College of Science & Engineering

Academics Unplugged

Academics Unplugged is an opportunity for researchers to introduce their work to staff and students from across the College. These short talks provide the opportunity for University staff and students to engage directly with cutting-edge researchers.

There are over a thousand researchers working across the King’s Buildings campus. And yet, much of the time, the rest of us are unaware of their work, how it relates to other research, or how it may meet the challenges in contemporary society.

The format of the talks

The talks take place between 1.10pm and 1.50pm, several times each semester on the King’s Buildings campus. Each takes the form of a twenty-minute presentation, followed by the opportunity for the audience to discuss the subject further with the speaker. Links to further information on the speakers’ areas of interest will be provided through this webpage, so that you can delve into the subjects in more detail.

Upcoming talks

  Date & time Title & speaker details Talk details Venue Further Information
Khellil Sefiane portrait image

30th November 2017

13:10 - 13:50

The Leidenfrost Engine: from lifetime drops to powering life on Mars

Professor Khellil Sefiane

Chair of Thermophysical Engineering, School of Engineering

Drops are everywhere, in industry, biology and nature, and their evaporation and lifetime is a fundamental question. When subjected to high temperature, drops levitate (a Leidenfrost state), and can be spun on suitable surfaces.
Extending this to dry ice discs allows us to use this ingenious principle to develop a new heat engine, generating power using levitating dry ice discs on hot plates. This new concept can help harvest energy in extreme environments such as space exploration: dry ice is abundant on Mars, and this concept is a unique approach in assisting future planetary missions.

Rutherford Building

Lecture Theatre 1

Khellil's personal webpage

Khellil's Research in a Nutshell video

Previous talks

Rachel Wood portrait image

9th Nov 2017


The Great Dying: What happened 250 million years ago?

Professor Rachel Wood

Professor of Carbonate Geoscience, School of GeoSciences

Rachel's personal webpage

Rachel's Research in a Nutshell video

  30th  March 2017

Asteroid and comet impacts: why microbes don't care, but you should

Prof Charles Cockell

UK Centre for Astrobiology

Charles's Research in a Nutshell video

  2nd March 2017

The Edinburgh Genome Foundry: Bringing robots to life and vice versa

Hille Tekotte

Edinburgh Genome Foundry
  2nd February 2017

Synthetic speech: the nice (giving a voice to people who can't speak) and the not-so-nice (hacking your bank account).

Prof Simon King (Informatics / PPLS)

Director of the Centre for Speech Technology Research

Centre for Speech Technology Research
  26th January 2017

The Greening Arctic: how the changing tundra is influencing the planet

Dr Isla Myers-Smith

Chancellor's Fellow, School of GeoSciences

Team Shrub Research

Isla's esearch in a Nutshell video



December 2016

Urban Gold Mining: using chemistry to recover resources

Professor Jason Love

Professor of Molecular Inorganic Chemistry

Personal webpage

Jason's Research in a Nutshell video



November 2016

Liquid Crystal Lasers: from displays to anti-counterfeiting and biomedical imaging

Dr Philip Hands

Chancellor's Fellow, School of Engineering

Personal webpage

Philip's Research in a Nutshell video



March 2016

Major transitions in evolution: how did a dinosaur change into a bird?

Dr Steve Brusatte

Chancellor’s Fellow, School of GeoSciences

Personal webpage

Steve's Research in a Nutshell



February 2016

Multiphase fluid mechanics = Math + Phy + Eng + Bio + Chem + Big Data: an interdisciplinary melting pot

Dr Prashant Valluri​

Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering

Personal webpage

Prashant's Research in a Nutshell



January 2016

Antimicrobial resistance: how can physicists help?

Dr Rosalind Allen​

Royal Society University Research Fellow and Reader, School of Physics & Astronomy

Personal webpage



December 2015

Modelling Chemical Reactions (is chemistry really just a branch of mathematics?)

Dr Carole Morrison

Reader, School of Chemistry

Structural Chemistry

Carole's Research in a Nutshell video



November 2015

Informatics Challenges in Biology: from big data to big models

Dr Guido Sanguinetti

Reader, School of Informatics

Machine Learning Techniques

Guido's Research in a Nutshell video



November 2015

The Edinburgh Genome Foundry: making synthetic chromosomes from the ground up

Dr Patrick Yizhi Cai

Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Biological Sciences

Synthetic Genomics 


Future events

Further talks will be planned in due course; details will be posted on this page when available. For further information about this event series, please contact the College Engagement Team ( and