rights, and the responsibility of host societies to them, has been a prominent topic for millennia. Indeed, it is one of the main themes of the best-selling book in all of history: the Bible. To most people in the UK today, the Bible is a text of power and prestige, of oppression and even bigotry, of the establishment. Fair enough. But, nothing could be further from the ancient setting in which these texts emerged. The Bible is an anthology of texts written by involuntary migrants for other involuntary migrants, often about involuntary migration. Recovering this aspect of its stories may not only transform the way that people think about migration and migrants, but it highlights one way that people forced to seek sanctuary in the UK might teach those already settled here something crucial about a book that remains massively influential in the United Kingdom, and beyond.

Casey’s initial training is in Industrial Engineering (BIE Georgia Tech, 1998. He began graduate studies after just over five years in management consulting and IT project management, completing a Masters of Divinity, specialising in biblical studies and languages, and then a DPhil in Theology at the University of Oxford. His doctorate, completed in 2011, has been published under the title Sworn Enemies: The Divine Oath, the Book of Ezekiel, and the Polemics of Exile. Casey served as College Lecturer in Old Testament for Oriel College, Oxford and then as research fellow in the Arts & Humanities Research Institute at King’s College London. He is now Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer in Hebrew Bible at the University of Sheffield.

twitter @caseystrine

07.30: Sarah Browne – Unsolved Problems in Mathematics 

Sarah B

Sarah Browne says that the question she is often asked is ‘How can you do research in mathematics?’ and sometimes ‘Why?’   In this talk she will speak about two unsolved problems in mathematics. These problems sound very simple but we still do not know if they are true. Sarah hopes to give a flavour of why she does what she does, and also that there are plenty more things to do in the world of mathematics.

Sarah Browne is a PhD student in the School of Mathematics & Statistics. Her PhD brings together two areas of pure mathematics, functional analysis and topology. The functional analysis part includes the objects she works with, which are equipped with some notion of distance, and the topology part includes the study of spaces that can represent these objects. Alongside maths, she also dances salsa and other Latin dances, as well as running 10Ks and half marathons.

twitter @slbrowne1

08.00: Val Derbyshire – “You’ve Been Reading Too Many Idiotic Trashy Books!” Why Read Harlequin Mills & Boon Romances?

Val Derbyshire

Harlequin Mills & Boon romances have long been the black sheep of the literary world.   As journalist Sarah Freeman puts it: “Its books – to call them novels would be to raise them far above their station – are lightweight, the plots recycled and the endings predictable and to read them is a waste of precious life” (detailed in Laura Vivanco, For Love and Money).  And yet, from a commercial point of view, Mills & Boon remain more popular than ever.  Why, with 3.2 million devoted readers in the UK and 50 million worldwide, has such snobbery persisted?  Taking bestselling Harlequin Mills & Boon author Penny Jordan as a case study, Val seeks to dispel the myth that these novels are not worth reading and explain why there is always something new to discover in these works.

Val Derbyshire is a postgraduate research student in the Department of English Literature, studying the evocation of place and space within the works of 18th-century novelist and poet Charlotte Turner Smith. Val also has an interest in the romance genre generally, from the 18th-century up to and including contemporary fiction.   This also embraces a lifelong love affair with Harlequin Mills & Boon romances.

twitter @Valster11

08.30: Dr Scott Eldridge – Iconoclasts and Irritants: Journalism’s new troublemakers


From WikiLeaks and Julian Assange to the NSA leaks, Edward Snowden, and now the Panama Papers, leaks and ‘hacks’ by enigmatic, digitally-adept, social actors have featured prominently in recent news megastories. Alongside famous exposés, less prominent but no less provocative ‘hacktivism’ has fuelled news stories on secreted-away corporate files, failures of justice, and of course celebrity gossip and scandal. Scott Eldridge explores how new forms of gathering, investigating and sharing information online disrupt preconceptions of what it is to be a journalist. Often dismissed as something outside of journalism, he argues that these new actors present an opportunity to expand the way we look at journalism through research that breaks free of narrow definitions of journalism to incorporate new ways of telling news stories online.

Scott earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2004. He studied for an MA in Journalism & Media Studies (2009) at the universities of Hamburg, Amsterdam and Århus. In 2014 Scott completed his PhD at Sheffield. He has remained with the Department of Journalism Studies, being appointed to the post of lecturer in 2014. Before his studies Scott worked for several years as a journalist in the US at local and regional newspapers. He has worked as a freelance media researcher in South Africa and the US, and as an editor, author, and project co-ordinator for a US publishing house. Outside of journalism, he has worked as a substitute school teacher, candle maker, hotel doorman, and professional photographer.

twitter @seldridge

Professor Alistair Warren, Director of Learning & Teaching for the Faculty of Science, introduces:
09.00: Professor Simon Goodwin – Is the Earth ‘Just Right’ for Life?       


