Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this term we have moved online, and virtual events are well underway. Please stay tuned for more events, and if you have not done it yet, please join our newsletter.

All talks (except co-hosted talks, where a link shall be provided) will be streamed through our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and will be free of charge for everyone to attend. If you enjoy this talks, or like with our work spreading scientific knowledge in these difficult times, please consider supporting us by purchasing a 1-year OUSS membership for £15 or a lifetime OUSS membership for just £25.


Week 1 (15 October 2020): Dr Anders Sandberg, University of Oxford
“Exploring the space of possible minds: interactions between science fiction, philosophy and science”

What kinds of minds can exist? This is a question of interest to philosophy, science and science fiction. This talk will look at the problems we have in these domains of exploring the question, from the “problem of other minds” (how do we even know others have minds?), over studying non-human and alien minds, to measuring the space of possible minds (just how big and weird could it be?). On the way we will meet rebellious ants, unhappily married posthumans, and conscious exotica.

Week 2 (22 October 2020): Dr. Pam Berry, University of Oxford
“Challenges and opportunities of climate change for biodiversity”

Pam Berry has been involved in teaching Geography undergraduates in Oxford since 1978 and is involved in the Masters in Environmental Change and Management. She also joined the Environmental Change Institute in 1992 and is the Deputy Leader of its Terrestrial Ecology Group.

Week 3 (29 October 2020): Prof. Athene Donald, University of Cambridge
A Scientist’s Responsibility”

Being a scientist is about far more than facts and experiments and there are many aspects of a science or engineering degree that prepare you for life beyond the bench. We have responsibilities in this wider world we should not run away from. Now, more than ever, we need to be sure the public can trust us and that we know how to present complex evidence as plainly as possible so that it is clear what we know – and what we don’t.

Week 4 (5 November 2020): Dr. Jim Spencer, University of Bristol
“Antibiotic Resistance”

The development of antibiotics was one of the greatest medical advances of the 20th century, but antibiotic overuse has now led to the emergence of resistant strains of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and various Enterobacteriaceae. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms by which resistance arises to a range of important antibiotic classes.

Week 5 (12 November 2020):  Anu Ojha, National Space Academy
“The Secret Rulers of the world – the Apollo Moon Landings, conspiracy theories and critical thinking skills in a “post-truth” world”

In our technologically driven society, the number of people who believe that the Moon landings took place in the Nevada Desert and that the 9-11 attacks either never happened or were controlled demolitions, is ever increasing, even though many of these views have little acceptance within the academic community. Why is this the case? Are scientists part of the global conspiracy or are things not quite as they appear?

Week 6 (19 November 2020): Prof. Emily Flashman, University of Oxford
Coming Up For Air: How Plants Sense and Respond to Flooding”

Plants are subjected to a wide range of environmental and biological stresses, including flooding, which is a major cause of crop damage across the globe. Finding ways to make plants more flood-tolerant is a major challenge in the effort to sustain food security. As biochemists, we can help address this challenge by understanding how plants respond at the molecular level to being flooded and how to enhance tolerance.

Week 7 (26 November 2020): Prof. Akane Kawamura, Newcastle University

Epigenetic modifications refer to the covalent modifications to DNA and histones which constitute a set of inherited changes in gene expression, without changing the underlying DNA sequences. By having a molecular understanding and developing chemical probes against the proteins that regulate these epigenetic modifications, we hope to gain a better understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and how they influence the expression of genes in health and disease.

Week 8 (3 December 2020): Christine Rollier-Weissenburger, Oxford Vaccine group
“Insights into the technologies behind the COVID-19 vaccines in development”

COVID-19 has become the first coronavirus that has led to a pandemic, and a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1), developed at Oxford’s Jenner Institute, was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. It can generate a strong immune response from one dose, is not a replicating virus, and the vectors are a very well-studied vaccine type.