University Events

Holmes Lectures

Holmes Lectures for 10- to 14-year-olds

The Holmes Memorial Lectures are designed for 10- to 14-year-olds with the intention of fostering an interest in science.

2022 Holmes Memorial Lectures

Welcome to the 2022 Holmes Memorial Lectures, Our Futures in STEM. We have put together some fun and educational videos for you to enjoy from your classroom or home. Each lecture will be available to watch from 9.00am on the dates shown below, and will remain in our archive for you to enjoy at your leisure.

Celebrating 150 years of Science, Agriculture and Engineering at Newcastle University

A huge amount has changed in the past 150 years. One thing has stayed the same - our commitment to making a difference. Join us as we celebrate our history and look forward to the future.

The 2022 John H Holmes Memorial Lectures will focus on the University’s staff and students, who will present their visions for the future in their own fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Where are the yet unexplored depths in marine science, the heights civil engineers are reaching for, and the expanding horizons of the universe our theoretical physicists are grappling with? This years’ Holmes Lectures aim to (virtually) open our doors to your students, and give them a series of insights into why we do what we do.

Virtual Lectures:

Our Futures in STEM (Part 1)

Available from Wednesday 12 January 2022 | 20 Minutes

Our Futures in STEM (Part 2)

Available from Wednesday 19 January 2022 | 30 Minutes


 Downloadable Resources:

Certificate of Achievement

Once you have watched both video lectures, download your Holmes Certificate of Achievement 2022 (word 14kb).


Meet our Host:

Roy Bearpark

Engagement and Outreach Manager

A former secondary school science teacher, Roy has over a decade of experience with high-quality school and public engagement across a number of roles across higher education, cultural and arts sectors. He is responsible for the development and delivery of a Faculty-wide Outreach and Engagement and Place strategies. The Outreach programme in SAgE is designed to raise awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, and to encourage the recruitment and conversion of high-quality undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds.

2021 Holmes Memorial Lectures

Welcome to the 2021 Holmes Memorial Lectures, Women in STEM.

Usually our auditorium would be full with school groups and families, but instead this year we have put together some fun and educational videos for you to enjoy from your classroom or home. Each lecture will be available to watch from 9.00am on the dates shown below, and will remain in our archive for you to enjoy at your leisure.


Where are the Women in STEM? (Part 1)

Available from Wednesday 13 January 2021 | 30 Minutes

This interactive lecture uncovers the history of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the reasons why the world needs more females in these fields. We will look into the past at the forgotten roles women have undertaken in various STEM fields as well as looking into the future at where progress still needs to be made and the roles that you could take on.

Here are the Women in STEM (Part 2)

Available from Wednesday 20 January 2021 | 50 Minutes

An opportunity to hear from an inspirational group of women working in various STEM fields. Hear their stories of how they became scientists and engineers. Watch the video here.

Downloadable Resources:

People like us: Personality Quiz

Research has shown that girls often use adjectives to describe themselves whereas boys use verbs. With this in mind, WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) have created a simple quiz to help girls identify their strengths and uncover roles that would likely be a good fit for them.

1. Download the personality quiz (pdf 554kb) and tick 12-15 adjectives that best describe you.
2. Tick all the empty boxes on the same row as your selected adjectives.
3. Count up the ticks in each column and write the totals in the boxes at the bottom.

The letters next to your top 3-5 scores are your preferred ways of working, take a look at the personality types (pdf 555kb) sheet to read more about what these translate to.

Certificate of Achievement

Once you have watched both video lectures, download your Certificate of Achievement (word 14kb).

Meet our Host:

Clare Fearon

Outreach Officer, Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering

Clare develops and delivers interactive STEM workshops in schools and colleges across the country to encourage and inspire young people to consider a career in STEM. She also manage the Street Science team - a group of students who do science busking at events and festivals and help to deliver our primary school workshops.

Meet our Speakers:

Chi Onwurah MP

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. She currently undertakes the roles of Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), and Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport). Chi graduated from Imperial College London with a degree in Electrical Engineering and worked in hardware and software development, product management, market development and strategy for a variety of mainly private sector companies in a number of different countries.

