KrebsFest at the Cheltenham Science Festival


PhD students Roxanne Lau and Naer Alkaabawi from the University of Sheffield write about their recent trip to Cheltenham where they took part in one of the UK’s largest science festivals.

Cheltenham Science Festival is an annual week-long event celebrating diverse achievements across science, engineering, and the arts, bringing the general public face-to-face with the world’s leading scientists and inspirational speakers in one forum.

We and others from the University of Sheffield brought KrebsFest – an event honouring Sir Hans Krebs for his Nobel Prize winning work – to the Cheltenham Science Festival. We originally participated in KrebsFest in 2015 as part of the Schools Project, where we had been involved in delivering a master-class to local secondary school students. Naturally, we were excited to help bring a taste of KrebsFest to Cheltenham. However, this offered a very different opportunity, where we had the chance to engage actively with a much larger audience of all different ages and backgrounds through hands-on demonstrations. 

Led by Dr Nathan Adams, our team of nine scientists covered a variety of topics, all exploring the theme of “Hidden Worlds”. The KrebsFest exhibition was set in the Discover Zone in Cheltenham Town Hall, a huge interactive space buzzing with atmosphere, attracting over 13,500 visitors during the week. Over the two days we spent at Cheltenham Science Festival, we ran activities to stimulate the interests of visitors of all ages, from Key Stage 1-3 students, who visited in school groups, up to adults who had the exhibits to themselves during a dedicated session on the second day. These included growing protein crystals, viewing cheese mites under the microscope, making microbes, and taking “Science Selfies” with infrared and UV cameras.

We had a really great time at the festival, and it was an amazing experience to be able to participate at such a huge and prestigious event. We are in the final year of our PhD studies, but the University of Sheffield has provided us with many wonderful opportunities for outreach and public engagement over the years, which in turn have boosted our confidence. Volunteering at Cheltenham with a fantastic team was, for us, the icing on the cake.

To see some photos of our event, please visit our photo album. Photos courtesy of Melanie Hannah.