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Interactive science festival returns to streets of Reading this summer – University of Reading

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Interactive science festival returns to streets of Reading this summer

Release Date 29 May 2019

Soapbox Science

Shopping and science don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but that is exactly what will be happening on the streets of Reading town centre this June.

Twelve female scientists from the University of Reading and beyond will de-camp to Broad Street on Saturday 8 June to give shoppers the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research as part of the Soapbox Science event.

Returning to Reading for the first time since 2016, the interactive event is part of an international initiative by Soapbox Science, which aims to bring science to the people and challenge gender stereotypes in science careers.

The initiative aims to not only bring advances in science to the general public, but to highlight the work of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

Dr Manuela Gonzalez Suarez, Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading, who sits on the organising committee of this year’s event said:

“We are very excited to bring Soapbox Science back to Reading and to provide a platform to local, inspirational female scientists.

Studies have shown that women leave science at a higher rate and achieve less scientific prestige than men due to implicit bias on gender stereotypes in STEMM.

“We hope this event will go some way to changing that, challenging gender stereotypes in certain science careers, and inspiring a new generation of scientists to consider pursuing a career in STEMM.

“This will be a great opportunity to meet and network with leading scientists and to enjoy, question and explore recent scientific works. Events are open to the public free of charge, just bring your curiosity along.”

Among the many speakers on the day, there are six female scientists from the University of Reading.

Dr. Sofia Gripenberg will be examining what a forest without insects would look like; Dr. Nandini Vasudeva will talk about human behaviour; Dr Vicky Boult will be exploring an elephant’s appetite; Ms Chanida Fung will talk about insect diversity; Ms Rachael Chandler will talk about Parkinson’s disease; Dr Julia Vogt will talk about our fears; and Dr Joanna Clark will be asking whether soil, grass and trees can help manage flooding.

Soapbox Science was founded in 2011 by Dr Nathalie Pettorelli (Institute of Zoology) and Dr Seirian Sumner (University of Bristol). Since then, more than 140,000 people have attended Soapbox Science events across the world, with 85% rating them as enjoyable or extremely enjoyable and over a third stating the event had an effect on their awareness of women in science.

This year is set to be the biggest in Soapbox Science’s history, with 500 women participating in 42 events across 13 countries.

Soapbox Science will take place in Broad Street, Reading between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday 8 June.

The 12 speakers taking part in the Reading event are:

Dr. Vicky Boult (@vlboult), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading: An elephant’s appetite” 

Rachael Chandler, Biomedical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading: Parkinson’s, DNA and… microscopic worms?!” 

Dr. Joanna Clark (@JoClarkUoR), Soil Research Centre, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading: “Can soil, grass and trees help to manage flooding?” 

Chanida Fung (@chanida_fung), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, “Insects and individuals: Why should we care?

Dr. Sofia Gripenberg, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading: “What would a forest without insects look like?” 

Dr. Nandini Vasudevan, Endocrinology, Biomedical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading: “Why do we behave the way we do?” 

Dr. Julia Vogt (@JuliaVogtPsy), Perception, Cognition and Nutrition, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading: “Do you see what you want or what you fear” 

Dr. Maria D. Christodoulou (@melasnous), Department of Statistics, University of Oxford: “Why do we grow old?  Ageing, demography, and the fun of biostatistics.” 

Hannah McGivern, Cranfield forensic institute, Cranfield University: “Getting older is no Humerus matter! Myths about our skeleton and ageing” 

Dr. Leah Morabito, Department of Physics, University of Oxford: “Super massive black holes: how do they shape galaxies?” 

Jessica Phillips,  Department of Zoology, University of Oxford: “Dive Like a Penguin – Foraging Behavior of an Antarctic Predator”

Daisy Shearer (@DaisyShearer, @notesfromthephysicslab), Department of Physics, University of Surrey: “From lasers to quantum computing: how quantum technologies impact our lives”


Soapbox Science 2019 Reading is sponsored by Johnson Matthey and University of Reading.

For more information, visit


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