University launches science and society lecture series

Mathematician and television presenter, Professor Marcus du Sautoy, will be joined by five of the UK’s leading scientists to discuss the impact scientific research can have on global societies.

Marcus du Sautoy is Professor of Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and has presented documentaries such as The Story of Maths, and The Music of Primes for the BBC.  Professor du Sautoy will talk about how mathematical ideas shape the way artists frame their creative processes.  He will demonstrate how mathematical numbers and patterns have inspired composers, painters, writers and choreographers throughout the ages.

Other speakers in the series include, Nobel Prize Winner and crystallographer, Professor Ada Yonath; Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Professor Douglas Kell; Co-Chair of Working Group I (WGI) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Thomas Stocker; plant scientist and geneticist, Professor Sir David Baulcombe; and X-ray crystallographer, Professor Sine Larsen.

Israeli crystallographer, Professor Yonath, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for her studies on the structure and function of ribosome – a component of cells that make protein from amino acids.  She became the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize and the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for chemistry.  She will discuss the particle accelerator facility, SESAME, which brings together scientists from across the Middle East to further understanding into proteins, viruses and other molecules.

Professor Kell is Chair in Bioanalytical Sciences at the University of Manchester.  As Chief Executive of one of the largest funding councils for biological research in the UK, he will discuss examples of work that have contributed to improving the quality of society.

Co-Chair of Working Group l of the IPCC, Thomas Stocker, is Professor of Climate and Environmental Physics at the University of Bern.  His research looks at the development of models for past and future climate change.  His lecture will focus on debate around climate change and how scientific information about global environment can be communicated to a wide audience.

Professor Sir David Baulcombe is a plant scientist and geneticist at the University of Cambridge.  He investigates natural resistance to viruses in plants.  Sir David will discuss scientific research that could help enhance global food-crop production.

President of the International Union of Crystallography, Professor Sine Larsen, is a structural chemist at the University of Copenhagen.  At her lecture she will talk about the impact of X-rays on society and how they can underpin developments across a variety of materials, from new drugs to aircraft components.

The Science and Society lecture series is free, but places must be reserved by telephoning 0151 794 6986 or registering online at

Lectures will take place at 5.00pm at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, Brownlow Hill on the following dates:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Professor Sine Larsen
The impact of x-rays on society

Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Professor Sir David Baulcombe
Reconciling biotechnology and organic crops

Monday, 16 May 2011
Professor Douglas Kell
Why is funding of biological research important for a healthy and prosperous society?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Professor Ada Yonath
Elucidating the ribosome structure and constructing a Middle East Accelerator (SESAME): two feasible goals although they originally seemed formidable

Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Professor Marcus du Sautoy
The secret mathematicians

Tuesday, 13 Decemeber 2011
Professor Thomas Stocker
Climate change: Making the best use of scientific information

Notes to editors:

1.  The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £110 million annually.

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