Enjoy a Pint of Science from our world-leading researchers

The world-famous Pint of Science festival returns to Sheffield from Monday 14 - Wednesday 16 May, featuring talks by colleagues from across our University.

Taking place in six of the city’s best-loved pubs, the festival promises a fascinating insight into the research of our University’s world-leading scientists.

Speakers will give the audience a taste of their area of expertise, focusing on some of the most pressing issues facing our world today, such as homelessness and housing, antibiotic resistance and artificial intelligence.

Sheffield is one of many cities across the world to host Pint of Science each year. The event provides a fantastic opportunity for our academics to share their discoveries with our local community.

Whether you’re interested in punching holes in bacteria or discovering the chemistry of tasty fairground treats, come and learn about your colleagues’ pioneering research in a friendly atmosphere.

The festival kicks off with a launch event on Monday 9 April from 5.30pm in the Sheffield Tap. Drop in for free throughout the evening to hear from the following speakers:

  • Dr Dhanak Gupta, Faculty of Engineering - Cells and Geometry
  • Dr Fuschia Sirois, Department of Psychology - The Science of Gratitude
  • Dr Elizabeth Alvey, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology - Beer and CRISPR: Genetically engineering better bevvies
  • Dr Andreas Vlachos, Department of Computer Science and James Thorne, PhD student - Artificial Intelligence Against Misinformation?

The main festival runs from Monday 14 - Wednesday 16 May across the Sheffield Tap, the Millowner’s Arms, Tamper Seller’s Wheel, Sentinel Brewhouse, the Hallamshire House and the Old Queen’s Head. Each venue is hosting talks on a different theme: ranging from the tiny organisms wreaking havoc in nature to the big questions about the future of energy.

Book your tickets here.

What's on

Here are all the scientists taking part in the festival and where you can find them.

Sheffield Tap

Sheffield Tap: Beautiful Mind

Monday: Growing Through Imperfections 

Words related to the brain

Developing a flexible mind: why making mistakes can be a good thing - Dr Emma Blakey, Department of Psychology

If you have ever been around a young child, you will know they find it hard to think flexibly and it's often impossible to control their behaviour. Our research has shown that surprisingly, before children can become fully flexible, they actually make more mistakes as they develop. Come and find out more about flexible thinking, how we measure it, and learn why in development, making mistakes can be a good thing!

The power of being kind and loving your imperfections - Sandy Belle Rosales Cadena, PhD Student 

What would you tell your best friend if she comes to you feeling really bad because she put on a few pounds? Would you be critical and harsh? Or would you be tender and gentle? I bet you chose to be tender. Then why not treat yourself the same way? Come along, have a pint, and learn how you can benefit from treating yourself kindly and lovingly.

Tuesday: Unconventional Neuroscience

Drawing of a brain

An affair in the brain: neurovascular yin yang - Karishma Chhabria, PhD Student

The brain is the most energy expensive organ of our body. It consumes a lot of energy from the blood to ensure we can do our day to day tasks (such as you reading this post!). Besides that, it also forms the seat of creative thinking, and even brings in motivation to do science! How in the world is it able to cater to all complex human tasks? We now know that neurons are not the sole ‘avengers’ of brain. The ‘other brain’ as it is know by some, will be unraveled in this talk. There is more to the conventional picture of neuroscience!

Dopamine: high, low, fast, slow, what do we know?! - Dr Lars Hunger, Department of Psychology

In my talk I will show what we do and don't know about Dopamine in the brain. Is Dopamine causing happiness? (Unlikely). Is Dopamine causing addiction? (It's probably related). What do we even know? Why do we need computer simulations when we already have model experiments, brain imaging and more? I will present my research on diffusion of Dopamine in the brain mostly by showing visualisations of my simulations and what insights can be gained by theoretical considerations and computer simulations.

Wednesday: The Power of Words

An eye

Read my eyes: how language guides visual perception - Dr Srdan Medimorec, School of Languages and Cultures

We often take language for granted. However, language learning and processing involve a complex interplay of various cognitive processes. One exciting method that gives researchers an opportunity to tap into these processes is eye-tracking. In this talk, I will present results from a series of experiments that use eye-tracking to investigate how sensitive people are to patterns in language, and how this is related to other types of pattern learning. My talk will also include a hands-on (eyes-on!) eye-tracking demonstrations.

