Countdown to the 24 Hour Inspire 2018

We’re counting down to the sixth 24 Hour Inspire, and we’ll be posting every day with snippets about the talks and the speakers, to whet your appetite for the day itself.  The full programme will be on our Home page shortly, but meantime, check in here for all our updates.





Countdown Day 17

Friday 20 April, 02.00, Catherine Annabel – Beyond the Bechdel Test: Seeing ourselves on screen

In recent months the culture of Hollywood, and the treatment of women both on and off screen, have been under close scrutiny.  But there’s nothing new here, either in the accounts of harassment and abuse, or in the concerns about the relative invisibility of women – real women – on the screen.  Catherine Annabel reviews the Bechdel test, developed in the 1980s as a way of assessing how a film portrays women, and looks at more recent approaches that go beyond it.  She may also get a bit emotional about Wonder Woman and Doctor Who.

Catherine is the Chair of Inspiration for Life.  She retired in 2015 after many years in HE administration, most recently in the Faculty of Science at UoS.  She is a part-time PhD student in the French department, blogs in a personal capacity about all sorts of stuff at Passing Time, and reviews Opera North productions for The Culture Vulture.


Countdown Day 16

Friday 20 April, 01.30, Dr Aneurin KennerleyI’m now a Yorkshire Hypl

Aneurin studied experimental Physics (MPhys) at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne specialising in particle physics. In 2002, he moved to the University of Sheffield to undertake a PhD in Neuroimaging . His research involved the combination of MRI with optical imaging to investigate and model the heamodynamic response underlying the BOLD fMRI signal. He stayed in Sheffield to complete post-doctoral training before being appointed as a research fellow in charge of a multi-million-pound high field pre-clinical MRI facility.  He’s now a Lecturer in Chemistry (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) at the University of York, where his current research interest involves the application of imaging technologies to help answer burning bio-chemical questions.

Outside of his research Aneurin is an avid strategy board-gamer and painter. He set up and ran a city wide board-gaming club in Sheffield, and it’s thanks to him that we’ll be having 24 Hour Board-gaming this year, alongside the lecture programme. He is also a sci-fi nerd and occasionally moonlights as a mind reader. Ask him to read your mind!  Oh, and if you want to know what that title is all about, you’ll have to come along on the night!

aneurin boardgaming

Countdown Day 15

Friday 20 April, 01.00, Dr Jonathan Aitken – Who’s Afraid of the Robot? Moving robotics outside the lab

The increase in the use of robotics always brings new concerns around how they will be used and accepted, especially in the workplace. Jonathan introduces some of the work that his team has been doing in this area on the acceptance of robots, especially collaborative ones whose function is to work closely with people. He’ll concentrate on how they’ve actively focused on acceptance and understanding that there’s a need for people to feel happy with working with a collaborative robot.

Jonathan’s work focuses on autonomous reconfiguration of robotic systems, especially on unmanned aerial vehicles. He also has interests in programming collaborative robots, computer vision, spatial awareness of robotic systems and operation of multi-robot teams in the field, and was co-organiser of the UK Field Robotics Challenge in 2016. Additionally he holds permission to fly Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) or drones upto 20kg within the UK for commercial work. Other interests include jazz, crossfit, golf & standup.


Countdown Day 14

Friday 20 April, 00.30, Jim Weston – Helter Skelter to Helical Spirals: How The Beatles changed medical diagnosis

It was fifty years ago this year…   Jim Weston will lead you along the mystery tour that explains how this year sees the 50th anniversary of a happening that magically gifted the medical world with what is now one of its most ubiquitous diagnostic tools.

Having started his professional and scientific life making better (and less grey) toilet paper (mostly from non-Norwegian wood), Jim has meandered through a ever more vibrant career: colour-testing green apples, hunting yellow submarines, and too much of yer-blue-s’ky consultancy. He has followed the sun as far afield as Helsinki, Wisconsin, Adelaide, but never back to the USSR. He has worked on the docks at Southampton (honestly), but has only ever sailed himself to the Isle of White, never bought a ticket to The Esplanade. Then a midlife crisis including losing his sister to lymphoma lured him into the fuzzy world of medical physics for a decade, before moving to Sheffield led him to join The University.  In 2015 Jim ran the Sheffield Half Marathon followed by a 200-mile bike ride to raise £1,770 for the Weston Park Cancer Charity.



