Let's Talk About [X] 2017

Recordings, Abstracts and Speaker Info

Click each presenter's name to jump to their abstract and bio
Wednesday 15 Feb
Sir Charles Wilson Lec Theatre
(Room Finder)





Welcome: Dr Matthew Williamson

Director of the Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Service - LEADS

Keynote presentation: From Zoology to Zoo-LOL-ogy 

Dr Zara Gladman, Public Engagement Co-Ordinator









Thursday 16 Feb
Senate Room, Main Building
(Room Finder)











Megan Allan
English Literature - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Cyborgs And Postmodern Humanity

Abstract:  The OED defines a cyborg as ‘a man-machine system in which the control mechanisms of the human portion are modified externally by drugs or regulatory devices’. Nowadays however, the definition of a cyborg can be seen in a much broader sense because of our increasing reliance on technology. Due to scientific progress, nowadays people often find themselves surrounded, or interacting, with technological equipment. It is becoming increasingly common for people to carry technological equipment on, or in connection with, the body. Clear distinctions between what is real and what is virtual, where the body ends technology begins, what is nature and what is machine become fractured as technology improves. This confusion between ‘true’ and ‘false’ has radical consequences for theories of identity. The widespread nature of technology means that these consequences have the potential to affect us more profoundly in the future, which is why this topic should be studied.

Christopher Barlass
Politics & Public Policy - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Greater Manchester Devolution

Abstract:  England is arguably one of the most centralised developed countries in the world, the transfer of power to Greater Manchester’s authorities and the establishment of a ‘metro-mayor’, represents an important change in English regional governance. Increased levels of democratic participation are expected, with the creation of potentially the most important English politician outside of London with a significant personal mandate.


The powers entrusted include: a £6bn health budget focused on creating an integrated health and social care system; devolution of transport, enhancing cooperation with government on infrastructure; control of business rates, enabling the creation of a business-friendly environment.


The research conducted evaluated the scope of the powers, political engagement and familiarity, and whether the powers correlate with the policy priorities of the electorate. If successful, it may serve as a model for increasing political engagement in a time of ‘anti-politics’, in addition to being replicated across multiple cities within the UK; creating an increasingly fragmented system of regional politics that could significantly influence our lives and surroundings.

Bio:  As a born and bred Mancunian I have a love for the city which includes the music, gin, music, and more gin, although that love does not extend to Coronation Street. I am curious by the nature of cities, local governance, how they grow and how they can evolve to create inclusive growth.

Whilst politics and policy are my primary academic interests, I do hold qualities 

that go beyond avoidable first-date conversation topics. Some of my personal heroes include Claire Underwood and Cersei Lannister; I particularly admire the way she deals with her enemies, a source of inspiration that no barrier is too big to break.

Sarah Bacom
Geography - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Food Waste and the Silver Spoon

Abstract:  Governments in the Global North are implementing strategies to reduce their citizens’ food waste production, particularly through food waste “recycling”. However, few studies have been conducted into the success of this strategy. Moreover, little is known of the driving factors behind the public’s participation in food waste recycling. This study was conducted to determine if a household’s socioeconomic status (SES) directly correlates to the quantity of food waste recycled, through the Glasgow City Council’s Food Waste Recycling Programme, by the household. This project determined SES affects food waste recycling and why. Moreover, it provides a platform for future research and provides recommendations for how to engage the public through alternatives dialogues, ie visual communication. To explain this study, its importance and findings, the presentation will be a mixture of video clips, interactive audience questions, and and diagrams.

Sara Berent
Molecular and Cellular Biology - 1st Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Food Protection

Abstract: Our first association when it comes to essences is with the aroma that we use in our homes and offices. However, the research on their chemical composition has also proved that they have amazing antiseptic properties. My project’s aim was to examine the role of essential oils and plant extracts in food and plant protection from contamination and diseases. In agriculture, chemicals responsible for preventing plant diseases have a significantly destructive impact on the natural surroundings and my results offer a chance to change that.