The science of gratitude - Dr Fuschia Sirois, Reader of Psychology

Can simply saying or showing thanks improve your life? According to the latest research, the answer is “yes”. A growing evidence-base shows that being grateful can have many benefits, including better physical health, enhanced well-being, and even better sleep. This research challenges the idea that grateful people already have more to be thankful for, as the benefits have been found for healthy individuals and those dealing with long-term health conditions. Come learn about the ways to cultivate a grateful mind-set, and the benefits of noticing and appreciating the positive things in life.

The Millowner's Arms

The Millowner's Arms: Tech Me Out

Monday: The Next Big Leap In Computing

A man using a VR device

Does AR live up to the hype? - Matei Moldoveanu, AMRC

Augmented Reality (AR), alongside cryptocurrencies and self-driving cars is one of the technologies set to change the way society functions by revolutionizing how humans interface with the surrounding world. Though Sci-FI writers have long been referencing AR, it is only now that the technology is slowly starting to take shape. The AMRC works to bring such new technologies into industry and help innovate the UK’s manufacturing industry. The talk will present how AR works, and what limitations it brings, what the AMRC does with this technology and how it overcomes the barriers to adaptation.

... and then I said: that's not a toaster, that's my teacher! - Jose Lopez, PhD Student

Would you listen to what a robot has to say? What if it's going to be on the test? Maybe soon you will attend a class delivered entirely by a machine, just like in the movies! This talk focuses on the question: can a robot actually teach? Come on down to find out how AI, psychology and social robotics work together to find out if robots in classrooms are worth a shot; because it’s hard to be a good teacher, but it's harder to build one.

Tuesday: Pushing The Boundaries

Computer code

Data rules the world - Dr Will Jacobs (TBC)

Data has become a commodity in the 21st century - 'Big Data' is big business. In fact, you could say "Data rules the world". But how did this happen? Many of us will know the terms 'Machine learning', 'Artificial Intelligence' and 'Big Data'. In this talk we look at the science behind how a machine can learn, how something artificial can be intelligent, and just how big 'big data' really is. Find out how, with a powerful computer and a lot of data, scientists spanning all scientific disciplines are tackling fundamental questions (and big business is making a lot of money).

In silico: a biological experiment as an engineering problem - Anastasia Kadochnikova, PhD student

In the century of technological progress, engineering scientists team up with biologists and clinicians in attempts to develop in silico tools that can support the decision-making process in diagnostics and disease management. In silico research offers a platform for running simulations of biological tests that are not only cost-effective but also take a small fraction of the time required to perform an experiment. From this talk you will discover how in silico models are created and refined, what challenges they present for the scientists and engineers, and how they can improve treatments.

Wednesday: Do We Still Have To Do It Like That?

A power button

The new space race - Sam Bond, PhD Student

Across the Atlantic two billionaires, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, are racing to develop reusable rockets. This idea has been around since the 60s, but was only successfully achieved last year. Learn why the Space Shuttle never delivered on its promises, and how a new generation of reusable spacecraft will enable the public to journey into space and allow humans to colonise Mars. Discover how students from the University of Sheffield are developing new ways to ensure reusable rockets are reliable and low-cost, using micro-robots as part of a Europe-wide competition.

Why is software always crashing? - Dr Achim Brucker, Software Assurance and Security

In our daily life, we are - sad but true - used to crashing or otherwise non-working computer systems. Gerald Weinberg, an American computer scientist, once said: "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilisation." Is building correct and secure programs really so hard that we cannot master this task, or are we just careless when implementing programs? In this talk, we will explore the difficulties of implementing correct computer programs and learn techniques for building secure and reliable programmes.

Seeing with your ears - using ultrasound to see inside moving machines - Dr Henry Brunskill (TBC)

Ultrasound is used in medicine to understand what is going on inside the human body. This is achieved by reflecting soundwaves off tissue and bone and translating this signal into an image based on the time between reflections. Engineers at The University of Sheffield have developed ways to use this technology to see inside of dynamic mechanical machines by using permanently installed ultrasonic sensors and smart processing techniques. It's possible to understand a wide range of machine parameters such as lubricant films, contact pressure, wear, viscosity, component position stress and strain.