Jenny Olsen

PhD student in Biomedical Engineering

Jenny is currently working on her PhD in the Intelligent Sensing Lab, looking at how we can make better prosthetic limbs. Prior to this Jenny completed a BEng Mechanical Engineering degree at Newcastle. She is also a committed member of the Street Science team, dedicated to sharing her passion for STEM and inspiring the next generation. 

Priscilla Carrillo-Barragan

Research Associate in Marine Sciences

Based at our Dove Marine Lab in Cullercoats, Priscilla researches microplastics in the ocean. Priscilla has had a varied background, from Environmental Engineering to Microbiology, she has also studied and worked in Mexico and Canada before joining us here in Newcastle.  

Laura Heels

Computer Science Lecturer and PhD student

As a Gender Champion and Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Laura is keen to help other women in STEM. Alongside this, she teaches our Computer Science students and is working towards a PhD in Computer Science herself.

Yujiang Wang

Research Fellow in Computing

Yujiang’s work involves a mixture of mathematics, computing and health sciences as she researches neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, using computational modelling. 

Sara Walker

Director of the Centre for Energy

Since graduating from her Physics degree, Sara has continued to work in industry and on research projects concerning energy. Her current focus is on ways to decarbonise energy systems. 

Chioma Udeozor

Researcher in Engineering

Chioma’s research looks into the use of digital games and virtual reality in education and  the benefits of game-based learning. Prior to joining us here in Newcastle, Chioma studied Chemical Engineering in Nigeria then Learning Sciences in Istanbul.

Kate Court

Research Software Engineer in Computing

Kate originally studied Art at university but more recently went back into education to complete a masters degree in programming. Kate is now a Software Engineer and also runs an entry level digital skills course for mums in Newcastle. 

Sharon Foster

Technician in Pharmacy

Sharon has worked at Newcastle University for over 30 years and has been involved in many exciting research projects during that time, including cloning genes, mitochondrial research and the Human Genome Mapping Project.

Kate Henderson

Lecturer and Transition Officer in Maths

After studying Maths at university, Kate went on to complete a PhD, using mathematical modelling to analyse archaeological data, looking at how humans transitioned form hunter-gatherers to farmers. Kate then become a secondary school teacher for 7 years before returning to the university as  a Lecturer and Transition Officer. 

Who was John H Holmes?

The annual John H Holmes lectures first took place at Newcastle University in 1937 and have covered a wide range of topics including sustainability, Forensic science, medical physics, chemistry and sports science. The talks form part of the INSIGHTS Public Lecture programme and are held every January.

John Henry Holmes (1857-1935) was an English electrical engineer, inventor and pioneer of electric lighting who invented the quick break light switch, the technology behind which remains the basis for modern wall mounted light switches.

John Henry Holmes was born in Newcastle on 6 June 1857 and grew up in Gateshead and then Jesmond. John attended the Friends School in Bootham, York, where he was taught the rudiments of science. At the age of 16, he won a place at the Durham College of Physical Science, later Armstrong College, now Newcastle University.

In 1880, Holmes attended a public demonstration of Joseph Swan's incandescent light bulb. This seemed to spark his interest in electric lighting, and he approached Swan on multiple occasions in hopes of becoming his apprentice.

John Henry Holmes and his brother Theodore founded J. H. Holmes & Co. in Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1883, their manufacturing company specialised in early motors, dynamos, switches, and lighting. The company was very active in the early proliferation of electric lighting, having installed Newcastle's first domestic electrical lighting into their father's house in Jesmond, and supplied installations throughout Europe and the British colonies and the United States. He invented the quick break light switch, the technology behind which remains the basis for modern wall mounted light switches, and his first experimental model is preserved at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

Holmes went on to become a prolific inventor, drives for printing presses, train lighting sets, and portable ships’ searchlights which enabled the Suez Canal to be traversed by night for the first time. John Henry Holmes died in April 1935 at the age of 78 and is buried at Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Photograph of John Henry Holmes (Copyright: Newcastle Libraries, Local Studies)