It is plants protecting plants – natural defences instead of artificial tools, in an innovative, cheap and ecological solution. The project has been awarded on international competitions and is now during commercialisation in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers, prospering to become a product used commonly in ecological farming and food production.


The technology responds to demands of various food production market segments, answering the problems of pesticide resistance and inefficient antiseptic performance of currently used specifities. Right now, the project is progressing in Poland - active cooperation with consultants from PwC and an award in StartUp Hub Poland acceleration program this September put it on the right track and we are now focusing on our market entry strategy, looking for industry and financial partners.

Bio:  My curiosity of the world, particularly in the scientific context, has made me realise quite long time ago, that I want to understand more than just its superficial image; I am deeply passionate about the smallest interactions and mechanisms that 

control the universe around us, which has only deepened throughout years of research work and which was the reason for choosing the course of Molecular and Cellular Biology as my university path.


I'm only in my 1st year of studies, but for the past three years I've been actively working in different fields of research - my main focus has been on Plant Biotechnology and during my presentation, I'd try to excite you with what I've been developing in the lab for the past few years, that is now being patented and is progressing on its commercialisation path.


If plants is not a topic you're passionate about, come to hear about mixing science with business or to ask about my latest passion: Space Biology.

Lucy Bretelle
Geography & Sociology - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
The Practicability Of Resilient Cities For Urban Sustainability

Abstract:  In the next five years, I see dramatic changes starting to happen in the way we live in our urban centres. As globalisation continues we are reaching a growing understanding that our cities are becoming increasingly prone to climate change hazards.


In order to meet the challenges ahead, we need to increase resilience and sustainability based on collaboration, cooperation and participation. We must turn to city-dwellers themselves – both the powerful and the less powerful. Through community cohesion and empowerment, friendships, social networks built on trust, interest and mutual learning, individuals are more likely to show change in their behaviour towards the environment and improve their resilience to climate related risks. 


Last year, I investigated how Glasgow and Melbourne are building resilience strategies to combat the unpredictability of the 21st century. I talked to councillors and members of local community groups to examine methods that incorporate knowledge transfer and communication, expertise and empowerment, and studied their relationship with each other.


The aim of my talk is to explain the complex concept that is resilience, and  to communicate the benefits and challenges of this approach in the urban context by posing the following question: ‘Is urban resilience a practicable possibility or an unachievable ideal?’.

Bio:  I am a fourth year Sociology and Geography student at the University of Glasgow. I grew up in France but chose to do my studies in Glasgow. Since first year, I have been incredibly passionate about 

environmental awareness and activism, and what we can do as individuals to change the current way we live and our footprint on the biosphere.


My journey started as a member of the Climate Action Society on campus, which successfully campaigned to make the University of Glasgow to first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuel industries. I then went abroad to Melbourne for a year, and worked with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition there. The University of Melbourne introduced me to the importance of urban centres in environmental governance and policy, and their role as information and innovation hubs.


Next year, I would like to pursue a Masters degree, and hopefully a career in the future, in urban planning.

Eleni Christoforidou
Neuroscience - 4th Year (MSci Work Placement)
Why More People Should Be Interested In
The Brain-Heart Relationship

Abstract:  What if something your body does every day – something as simple as your heartbeat – could predict your risk of developing mental health problems in the future?


Many think of the body as a simple machine that can be separated into independent parts. Your heart pumps blood, your brain does your thinking, your lungs provide you with oxygen. But there are much more complex interactions between our brains, hearts, and all other parts of our body, and no single system is truly independent.


My research focused on the differences in heart function between healthy people and those with a mental health problem. I investigated heart rate variability – the normal variation in the time interval between adjacent heart beats – in people with psychosis, and specifically schizophrenia.


Schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people worldwide and is a major cause of disability, with psychotic symptoms being the third most disabling condition after quadriplegia and dementia. Prevention is currently difficult as there are no reliable ways to detect an early onset of the disorder. However, if differences in heart rate variability turn out to be present before the onset of any symptoms, then a quick and easy simple electrocardiogram could be a good predictor of any subsequent development of psychosis. In this way a much earlier intervention could be initiated which would result in better prevention and treatment outcomes.

Bio:  My name is Eleni Christoforidou and I was born and raised in Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean. I have always been fascinated by the mysteries of the most complex structure in the universe – the brain – and so I moved to Scotland to study for a Neuroscience degree at the University of Glasgow.

Throughout my studies, I took part in some neuropsychological experiments – sometimes as an intern and sometimes as a participant –, an experience which has peaked my interest in the research field.


Currently, I am undertaking a work placement at the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology where my research focus lies on how physiological processes differ between healthy people and those with a psychotic disorder. After I graduate, I wish to continue with postgraduate training which will help me get one step closer in understanding and treating several neurological and psychological disorders that many people suffer from.

Reuben Docea
Bioengineering - 3rd Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Tissue Engineering: Hydrogels In Healthcare

Abstract:  As our understanding grows, we are increasingly able to influence the way cells behave, controlling on a molecular level the local cellular environment in order to elicit the responses we desire. Under the umbrella of tissue engineering, one prominent class of biomaterials are hydrogels. In basic terms, hydrogels are gel like materials which can be tailored to closely emulate many properties of the tissue in our bodies. Their unique structure makes them ideal for both gaining insight into the processes underlying cell behaviour, and ultimately for the growth of real, functioning human tissue.


Critical to our ability to direct the way cells behave using synthetic materials is our knowledge of how this occurs in a natural setting. Most of the research into how different molecules control the behaviour of cells is performed on 2-Dimensional (flat) surfaces, but cells of the body exist in a 3-Dimensional context. Therefore, for a more complete understanding of these processes, research should also strive to be done in 3-Dimensions. Hydrogels offer us the ability to do this. The aim of the research I took part in over summer sought to develop a hydrogel that would enable us to study the effect which a protein, fibronectin, has on cells in a three-dimensional setting.


Hydrogels’ high degrees of customisability also provide potential solutions to problems which could only be dreamt of until recently: bone regeneration in people with fractures too large to heal naturally; kidney organ growth for transplants; or, even, as a means of reducing the use of animal testing in research.

Bio: First things first: I’m a 3rd year Biomedical Engineering Student at the University of Glasgow.

There are many things I find interesting, even if in most of them I can claim no expertise! Piano, rock climbing, cycling, running, cooking, hillwalking and discovering new and interesting topics are all things I enjoy doing in my spare time.


Four months of working as a carer in my hometown of Westhill (Aberdeenshire), and the following two years (more or less) as a Healthcare Support Worker in the Dialysis Unit of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary showed me how important people's wellbeing is, and how different health problems impacted, in distinct ways, individuals' abilities to live their lives.


Tissue engineering attracts me, not only as a potential treatment for many of the health conditions I’ve come across, but also as a fascinating intellectual challenge.

Hussein El Ajouz
Business Management & Psychology - 3rd Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In

Abstract:  Neuromarketing is a modern technique used by organizations to understand their consumers’ needs. This insight is then applied to their marketing strategies to improve the selling power of their products and services through effective positioning. Traditionally, market research would be based upon techniques such as focus groups, observations or even questionnaires, and sometimes, the Internet. However, neuromarketing has revolutionized the way large companies carry out their market research. Neuromarketing has allowed companies to understand what people actually feel and think (rather than what consumers say they feel) towards their specific products, circumventing any external influence such as social conditioning and conformance. Thus, understanding people’s thinking neurologically gives companies the tools for predicting and understanding behaviours, which is essentially, every company’s dream.