Tamper Seller's Wheel

Tamper Seller's Wheel: Our Body

Monday: Punch Drunk Love; Sperm, Anatomy, Bacteria

Sperm and eggs

How I fell in love with my forearm and other stories from human anatomy - Isabelle Heyerdahl-King and Professor Alistair Warren, Department of Biomedical Science

Come along to learn more about your body, how it works, what it does and how we learn about these things. After this interactive session you will be able to impress your friends with Latin terms like – flexor digitorum profundis – to understand how we can make complex movements to play the flute, write poetry and use chop sticks. You will also find out how we study and perform Anatomical Examination in a modern University, and how the people of Sheffield contributed to a change in law regarding this vital part of medical and scientific research.

Killing bacteria with a single punch - Dr Joseph Kirk, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a big problem. It has been predicted that by 2050, infections by antibiotic resistant bacteria will be responsible for more deaths per year than cancer. This highlights the need for the development of alternative treatments for infectious disease. Clostridium difficile is responsible for the majority of antibiotic associated diarrhoea cases and its severity and incidence has increased over the past decade. I will discuss Avidocins, engineered nano-machines capable of punching a hole in the cell wall of C. difficile, as a potential alternative treatment.

Magnetic love: using magnets to look inside sperm - Dr Sarah Calvert, Department of Oncology and Metabolism

Have you ever wondered why men make so many sperm? Come along and discover what sperm have to do in order to reach the egg. Find out about male infertility and learn what makes a good sperm. Then hear how, as part of the SpermNMR team, I am using magnets to study what is in "good sperm". The SPERM study looks at chemical differences between good quality and poor quality sperm. You can also have a look at our team website to learn more about magnets and male infertility.

Tuesday: Melt In The Mouth Biology

Test tubes

You are what you eat: identifying ancient cultures through archaeology - Veronica Aniceti, PhD Student

Animal bones and teeth, and food preferences of the past come together in this talk to provide a fascinating insight into aspects of the human-animal relationship throughout history. Specialising in the study of animal remains from archaeological sites as a zooarchaeologist, I will show how food has always been about more than just survival, and what it can teach us about the cultural roots to which people belong. Twinned with an exhibition of bones from tabooed animals with specific butchery marks, it promises to be more than your average diet talk.

The great tissue engineering bake off - Dr Sam Pashneh-Tala, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Hungry for a new heart or lung, maybe a kidney or two. Tissue engineering has the answer, offering replacement organs “baked” to order. But what is the recipe for growing body parts? Learn all about tissue engineering in this fascinating and tasty talk. Using edible examples, I will explain the processes tissue engineers use to take cells and grow them into functional tissues for use in medicine. I will also demonstrate a bioreactor (a machine used to grow tissues/organs in) used for making blood vessels. It promises to be deliciously informative.

Oral microorganisms: is your toothbrush providing you with more than just pearly whites? - Cher Farrugia, PhD Student

Brushing and flossing disrupt the growth of decay and gum disease, causing bacteria, and therefore promoting oral health. Research has found that these microorganisms can contribute to diseases beyond our mouths. During this talk I, a dentist by profession (but a not so scary one), will explain how oral microorganisms can contribute to not so pearly whites, wobbly teeth and heart disease, amongst other diseases. This talk will surely motivate you to start brushing away, as soon as you get home!

Wednesday: Sheffield Vs Cancer: Jigsaws, Factories and Food

A biological experiment

Are you at risk of bowel cancer? - Alec Johns, PhD Student

Being able to determine the likelihood of getting a certain cancer would be quite useful, especially if the cancer was one of the three most occurring cancers worldwide. One of the causes of bowel cancer is the consumption of red meat, which contains chemicals that can change the structure of the building blocks of our DNA. If we could create replicates of these modified building blocks, then we have the tools to accurately calculate the total number of these modifications in any human DNA sample and decide if the human is at risk of developing bowel cancer.

