Credit R. Holdsworth

Image courtesy of R. Holdsworth

Women scientists take to their soapboxes in Exeter city centre

Soapbox Science, an event that brings science to the public and showcases female scientists, returns to Exeter Saturday 29 September.

The event, which is returning to the city for its fourth year, will see 10 female scientists standing on soapboxes in Eastgate, Princesshay to talk to the public.

Following the format of London Hyde Park’s Speakers‘ Corner, the event will transform Exeter’s Princesshay into an arena for public learning and scientific debate; creating a dynamic and bustling atmosphere and learning environment for all.

There will be speakers from the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesCollege of Life and Environmental SciencesCentre for Biomedical Modelling and Analysis, University Medical School and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Amongst the 10 talks, audiences will have the chance to find out how cells can be controlled by sound, learn more about a study of beaked whales using DNA and discover the bacteria that like to play dead.

The event is part of a nationwide initiative by Soapbox Science, which aims to bring science to the people and challenge gender stereotypes in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) careers. By highlighting the visibility of female scientists, the event also hopes to inspire women who are considering a future career in STEMM.

Dr Safi K. Darden, one of the Exeter Soapbox Science organizer trio, which includes, Dr Ana Neves and Isabel Castanho, said: “It has been just incredible to watch this initiative grow and to be part of such a positive force for science.

“Our first Exeter event ran in 2015, when it was one of 8 events around the country. This year it will be one of 30 events internationally, including the first ever event in the United States, organized by one of our 2017 speakers.”

Isabel Castanho said: “For me Soapbox Science is not only a celebration of the achievements by amazing female scientists, but a way to educate the public and discuss important scientific subjects with them.

“It is very important that we scientists share and discuss our work and findings with the general community, something I see as a responsibility actually.

“Something I love about Soapbox Science is that we go to the community instead of the community coming to us, giving the opportunity for someone who just went for a walk or went shopping to interact with scientists and know more about their science.”

The family-friendly event, sponsored by the University of Exeter, will run from 1pm-4pm. The audience is encouraged to interact with the speakers and ask as many questions as possible!

Watch a video from last year’s event

A full list of speakers and their talks:


Dr Kirsten Thompson, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Secrets of the Deep: Studying beaked whales using DNA

Soraya Meftah, University of Exeter Medical School
How the brain changes in Alzheimer’s Disease: Let’s get electrophysical!

Emily Wood, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
How antibiotics can help hungry bacteria

Dr Bryony Williams, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Microsporidia: How to be an extreme parasite


Dr Sariqa Wagley, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Sleeper cells: Bacteria that like to play dead

Dr Yolanda Hill, Centre for Biomedical Modelling and Analysis
Cardiac 'SatNav'. Destination: heart attack damage

Dr Rachel van Heugten, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
Sleeping with the enemy: Using DNA to investigate the love life of a giant endangered insect


Jessica Brown, College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences
Controlling Cells with Sound

Dr Monika Bokori-Brown, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Biological nanopores: the ‘hole’ story of bacterial infections

Molly Carlyle, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Opioids, brains and behaviour: how some drugs affect you

Date: 18 September 2018

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