10/2019: Memory (Udale, Slavkova)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 17 October 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

This event will be in the King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA) again.

TITLE: Understanding the Components of Memory

Where did I put my keys? Who hasn’t felt the frustration of losing their keys soon after putting them down?  This is a common experience due to everyday lapses in attention and working memory – our ability to temporarily ‘hold things in mind’.  We rely on working memory every day to hold things in mind, solve problems and to make sense of the continuous stream of perception.  We will talk about what working memory is, and give some examples of the important functions it serves in our everyday lives. As we age, people often experience their memory getting worse.  In clinical settings, we see many people who have no neurological issues, but report having much worse memory problems. We will discuss potential factors that might contribute to these lapses in attention and short-term memory and review some of the available assessments.


Elitsa Slavkova is a Clinical Research Coordinator and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. She has contributed to the research design and clinical implementation of a stroke-specific cognitive screen in the NHS, as well as conducting research with people with subjective and mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rob Udale is a Cognitive Psychologist with a PhD in Experimental Psychology.  I use behavioural experiments and computational modelling to understand human attention, memory, and visual cognition.  I am currently working in Professor Masud Husain’s Cognitive Neurology lab at The University of Oxford.


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09/2019: Moon (R. Bamford)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 19 September 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

Due to renovation work at the KH & B our events will temporarily be happening at Old Magistrates Courtroom (OMC) in the Guildhall.

TITLE: Lunar Swirls – How to Protect Astronauts at the Moon

Lunar swirls are optically distinct features that are found in several locations on the Moon’s surface. Lunar swirls are not related to impact craters and show no difference in surface texture (numbers or type of rocks or boulders), but do show differences in the amount of Space Weathering relative to their surroundings. The solar wind bombardment on the lunar “soil” makes it darker over time. The white lunar swirls are regions where the surface has been protected from this Space Weathering due to magnetic fields. The Moon has no overall magnetic field, but there are small regions of low level magnetic field that create protective pockets. Studying these natural shelters may help us to create artificial storm shelters for astronauts in the new Lunar space station, the first module of which is being built by European Space Agency and due to be launched in 2023.

Speaker: Ruth Bamford

Ruth  is a research physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory space science Department at the Harwell Campus. As Space Plasma Physics Theme Leader she works on the origin of cosmic rays and means to protect against them for astronauts and instruments. She works closely with laboratory-astro and fundamental plasma physics teams from Universities, STFC’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) and Culham Center for Fusion Energy. Prior to working on “outdoor plasmas” like the aurora, ionosphere and space plasmas, she was working for 12 years on “indoor plasmas” at Culham in the pursuit of fusion energy. Ruth is a visiting scientist at Uni of Oxford and is a member of the ESA Plasma Topical Science Team for the planned Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway international space station.

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08/2019: Microbiota (C. Pearson)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 15 August 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

Due to renovation work at the KH & B our events will temporarily be happening at Old Magistrates Courtroom (OMC) in the Guildhall.

TITLE: Microbes in our body: health or disease?

Microbiota (the microbes present all across our body) can have unexpected effects on our body. These effects range from disturbing the immune system in our gut to influencing our brain! Given their wide influence, alterations to the microbiota are linked to a variety of diseases. Equilibrium between tolerance for certain microbes and protection against pathogens is key to our health. Claire will talk about how we might be able to beneficially alter the microbiota or mimic their symbiotic effects. These techniques will include antibiotics, fermented food and drinks, altered diet and the joy of faecal transplant.

Speaker: Claire Pearson

Claire is a Laboratory Manager in NDORMS, University of Oxford, and is also an Experimental Lead in the Oxford Centre for Microbiome Studies (OCMS). She came to Oxford several years ago to study the intestinal immune system but has since been converted to understanding the role of the microbiome that the immune system interacts with.  Through the OCMS she has become involved with many microbiome projects that cover diverse fields, illustrating the importance of the microbiome in practically everything.

