Author Archives: Charlie Mc Monagle

Pint of Science: Uniting Scientists and the Public Over a Pint

Science communication is a difficult but vital part of engaging the public in science and technology, and in ensuring continuing public support for scientific research, university education and research council funding via the taxpayer. That said, it can be hard to know how to engage the public in your research, or for the interested public to know where to go to be engaged. One international science festival has a unique and brilliant solution: the scientists take their research to the pub.

The premise of Pint of Science is simple: you go to a pub and listen to someone talk about their research. Originally a “Meet the Researchers” event at Imperial College London in 2012, the 2017 festival saw over 175 cities taking part worldwide, including the UK, Brazil, Australia and Japan. Over three nights, the UK alone was celebrating research in 150 pubs in 26 UK cities, with a thousand speakers and an estimated 20,000 attendees listening to short, accessible research talks from real research scientists. Among the new cities for 2017 were Durham, Cardiff and Liverpool, joining veteran cities like Manchester, Leeds, Bath, Cambridge, Glasgow and more.

The true draw of the festival is that there can be something for everyone: several themed events are run under the Pint of Science banner. These include “Beautiful Minds”, covering all things neuroscience and psychology, or “Atoms to Galaxies”, taking in physics, chemistry and astronomy. Each theme is attached to a pub for three nights, and so with two speakers per night, you can showcase a wide and varied selection of local research for each of your chosen themes. It’s not just limited to the ‘traditional’ sciences either, as Pint of Science also includes the Our Society theme for social sciences like history and politics, as well as the Creative Reactions arm which is about bringing science and art together; the idea is to showcase the variety and abundance of academic research.

Dr. Vicky Forster discussing the best and worst of ‘miracle’ cancer treatments at Pint of Science 2016 in Newcastle.

This was my second year organising the Newcastle branch of the festival after our inaugural success in 2016. Though the festival runs for only three nights in May, we started preparing in the preceding November, deciding which pubs we wanted to use, which themes we would like to include, and what we were looking for in our speakers; we had most of this locked down by February at which point we could think about publicizing and promoting the festival around the city. As both an event manager (for Our Society) and the publicity coordinator, I had many plates to keep spinning from November to May but thankfully a great deal of the organization can be done by email.

Being an event manager in this kind of festival allows you not only to bring your university’s research directly to the public, but also gives you the opportunity to create your own kind of mini-conference: you get to devise a topic for the evening and select the speakers, you must co-ordinate with them on when they are available, who they would be sharing a platform with, and what their talks should contain. Many researchers haven’t had the opportunity to speak to a novice audience before, and even the most esteemed professors appear to quake in their boots at talking to the public! On the nights of the festival you’re responsible for setting the tone, introducing the speakers and chairing the discussions. These are all valuable skills for an early career researcher and you get to practice in a relaxed, informal environment.

Even as a floating helper, as I was last year while furiously tweeting about the various talks happening across the city, you get to meet with the public and engage with a variety of people about some of the most fascinating research. A few examples: last year we used 3D televisions to show computer models of supernovas; we discussed how effective depression treatments really are; we explained how vital healthy mitochondria are to our health and development. This year we looked at the future of Newcastle as a smart, green city; we explored how chemists are designing better LEDs; we listened to different types of laughter to understand how our brain processes sound; and we were given a peek at how personalized cancer treatment could work.

The only sad part is that within three nights, the festival is over!

If you’re interested in outreach and engagement, Pint of Science is a brilliant way to get involved whether as a speaker or an organiser. You can check the Pint of Science website to see if there is already an event near you; if there is, you’ll be put in contact with someone on that organising team, but if there isn’t, the central team will let you know and there’s nothing stopping you gathering a few like-minded friends and colleagues to organise your own Pint of Science festival for 2018.

Natalie Tatum – BCG Representative

Committee Positions Available

Several members of the current YCG committee are due to finish their term at this year’s AGM. Consequently we are currently looking for new and enthusiastic members to become involved in the committee. These positions are a great way to be connected with the crystallographic community, but generally do not require much in the way of time commitment. The positions currently available are:

– Deputy Chair
– BSG Group Representative
– Ordinary Member (3 positions available)

Nominations for these positions need to be supported by two other YCG members, which should send an email to the YCG secretary, Elliot Carrington ( The AGM will be held on Monday 10th April during the YCG Satellite meeting of the upcoming BCA Spring Meeting in Lancaster

You can still become involved in the committee even if you are unable to attend this year’s AGM.

If anyone has any queries about the positions please feel free to get in contact with Elliot or the rest of the committee. Full details of the current committee and their contact details can be found at

Thanks and best wishes,
Elliot Carrington
Secretary / Treasurer YCG

YCG/CCG: Would you publish this?

