Sheffield academics go mobile for Science Week

Scientists and engineers from the University of Sheffield are going mobile this month to help children, young people and members of the public learn about the fascinating world in which we live in. Academics from the University will be out and about visiting schools and museums as part of the annual National Science and Engineering Week (7-16 March 2008) and will talk about everything from reproduction and evolution, to fizzy pop and candy floss.

The week-long event, which will include public lectures, exhibitions and hands-on demonstrations, will see an array of interesting topics covered by Sheffield academics. Some of the more unusual subjects this year include: The giant hornets of Japan, forensic facial reconstruction and the science of the paranormal.

The University will also welcome academics from other universities to Sheffield, including renowned geneticist Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys from the University of Leicester and Professor Anthony May (OBE, FREng) from the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds.

In a lecture for sixth formers on Wednesday 12 March at 2pm, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys will talk about forensic DNA. He will discuss the accidental discovery of DNA fingerprinting in 1984, through to the first practical applications in solving family relationships and crimes. Also covered in the lecture will be the implementation of DNA amplification methods, which led to the creation of national intelligence DNA databases.

Professor Jeffreys will also look at how forensic DNA might develop in the future and also highlight some of the other areas of research, for example DNA instability, which has emerged from DNA fingerprinting.

Also on Wednesday 12 March, later in the evening at 6pm, Professor Anthony May will give a public lecture at the University, entitled 'Making Urban Transport More Sustainable'. Professor May will talk about his Institute's research on improved decision support for urban transport strategies.

The final public lecture to take place at the University will be held on Thursday 13 March at 7pm. The lecture, entitled 'Nature's Chemistry Set', will be presented by Dr Simon Jones from the University's Department of Chemistry and is aimed at 15-18 year olds. The lecture will look at the building blocks that nature uses to build organisms and some of the tools it uses to keep them working. He will also give a glimpse into the amazing ways in which organisms talk to each other and fight for survival.

Dr Simon Jones, a senior lecturer in the University of Sheffield's Department of Chemistry, said: "Science is part of the world around us. Everyday we use things that are made by chemical reactions, even eating our lunch involves lots of really complex chemistry. National Science and Engineering Week is the perfect platform to pass on the message of the relevance of science and engineering to everyone. I hope with the breadth of topics covered in this year's programme and the number of academics involved it will be the best week yet."

Notes for Editors: National Science and Engineering Week is coordinated by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and aims to celebrate science and its importance to everyday life, providing an opportunity for people of all ages across the UK to take part in science, engineering and technology activities

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