Earth is the only living planet we know of.  Is there something special about the Earth that makes it particularly suitable for (intelligent) life?  Simon will discuss how the Earth has changed and argue that we have evolved to be ‘just right for the Earth’, rather than the Earth being ‘just right for life’.

Simon is Professor of Astrophysics.  His main research interests are star formation and the dynamics of young stellar systems, but he is also interested in the science of aliens – do they exist, what are they like, and how can we find them?

09.30: Professor Richard Jones – Does science really make the economy grow?


Why should the government support science?  Do we have to demonstrate its economic benefits, as the “impact agenda” seems to demand, or is it enough to celebrate science for science’s sake?  And does academic science make any difference anyway, compared to the practical efforts of engineers and technologists?  Richard Jones will be asking what economists really know about the origins of economic growth, and looking at some historical and current examples – from the diesel engine to the iPhone – of the ways science and technology have come together to produce world-changing inventions.

Richard is an experimental soft matter physicist. His book Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life explains what nanotechnologists need to learn from nature, and argues that nanotechnology should be more like biology than engineering. He is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, a Council Member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.  Richard is also a Trustee of Inspiration for Life.

twitter @RichardALJones

10.00: Dr Chris Jones – Nothing to Wear?


Do you ever consider the true cost of your clothing? Does the ‘new you’ need new clothes? Do you really have nothing to wear? This presentation will outline the rationale behind Project TRANSFER (http://project-transfer.com) an ESRC-funded collaboration between researchers at the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion (http://sustainable-fashion.com/) designed to understand more about the motivations behind the over-consumption of clothing. The presentation includes two videos; one showcasing an interactive public exhibition held at Trinity Leeds shopping centre (February, 2015), the other, a short animation, designed to question our desire to acquire.

@ProjectTRANSFER (#NothingToWear)

Chris is an environmental psychologist with interests in public attitudes and responses to environmental change. His research focuses on two key themes:

  • Public Acceptance of Energy Technologies: Assessing attitudes and behaviour towards established and emerging supply and demand side technology options (e.g. nuclear power, wind power, carbon dioxide storage and utilisation, smart metering), including implications for planning policy, public engagement, etc.
  • Sustainability and Environmental Behaviour: Assessing the factors that facilitate and inhibit action on environmental issues and the promotion of more sustainable behaviour (e.g. compensatory beliefs and moral licensing), including studying the interface between business/industry and the public.
10.30: Dr Glyn Williams – Building Inclusive Cities? India’s urban development challenge


Glyn Williams examines India’s dramatic transition from a large and primarily rural country to one of rapid urban growth, and the effects of this on social and political exclusion. India’s national policy documents have identified a range of ongoing urban problems (chronic under-investment in infrastructure, growing urban poverty, and the need for greater autonomy for municipal governments) which must be addressed if India’s cities are to realise their potential as the drivers of national economic growth. But what happens when such a policy agenda engages with poor and marginalised groups within India’s slums? Through exploration of the conflicting interests and ideas of those engaged with the urban reform process, Glyn highlights the challenges ahead, and the potential alliances that could be forged to ensure that cities can balance social inclusion with rapid economic growth.

Dr Glyn Williams joined the University of Sheffield in 2006, after having been a Lecturer in Geography at Keele and Kings College London. His research interests are in international development, specifically in the interaction between development programmes, governance practices, and citizenship in the Global South. He has conducted research in India since his PhD (Cambridge, 1996), working in West Bengal, Bihar and Kerala. He is co-author/co-editor of South Asia in a Globalising World (Prentice Hall, 2002) Seeing the State: Governance and Governmentality in Rural India (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Geographies of Developing Areas (Routledge, 2014). He is currently part of an international team looking at the role of women in local governance in Kerala and South Africa, and is an active member of Sheffield Institute for International Development.

11.00: Professor David Mowbray and Dr Marieke Navin – Loud Sound!

After sight sound is probably our most important sense. This session, intended for junior school children but informative and fun for all, looks at the physics of sound. What is sound and how is it made? How do we describe a sound? Why can no one hear you scream in space? What are the applications of sound? Are there sounds that we can’t hear? This loud activity contains many practical demonstrations that require audience participation. Not for the faint of heart!’

David Mowbray is Professor of Solid State Physics. His hobbies include walking, bird watching, photography and reading. He has been actively involved in outreach for many years with particular emphasis in working with primary schools. David is also a Trustee of Inspiration for Life.

