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The University of Southampton

Spreading the word about catalysis

Published: 5 December 2013

A summer of exciting events that brought world leading research at the University of Southampton to thousands of people across the south of England has been celebrated by students and staff.

In 2013, a dramatic exhibit from Chemistry told the story of catalysis. Third year MChem student Jamie Thompson was part of the team that showed how fuel cells work and how a copper coin can be turned into what appeared to be gold through electroplating. "Catalysis is an important chemical process and it's good to explain it to members of the public," he explains. "But children just loved the gold coins and we let them take them home as souvenirs."

Professor Andrea Sella, known for his TV appearences, was among the estimated 10,000 people who tried their hand at the interactive exhibits to understand new concepts on the fourth season of the ‘Bringing research to life' roadshow.

In all, the roadshow featured nine exhibits illustrating work in areas ranging from chemistry and the biological sciences, physics and engineering to the social and human sciences; enthusiastic researchers and students showcased the research to school children and curious members of the public. Venues included the Cheltenham and Winchester Science Festivals, Bestival on the Isle of Wight and the University's own Science and Engineering Festival. New events for 2014 are expected to be the Big Bang at the NEC in Birmingham and the Natural History Museum in Universities Week; and possibly even the Glastonbury Festival!

Cheltenham Science Festival 2013

"The roadshow has gone from strength to strength and we are looking forward to our 5th season in 2014," says co-ordinator Dr Steve Dorney. "It is a unique way for academic researchers to spread the word about their work and for students to develop their communication skills." Engineering PhD student Hannah Morton was one of the 2013 team: "It's great to get the chance to enthuse everyone from little kids to retired people about what we do at Southampton," she says.

Awards were handed out at a celebration meeting to the hardworking team who amazed and enthralled audiences throughout the summer. They included Dhivya Puri and Hannah Morton (best research communicators), Ben Littlefield (wow factor) and Laura Clements, Gaia Andreoletti and Reuben Pengelly of the DNA research team (for innovation and development). Group awards were presented to the Catalysis team in Chemistry, the Transportation Research Group from FEE and the Centre for Population Change. Judith Wardlaw from the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester was named best host.

Follow the roadshow on Twitter @UoS_Roadshow.

Bestival 2013
Bestival 2013
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