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Cambridge Science Festival at PDN

Every year our Department brings exciting talks and hands-on exhibits to the Cambridge Science Festival - come visit us, meet our scientists, discover what we do on Saturday 16 March 2019 at the Downing Site

Now you see me, now you don't: vision, contrast and concealment

The visual system has evolved to detect objects, including other animals, against their background. But these other animals may not wish to be seen, and perhaps eaten! Dr Hugh Matthews examines what the visual system is looking for, and how visual detection may be confounded.

Sat 16 March, 11am-12am, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Autism in a dish

Autism affects over 1% of people in the UK and is characterized by lifelong difficulties with social interaction and communication. Many genetic causes of autism have been identified. Yet little is known how these genetic changes alter brain function. A number of the genes identified in autism alter the way individual brain cells form connections during infancy. Research into how brain cells for networks in early life may reveal underlying mechanisms in autism. To study how brain cells form networks in the lab, we grow brain cells with the same genetic changes found in some causes of autism and related disorders in a dish.

Dr Susanna Mierau explores cutting-edge scientific techniques used for studying brain development in a dish and how this may be used to develop new therapies for autism and related disorders.

Sat 16 March, 12:15am-1:15pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Building a human being from a single cell

Life starts from a single cell, the zygote. How is a single cell capable of giving rise to the complexity of the human being? In a journey through embryogenesis, Dr Matteo Mole explores the initial stages of life, during which the zygote transforms into the complex 3D embryo, laying the foundation of our future body plan.

Sat 16 March, 2pm-3pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Sensing the natural world: detection and avoidance

Dr Hugh Matthews, Dr Elisa Galliano & Dr Gabriel Jamie consider how the special senses can be used to analyse the natural world and search for things within it, and how such detection might be avoided if the target does not want to be found.

Sat 16 March, 3:15pm-4:15pm, Physiology Lecture Theatre, Free event


Life Sciences Marquee

Come meet researchers from PDN and discover the personal side of science!

  • Electroreception: a sixth sense
    How do fishes use electroreception as an additional sense, and how does this system develop? With the Baker Lab.
  • How does the shape of a body develop from a ball of cells?
    How does the shape of a body develop from a ball of cells? Fruit-fly movie stars help us make sense of this fascinating process. Join the Sanson Lab and look at fluorescent flies under the microscope, watch movies of them, and learn about the things your cells did before you were born to help make you who you are (or at least what you look like!).
  • Neurons feel the force
    How do brain cells explore their environment? It turns out they use simple physics! Play our interactive computer game and feel some realistic model tissues, and find out more about how cells use tissue mechanics to guide their growth and motion! With the Franze Lab.
  • Olfactory cocktail party
    Would you be able to recognise your partner’s perfume in a crowded, dark room? How accurate is your sense of smell compared to the average person? How would you fare against a mouse instead? Come to the Galliano Lab's Olfactory Cocktail Party stand and test yourself!
  • Understanding your body
    How does your body work? Have you ever wondered what you look like inside? Meet our junior anatomy demonstrators and enjoy fun activities like a giant operation game, anatomical body painting and costumes you can attach bones to!
  • What can a fish tell you about your brain?
    Use a real microscope to look at zebrafish larvae. Find out what these fish can tell us about our brain’s development and disease and take the brain puzzle challenge with the Buckley Lab

Sat 16 March, all day, Marquee on the lawn, Downing Site, Hands on, Drop-in free event