Nerd Nite Brighton 39: British Science Week Special!

This month we have a British Science Week special, with topics varying from yeast sex to citizen science through wildlife cameras, and neuroscientific investigation of free will! We’re excited to be at the Rialto Theatre for this special. They have a full bar and a great technical setup, so there’ll be no pub noise to distract from these three great speakers. Of course, there’ll be the usual cakes and quiz to add to the fun.

Tickets available from Rialto website (

£4 Regular Nerds, £3 NUS/65+ Nerds.

Dr Kayleigh Wardell – What can we learn from yeast sex (cells)?

Kayleigh earned her PhD at the University of Nottingham by studying how broken DNA gets repaired in a strange, single-celled organism that lives in the Dead Sea (Haloferax volcanii, if you’re interested). She moved to Brighton in 2013 to take up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, studying sex cell formation in yeast. More specifically, she is looking at what happens to DNA when sex cells are made (spoiler: it gets broken!). She will be telling us how this leads to genetic variation, and how we can learn about human reproduction by watching how yeast do it.

When not in the lab, Kayleigh can usually be found telling anyone who will listen about how cool DNA and sex cells are. She has taken part in Soapbox Science, where she stood on the Southbank of London waving around a fluffy egg and sperm. She has also attempted science-themed stand up comedy although she isn’t sure whether the audience were laughing with her or at her. Kayleigh is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch, as part of her mission to get even more people excited about science.

Jon Fidler – The world of Naturebytes

This talk will explore how Naturebytes develops new digital making activities that enable people to experience the natural world around them. We will discuss the example of our DIY Wildlife Cam Kit, a motion-sensitive camera powered by the Raspberry Pi computer, and how it can help deliver skills in coding, electronics, 3D design and printing, and educate people about conservation. Using the Wildlife Cam Kits we are building a community of wildlife digital makers and an expanding network of cameras to generate and share information about wildlife.

One of the co-founders of Naturebytes, Jon has been heavily involved in 3D printing and design for 10 years and is the founder of Modla, a creative design consultancy based in London. At Modla, he has lead projects with The Science Museum, Nike and Saint-Gobain. He is now on a mission to educate young people and inspire the next generation to do amazing things with 3D design and printing technologies. Jon grew up on a farm which has given him a strong interest in nature and, through Naturebytes, combines this enthusiasm for the natural world with the world of design.

Dr Jim Parkinson – Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist?

Jim gained his PhD in Experimental Psychology in 2007 at the University of Sussex, investigating links between action and perception: Does how you perform an action affect how you perceive the action? He then went on to work with Dr Anne Springer and Professor Wolfgang Prinz at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. Whilst there he investigated how individuals can predict and internally simulate the visual perception of human motion.

Following this, he worked with Professor Patrick Haggard at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, where he conducted research into the volitional self-control of actions. In 2013 he returned to the University of Sussex, joining the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science as a postdoctoral research fellow.

One of Jim’s main research interests is Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist? Why do we at least have the feeling we are “free”? This also encompasses self-control and motor inhibition, the sense of agency and intention, and subliminal priming of volitional behaviour. This research utilises the state-of-the-art neuroscientific equipment that the Sackler Centre offers, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) recording and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques. Jim is also the (other) co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch.

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