New Scientist Live - London ExCeL Centre
New Scientist Live (NSL) is an award-winning, mind-blowing festival of ideas and discoveries for everyone curious about science and why it matters. For four days in October, NSL transforms ExCeL London, into the most exciting place in the universe. More than 120 speakers and 150 exhibitors come together in one venue to create an unrivalled atmosphere and energy, packed with thought-provoking talks, ground-breaking discoveries, interactive experiences, workshops and performances. Attendance now exceeds 40,000 from school children to families, academics, industrialists and the media.
SBRC-Nottingham is now a regular contributor to the festival. Since 2017 the Centre and its associated BBSRC NIBB - The Carbon Recycling Network, has manned an exhibition stand which highlights the great research we do here at the Centre.
Our resident cupriavidus necator bacterium.
Cooper joined us at the New Scientist Live - ExCeL Centre, London in 2018.
Credit to Pippa Strong and Christian Arenas
A regular feature of our exhibition stand is a real anaerobic microbiology cabinet, kindly loaned by Don Whitley Scientific. Other exhibits and activities have included DNA coding puzzles and display cases showing Petri dishes and microscope images of the bacteria we use in the SBRC. We have also worked with Arup who provided an exciting VR experience of what it is really like to be in a SBRC laboratory.
Participation in this high-profile event not only provides an opportunity to highlight the wonderful cutting-edge research taking place at SBRC–Nottingham but also enables our researchers to raise public awareness and practice their science communication.
For the third year running, The Synthetic Biology Research Centre – Nottingham (SBRC) and its associated BBSRC NIBB – The Carbon Recycling Network hosted an exhibition stand which highlighted the great research we do here at the centre.
The exhibition stand included an anaerobic microbiology cabinet, kindly loaned by Don Whitley Scientific.
This year, to give visitors an idea of our scientist’s skills, they raced against the clock to compete in an electronic buzzer challenge within the cabinet.
Other exhibits and activities included:
- a DNA coding puzzle
- display cases showing Petri dishes and microscope images of the bacteria we use in the SBRC.
Additionally, we had an array of potential products to demonstrate the end products of gas fermentation, such as:
- a model tyre
- a fuel tank
- PVA glue and bioplastic items
Our give-aways were pencils made from recycled wooden pallets, featuring our slogan:
“I heart Carbon reCycling”
Visitors 'transfer plasmids' in our anaerobic cabinet courtesy of Don Whitley Scientific Ltd
Deep Branch Biotechnology
A special addition this year showcased our industrial collaboration with Deep Branch Biotechnology. Deep Branch Biotechnology is a start-up company found out of SBRC-Nottingham by three of its PhD postdocs, Bart Pander, Rob Mansfield and Pete Rowe.
Their technology takes carbon dioxide directly from industrial emissions and transforms it into single cell protein which acts as a more sustainable alternative to soy or fishmeal, the conventional protein sources for livestock and aquaculture feed.
Their disco-lit bioreactor and molymod interactive game were major draws to the stand.
With an estimated 400,000 visitors to the exhibition, our attendance was not only as a fantastic opportunity to highlight the wonderful cutting edge research taking place at SBRC–Nottingham but also for the researchers to raise public awareness and practice their science communication.
New Scientist Live 2019
In 2018 the stand included a Raspberry Pi sequencer to demonstrate how we check DNA sequences for errors. Programming languages; Python and Java were used to convert data generated by coloured beads (representing DNA nucleotides) passing an LED and colour sensor into the corresponding 4-letter DNA sequence.
We also had a collaboration set up with ARUP, a multinational professional services firm who designed a Virtual Reality Lab for visitors to use, as well as getting the full feeling (visual and sound) of what it’s like to work in a lab. The Virtual Reality Lab included a serial dilution experiment and an explanation to why we do this technique as part of our synthetic biology research.
Another highlight of the event was an amazing Cupriavidus necator bacterium costume (named Cooper!) hand-made by Post doctoral Researcher Dr Christian Arenas.
Raspberry PI Sequencer
New Scientist Live Team 2018
This was the first year we attended New Scientist Live. The stand comprised of an interactive computer model of a biochemical pathway, developed by members of the SBRC computational team.
Next was a Don Whitley anaerobic cabinet that people could try, to give them an idea of what working in these cabinets was really like.
Then there was a microscope showing what these bacteria actually look like, followed by a mini bioreactor to help explain how this process could be scaled up. We also had a model tyre and fuel tank, to demonstrate what products could be made after the bacteria had converted them into useful chemicals.
The stand received interest from a diverse audience including; current scientists, potential future Nottingham students, children who we helped inspire with future possibilities, artists and the media, who could help spread our research message even further.
New Scientist Live 2017