Countdown Day 13

Friday 20 April, 00.00, Jost Migenda – Particles for Peace:  Where Politics and Physics Meet

Kicking off Friday’s programme of talks, Jost Migenda brings us a midnight special on the politics of physics.  After growing up near Berlin, Jost went to Munich to study Nuclear, Particle and Astrophysics. Since the end of 2015 he is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield and uses neutrinos to figure out what happens in the centre of a supernova – at the moment of explosion. Most recently, he spent a month in Japan where the experiment he is working on will be built.   Jost has taken part in two of the University’s fundraising Big Walks.  Last year he walked 34 miles in 24 hours, raising funds for the Sheffield Scanner Appeal .

jost big walk


Countdown Day 12

Thursday 19 April, 23.30, Dr Esther Hobson – Nothing About Me, Without Me

In the final talk on Thursday, Esther Hobson explains why it’s important that clinical research has patients and their families at its heart and how scientists, doctors and other patients can benefit from hearing the stories of those living with the disease.

Esther is a National Institute for Health Research Clinical Lecturer and also a speciality registrar training in neurology. She splits her time between SITraN and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital where she cares for people with neurological diseases.  Esther is particularly interested in the care of people with long-term neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease – very much in people’s minds at present, due to the death of Professor Stephen Hawking – and multiple sclerosis. She’s worked together with people who have a real-life experience of what it is like to live with motor neurone disease to develop new ways to help them receive medical care such as internet information sites and remote monitoring of patients and carers.  She’s also involved in clinical trials, such as an exciting new, phase 1 trial of a gene targeting a mutation in SOD-1, a gene mutation which causes motor neurone disease.  In her spare time, Esther enjoys mountain biking and exploring the outdoors.



Countdown Day 11

Thursday 19 April, 23.00, Dr Cormac Behan – Criminal Justice or Social Justice: What do the public want?

Cormac teaches criminology at the Centre for Criminological Research. His research interests include penal history, prisoners’ rights, comparative penology and prison education. Cormac was born in Dublin, Ireland. 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), and has recently been invited to give oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament on prisoner enfranchisement.


Countdown Day 10

Thursday, 19 April, 22.30, Dr Nate Adams – Why I Hate Whiskey

Whiskey. It’s apparently a tasty thing. After years of attempting to enjoy it, Nate has come to the conclusion it is rank.  Join him for a practical chemical exploration of why it is terrible.

Nate is a scientist and sometimes presenter of things.  He likes to talk about science (all types of science, but his specialism is biochemistry), technology, coding, art and how they all come together into a massive amazing wonderful thing.  He has appeared on lots of CBBC shows and recently presented on the BBC bitesize website.  Nate is a regular at the 24 Hour Inspire, and this year he’s appearing twice, explaining why he hates whiskey on Thursday evening and then at 11.00 am on Friday, co-presenting the primary schools session (The Travelling Rainbow Show) with Marieke Navin.

nate live 2



Countdown Day 10

Thursday 19 April, 22.00, Dr Joanna Buckley – Anything from the Trolley?

It’s been just over 20 years since the publication of the first Harry Potter book and Dr Joanna Buckley is totally geeking out! If you went to Hogwarts, you’d probably spend plenty of time at Honeydukes; where sweets for all tastes would tempt you to part with your Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. Explore the chemistry behind some of the sweet treats found at this famous wizarding sweet shop and try some for yourself.

Born into a family of non-scientists, Jo surprised everyone at the age of seven when the gift of a chemistry set sparked her interest in science. She completed every single experiment, charring the kitchen work surface with the spirit burner and staining the dining room carpet with indicator in the process. Thankfully, her practical technique has improved a bit.  Jo first became interested in food chemistry when a batch of fudge she had prepared tasted spectacularly unpleasant and she set about investigating what went wrong by applying her background in analytical chemistry to the problem. Jo is passionate about science communication and develops her own ‘edible experiments‘ to teach children about the chemistry of food


Countdown Day 9

Thursday 19 April, 21.30, Dr Sabine Little – Memories of Reading

When we grow up, how do we remember reading as children? What makes a child a reader?  How do memories of reading at home and at school compare? How do multilingual people experience their reading in multiple languages? How do our reasons for reading change as we get older? Dr Sabine Little will take you on a whistle-stop tour of research which collected memories of reading across many different contexts, and explore what shapes our attitudes about reading from an early age.

Sabine is a lecturer in Languages Education. Her work mainly focuses on how multilingual families negotiate their various languages in terms of identity and family well-being –  she was involved in organising the first “multilingual book day” in Sheffield to help multilingual families sell or swap books in different languages, and to chat to multilingual families about her research – but she likes reading, too.   Sabine will be giving her talk via Skype, as she’ll be on a research trip to Berlin on the day of the 24 Hour Inspire.


