Public Engagement


Making new chemicals

We make new molecules. We do so by buying simple “building blocks” and reacting them together to make more complicated molecules. By understanding how molecules react, we can design molecules first on paper, then go to the lab, make them, and ultimately test them against diseases “in a test tube”. The adjacent diagram explains how it works in a more familiar way:

Lego Steps [1-5]: Starting with simple “building blocks” and performing a few “chemical reactions” leads to products with useful applications.

Drug development

We are trying to make new drugs that are capable of killing brain cancer cells and dangerous bacteria cells (such as hospital super-bugs) by using carefully-designed chemicals that cause the cell to pop-open in a way, not too dissimilar, to popping a balloon (the cell) with a pin (the drug).

UCLan’s Magic Show

Check out the Lancashire Evening Post coverage here.

School children from across the region continue to be invited to discover the excitement of science at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Christmas science show. The free, two-hour event, aimed at school children from year’s 5 and 6 takes place in December each year, within UCLan’s Harrington Lecture Theatre.

Science: the Best Bits is presented by the acclaimed science communicator, Ian B. Dunne. This interactive talk takes a whistle-stop tour through great scientific discoveries, making use of the Van Der Graaf generator, fire breathing and much more.

AbraChemDabra introduces the excitement of Chemistry through the medium of magic. Two Chemical Wizards (Dr Tim Snape and Dr Rob Smith) battle it out to impress with explosions, fluorescence and spectacular coloured fire.

Dr Jo Heaton, UCLan’s Public Engagement Coordinator explained: “This is the third occasion we’ve run this popular show and this year’s promises to be the best yet. The tricks demonstrate important chemical reactions but under the guise of magic. We hope that demonstrating the excitement and drama of science will encourage more children to consider studying the subject later on in their education.”

The event is sponsored by the Royal Society of ChemistrySigma-Aldrich and Aimhigher Lancashire and presented by academics from the Schools of Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences.

View a small clip of the magic show on YouTube  here.

The Royal Society Scientist-MP Sharing Scheme

From backbench to lab bench

Preston MP learns about UCLan’s brain tumour research through unique event organised by The Royal Society.

Preston Labour MP Mark Hendrick swapped legislation for a lab coat when he visited neuro-oncology scientists at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) as part of a unique ‘pairing’ scheme run by The Royal Society – the UK national academy of science.

Mark Hendrick spent the day with Dr Tim Snape from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at UCLan, to find out more about his research into brain tumour treatment.
Hendrick commented: “This was a fantastic opportunity for me to see some of the ground-breaking research being carried out at UCLan. The work involving UCLan’s Cancer Interest Group is potentially of great importance in the future treatment of cancer in the local area.”

Dr Snape has already spent a week in the Houses of Parliament as part of the pairing scheme’s ‘Westminster Week.’ This gave him a behind the scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.

Commenting on his visit Dr Snape said: “The Royal Society Scheme was an excellent opportunity to find out how, as a scientist, I can be involved in providing unbiased, evidence-based, scientific knowledge to MPs and hopefully help to inform policy in the future.”

The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. 

Over 180 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

Lord Rees, President of The Royal Society, said: “As both a scientist and a member of the House of Lords I’m very much aware of the ever-growing overlap between science and politics. 

“Strong links between scientists and parliamentarians are essential if we are to ensure optimum policies on important issues such as stem cell research, nanotechnology, and climate change. By pairing scientists and MPs together, participants not only gain a practical insight into each other’s work, but often a lasting working relationship as well.”