After completing a PhD in particle physics from the University of Sheffield, Dr Marieke Navin headed to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester as a science communicator and Director of the Manchester Science Festival.

twitter lisamarieke

Dr Willy Kitchen, Head of Department for Lifelong Learning, introduces:
12.00: Dr Christine Sprigg – Workplace Bullies, Cyberbullies and Scary Monsters


Christine is an Occupational Psychologist (HCPC-Registered) and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) who has over 25 years’ experience in the field of Occupational Psychology. Christine has been Lecturer in Occupational Psychology at the University of Sheffield since April 2002. Before this she held academic roles in other universities, and worked for 4 years as a Senior Psychologist for HSE in Sheffield.

Christine’s research interests are in aggression at work, and recently she has been working with colleagues here (and at Loughborough University) on developing a workplace cyberbullying measure. She is in a team funded by ESRC to examine the possibilities of using ‘Big Data’ to understand more about employee well-being via a series of seminars:

ESRC DEW Seminar Series:  http://www.dew.group.shef.ac.uk/

Christine’s research has been press-released several times (e.g. by the BPS, ESRC, HSE, BMJ, and the University of Sheffield) and she has been twice short-listed for the Royal Society MP Pairing Scheme, but sadly never paired with an MP (!).

twitter @DrSpriggy

12.30: Dr Nishat Awan – Stories of Migration from the Edge of Europe


The talk will focus on a series of deceptively simple questions: Where are the edges of Europe, how are they defined and who can be included within them? Through relating stories from migrants in Istanbul, Bucharest and Odessa, Nishat will show how they are challenging our conceptions of belonging, identity and inclusion and how such challenges are questioning the very idea of Europe.

Nishat Awan was appointed Lecturer at Sheffield in 2012 and previously worked as a research associate at Sheffield and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Technical University Berlin. Before that she taught at Goldsmiths, University of London and University of East London and has also worked in practice in London for several years. She is interested in questions of diversity, migration and geo-politics and how these can be addressed through spatial practice. Some of these issues are addressed in her work with OPENkhana, a collaborative that works between architectural, computational and artistic practice.

twitter @nish_aat

Dr Anne Horn, Director of Library Services & University Librarian, introduces:
13.00: Professor Wyn Morgan – Why do Food Prices Matter?


Food is the one good we all consume and yet often we take its price for granted. In recent times we have seen spikes in food prices which have caused us to question why this has happened and also to see the significant impact food prices have on all people but especially those that are less well off. Professor Wyn Morgan aims to look at some of the factors driving food prices and why they matter so much.

Wyn took up the post of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching in September 2015 having previously been Assistant PVC for Teaching and Learning at the University of Nottingham. He is an economist and his career encompasses both teaching and research interests but with a more recent focus on university-wide roles that promote innovation and development in teaching and learning. Particular emphasis here has been on the use of technologies to enhance student learning and to create flexibility in teaching and studying.

twitter @WynMorgan8

13.30: Ryan Bramley – Born(e) of Coal: Filmmaking and the Engaged Curriculum


Ryan Bramley is a current postgraduate student in the School of English, at the University of Sheffield. In 2014, he was awarded funding by the University’s Engaged Curriculum initiative to make a creative practice-as-research film about the enduring social legacies of the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike in de-industrialised South Yorkshire.  Entitled Born of Coal, the film explores themes of personal narrative; social identity; a sense of place and community; localised resilience and social haunting in the post-industrial, ex-mining community of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, through a creative synthesis of poetic expression, archival footage, interviews, and original film material. In light of its reception from critics and participants, this talk will further disseminate the findings of the film, through the lens of its primary research question: do the remaining inhabitants of an industrially-transformed locale feel proud of their ex-coalmining heritage or burdened by it?

twitter @RyanBramley93

Dr Willy Kitchen, Head of Department for Lifelong Learning, introduces:
14.00: Dr Cormac Behan – Prisoners’ Rights are Human Rights?


In recent years, the rights of prisoners have received much attention in the United Kingdom. Governments have tended to try to limit the rights of prisoners, while prisoners’ advocacy groups have campaigned to have them expanded. Cormac examines the minimum standards under which prisoners should be held, considers what rights individuals should lose on imprisonment and in particular, if prisoners should be allowed to vote. Finally, these questions are used to reflect on whether prison should be used as or for punishment.

Cormac Behan teaches criminology at the Centre for Criminological Research, School of Law, at the University of Sheffield. His research interests include penal history, prisoners’ rights, comparative penology and prison education. Prior to taking up this position, he taught politics and history in Irish prisons for 14 years. He is the author of Citizen Convicts: Prisoners, Politics and the Vote (Manchester University Press, 2014).