If neuromarketing is this effective in influencing what we buy, does that mean that we, as humans, have a ‘buying button’ in our brains? Could it be a simple matter of activating the ‘button’ or is there more to this? These questions will be addressed to better understand the future direction of neuromarketing and its impact on us.

Bio:  My name is Hussein and I am a 3rd year Business Management & Psychology (Honours) student here at the University of Glasgow. Originally, I am from Lebanon but I was born and raised in Kuwait. I believe the only way to move forward is to learn something new, and the only way to learn something

new is to step outside your comfort zone, precisely why I am taking part in this event and taking part in several extra curricular activities. I like to believe that I am a highly motivated, committed, confident and a passionate student with a curious mindset.


As for my future aspirations, my focus is mainly narrowed down to marketing and consumer behavior both in my career and research. On campus, I am currently running a couple of societies and attending many others as well as taking part in small business startups made by students for students.


I am also a big fan of skill development programs such as the Global Leader Experience, the Graduate Performance Management Program and Graduate Skills Program. I have also taken part in 24 hours hackathons and many fast-paced competitions here on campus.

Alexander Hallgren
Computer Science - 5th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Autonomous Robotics

Abstract:  The potential applications of robotics may evoke emotion and interest from anyone who has ever dreamed of the future. Whether you believe them to be a benign development or a sinister plot, there is no doubt their influence on the human race will be profound. Much current research in robotics deals with groups of robots, that can have advantages over single-robot deployments. My project is investigating a novel way of implementing cooperative behaviour in these groups by using cellular automata as the brain of the robots. I think my research is interesting due to the fact that most people may not have encountered cellular automata, with their strange behaviour and implications. I think robotics is interesting for non-specialists because they provoke many questions about the ethics of their use and the progress of the human race, as well as being great fun!

Klara Hofer
Digital Information & Media Studies - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Augmented Reality In Marketing

Abstract:  In the age of consumerism, consumers are often faced with choice overload. While an average consumer was exposed to approximately 500 advertisements a day, today we see up to 5000 of them. For businesses this means a continuous struggle to stand out from the crowd. With the rise of digital technologies, marketers have increasingly adopted new opportunities to connect with their audience. One of those is Augmented Reality (AR).


AR can augment one’s physical environment with digital objects, hence enabling marketers to deliver (augmented) products in the comfort of one’s home. Some researchers drew parallels between AR and quick-response codes (QR). As QR codes were poorly implemented and are thus negatively perceived (Yaoyuneyong et al. 2016), AR is feared to suffer the same fate.


This research, therefore, focuses on how AR can effectively complement marketing strategies and questions whether it can act as a tool for conveying brand loyalty. Despite the raising popularity of AR, the technology is relatively unknown, making this topic relevant for anyone interested in the technology and experiential marketing.

Bio:  As J.K. Rowling once wrote: “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” I try to live by these words and encourage myself to develop as a person every day.

Growing up in a small country of Slovenia did not define who I was, nor did it limit who I wanted to become. Hence, my path led me to Scotland, where I am currently finishing my bachelor’s degree in Digital

Media and Information Studies and Business and Management. The thirst for expanding my horizon led me to France, where I spent my third year as an Erasmus exchange student.


Despite my adventurous nature, I remain focused of my academic performance. I praise myself on creativity, drive, wit, passion and great communication skills. I have been involved in different marketing projects from consultancy to start-up developments. My main area of interest includes creative marketing, technology and luxury. Recently, I have delved into drawing parallels between those three, which eventually led to me pursue my research in augmented technology in marketing. Unfortunately, the luxury industry has not yet recognized the potential of various digital technologies, so I extended my research to the general marketing industry.

Regardless of my current focus, I always continue to be an open-minded individual who is curious about the world and everything it has to offer.

Sagar Jadeja
Dentistry - 5th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
The Developing World's Dentistry

Abstract:  My research project is to identify barriers that contribute to poor oral health in developing countries and potential ways to overcome these. Eventually develop tools/protocols that can be deployed to improve oral health in developing countries.

