Festivals, Cultural and City Events

What Went On: Science on a Summer's Evening

Earlier this month, the College of Science and Engineering hosted their annual event, Science on a Summer's Evening. Held at King's Buildings, the session included talks from Dr David Rush and Professor Evelyn Telfer, as well as hands-on science activities. We caught up with Engagement Manager, Stuart Dunbar, to hear more about how they got on.

On July 10th, the College of Science and Engineering hosted their annual Science on a Summer’s Evening. What exciting research was being showcased at this year’s event?

This year we had two very distinct focuses: fertility preservation with Prof Evelyn Telfer and fire-safety engineering from Dr David Rush. Although they don’t appear to have any overlap with each other, both research areas are strongly driven by specific societal issues. Preserving fertility is important due to some people deciding to start their families later in life, as well as potentially overcoming problems caused by cancer treatments, whilst David’s IRIS-Fire project seeks to reduce the harm that is caused by fires in informal settlements that exist mainly in low- and middle-income countries around the world.


Science on a Summer's Evening Event
Professor Evelyn Telfer and Dr David Rush deliver their lectures.

Were your audience keen to get involved with the ‘hands-on’ aspects of the evening and what sort of activities could they have a go at?

The hands-on activities were directly linked to our main presentations. Using microscopes and screens, visitors could examine animal ovary and sperm samples (sourced from an approved abattoir) in close detail. Videos of the fire experimentation were the basis of questions that attendees could respond to and they could also handle samples of the materials that were tested. Researchers (including PhD students) from both research groups were present to answer specific questions about the cutting-edge work presented in the talks.


What is your ideal target audience for such an event? Do your audiences mostly consist of those currently studying scientific degrees or do they encourage attendance from inquisitive science amateurs?

Science on a Summer’s Evening attracts a science-interested audience, so we aim to provide talks that will appeal to this type of attendee: explanations are simplified, but the science at the heart of the talks is not dumbed down. We usually have a number of staff and students (current and past) from across the University attend, but also a significant number of people from communities around the city.


With Science on a Summer’s Evening over for another year, what else is lined up in the calendar for later this year?

The next major event we have is Doors Open Day at the King’s Buildings. This event is part of the city-wide event celebrating the architectural wonders of the city on Saturday 28th September, and we open a number of our buildings so that visitors of all ages are able to explore our buildings and engage with interactive activities that highlight a number of research areas across Biology, Chemistry, Engineering and GeoSciences. Several University buildings in the centre of the city will also be opening too, including Informatics, so it will be a great opportunity to find out what happens within the University of Edinburgh.


For more information on events happening around the University, you can visit the University's Events page.

David Rush, School of Engineering

Evelyn Telfer