14.30: Professor Donal Bradley – Shaping Polymer Optical Properties at the Molecular Level


What’s special about molecular materials (including polymers) from the perspective of their application in optical structures?  One key feature is that the solid form of these materials is governed by relatively weak forces that are easily overcome; this allows low temperature high throughput processing using solution-based printing and coating techniques.  Another feature is that molecules can have many conformations – physical shapes – for a given chemical structure (see schematic below left of variably extended polymer chains). Most of the time, the conformation doesn’t dramatically change the optical properties since multiple conformations are present at the same time so all we see is a broadening – smearing out – of the spectral features.  But that isn’t always the
case and when we do have specific isolated conformations with significantly different optical properties we then have a novel means to shape those properties in ways that can impact on applications in displays, lighting and solar energy generation.  If we can also spatially pattern the molecular shape on nanometre length scales then we further have the means to create photonic structures without recourse to the standard (non-ideal) patterning tools. This research fittingly stems from work initially undertaken in Sheffield and to which Tim Richardson and his group contributed.

Professor Donal Bradley first met Tim in Sheffield in 1993 when he moved from Cambridge as a Reader in Physics and established the new Molecular Electronic Materials and Devices group. Promotion to Professor followed in 1995 and the group grew steadily. Tim was a close colleague and friend for seven years during which time he and Donal discussed much (LB films, sport and plenty else besides), drank some and laughed a lot. In 2000 Donal was coaxed back to his alma mater Imperial College to launch a new programme that evolved over the following decade to become the Centre for Plastic Electronics. Prior to moving to the University of Oxford in September 2015 Donal was Centre Director, Lee-Lucas Professor of Experimental Physics and Vice-Provost (Research) at Imperial. In Oxford he is currently Head of the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, Professor in the Departments of Engineering Science and Physics and a Professorial Fellow at Jesus College. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded a CBE in 2010 for services to science. Donal is, additionally, a proud alumnus of the University of Sheffield, having received an honorary DSc in summer 2014.

Professor Peter Bath, Information School, introduces:
15.00: Arthur Annabel – Fighting the Cold War with jazz


The Cold War was fought in many theatres and with many different tools. For the United States, looking to win hearts and minds in Africa and Asia, the Jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s carried huge potential for both success and embarrassment.
Arthur is studying for an MA in American History at the University of Sheffield, and has a first degree in Journalism & Politics from de Montfort University, Leicester.

twitter @ArthurJohn90

15.30: Dr Susan Cartwright -The Next Galactic Supernova


The last supernova observed in our Galaxy was in 1604.  The one before that, observed by Tycho Brahe in 1572, ranks along with Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus in kick-starting modern science (if Tycho hadn’t seen it, he might not have gone on to his career as an observational astronomer, including the observations of Mars that led to Kepler’s laws of planetary motion).  Why has it been over 400 years since we last saw a supernova in our Galaxy?  And what might we learn from the next one?

Dr Susan Cartwright is a particle physicist who arrived in Sheffield in 1989, after time spent in DESY, Hamburg and SLAC, California. Her current interest is neutrino physics, specifically the T2K (Tokai to Kamioka) neutrino oscillation experiment in Japan, which aims to improve our understanding of neutrinos.

16.00: Dr Meredith Warren – Tastes that Transform: Eating Food from Other Realms

meredith warren

There are high stakes when you choose to eat food from out of this world. Heavenly access, encounters with gods, and the transformation of all you think you know. From as far back as the Bible to as recently as The Matrix, stories of other-worldly encounters have been mediated through eating. Meredith Warren will explore what this pattern means and how to recognise it.

Meredith Warren is Lecturer of Biblical and Religious Studies in the School of English and a member of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS). Her primary research interests lie in the cultural and theological interactions among the religions of ancient Mediterranean, especially early Judaism and Christianity. In particular, Meredith is interested in how shared cultural understandings of food and eating play a role in ancient narratives, including the Pseudepigrapha, Hellenistic romance novels, and the New Testament.

twitter @DrMJCWarren


16.30: Professor Tony Ryan – A Sustainable Model for Intensive Agriculture, Or: How to offend everybody; organically farmed, genetically modified crops, fertilised by human excrement


Professor Tony Ryan is Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Science.  His research covers the synthesis, structure, processing and properties of polymers and he was in at the beginning of polymer nanotechnology. He has co-authored more than 200 papers and eight patents and written a book on polymer processing or how things are made from plastic.  Tony is a regular contributor to TV, radio and newspapers. He was born in Leeds and got his three degrees from UMIST. Married with two daughters, Tony is a creative cook, a keen cyclist and an occasional mountaineer with a weakness for gadgets.  He was made an OBE in 2006 for ‘Services to Science’.  Tony is also a Trustee for Inspiration for Life.

twitter @pvcryan


17.00:  Closing words – Catherine Annabel, Chair of Inspiration for Life


4 thoughts on “24 Hour Inspire 2016 – detailed programme

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