SoapboxScience 2014 Swansea

Swansea University Logo 301On the 5th of July 2014, Soapbox Science joined efforts with Swansea University to transform the magnificent expanse of Swansea Bay (next to the 360 Beach and Watersports centre and café) into a hub of scientific learning and discussion, as some of Wales’ leading female scientists took to their soapboxes to showcase science to the general public. The event’s mission remained the same: to help eliminate gender inequality in science by raising the profile, and challenging the public’s view, of women and science. 2014 saw strong competition to appear at this Swansea’s event with over 20 applications received. The winners and their discussion topics included:


Prof Julie Williams, Professor & Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Cardiff University “What can genes tell us about dementia?”

Dr Ruth Callaway, Research Scientist, Swansea University “How can we design man-made structures that enrich coastal biodiversity?” 

Watch Ruth’s podcast here

Prof Siwan Davies, Swansea University “Explosive, unpredictable, microscopic but powerful: how tiny pieces of volcanic ash can help us to understand the climate of the Past”

Watch Siwan’s podcast here

Nia Blackwell, PhD Student, Aberystwyth University  Making microbes work: using naturally-occurring waste sediments and bacteria to clean contaminated mine water”

Dr Geertje Van Keulen, Associate professor, Swansea University “Microbes are shaping life on Earth as we know it now – from good to bad bacteria and back again”

Ina Laura Pieper, Scientific Research Manager, Calon Cardio-Technology Ltd “Improving heart pumps to save lives”

Watch Ina Laura’s podcast here

Dr Sophie Schirmer, Associate Professor, Swansea University “Quantum physical effects allow us to see inside solid objects including the human body to identify structure, function, biochemistry and diagnose diseases”

Sofya Lyakhova, Swansea University “How beauty lies in equations

Watch Sofya’s podcast here

Leah Johnstone, PhD student, Bangor University  “Everybody knows a left-hander…nobody knows why they’re left-handed”

Dr Kami Koldewyn, Lecturer, Bangor University “The social brain and how it shapes how we view the world”

Dr Yamni Nigam, Associate Professor, Swansea University “There’s a maggot in my wound!”

Dr Natalie De Mello, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Swansea University “The new pain free drug delivery method that could replace hypodermic needles in the next 5 years”

Watch Natalie’s podcast here

Dr Emily Shepard, Lecturer, Swansea University “Meet the real airshow. Venue: Your back garden”

Dr Deya Gonzalez, Senior Lecturer, Swansea University “Understanding female fertility through womb pathologies in female cancers and endometriosis”


You can still download the flyer for this event in Welsh and English


Discover our 2014 speakers:

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wimcs logoThe Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (WIMCS) sponsored our Swansea event, as well as Dr Sofya Lyakhova. WIMCS is a collaborative partnership of the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea. Established in 2006 by the Welsh Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, WIMCS aims to enhance the standing of mathematics and computation in Wales, to foster links with industry, commerce and business, to generate substantial research funding and to provide a forum for education and public awareness of the Mathematical Sciences.


Tidal lagoonTidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TLSB) plc’ sponsored Dr Ruth Callaway, from the SEACAMS project at Swansea University. The company specialises in renewable energy, with both UK and international projects experience. It aspires to see the UK successfully shift towards clean and sustainable energy that is locally owned.  The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m. This tidal range offers significant potential for the extraction of renewable energy through the construction of tidal lagoons. They are classed as ‘offshore generating stations’, and the planned Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be an offshore generating station with a nominal rated capacity of 240MW, with the ability to power the equivalent of 155,000 homes. The vision of TLSB is to see this sustainable and abundant tidal resource help the UK towards greater energy security. It can help the transition to a low carbon future and lower costs of electricity while providing regenerative, economic and recreational benefits to local communities. The company is particularly interested to ensure that the lagoon benefits the local environment, promotes biodiversity and offers opportunities to rear locally important marine and coastal species. This ambition is pursued through collaborative research projects with the SEACAMS projects.


RSClogoThe Royal Society of Chemistry was happy to sponsor Soapbox Science Swansea 2014. In particular, we supported an exclusive opportunity for chemistry-interested pupils (ChemNet members) to interact with some of the Soapbox Scientists. ChemNet is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s free provision for 14-18 year olds and membership helps you to discover the chemistry in your life. As part of ChemNet, students benefit from monthly newsletters and competitions, events all over the UK, careers information, and help with your studies. Sign up here. The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. We are the largest non-government supporter of chemistry education in the UK and our activities encompass lifelong learning, including both formal and informal education. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity.


SGMlogonewThe Society for General Microbiology sponsored Soapbox Science Swansea 2014. The Society is a membership organisation for scientists who work in all areas of microbiology. It is the largest learned microbiological society in Europe with a worldwide membership based in universities, industry, hospitals, research institutes and schools. The Society publishes key academic journals in microbiology and virology, organises international scientific conferences and provides an international forum for communication among microbiologists and supports their professional development. The Society promotes the understanding of microbiology to a diverse range of stakeholders, including policy-makers, students, teachers, journalists and the wider public, through a comprehensive framework of communication activities and resources.