Designing a piece for the jigsaw - drug discovery for cancer - Professor Tim Skerry, Department of Oncology and Metabolism

Cancer is caused by cells mutating so they continue to reproduce when that is not needed. This growth needs nutrients, oxygen and communication with the body. We identify targets – parts of cells essential for those processes - and then use computer modelling to predict their shape. We can then design drug molecules that bind tightly to them and block their function, like a well-fitting piece of a jigsaw. In this talk, I will explain the way that targets are identified, and how my research group is working to develop drugs to block functions of a hormone involved in over half of cancers.

A tour of drug making cell factories - James Baker, PhD Student

This talk will bring you on a tour of the cell factories that produce biologics, which are some of the most effective drugs in our fight against diseases like cancer. We'll explore why these drugs are important, why they're so difficult to produce, and the work scientists are doing to turn the cells producing them into perfect miniaturised drug factories.

Sentinel Brewhouse

Sentinel Brewhouse: Planet Earth

Monday: Brew-tiful Science

People sharing pints

Beer and CRISPR: genetically engineering better bevvies - Dr Elizabeth Alvey, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Fancy a beer with intense honey notes and no banana? Using DNA sequencing technology we know which yeast genes give beers unique flavours. We can swap around these important flavour genes using CRISPR genome editing technology to develop exciting new beers. Sadly, hangover-free beers are still a distant dream.

Beer, cheese and the future of plastic production - Dr Joseph Webb, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Beer and cheese making share a common theme in their production; microbes are used to covert sugars into chemicals that give them their flavour. This talk will explore the biochemistry involved in making these products and how the age-old processes are being reinvented using synthetic biology to sustainably brew plastics.

Tuesday: Nature's Bad Guys


Evolving in the blink of an eye - Dr Laura Carrilero, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

When talking about evolution, the image of a hairy human-like ape comes to our minds. And probably this is right, but there is much more. This is the story of how bacteria evolve to superbugs, why antimicrobial resistance is a global concern and how you can help.

These plants don't play fair - they're after your dinner! - Caroline Wood, PhD Student 

Forget ticks and tapeworms - the most interesting parasites are plants! But when they infect our food crops they are a real menace – especially Striga, which devastates harvests in sub-Saharan Africa. Come and find out how we are slowly turning the tables against these villains of the plant world!

Wednesday: What The Future Holds

A small plant

Why are chemicals used to treat my drinking water? - Natalie Lamb, PhD Student

One day, could we produce excellent quality water without using any chemicals at all? My talk will explain how and why these chemicals are currently used, what the future of drinking water treatment could possibly look like and what work I’m trying to do to get us there.

Glowing bacteria for detection of heavy metal pollution - Bastian Saputra, PhD Student

The defence mechanism of bacteria towards heavy metals can be exploited for our benefit. By using cutting edge genetic engineering techniques, we can modify soil bacteria to become tools for heavy metal detection. This talk will discuss how bacteria are engineered to produce light emission in response to heavy metals.

A paradigm shift: ethanol from woody plants - Dr Vijay Raghavendran, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

We need a dramatic change in our approach towards the pretreatment of plant biomass to produce products of interest, at high concentration, rate and yield. By taking a road less travelled by, perhaps we might be able to become a bio-based society sooner.

Hallamshire House

Hallamshire House: Atoms to Galaxies

Monday: We Have An Energy Crisis!


From bits to batteries - Dr Chris Handley, Department of Materials Science & Engineering

The search for novel materials to address the economic, ecological and phenomenological challenges of our modern world means we are now modifying materials by manipulating 1 atom in a hundred or more. We do this to fine tune the properties of batteries, electronics components, metal alloys, glasses, cements, ceramics. This also means we can make these materials greener, less toxic, and cheaper to make. in this talk we explain the methods we use to design materials, atom by atom, on a computer.

