Glasgow Science Festival: Superbug Science

Antibiotic resistance and the emergence of so-called ‘superbugs’ pose a growing threat to public health. But who is creating the problem? And whose responsibility is it? At this year’s Glasgow Science Festival, a team of researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University will shed light on this important issue through fun, interactive debate. 

SHIP Superbugs Debate (2)

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Mairi –  I’m a researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researching public awareness of antimicrobial resistance.

Caroline –  I’m also a researcher at GCU using social science to shine a light on complicated public health issues, like antibiotic use and resistance.

Jen –  I’m a researcher at GCU using psychological theory to understand behaviours, such as hand hygiene, which have an important role in tackling the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

Lauren –  I am also a PhD student at GCU, researching knowledge, beliefs and perceptions related to the acceptability of rapid diagnostics for antibiotic use and resistance.

Ellie –  I’m a PhD student at GCU, researching public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around antibiotic use and resistance.

2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

Mairi –  I’m keen to engage with people from all different backgrounds, and raise their awareness to the issue of superbugs’ resistance to antibiotics.

Caroline –  I’m really excited to work with a great team of social scientists to share our research findings about antibiotic use and resistance, a topic which is relevant to us all.

Jen –  Glasgow Science Festival is a unique opportunity for us to spread the word about our research to a different audience and engage with members of the public around the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

Lauren –  I think the festival will be a perfect opportunity to engage with the wider community. AMR (antimicrobial resistance) affects everyone and it is so exciting to be able to share our research with the public.

Ellie –  I believe many health issues can be targeted by educating the public and raising their awareness of what can happen when certain behaviours and habits persist. Taking part in an event such as this means I get to play an active role in enhancing the public’s awareness, younger individuals and families.

3. Why should we come to your event?

Mairi –  We’re focusing on a serious public health issue, but doing so in an interactive and light-hearted way. This event will give you the chance to understand how superbugs are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and what role we all play in safeguarding antibiotics for the future.

Caroline –  The ‘Superbugs’ debate is going to be a great fun event. There’ll be a chance to hear lots of different perspectives on AMR (e.g. health, pharmaceutical, agricultural). You’ll then be given the chance to make up your own mind about AMR and what can be done – and to vote to let us know!

Lauren –  The event will be a fantastic opportunity to hear different views on a global health problem. The night will be fun and interactive but will also offer you the chance to have your say! Hope to see you there!

Ellie –  When people think about the issue of antimicrobial resistance, they seem to only look at it from the point of views of human health. However, there are many other processes in a variety of areas which contribute to this issue, such as agriculture and farming. Our event will bring all of these factors together in a fun way through role-play and public involvement in a lively debate.

4. This year’s festival theme is ‘Glasgow Explores’. Where would you like to explore?

Mairi –  Human reasoning (on a sub-conscious and conscious level) and how it leads to behaviour.

Caroline – I’d like to explore what solutions we create when the great minds of Glasgow and beyond come together to creatively engage with a problem like AMR!

Jen –  I’d like to explore what members of the public know about the issue of antimicrobial resistance and discuss the ways in which we all can make small changes to our behaviour to safeguard antibiotics for the future.

Lauren –  In my own research, I am hoping to find acceptable ways to reduce the AMR crisis and I cannot wait to hear what people have to say about AMR.

Ellie –  I’d love to explore how cultural norms affect the way people think about certain health issues, and how this then translates into behaviour.

5. What’s the best thing about being a scientist?

Mairi –  Contributing to tackling serious public health issues, and the creativity that comes with the research.

Caroline –  Like Mairi, I love the creativity involved in being a social scientist – the chance to explore, think about and impact upon public health problems is a real privilege.

Jen –  Learning about and exploring aspects of human behaviour related to health and working as part of a wider team to help people change their health behaviours, in turn, contributing to important public health issues, such as antimicrobial resistance.

Lauren –  The best thing for me would have to be discovering new things every day. Research lets you answer the tough questions and helps to reduce burden from health crisis’ such as AMR.  

Ellie –  This is quite a tough question because I pretty much love everything about it- from learning about what has been done, to taking that information and using it to find out more about the subject. There’s variation because your data leads you in many different directions too, and I think that is very exciting!

Join Mairi, Caroline, Jen, Lauren and Ellie for ‘Whose Superbug Crisis Is It Anyway?’ on Thursday 8 June at Glasgow Caledonian University. The free event begins at 6pm. For full details and booking, visit the website.


Renewable Energy Physics

Glasgow Science Festival aims to inspire people of all ages about science, including the next generation of scientists and engineers, through our free schools programme. This programme is delivered by real-life, practising scientists including Clara, Daria and George from Glasgow Caledonian University.

1. Who are you and what do you do?


Clara: My name is Clara Hollomey, I am a PhD student at the Audio department of Glasgow Caledonian University. My research focuses on investigating how the hearing impaired perceive music.


