International Public Engagement festival returns to Kent

Katherine Moss

The Pint of Science festival is an international public engagement festival taking place from 22 May – 24 May 2023. This worldwide science festival brings researchers to the local community to share their scientific discoveries in a relaxed and informal setting. Kent has run 18 events since 2017 (with a hiatus during the pandemic), reaching more than 1000 people.

This year, staff from the University will be holding three events – each including three speakers – on three themes: Our Body, Our Society and Beautiful Mind. Our Body (22 May) and Our Society (23 May) will take place at the Foundry in Canterbury, while Beautiful Mind (24 May) will take place at the Man of Kent in Rochester.

On 22 May, everyone is welcome to join Kent staff at The Foundry in Canterbury for a packed and interactive evening about different aspects of how bodies work. Firstly, Dr Christopher Dunmore (Lecturer in Biological Anthropology) will discuss the differences between how apes and humans use their bodies to manipulate objects and even walk. Attendees will also get the chance to undertake some tasks – with some interesting props.

Julien Camard (PhD Student in Applied Optics Group), will explain how newly developed optical techniques will allow us to better spot developmental abnormalities in IVF embryos and be amazed how new scientific developments allow us to visualise the development of embryos in incredible detail.

Finally, Professor John Dickinson (Head of the Exercise Respiratory Clinic) will investigate how to breathe most efficiently during illness or exercise. There will also be an interactive session using basic breathing exercises to understand what scientific research suggests is an optimal breathing pattern in various situations.

On 23 May, we take a look at a range of topics in the theme of ‘Our Society’. Firstly, Gabrielle Emson explains her research which shows that learning some very simple sound exercises can make it easier to learn a second language and how this will hopefully inform how the UK teaches languages.

Tommy Pargeter-Grey will explore if Artificial Intelligence (AI) is funnier than your favourite comedian. We have all read about how AI is taking over the world. But how good is it at telling a joke? So why not join Tommy and help push AI limits to the extreme in this tantalising taste of comedy for the future.

Lastly, see how the beer that you drink is helping scientists find out how disease resistant genes work in crops and how they could fight diseases. Dr Helen Cockerton will explain what a UK hop breeder and a plant geneticist have in common – and show you how to carry out a DNA extraction using everyday items from your kitchen cupboard…from a strawberry!

Finally, join us in Medway (Man of Kent pub, Rochester) for a journey into the ‘Beautiful Mind’ . Dr Zara Bergstrom will look at incriminating memories and forensic memory detection – how do our brains stop the retrieval of unwanted memories or ‘update’ existing memories and how do brain activity electroencephalograms (EEG) and memory tests help investigate this? Dr Bergstrom will also look at how these tests can detect if a suspect has memories of a crime or make guilty suspects appear innocent – and how this can be applied to real life applications such as ‘brain fingerprinting’ in the “Making a Murderer” TV series.

Next Dr Amir-Homayoun Javadi will discuss how enhanced cognitive abilities could potentially allow you to decide faster or achieve increase performance in everyday tasks, and what restrictions there should be on these applications. will lead a discussion on these ideas before a game of ‘Pin the brain’ game to see how much you know.

Finally, we’ll see why traumatic brain injuries can increase the risk of dementia. With 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK, Dr Romina Vuono asks if lifestyle decisions are affecting the development of dementia, as well as our genes? We’ll learn how brain injuries which occur in everyday life or during sports (e.g. boxing or heading a football) can increase predisposition to this devastating disease.

Tickets are £5 and are available online now.

To find out more about the Pint of Science festival and how to get involved, email the team at