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07/2019: Parkinson (Grogan, Nobis, Sandhu)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 18 July 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

Due to renovation work at the KH & B our events will temporarily be happening at Old Magistrates Courtroom (OMC) in the Guildhall.

TITLE: Parkinson’s disease and dopamine: affecting motivation, movement and memory

Parkinson’s disease is a common brain disorder which affects about 1 in 350 adults in the UK. In Parkinson’s disease, a part of the brain becomes progressively damaged, which leads to a lack of a chemical called dopamine. The most well-known problems resulting from this lack of dopamine in Parkinson’s disease involve people’s movement, including slowness, tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with walking and balance. While these movement problems are very obvious, there are more subtle symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as changes in memory or mood, which can also impact a person’s day-to-day life. Drugs that increase the amount of dopamine in the brain are used to treat the movement problems in Parkinson’s disease, but it is less clear how these drugs affect the cognitive symptoms.

We will present work looking at how movements, motivation, and memory may all become impaired by Parkinson’s disease, how dopamine medication may treat them, and what this can tell us about how dopamine might work in healthy brains too.

Speaker: John Grogan, Lisa Nobis, Tim Sandhu

Dr John Grogan completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of York, and his PhD in Neural Dynamics at the University of Bristol investigating how Parkinson’s disease and dopamine affect different forms of memory.

Lisa Nobis is a PhD student in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on changes in mood and motivation in Parkinson’s disease. Before coming to Oxford, Lisa completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Groningen (2014), and a Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Maastricht (2016).

Tim Sandhu completed his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at University College London, and is due to start his PhD at the University of Oxford investigating the link between movement and motivation in Parkinson’s disease.

They are neuroscientists working at the University of Oxford, studying motivation and memory in Parkinson’s disease and other disorders.

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06/2019: Slippery Secrets in the car (I. Bell)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 20 June 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

Due to a double booking, this event will not happen at the usual venue. Instead we will meet at Old Magistrates Courtroom (OMC) in the Guildhall.

TITLE: Slippery Secrets – The hidden science within the life-blood of your car

Each day we either directly or indirectly use automotive vehicles to go about our daily lives. The engineering of these machines is perhaps obvious. The chemistry that enables them to operate, specifically the fuels and lubricants, is perhaps less obvious to us. However, the fluids are critical to their operation and the specific focus on the reduced environmental impact of these vehicles. In this talk we will explore the role that engine oils play in the operation of vehicles, and the specific chemistries that are deployed to provide the highly specific performance required for modern automobiles. These will range from the use of polymers to control the fluidity of the oil, to how we use complex colloid systems to fight acids. Ultimately the industry drive is to minimise the exhaust emissions from vehicles, and we will explore the current and future challenges we face in terms of legislation, but also the technology to address them. This is a multifaceted challenge requiring a highly multi-disciplinary approach and the deployment of highly sophisticated scientific and engineering methodologies.

Speaker: Dr Ian A W Bell

Afton Chemical is one of four global companies that focus on the development of petroleum additives, delivering enhanced performance for fuels, lubricants and speciality fluids in the automotive sector.  Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Afton has R&D, Commercial and Manufacturing facilities in all continents.
Ian joined Afton Chemical, in 2008, has held several R&D Leadership roles in Afton and is now Senior R&D Director for Engine Oils.  This is a global role responsible for all formulation research, additive, polymer and product development in the business.  Ian is also responsible for all long-term chemical and physical science research for the corporation.
Prior to Afton, Ian has had over 2 decades of experience in the lubricant industry, having worked for Exxon Chemical, Infineum and BP, leading commercial development of lubricant additives, several formulation, customer and OEM-facing roles and specific roles on strategy and planning.
He is a native of northern Scotland, gaining Honours degree and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh, and gained his MBA at Oxford Brookes University in 2004. During this time Ian was also accepted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is a Charted Chemist and is active in the RSC management boards.

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