Reading Cafe Sci autumn-winter series starts 6th September

Reading Cafe Sci is back on 6th September with our autumn – winter series and we’ve got a superb spread of top-notch science coming your way! First up is Reading born leading string theorist Professor Joseph Conlon. See the events page for more details on these exciting talks.


Wednesday 6th September

Prof Joseph Conlon presents “String Theory: Then and Now”

Wednesday 4th October

Dr John Parrington presents “Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World”

Wednesday 8th November

Dr Stephen Lecomber presents “Maths, Murder and Malaria”

Wednesday 13th December

Dr Eva Feredoes presents “Stimulating thoughts: using magnets and electricity to explore how our brains work”

Reading Cafe Sci summer series starts 5th April

Dates for your  diary:


5th April: Anthony Wilson talks about how insects spread viruses

3rd May: Carl Edwards talks about water flow and flooding

7th June: Jamie Sanson talks about how to think like a scientist

5th July: Keith Shine  talks about climate change


Smoking Billy’s Bar, 61 St Mary’s Butts, Reading

Doors open 6:30pm for 7:30pm finish.

30 min talk by our guest speaker (no slides or powerpoint) followed by open Q&A session. Be enthused, be inspired and join in the discussion!


Reading Science Week 2017 is coming

From March the 11th and 19th, poster A3 RSW17British Science Week hits Reading, with a variety of events and activities for all. Many events are free, with highlights including:

Sci busking: extract DNA from strawberries or hold space rocks – live demos and discussion with scientists on Broad Street

Born To Sum: Famelab winner Kyle D Evans and his guitar take us on a comedic musical tour through unexpected parallels between maths and pop

Schrodinger’s Hat: improvised comedy troupe The Free Radicals present a special science-themed show where scientific research is reimagined as Alternative Fact!

Synergism: musical performance and lecture from Dr John Wilkinson and Keira Trench on the scientific development of botanical medicines inspired by the idea that sometimes 1 + 1 = 3

Café Sci: Dr Jena Meinecke explains her research on exploring the origins of the Universe with the biggest lasers in the world!

Pint of science: local brewers talk about the science of brewing!

Join science enthusiasts in Reading between March the 11th and 19th for our local celebration of British Science Week. The Reading Branch of the British Science Association brings you a stimulating line up of public discussions, science-inspired comedy and music, science busking and much more!

Our RSW team are proud to be hosting a wide variety of events open to everyone.

See here for full list of events and booking details:

Survey results from Chocolate and the neurobiology of depression

During the last CafeSci event on the 5th of December 2016 there were questionnaires waiting to be filled by the audience. This is part of our attempts to get to know more about the most important person of the event – the attendee. We did our best to keep the questionnaire short but useful. Without further ado, let’s move on to the results.


About 60 people attended the event of which 48 made the effort to fill in the questionnaire so we will focus on these 48 individuals.

People attended Chocolate and the neurobiology of depression


















About a third of the people who filled in the questionnaire were newcomers. What is really important to us, out of 31 people not subscribed to our newsletter, 24 decided to opt in and will now be receiving updates on our future events – this is a 77% conversion rate!


We were curious about what portion of the audience works in science and what their highest education level is.

Chocolate and the neurobiology of depression - breakdown by occupation


















This information allows us to fine tune our future events in order to cater for both people who have interest in science and those who are scientists themselves.


The lecturer and the event as a whole received very positive ratings (as shown on the charts below). However, we had some technical issues with sound and light. Those have since then been taken care of and you will notice the difference on our next event in January.

Chocolate and the neurobiology of depression - ratings


















We are really happy that the event received such a good rating and especially with the way people rated the lecturer Dr. Ciara McCabe.

Geographic breakdown

The majority of the people who attended the event are from Reading (43) but we also had guests from Oxford, Kingston upon Thames, Henley on Thames (one person each) and a couple of people from Guildford.

Closing remarks

We are very grateful to all 48 people who filled in the questionnaire – this allowed us to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. As a result we’ve identified several aspects in which we can (and will!) improve. Needless to say, the information presented here is a fraction of what we’ve learned and we intend to continue optimising the questions and sharing more of our findings.

We look forward to welcoming you to our next event on Wednesday the 11th of January 2017 when Dr Simon Boxall will talk about “Flotsam, Jetsam and the Beach Picnic – how they all contribute to polluting over 71% of our planet”

Reading Branch AGM 2016

AGM 2016 flyer












A selection of light bites and nibbles will be provided, courtesy of Smokin Billy’s.

To be discussed:

Reading Cafe Sci

- Proposal of hosting on first Wednesday of each month to be discussed, voted on and decision cast

- New organisers and event hosts need to be idendified

Reading Science Week

- Project manager/lead needs to be identified
- Core events/activities (Cafe sci, Sci Screen, Stargazing, Sci Busking, Sci Quiz) need to be initiated

Committee recruitment (positions available)

- Treasurer

- Marketing and social media lead

- Reading Cafe Sci event organiser

- Reading Science Week Coordinator


- New events that the branch could run? Summer festival? School outreach?

