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INSIGHTS Public Lecture: New voices on science, agriculture and engineering

New voices on science, agriculture and engineering

Date/Time: Thursday 12 May 2022, 5.30pm

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, Newcastle University

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Hosted by Dr Phil Lord, Dean (Postgraduate Research), Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

Newcastle University is celebrating 150 years of Science, Agriculture and Engineering that have made the institution what it is today. As part of the celebration, three early-career researchers from the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering at Newcastle University will be have the opportunity to deliver a Public Lecture on Thursday 12 May, describing their cutting-edge research.

Following a public vote, the winning entries are:

Putting the dead to work
Jess McCoy, Engineering

Did you know that we can consult the dead about future climate change? Together, we can adventure millions of years into the past and question prehistoric proxies, from across the British Isles, so we may collectively build up a picture of our past environments and of the ecological interactions therein. But what could that mean for us today, with the ever-looming threat of climate change? Already we’re seeing parallels in today’s world with the warmer and wetter climates of the Oligocene-Miocene geological time periods. Using fossil plants from rare sediment deposits dotted across the British Isles, we can understand these past environments. By better understanding the past, it helps us predict the implications of future climate change and its consequences on the Northern Hemisphere in the very near future. Only by building palaeoenvironmental portfolios and by improving these models can we hope to redefine our relationship and future with Mother Nature. 

Is inflammation the cause of neuron reduction in Hens with broken keel bones?
Chloe Grant, Natural and Environmental Sciences

Between 36-96% of hens end up with broken keel bones, the bone which runs down the centre of the bird’s breast. The keel bone is often broken due to the hen’s roaming around, when it may collide with perches used for support. The issue of high-level keel bone breakage has its own welfare consequences. Previous research from our lab suggests that hens with severely broken keel bones experience chronic stress, which in turn leads to a reduction of new-born cells in the brain. These new-born brain cells have roles in the processing of emotions and memory. The hens with severely broken keel bones had fewer new cells than hens with less severe broken keel bones. However, we do not know what physiological mechanism causes this loss of new cells. My research focuses on the role inflammation might play within this process, by analysing inflammatory cells in the brain called microglia which can destroy other brain cells. In hens with severe and minimal broken keel bones, I compared the production of inflammatory substances released by microglia into the brain, relative to a substance which dampens inflammation. Early results suggest that hens with severe keel bone damage, which had fewer new brain cells, expressed greater levels of the substance which dampens inflammation than hens with less damage. These results suggest there could have previously been inflammation and microglia are dampening down inflammation, to return to normal. 

Studying the uptake of glucose by yeast during a zero-G flight
Annachiara Scalzone, Koren Murphy, Tom Wareing and Alex Stokes (SUGAR Team), Engineering

We are the SUGAR (Saccharomyces cerevisiae Uptake of Glucose Applying Real-time imaging) team composed of five PhD students and we were selected to take part a Parabolic Flight Campaign, operated by Novespace in France, within the Fly your thesis project of the European Space Agency (ESA). We are designing and building an experiment to take on board a 0g flight later this year. Specifically, our scope is to study real time cell metabolic activity in abnormal gravity conditions (hypergravity and zero gravity).  Our hypothesis is that abnormal gravity conditions could affect cell metabolism and to investigate this, the team will build a fluorescence microscope able to withstand microgravity and hypergravity conditions and use this to image the uptake of fluorescent glucose by Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) during the ESA parabolic flight; whilst floating on board the ‘Vomit Comet’.

This event will be held in-person in the Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, NE1 7RYAll our events remain free and open to all, but pre-booking is now required. Bookings for lectures will open at 10.00am one week before the event, via the link below.

If you are unable to use the online booking system please call our booking voicemail line 0191 208 6136 and leave a message with your name, contact details and the number of tickets you require. We will contact you to confirm your booking.

For those who wish to continue watching lectures online, a recording of most events will be available within one week on the Past Lectures page.