Daria: I am Daria Freier, a first year PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University. My research project is finding a design for a concentrator (a lens which focuses light) which can be used to make small portable solar systems, like solar lamps and solar chargers, more efficient.


George: I am George Loumakis and I am a lecturer and researcher in Glasgow Caledonian University. I teach various modules that have to do with renewable energy, energy in buildings, energy resources etc. Chances are that if something contains the word energy I am somehow involved. My research focuses mostly on solar energy for the time being.

2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year

Clara: I just like making sound.

Daria: I am always keen and happy to communicate the potential of science and of renewable energy in particular to students who will shape the future.

George: I love every form of science communication and i think it’s time that us academics got out of our nice little bubble and started interacting with the public more.

3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Clara: I could not live without the internet. Having the knowledge of the world at my everyday disposal is pure luxury.

Daria: The best innovation for me are airplanes. Without the fast way of travelling we would not be able to see the world as we can right now.

George: I agree 100% with what Clara says about the internet.

4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10th birthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

Clara: This would probably be a Dobos-Torte ( Chocolate and caramel thinly layered. For what more can you ask?

Daria: Cake!

George: My world famous triple chocolate fudgy cookies. Bring me a bowl the size of a room and i can feed the whole festival if need be.

5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

Clara: An optimist sees a glass half full. A pessimist sees it half empty. An engineer sees it twice as large as it needs to be.

Daria: How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb? None. They wouldn’t do it. It’s a hardware problem.

George: Some years ago I left Greece to come to Scotland to study solar energy. Fact, joke or both, you decide.

Clara, Daria and George are leading ‘Renewable Energy Physics’, free workshops for school pupils with hands-on experiments to explore this growing field. For more information, visit the website.

Alcohol, Music, Technology and You

How might music influence the amount, the pace and the brand of alcohol that people drink?  How do young men and women describe their drinking online and what consequences might this have for their drinking behaviour?  Is what, where, and how you drink a way of displaying your identity? Dr Carol Emslie and her colleagues will explore these questions and more in special event for Glasgow Science Festival.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Dr Carol Emslie and I lead the Substance use & misuse research group at Glasgow Caledonian University (@SubMisuseGcu).  I interview men and women to explore how drinking fits into their everyday lives.  In order to change drinking culture, we need to understand what purpose alcohol serves.  For many people, it is closely interwoven with friendship, and is seen as providing ‘time out’ from busy lives.


What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

I’m presenting a session called ‘Alcohol, Technology, Music and You’ with my colleagues Dr Alasdair Forsyth and Jemma Lennox. We’ll be discussing the role of entertainers like DJs and musicians in alcohol marketing, examining connections between social media and drinking among young people, and exploring how men and women use alcohol to display their identities (from ‘girly girl’ to ‘playing the lad’).

The Matrix, District 9, Moon… what sci-fi classic floats your… uhh… spaceship?

Blade Runner for Vangelis’ music and a vision of the future which hasn’t dated.  Joss Whedon’s Sci-Fi western ‘Firefly’ for 14 perfect episodes before it was cancelled.

2015 is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and among other things, we’re exploring how eating insects might be the future. What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve eaten?

Hmmm, I haven’t intentionally eaten insects.  I was lucky enough to live in Aotearoa New Zealand for three months – the sushi and the traditional Māori food were delicious.

Impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

Our research challenges the idea that peer pressure only applies to young people. People in their thirties and forties describe how friends and colleagues do not always accept that they want to stop drinking on a night out, illustrated by repeated chants of “go on, go on, go on”, “one for the road” and “just leave the car”. Some said it was easier to just take the car, or say they were on medication or detoxing in order to have an acceptable reason for not drinking.  Heavy drinking is seen as normal, while not drinking alcohol has to be explained in Scottish society.

Uncover the fascinating science and psychology of drinking and join the debate with Carol and her colleagues on Tuesday 9th June at Glasgow Caledonian University from 6-7.30pm.  Tickets are free and can be booked online.

Glasgow Science Festival: Day 2

It’s Day 2 of Glasgow Science Festival. Brush off your whisky or zombie-induced hangover and get ready for some more science-y fun!


Enjoying some tasty science at “Malts to Molecules” in The Corinthian last night

Art collides with science in The Lighthouse today at the Images of Research exhibition. Enjoy compelling images from the world of research from 10.30am-5pm. You can also book in for the exhibition awards ceremony and reception, tonight at 5.30pm. Book online at


From 12-4pm Glasgow Caledonian University host their Research Celebration, with public talks, interactive displays and an array of activities to showcase cutting-edge research in health, engineering and business.

Later on, Drs Amanda Lucas and Lewis Dean will be asking “What makes us human?” and tracing our fascinating evolutionary journey. Join us in the University of Glasgow’s Zoology building from 6-7pm.


Finally, our sold out “Know Your Whisky” event in DRAM! will explore the science of your favourite malts.

And then it’s time for the weekend! Ooft!