Credit Met Office

Soapbox Science is returning to the city. Image courtesy of the Met Office.

Soapbox Science returns to Exeter

Ever wondered what happens in your brain when you eat chocolate? Or whether Nemo’s dad should’ve been less worried about finding his son and more concerned about ocean acidification?

Possibly not the latter – but these and a host of other fascinating questions will be tackled by top scientists on Saturday 24 June in Exeter.

Soapbox Science is returning to the city for its third year, with 12 female scientists standing on soapboxes in Princesshay Square to talk to the public.

This event is part of a nationwide initiative by Soapbox Science, which aims to bring science to the people and challenge gender stereotypes in science careers.

“The idea is to be interactive, informal and to talk about science in language everyone understands,” said co-organiser Dr Ana Neves, of the University of Exeter.

“I have been involved in the previous two years and we always get a brilliant response from the public.

“For example, at last year’s event a woman who was a long-retired nurse passed by and asked what was going on.

“When we told her, she was very emotional because in her profession and during the time period that she worked, she had faced lots of problems being a woman in medicine.

“She was really supportive of what we were doing and to me that really captures the essence of the event.”

During the event, the public can hear about cutting-edge research directly from scientists, which is an important aim of this event in addition to promoting the visibility of women in science.

Co-organiser Dr Safi Darden added: “We need to change the stereotypes around who scientists are.

“If you ask a child to draw a scientist, they generally draw a man – often a chemist with grey hair.

“We want to change ideas of who does science and what science is – and make sure children know that women are scientists too.”

Each year the Exeter event features speakers from the University of Exeter and a host of other institutions.

This year, in addition to speakers from the University of Exeter, there will be speakers from Plymouth University, Cefas, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Dr Sarah Boulton, Lecturer in Neotectonics at Plymouth University, will give a talk entitled “Shaky ground – how to investigate earthquakes and active faults” focussing on her research into earthquake hazard and risk, and her recent experiences of being in a big earthquake.

Dr Lisa Cross from Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) will give a talk entitled “From Smallpox to Zika – Around the world in 30 plagues”.

Dr Julia Baptista, from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, will give talk entitled “Genomics medicine – it is all in your genes.”

Dr Stefanie Broszeit, from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, will give a talk entitled: “Unravelling a complex web: How we interact with the sea and how we can help it to help us.”

A full speaker list and more information is available at and

The event will run from 1pm-4pm, with four scientists on soapboxes at any one time.

Soapbox Science events are part funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The Exeter event is sponsored by the University of Exeter and its College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Date: 22 June 2017