Countdown Day 8

Thursday 19 April, 21.00, Kimberley Weir – I Shall Return: Remembering the Second World War in the Philippines

Kimberley Weir explores how, despite the Philippines gaining its independence from US rule in 1946, the US continued to shape the remembrance of historical events through the construction of Second World War memorials, which are sometimes at odds with the official ‘reconciliatory’ narrative.

Kim is a second year PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research  explores how US colonial rule in the Philippines (from 1901 to 1946) has shaped public monuments in the country and to what extent these have affected the way in which historical events have been memorialised and remembered. She spends much of her time running around after her two-year-old, but also enjoys running slightly longer distances – she ran the Dublin Marathon for Inspiration for Life!


Countdown Day 7

Thursday 19 April, 20.30, Professor Alistair Warren – Critical Periods in Brain Development

Once fully developed, the basic structure of the brain appears resistant to factors such as under-nutrition, being relatively ‘spared’ the impact seen in other organs.  However, the brain is particularly vulnerable to damage during its periods of rapid growth – so-called ‘critical periods’ of development. Damage during the critical periods can cause deficits in those feature undergoing rapid development along with distortions in their relationship with others structures.  Alistair Warren will describe some of these effects and consider how they might be ameliorated.

Alistair Warren is a Professor in Biomedical Science and Director of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Science.  He has been a member of the Council of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Associate Editor of the Journal of Anatomy and Home Office Licensed Teacher of Anatomy for many years.  Alistair has been involved in every single 24 Hour Inspire event, either as a speaker or as an MC.



Countdown Day 6

Thursday 19 April, 20.00, Dr Judy Clegg – Children’s Communication and their Life Chances

Judy is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Human Communication Sciences, and Director of Professional Education for the speech and language therapy programmes. She works as a speech and language therapist with the child and adolescent mental health services, and leads the Small Talk clinic for pre-school children with developmental speech and language disorders. This is a parent/carer support group for parents/carers of pre-school children with speech, language and communication needs. Parent/carers meet to support one another while the children can benefit from speech and language therapy offered by speech and language therapists and students who are training to be speech and language therapists.

Judy has just been awarded a Fellowship from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for her outstanding contribution to the profession – she’s one of only four professionals across the country to have received this accolade, which recognises her longstanding commitment and contribution to research and scholarship in the field. This includes her work in identifying the communication needs of vulnerable populations such as children and young people with communication impairments, including those who grow up in socio-economic deprivation, experience mental health difficulties and are involved in the criminal justice system.


Countdown Day 5

Thursday 19 April, 19.30, Professor Jennifer Saul – Dogwhistles, Figleaves and the Rise of Donald Trump

Jenny was one of the speakers at the very first 24 Hour Inspire, back in 2013, and we’re delighted to have her back this year. Jenny is a Professor of Philosophy, whose primary interests are in Philosophy of Language, Feminism, Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy of Psychology.  She is honoured to have received the 2011 Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award in Washington, DC; and to have been chosen as Mind Association President for 2019-20. But her proudest accomplishment is nonetheless having been a consultant on a zombie movie script. She is originally from Toledo, Ohio but she has lived in Sheffield for 22 years. She loves this beautiful leafy city and its people, and is heavily involved in the campaign to save Sheffield’s trees from destruction.


Countdown Day 4

Thursday 19 April, 19.00, Dr Matthew Malek – Towards a Theory of Everything: Grand Unification

Unification of forces has been a persistent theme in physics since Newton published the Law of Universal Gravitation in 1687. One of the most tantalising challenges facing particle physicists today is how to unite quantum physics with general relativity. Along the way, it may be necessary to combine the three forces that are described by quantum field theory — a task that is known as Grand Unification. Grand Unified Theories (or GUTs) predict new bosons that are far heavier than the Higgs and, thus, they are impossible to detect directly in any accelerator. We may still be able to prove the existence of GUTs via indirect effects; for instance, most models predict that protons — which should be infinitely stable — will decay.  Matthew reviews the physics leading up to Grand Unified Theories and discusses current (and future) experimental searches to prove that they exist. Because they do exist. He can feel it in his gut.

