Soapbox Science - UK’s top female academics take science to the street

Soapbox Science – UK’s top female academics take science to the street

Soapbox Science | Monday 16th July, 12pm – 3pm | Riverside walkway (by Gabriel’s Wharf), South Bank, London, SE1 9PP | FREE

We can’t wait for next Monday’s Soapbox Science event on the South Bank London.

This one-off lady geek-fest is all about making science accessible to the public and features some amazing guests, including Professor Dame Athene Donald (the equality champion at University of Cambridge), Professor Lesley Yellowlees (the first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry), and Professor Sunetra Gupta (acclaimed novelist and winner of the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific achievements).

Spectators will discover what makes goo gooey, find out what dressed to kill really means, and learn how plants protect themselves against the bitter winter.

Our top title picks at the event include the slimey “Goo: The Physics of the Everyday Stuff that Surrounds Us”, the glowing  “Peacock ferns and metallic moss – why are some plants iridescent?” and the downright saucy “What makes us different: The genetics of females and males”.

You can follow the conversation and ask that burning geeky question on Twitter:!/soapboxscience

They Say:

Is global warming gobbledygook?  Do chromosomes confuse you?  Given up on genomics? Then this year’s Soapbox Science event could be your answer! The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme have joined forces for the second year running with some of the UK’s most prominent female scientists to bring science to the people.

Now in its third year, Soapbox Science will focus on inspiring a new generation of scientists and  students from across London and the UK will be joining in. The event will strip away the Powerpoint presentations and jargon, transforming a small corner of the Southbank into an arena of dynamic debate centered on the latest cutting-edge science.

Whether you have three hours or three minutes, spectators can drop by and listen to some of the UK’s top female scientists from the fields of biology, physics, chemistry and engineering as they take to their soapboxes to talk passionately about their subjects and answer the public’s burning science questions.

The event is co-organised by ZSL Research Fellows Dr Nathalie Pettorelli and Dr Seirian Sumner, L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellows.  Dr Seirian Sumner from ZSL said, “The event is now in its third year. This year we showcase how women in science can and do reach the top: these women are some of the UK’s top real women in science, and from their Soapboxes they will share their passion, motivation and scientific excellence with the public.”  Dr Nathalie Pettorelli said “We hope this event will inspire a new generation of scientists, giving them the confidence to push through existing barriers, and help change the societal norms that currently hold women scientists back.”

Julie McManus, Director of Science at L’Oréal UK & Ireland added, “So many of us benefit from the amazing discoveries which these scientists have contributed to and Soapbox Science offers a unique chance for the public to get up close and personal with the research which affects our everyday life. By offering the public this platform for debate and interaction with the UK’s top female scientists we aim to provide the role models that will spur on the young scientists of the future.


Group One – 12pm – 1pm

  • Professor Dame Athene Donald, Professor of Soft Matter and Biological Physics at University of Cambridge – “Goo: The Physics of the Everyday Stuff that Surrounds Us”
  • Professor Judith Mank, Professor and Chair of Evolutionary and Comparative Biology at University College London – “What makes us different: The genetics of females and males”
  • Dr Heather Whitney, ERC Research Fellow at University of Bristol – “Peacock ferns and metallic moss – why are some plants iridescent?”
  • Dr Samia Elfekih, UNESCO-L’OREAL Postdoctoral scientist, at Imperial College & Natural History Museum, London – “The genomics of pesticide resistance in the case of fruit flies of economic importance”

Group Two – 1pm – 2pm

  • Professor Lesley Yellowlees, Professor of Inorganic Electrochemistry at University of Edinburgh; first female President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (incoming) – “What have the chemists ever done for us?”
  • Professor Kathy Willis, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, and Director of the Oxford Martin School Biodivserity Institute at University of Oxford – “Where can we damage? Biodiversity planning for the future”
  • Professor Helen Dawes, Elizabeth Casson Trust Chair at Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University – “Movement Prints”
  • Dr Nicola Raihani, Royal Society University Research Fellow at University College London – “Helpful humans and friendly fish – common mechanisms for cooperative behaviour in nature”

Group Three – 2pm – 3pm

  • Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at University of Oxford – “Dressed to kill: what do infectious disease agents have in their wardrobes?”
  • Ruth Amos, Young Engineer for Britain 2006 – “The Science behind being an Inventor”
  • Dr Deborah Goberdhan Lecturer in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics department at University of Oxford– “How do cells and animals know how much to grow?”
  • Professor Caroline Dean, Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology at John Innes Centre Norwich – “Flowering and the memory of winter”
  • Dr Giovanna Tinetti, Royal Society University Research Fellow & Reader,  Department of Physics & Astronomy at University College London – “The  Exoplanet Revolution”

For further information, visit:

More about The L’Oréal UK & Ireland National Fellowships”

The L’Oréal UK and Ireland Fellowships For Women In Science were launched in January 2007.  The Fellowships are run in partnership with the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Irish National Committee for UNESCO and the Royal Society.

This year, 4 awards of £15,000 will be offered to outstanding female postdoctoral researchers.

The fellowships have been designed to provide practical help for the winners to continue in their chosen fields.  For example, winners may choose to spend their fellowship on buying scientific equipment or paying for childcare costs or indeed whatever they may need to continue their research.

In total, over 1,200 women in 103 countries have been recognised for their research and received funding to further their studies since the overall programme was founded in 1998