As part of the Cambridge Science Festival, two of the LMB’s group leaders talked to the public about their research at the University Technical College Cambridge (UTCC). The talks, aimed at the 12+ age group, gave the public the chance to find out more about the LMB’s work and to quiz the scientists about their particular field of expertise.
On the evening of Friday 18th March, John O’Neill from the LMB’s Cell Biology Division talked about ‘Circadian rhythms: everything you always wanted to know about jetlag (but were too tired to ask)’. A large audience heard how most biological organisms contain an innate ‘clock’ that controls the organisms’ daily behavioural and physiological patterns – the circadian rhythm. When this is disrupted by jetlag or shiftwork it can seriously affect our health causing heart disease and some types of cancer. John, who has a long-term interest in understanding how the circadian rhythm is controlled at the cellular level, talked about our current understanding of this fascinating field and why it is so important. John commented, “it was a really positive experience, the audience was great, very interactive, with some really insightful questions.”
On the afternoon of Sunday 20th March, Greg Jefferis from the LMB’s Neurobiology Division spoke about ‘Sex, food and smell’. Greg uses cutting edge biological and computing technology to explore how pheromones regulate courtship in insects and how behaviours are encoded in brain wiring. The large audience found out how work on the tiny brain of fruit flies is producing insights into brain structure and function that are relevant all the way to human brains. Greg adds “It is always a lot of fun to present our work to the public. From the questions and reactions, I think people went away both impressed by what flies can do with their tiny brain and also amused at some of the behavioural parallels”.