We can use relatively simple diagrams and an explanation of what and why is already done within deprived areas in Scotland to improve oral health and how some of these strategies could be implemented across the world. Part of the strategy would be to inform them of the risks of poor oral health and its serious implications.

This research is being done on my own away from any assignment but I believe this is of great importance to those wishing to see improvements in health in the world. [X] has an engaging audience and I hope to gain input to what their experiences have been to regarding health barriers in impoverished areas.

Nick Johnson
Chemistry - 5th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Peptidomimetics in Drug Design: An Innovative Path to Effective Medicine

Abstract:  Many people know what peptides are, however never second guess the processes within the body that these compounds undergo. Each of these processes are critical to physiological functionality nevertheless, as in anything, problems occur. For example, excess growth hormone can be inhibited by the hormone somatostatin, however when this excess is too great can give diseases such as acromegaly. Octreotide® can treat this by mimicking the actions of somatostatin with an increased potency.


My research has focussed on the Urotensin-II peptide acting as a potent vasoconstrictor in humans. I have been trying to develop antagonists for the receptor to which this peptide binds to, which inhibits this natural function. This will hopefully be able to treat hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Hopefully, if people understand the processes taken in order to design drugs, they would appreciate the need for research and the difficulty in going from prospect to product.

Isabel Khine
English Literature - 2nd Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
(Re)Defining The 'Post-Colonial' Context

Abstract:  History is often defined as being exactly that - historical, a remnant of the past, but although the armed forces may have retreated, the ideological impact lives on. General consensus may state that officially, the sun has set on many an empire, but imperialism (by its very insidious nature) cannot be defined by “start” and “end” dates.


The current issue with the study of “post-colonial” literatures is the ironically limited scope of the term “post-colonial” itself to define various aspects of multitudinous non-Western societies. Far from being relegated to the dregs of history, imperial ideals are upheld whenever we step into the lecture hall, as university courses are far too comfortable with curricula that tokenises that which is meant to “decolonise” thought. However, so long as we continue to be critical of our actions, and the actions of our predecessors, we continue the developmental process of human history. Imperialism is an uncomfortable topic of discussion, and I hope to exemplify through this presentation that such discomfort must be felt for progress to be made both within the university system and wider society.

Bio:  Having been born and raised in Hong Kong to a Burmese family, I’ve always grown up on the periphery of things. Being a bit of an outsider might seem like no fun, but I’m fairly sure that my experiences from spending most of my life in Asia, having to explain my American accent to everyone I meet, and telling everyone back home that Glasgow isn’t that cold would be hard to match if I had always been on the inside of everything!


Fun fact: I was in a bird flu PSA with Jackie Chan around 10 years ago - and it’s still floating around somewhere on Youtube…

Alice Main
Pharmacology - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Sex Differences Underlying Cardiovascular Disease

Abstract:  The pulmonary circulation is a division of the cardiovascular system where the right side of the heart pumps oxygen-poor blood out to the lungs, for it to become oxygenated when we breathe in, following which it is delivered back to the heart, to be distributed throughout the body. Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease in which the arteries that carry the blood from the heart to the lungs are occluded, and therefore reduce in size, leading to a build-up of pressure in the pulmonary circulation. This means the right side of the heart must work harder than usual to send the blood out through the smaller arteries to the lungs, something it is not designed to do – consequently, it will fail resulting in death.


In PAH, women are much more likely to develop the disease than men, with ratios as high as 4:1 reported - this is why my study has focused on looking at the sex differences in the cells and chemical mediators thought to be involved in the occlusion of the arteries in this disease. Sex comparisons studies such as this are rare - much research, not just in this field but in science altogether, is conducted exclusively in male animals or cells - or the sex is not even specified. My research shows that sex has significant implications in the understanding of PAH and its treatment and highlights the importance of taking sex into consideration in research.