BCA_2017The YCG is chairing a joint session with the CCG during the main meeting.
This interactive session will discuss problematic crystal structures that can be hard to interpret and publish.
After the opening keynote talk by Dr. Iñigo J. Vitórica-Yrezábal (University of Manchester), the session is open for anyone to describe structural results that raise the session title question.
This is a great opportunity for young crystallographers to share their work, where they can interact with a friendly audience, who with years of experience will provide constructive advice.
Problems might include charge imbalance or other chemical issues, poor resolution or data completeness, complicated disorder, highly restrained models, unexplained residual electron density, etc.
A formal abstract is not required, but please contact the session organisers (Claire Hobday, or William Lewis, in advance of the meeting (as soon as possible!) if you wish to contribute.

To.Sca.Lake 2.0 Summer School

Lake como SchoolIf you are interested in Total Scattering techniques in particular applied to nanomaterials, the To.Sca.Lake 2.0 summer school will be held at the end of May on the banks of the beautiful lake Como.  The course will run from May 29 – June 2, 2017 and registration is now open!

The program includes lectures by world-wide experts in total scattering, nanomaterials, saxs and light scattering. Tutorial sessions on Debussy and PDFgui/diffpy-cmi are scheduled with real applications. There is also the possibility of submitting an abstract together with the application, to give an oral presentation.

Please find further information on the website –

See you soon on lake Como!

BCA Spring Meeting 2017 Abstract Deadline

BCA_2017The BCA Spring Meeting 2017 abstract deadline is fast approaching! All abstracts must be submitted by 9AM Friday 20th of January, one week today. You are all encouraged to submit abstracts to the Young Crystallographers satellite meeting or to the main meeting.

This year we have a great program lined up with plenary talks from Stefan Kaskel (Technische Universität Dresden) and Simon Coles (University of Southampton). We also have a educational session were we have 3 invited speakers to unite the fields of chemical, physical and biological crystallography, Matthias Gutmann (ISIS), Helen Playford (ISIS) and Jane Endicott (University of Newcastle). However there are lots of slots for You to present your work whether that be a poster or an oral presentation so please submit your abstracts here and see you there!


BCA Industrial Group Meeting – 10-11th November 2016

bca_igRegistration is now open for the BCA Industrial Group Autumn Meeting entitled “Diffraction of amorphous and disordered materials” which will be held at Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire over two days, 10-11th November 2016.

Early bird registration fees are available until the 14th October and reduced fees for students are also available. Some student bursaries are also available, please contact the chair if you wish to apply.

For more information for this event and the bursary’s available please visit:

For any other info just contact our own Alex Cousen at

ECM-30 – Science Slam and EYC Satellite Meeting


At the ECM this summer in Basel there will be a Science Slam taking place during the meeting!

For this you will have three minutes to present your research to a large public, in an entertaining way. You can use powerpoint or other supports – as you wish but remember, you have only 3 minuets so make them count! The decision will be taken by the public using an applaudimeter… and the winner will win a prize. For inspiration checkout the Famelab YouTube channel.

There are now only a few days to get your abstracts in to present at the European Young Crystallographers Satellite Meeting! For all the information please got to the European Young Crystallographers website.

See you in Basel!

European Young Crystallographers Satellite Meeting – ECM-30

As paEYC ECM30rt of the European Crystallographic Association meeting ECM-30 in Basel there will be a Young Crystallographers Satellite Meeting taking place. This will be on Sunday the 28th of August, the day before the main meeting and you are all invited to attend. Abstract submission open till the 30th of June!

For more information on registration and abstracts please visit the European Young Crystallographers website. See you in Basel!

Joint BCA/RSC XRF Meeting – 15th June

On the 15th of June the BCA Industrial Group will hold a joint meeting with the RSC for XRF, X-Ray Florescence, at the University of Leicester. This should be a fun and useful meeting for anyone interested in the technique. Registration closes on the 9th of June and they are offering a limited number of free places for students.

More information can be found on the XRF – Industrial Group website or by contacting the IG representative Alex Cousen (University of Bath),


BCA Industrial Group committee meeting – 9th May 2016

IGOn the 9th of May, the BCA IG group will hold is biannual committee meeting in London to discuss industrial contributions to the BCA Spring meeting 2017 in Lancaster, as well as for the BCA IG group meeting in Autumn. The session will focus on arranging industrial speakers for both events, deciding which industrial sectors to approach, as well as other ways the IG group can contribute to BCA activities, i.e. public engagement, as a whole.

Alex Cousen (University of Bath) will be representing the YCG and if you have any ideas about particular industrial topics you would like to see or other issues you would like to raise, please email him :