Matthew has been a regular contributor to the 24 Hour Inspire.  But we never quite know what he’s going to talk about! Last year he abandoned physics altogether to talk about his fascination with the revenge tragedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries – he’s a real theatre buff, and recently completed his long-term goal of seeing every Shakespeare play performed live on stage. He may also be the only physicist you will ever meet who has gone scuba-diving in a particle physics detector.


Countdown Day 3

Thursday 19 April, 18.30, Dr Chris Stride – Shirt Tales: Why grown adults wear replica football kits

Though the presence of fans wearing their team’s latest shirts is taken for granted at any football match these days, the replica football shirt has only transitioned from children’s sportswear to adult leisurewear in the past 30 years. Data collected from manufacturers’ catalogues, magazine adverts, match programmes and over 900 crowd photos indicates that replica-shirt adoption by adults was not initially driven by an existing industry, but began as a fan-inspired process with roots in big-match fancy dress traditions, changes in wider social dress codes, and youth subcultures. Replica football shirts were adopted by adults in three distinct phases, each involving different sub-groups of fans, with the coincidental removal of barriers to wearing replica shirts more influential than manufacturers’ targeted interventions or promotions. Moreover, the specific timings and drivers of each stage map on to, and reflect the dramatic changes in English football culture over the last two decades of the twentieth century more accurately than the established but simplistic pre- and post-1990 World Cup or pre- and post-Premier League narratives.

Dr Chris Stride is an applied statistician based at the Institute of Work Psychology. By day he is an academic statistician and statistics trainer – but he has a secret double life as a sports historian. Chris’s sport history research has focused on football kit design and adoption, and on the monuments of sports people, under the guise of the Sporting Statues Project, ‘From Pitch to Plinth’.  He is a season ticket holder at Watford FC, but also has a soft spot for fellow Hertfordshire teams Barnet and St Albans City, and German cult clubs FC St Pauli and Chemie Leipzig.  He is also a DJ at Sheffield’s legendary Offbeat indie pop and northern soul club night.


@ChrisStrideFIO @sportingstatues

Countdown – Day 2

Thursday 19 April, 18.00,  Professor Tim Birkhead – Sperm and Eggs for Breakfast

Reproduction is something close to all our hearts. Professor Tim Birkhead FRS has spent his entire academic career (and some of his spare time) studying sperm, eggs and promiscuity. For decades birds were assumed to be models of monogamy, and therefore models of how we as humans should behave. But birds are anything but monogamous. Tim will explore our current understanding of sexual reproduction and in doing so, also explore the process of science itself.  

Tim is Professor of Zoology in Animal & Plant Sciences. He has won awards for his research, teaching, popular science books and outreach. In 2015 he was voted one of BBC Wildlife’s 50 most influential conservation heroes, joining such well-known faces as Sir David Atttenborough, Chris Packham and primate scientist Dr Jane Goodall on the very first Wildlife Power list, a celebration of people who are expected to have the biggest impact on wildlife in the next decade.  2018 will see Tim appearing on screen with Sir David Attenborough, in a new documentary entitled Attenborough’s Eggs.  

birkhead attenborough

Countdown Day 1

Thursday 19 April, 17.00, Professor Peter Bath – Space for Sharing

We’re kicking off the 24 Hour Inspire this year with something a bit different – a film of a drama production, inspired by a research project.   The Space for Sharing project explores how individuals in difficult and precarious circumstances use the opportunities presented by social media and internet fora to share their experiences with others.  What do people choose to share online? How do those people establish and maintain trust and empathy online? This is a thoroughly interdisciplinary project, bringing together researchers from Sheffield, led by Peter Bath, and five other universities and a wide range of backgrounds: sociology, international relations, computer sciences, information science and health informatics, philosophy, media studies and bioethics.

The research in Sheffield examined how people with life-threatening and terminal illnesses use online health forums to share information, their experiences and emotions throughout their illness, and the importance of trust and empathy in this. And now, the findings from the research have been transformed into a play, called ‘A Space for Sharing’, with actors playing the part of five women with breast cancer who use one of these online health forums.  The play was written and is performed by the DeadEarnest Theatre company in collaboration with the research team in Sheffield. The play has been performed during the Festival of the Mind in Sheffield (2016), at the Wellcome Trust (2017), for Cavendish Cancer Care (2017) and as part of the Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 2017).

A film version of the play is being developed and this will shortly be available online (via YouTube): we are showing the film at the start of 24 Hour Inspire and we are proud to invite you to its world premiere. Members of the research team and the theatre company will be there afterwards for a discussion about the film and how the research has helped our understanding of how patients and their families can benefit from using online health forums.