Hello, my name is Alice and I’m a final year pharmacology student at the University of Glasgow. I love working in the lab and hope to continue on to career in scientific research, specialising in cardiovascular disease. In my spare time I like go to the movies, the theatre and play strange board games. Here is a rather scared looking photo of me before I hand in my project dissertation!

Viktoria Noka
Geography - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Geographies Of Anti-Nuclear Energy Activism

Abstract:  The year 2016 marks 30 years since the reactor explosion at Chernobyl and five years since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Such events continuously raise critical questions about the safety and security, and hence the future of nuclear energy as an environmental friendly energy alternative. An investigation into anti-nuclear energy movements in Germany for my undergraduate dissertation in Geography allowed me to investigate what impact such activism can have in these uncertain times.


A geographical approach to activism can open up a whole range of ideas and understandings of how and why environmental movements are successful. Key geographical concepts such as ‘space’ and ‘place’, what they mean and how they interact, can be demonstrated in the protest actions involved in the anti-nuclear energy movement in Germany. Taking seriously where protests take place and how spaces are involved in making protests meaningful is crucial. Additionally, this talk will highlight how we can incorporate emotions into this process. Emotions are embedded in our everyday lives, and inform how and why we use spaces and places to create meaningful protests.


Geography can provide us with colourful insights into the world of protests and powerful tools with which to study the anti-nuclear energy movement.

Bio:  I am a 4th year geography student from Berlin, Germany. Having grown up in Singapore and spent time at an English boarding school, however, I like to think of the world as my home. Before heading to university I spent a year working in Berlin for an environmental

research institute, focusing on energy and climate policy in Germany (and beyond). I gained an intimate insight into the role that independent research plays in politics and policy formation, and sparked my interest in German energy politics. Except for a brief sidestep into the world of accounting, my studies at university have centred around human geography, which I hope to pursue in my further studies.

Patrick O'Donnell
Marine & Freshwater Biology - 1st Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Crown of Thorns Starfish: Has Nature Gone Too Far?

Abstract:  The research will revolve around the impact that Crown of Thorns starfish populations on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific. They are the largest contributor to coral cover loss on the Great Barrier Reef next to storms and their current population boom is felt all over the region. As much as 90% coral destruction has been noted where their populations have gone unchecked, making them a serious threat to the existence of local marine life as well as the efforts of scientists

and eco-tourism.

The proposed study will look at the fascinating biology behind this unique echinoderm and questions what role humanity has in intervening with such serious environmental issues. The talk will hopefully draw interest from other fields of study as I will be looking to discuss a breadth of topics outside of pure biology. Ethics, the environment, economic impact and tourism all play a role in this matter.

I am a first year Marine and Freshwater Biology student but before coming to Glasgow university, I use to work as a scuba diving instructor in Central America and South East Asia. It was this time in my life which not just ignited my passion for the world below the sea line but also the science behind what shapes this alien and mysterious biome.

Along with my teaching duties I also regularly participated in reef clean ups, coral bleaching surveys and invasive species culls. Moreover, I often discussed project aware with our students which is a global movement of divers that propose the idea of taking personal responsibility for marine habitats in your locality.

It was my personal concern for the contamination and the industrial sapping of precious oceanic resources which has lead me to where I am now and it will be the source that defines my trajectory into the future. I wish to share my personal experience with destructive species and why I believe preserving threatened marine habitats is crucial not just for our neighbours under water but also for humanity as a whole.

I am currently in the Glasgow Expedition Society where we are currently fundraising for a scientific research trip to Sri Lanka. We will be evaluating the health of the local reefs over the course of six weeks and in this time I will be carrying out my own research into Crown of Thorns starfish populations to see if the area is at risk of over population.   