- Grants available from the BSA

- How to link up with new communities

Reading Cafe Sci talk Antibiotic Resistance, slides now available

As mentioned during October’s Reading Cafe Sci event, our speaker Dr John Broughall has kindly made available his slides for you all to access at your leisure.

You can download a pdf copy of the slides using this dropbox link: click here

The file size is 3.27 MB. PDF Adobe reader is available free here: click here

John was representing the charity Antibiotic Research UK

Here’s a reminder of John’s talk:

Monday 3rd October: Dr John Broughall presents “Antibiotic Resistance and its implications”

Dr. John Broughall will discuss the issue of why the antibiotic development pipeline has dried up: what are the problems and why the pharmaceutical industry is not investing in research and development to produce new compounds. Multi-drug antibiotic resistance has been recognised as a global threat to health yet the solutions to this issue are not obvious, the current commercially driven pharmaceutical process does not appear fit for purpose.John Broughall

The charity that John is representing, Antibiotic Research UK, is proposing a new approach to overcome this impasse, he will discuss their plans and the science behind their proposal.

John is a PhD microbiologist who has spent most of his career in the diagnostics industry including the development of rapid and automated methods for use in microbiology laboratories. Latterly he has worked in the medical departments of two major pharmaceutical companies focusing on both antibiotics and also new oncology compounds. He now runs his own consultancy business but is also a volunteer for Antibiotic Research UK.Antibiotic Pipeline Sep 2016

Towards Sustainable Cocoa Production

February’s Cafe Scientifique was given by Dr Andrew Daymond, Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading.

Dr Andrew Draymond

Dr Andrew Daymond

Andrew began his talk by introducing us to the major cocoa growing regions of the world in West Africa, South America and South-East Asia and explaining why demand for chocolate is currently increasing at a higher rate than supply. He showed us a cocoa tree sapling and then passed around samples of the flowers, pods and cocoa beans. It takes three years for a sapling to grow into a productive cocoa tree and about 6 months for the flowers to become mature cocoa pods


Andrew then described some of his work as the coordinator for the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre at the University of Reading where genetic material is received in the form of budwood and grafted onto a living sapling. The material is then grown in a controlled environment and undergoes extensive testing for pests and disease, particularly viral disease before being exported for use in crop breeding programmes.

A Cocoa Pod


The second half of Andrew’s talk focused on some of the threats to cocoa production including Black Pod Disease. He spoke about research he is undertaking to determine the reasons behind large variability in the yields of cocoa plants even within in relatively small areas.


The discussion that followed explored some of the issues surrounding the ownership of genetic resources. All the genetic material at the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre is in the public domain but there is other genetic material that some countries are reluctant to share.


To find out more about Andrew’s research and the work carried out in the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre, check out their webpages

Future Debates: Do we really want smart Robots? on 15th February.



Welcome to Future Debates, a series of public events supported by the British Science Association.

The Thames Valley branch would like you to come along to an evening exploring the ever-closer links humans are having with their robot creations. From driverless cars and smart homes to life-like humanoids and robotic pets, there is huge potential for robotics and automated systems to enrich our lives. However, ever-increasing advances in artificial intelligence bring potential to completely shake up the way we live our lives. Will robots out-smart us? Are robots going to “steal” our jobs? Can robots take better care of us than we can? Come to our Future Debate on Robotics & Autonomous Systems where you can ask the experts, hear current ideas on where we are now and share you views on where we should be going.

Sitting on our panel will be 3 experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, and social responsibility:

  • Professor Kevin Warwick, vice-chancellor at Coventry University and world-leading researcher in artificial intelligence and robotics;
  • Slawomir Nasuto, professor at the University of Reading and cybernetics researcher;
  • & Dr Kathleen Richardson, senior research fellow in the Ethics of Robotics at De Montfort University.

View our Future Debates YouTube trailer.

To come to this event, please book a place using our Eventbrite page here:

All tickets are free, but we are limited to 100 places for this event so book early if you’d like to ensure a place.

Held at the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) doors will open from 7pm, with the debate to run from 7:15pm until 8:30pm. This event is suitable for 16+ and the option of continued discussion afterwards in The Great Expectations next door is open to all.

These ‘Future Debates’ are part of the British Science Association’s work to make science a fundamental part of British society and culture. We want to empower many more people – not just scientists – to constructively engage in debates over the applications and implications of science in their lives, their local economy and the UK’s future.

Harwell Open Day 11th July

On 11th July the Harwell Campus is opening its doors to the public to showcase the science and technology research that goes on at one of the world’s leading science hubs. HarwellOpenDays2015_logo

Scientists from all over the world come to Harwell to carry out research in all fields of science and engineering and this one-off event is your chance to experience the fantastic equipment and meet the scientists that make it all happen.

We at the Thames Valley Branch of the British Science Association are proud to be subsidising coach transportation to bring you the science action in the company of fellow science fans and inquisitive minds. The coach will leave from Reading main train station at 10 am on Saturday 11th July and then depart Harwell Campus at 2pm with expected arrival at Reading by 3pm, for just £5 per person.

To attend the open day please register here: and to secure your place on the coach please email