Limbo state: current and future status of UK plutonium - Lewis Blackburn, PhD Student

The UK currently possesses a large stockpile of separated Plutonium. Its past use in nuclear weapons and its potential use in certain nuclear reactors means it could be viewed as a dangerous material or valuable asset. There is no definite consensus as to the future of UK plutonium. This talk will outline the current government position and an analysis of the credible options that are being discussed Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Things fall apart: the final fate of everything - Dr Matthew Malek, Department of Physics and Astronomy

This "Atoms to Galaxies" talk covers the final fate of both atoms AND galaxies! At the largest scales: I will discuss how a mysterious "dark energy" is causing galaxies to move away from each other at an ever-faster pace, leaving the Universe a cold and empty place. At the smallest scales: I will describe the search for a "grand unified theory" (GUT) of matter. I will also explain how a GUT (if it exists) will cause all atoms to decay away. Eventually, the whole universe will be isolated and full of cosmic clutter. Attractive, isn't it?

Tuesday: Circus For The Senses

Fruit and juice

The physics of electronic keyboards - Dr Ed Daw, Department of Physics and Astronomy

There are now many and varied electronic and electromechanical keyboard instruments. How do they work? What do they sound like? From Hammond organs and Rhodes pianos to synthesizers and samplers, these instruments have altered the soundscape for keyboard players and opened up new possibilities for creativity. I will talk about this subject from a Physics perspective, but I also play, and will bring my instruments to demonstrate.

Molecules through the looking glass - Professor Jim Thomas, Department of Chemistry

Mother nature is not ambidextrous. In fact, life is highly selective as to which molecular building blocks it uses to construct cells, tissue and organisms. They can be left or right handed, but never both. This has surprising effects, don't take my word for it, come to this talk and take a Taste Test to find out how you can distinguish molecules as they go through the looking glass.

Sweets & Treats - the chemistry of circus & fairground food - Dr Joanna Buckley, Department of Chemistry

Thanks to British Sergeant Major Philip Astley, his deftness at riding horses and his bright idea to create a circular stadium, he turned his riding arena into a performance space for equestrian acts and the modern circus was born! 2018 marks the 250th anniversary of Astley’s trick-riding and visiting the circus continues to be a feast for the senses. The sights and sounds wouldn’t be the same without the smells (and tastes!) of foods synonymous with this art-form. Explore the chemistry behind famous circus & fairground foods with chances to sample some sweet treats made in front of your eyes.

Wednesday: Reaching For The Stars

Solar system

Surfing on solar waves: good vibrations - Farhad Allian, PhD Student

September 1859: the night sky suddenly erupts in intense colours as bright as daylight. This aurora, the brightest in history, was due to the interplay between the magnetic fields of the Sun and the Earth. During this pre-electric time, humanity experienced this as a mere light show. But an event of this magnitude would be catastrophic for our technology-dependent world. To mitigate this, we will see how real observations of waves on the Sun can be used to unveil some of the properties needed to understand the magnetic environments that trigger these astonishing but life-threatening events.

A solar telescope and a giant helium balloon walked into a bar... - Ankita Kalra and Jae Hyun, PhD Students

Monitoring the Sun is vital to protect Earth's delicate telecommunication network. Hear about how a bunch of students put together a solar telescope to fly with ESA and NASA to the edges of Space. The talk will explain how a telescope at high altitudes can avoid atmospheric distortion of the incoming solar light. It will detail the engineering process the team went through integrating electronics and mechanics together. Listen to funny stories of the team working day and night to achieve something never done before by students!

And the answer is… neutrinos & supernovas - Heloise Stevance and Jost Migenda, PhD Students

Core collapse supernovae mark the deaths of the most massive stars in the Universe. They are responsible for release of the elements required for planets to form and life to arise. Join us to learn how stars evolve – and how we can use ghost-like particles called “neutrinos” to watch them become cosmic fireworks!

The Old Queen's Head

The Old Queen's Head: Our Society

Monday: The Written Word: History, Heritage and Heartache


Big data, historical data and hidden meanings - Dr Seth Mehl, School of English

Linguists study word associations to identify important meanings and concepts in particular times and places. Today, for example, we can ask English speakers what they associate with 'austerity' or ‘Europe’. Sometimes, however, we want to investigate meanings and concepts in history. How do we get into the minds of historical people? The Linguistic DNA project is studying word associations in texts written between 1470 and 1700, using computers to model relationships between words and historical concepts. This talk presents principles, processes, and findings in Early Modern English.