Rebecca Pericleous
Music - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Social Change Through Modern Jazz In 1950s America

Abstract:  The dawn of the Jazz Age in the 1920's marked the moment when an African American art form defined, influenced, reflected and rejected a nation's culture in a multitude of ways, forever changing the sociopolitical landscape of post-war America. Jazz music as a social and artistic platform, with its burst of political, economic and artistic power served as a counter-cultural model de-establishing racial hierarchy, ridiculing the authorities, debunking the myths, exposing the hypocrisies and thus de-legitimating the culture of domination.


Bordering on a pre-Civil Rights movement, Jazz has shaped realms that stretch far beyond the musical world; through jazz, artists, writers and intellectuals challenged conformist notions of America; it served as a medium by which to change a nation's understanding of itself. With black artists recognized for their genius for the first time in white culture, jazz stands today as an emblem of freedom, diversity and artistic expression. However, the coin is forever two-sided and the sword double-edged; for some critics and musicians alike, jazz has sometimes been synonymous with cultural appropriation and white-washed business.

Bio:  Music is my life. Always has been, however I do not limit myself to that, I also enjoy photography, dance, literature, art and pints. My name is Rebecca Pericleous and I am a 22-year old student from Cyprus, currently completing my Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Glasgow.

My time here is well spent; I play part in a contemporary art ensemble, an orchestra, a photography collective and I like to attend all the amazing events, concerts, open jams and festivals that Glasgow has to offer. I have a passion for travelling and exploring- it’s beautiful how much I have learned through travelling, not only about the world, different cultures and society but also about myself.


I believe that the secret to life comes down to three things: positivity, empathy and following your dreams. If we make positive thoughts, be a good person and do what makes us happy I reckon we’ll come out alright from this messy, messy ride.

Stefan Semerdzhiev
Genetics - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Cyanobacteria As Sustainable Factories

Abstract:  Marine cyanobacteria might hold the answer to solving problems like pollution, climate change, food safety and lead the way to sustainable production of wide range of chemicals (from biofuels thorough cosmetics to pharmaceuticals). They require sun, carbon dioxide and filtered sea water to produce chemical of commercial importance. However, they require more work in order to become a well-developed sustainable chassis in Industrial Biotechnology.


My project aimed to improve the transformation efficiency. Sadly, my project did not have a lot of fancy molecular techniques but managed to give great results with simple experiments.

Bio:  My name is Stefan and I am a 22yo from Sofia, Bulgaria. Ever since the beginning of high school I have been interested in sciences and this resulted in my decision to study Genetics. My final year at uni has unexplainably motivated me to continue in the field of Biotechnology, more precisely, to try and contribute to the development of sustainable use of microorganisms as chemical factories.


Apart from that, I enjoy the company of Frank Zappa, Jim Jarmusch, and Rick & Morty.

Helen Smith
Geography - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
How And Why Favelas Become Tourist Attractions

Abstract:  Slum tourism means touristic visits to urban areas of relative deprivation, mostly taking place in the form of guided tours. It is a global phenomenon, involving slums in Africa, America and Asia being visited by tourists, mostly from wealthier countries in the Global North. My research examined the representations and perceptions of favelas* through tourism in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, by critically examining the messages produced by tour companies and the reactions of tourists. This is an inherently geographical issue, raising questions of place, travel, tourism and power relations.


Favela tourism is an interesting topic to bring to non-specialist audiences. It is an accessible topic, as most people have experience of tourism. There are ethical debates over its potentials for benefit and exploitation, which could prompt a more critical reflection on tourism practices in general.


This research is a good example of how geography engages with real world phenomena, seeking to understand where and how people, knowledges, ideas and capital travel and interact, and the effects these processes can have.


(*Brazilian term for slum)

Bio:  My name is Helen Smith and I’m currently in my final year of a Joint Honours degree in Geography and German. I’m from Scotland and chose Glasgow University because it offers this course combination, but also partly because of the Hogwarts-like main building, as I love the Harry Potter books!

When I’m not learning all about the world with Geography or speaking Deutsch, you can find me playing the violin with the folk music group, dancing, taking Spanish and Portuguese classes or drinking tea with the Students of a Jane Austen Persuasion.