Who are you? Languages, families and Identities - Dr Sabine Little, Department of Education

Walking around Sheffield you hear lots of different languages - between couples, parents and children. You might speak multiple languages yourself. But what is it really like negotiating multiple languages in one family? To what extent are the languages we speak linked to our identity, and what happens when this sense of identity is not shared among family members? "Heritage languages", like any other heritage or inheritance, can be welcomed or rejected. This talk explores how families experience life in multiple languages and the pitfalls and successes multilingual family life can present.

Exploring grief and surviving loss in the sonnets of Charlotte Smith - Val Derbyshire, PhD Student

In 1795, poet Charlotte Smith (1749-1806) suffered what is arguably the most devastating blow a mother can experience: the death of her daughter. Lamenting the loss of ‘[t]he loveliest, the most beloved of my daughters, the darling of all her family, [who] was torn from us for ever’, Smith confronts her grief through the new sonnets she pens during these moments of anguish. She does this by reconstructing the body of her daughter within these sonnets, using the scientific language of botanical illustration to recreate the physical presence of her lost child.

Tuesday: Who Run The World? Pop, Porn and Post Truth


Me & Beyoncé: the language of YouTube users - Dr Iona Hine, Department of Philosophy

In 2017, linguists and digital developers worked together to discover how users respond to YouTube videos. Our task was to design tools for a parent project* asking questions about social media and the military. This talk explores challenges involved in the research and highlights some initial findings. How do fans react to military motifs in Beyoncé's Run the World? (*Militarisation 2.0 funded by Swedish Research Council).

Talking to women about porn(ography) - Ruth Beresford, PhD Student

What do women think about pornography? How should we talk about it? I will discuss the Living with Porn(ography) Project, a project in which I worked with a group of 8 women to research women's experiences of pornography. Pornography is much talked about in our society, and is often a polarised debate: the positive potential or the harmful impact. However, there isn't always an opportunity for people to say for themselves how they feel about it. Here I will share what we discussed; what did this group of women think about porn?

Artificial intelligence against misinformation? - Dr Andreas Vlachos, Department of Computer Science and James Thorne, PhD Student

Today we are bombarded with information from a variety of sources, some of which are recent such as Facebook, some of them well-established such as newspapers. However some of it is false, and the ease of spreading it has given rise to terms such as fake news. In this talk we explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help us fight misinformation. First we examine how human fact-checkers work and discuss the requirements from AI. Then, we present methods for fact-checking statements such as “UK unemployment is 4%”. Finally, we will demonstrate live our recent work: developing a Wikipedia-bas

Wednesday: Culture Clash? Poppies, Pitches and Parents


From poppy flowers to Brexit: exploring UK-China relations through history - Songwei Luo, PhD Student

British colonialism in China opened up relations between the two countries. Britain's victory in the Opium Wars was perceived by the Chinese as the beginning of a centenary national humiliation. However, owing to the rise of China in recent years, it would appear that the UK now needs China more than China needs the UK. How have the perceptions of the UK by China evolved over time and vice versa?

Indian summers on the village green: how British Asians saved English club cricket - Amerdeep Panesar, PhD Student and Dr Chris Stride, Department of Management

As divisions between work and home time blur, and the role of family commitments has expanded, free time left to play sport have diminished. Cricket, which requires hours complete, has been particularly hit, with a decline in amateur clubs and players. However this masks an equally dramatic demographic shift in cricket club membership, as first and second generation British Asians increasingly become the mainstays of many teams around the UK. In this talk we describe the 'whens, wheres and whys' behind this progression, and discuss how this mixing of cultures is challenging traditions.

How and why has the relationship changed for two cohorts of young people growing up in the UK? - Professor Stephen Farrell, School of Law

The relationship between the sort of housing one occupies (rented from a council, rented privately, owned or being bought) has a strong association with the sorts of victimisation one experiences. This talk will explore the reasons for this and explore how and why the relationship between housing and homelessness and crime has shifted so dramatically. The findings suggest that housing decisions which parents make are linked to the levels of victimisation and homelessness which their children experience. Although the effects decay over time, they can still be detected well into adulthood.