Zahra Syarifah
Sociology - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Indonesian Democracy

Abstract:  Indonesia is world’s third largest democracy, interestingly it is also the world’s largest Muslim population. Despite the rising Islamic extremism movements across the globe, Indonesian Muslims are known as tolerant moderates: Indonesia is an example where Islam and democracy goes hand-in-hand. However, many people don’t even know where it is, Indonesia remains the biggest invisible thing on the planet.


Having lived through 32 years of dictatorship, Indonesian democracy is stabilising following a winding transition phase in the last two decades. While there is a notion that Islam and democracy are incompatible, Islam was one of the key elements in Indonesian democratic transition. Indonesian democracy seems to rest upon the twin pillar of government and religion, where both are intertwined and furthered Indonesian democratic consolidation. Is democracy and Islam compatible? Can the state-religion twin pillar model be replicated in other Muslim majority countries?

Bio: I am a fourth year Business & Management / Sociology student from Indonesia. I left Indonesia six years ago and I began calling different places ‘home’ ever since. There seems to be a perpetual conflict within me: between wanting to go further

and to follow where my curiosity takes me, and an affinity towards my homeland. A keen sense to contextualise my experiences and identity through a global perspective drives me to pursue an academic and research career in political sociology.

Aside from my academic work, I am involved in creative design and event management projects for various social and cultural societies around campus. While I enjoy being around people, I find delight in spending my quiet time walking around Glasgow in search of good food.


I am currently finishing up my dissertation on social movements and Indonesian youth’s political expression in the social media whilst enjoying my final year as an undergraduate student in Glasgow.

Sara Tardast
Philosophy - 4th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Robot Caregivers

Abstract:  Robots are no longer the products of imagination only existing in works of fiction. They are here, and play an increasingly important role in society. One field heading for partial automation is healthcare. Robots and software not only have capabilities that can surpass those of humans, but also fill a demand for a more flexible, effective and cost efficient healthcare. Robots and software are available for different aspects of healthcare, from diagnostics to care and therapy.


In this talk I will focus on elderly care and will outline the major needs of elderly. I will then present robots that have been created to facilitate the activities that are problematic for the elderly. Ultimately, I aim to answer a difficult ethical question. Is good care human care?

Tom Wallis
Computing Science - 5th Year
Why More People Should Be Interested In
Anthropomorphic Algorithms

Abstract:  Interacting with our computers has always been cold and impersonal. What if that could change?


Computer science research has produced software - algorithms - which produce human-like behaviour in a computer system like an artificial intelligence. This software, termed 'anthropomorphic algorithms', guides an AI's behaviour in a human-like way. Examples of this behaviour might be an understanding of trust, comfort, and reputation; my own research is on using responsibility models to guide an AI's behaviour.


It's clear that, as this research becomes more advanced, it will affect all sorts of fields in exciting ways.  Philosophical questions arise: if a computer can have feelings and empathise, is it immoral to treat it badly? If a city can identify distress and panic after a crime, might it alter the environment on the citizens' behalf? If your phone has an understanding of regret, should it stop you from leaving your ex voicemails when you're drunk?


There are some of the uses anthropomorphic algorithms might have in disciplines outside of computer science, and the potential is unbounded. With all of this potential impact, it's important to begin to explore the interdisciplinary impact of these algorithms. What fields might be impacted by these developments - and how? It is becoming increasingly important, and increasingly valuable, to explore the applications of computers with human traits outside of computer science research.

Bio:  I'm a Computing Science student in the 5th year of my MSci programme. My earlier research has included team organisation, experimental storytelling and sociotechnical systems modelling - I find the intersection of studying people and computers fascinating.

My current research is an attempt to introduce human behaviours, such as responsibility, into the behaviour of artificial systems. I'm especially interested in how these developments can influence other fields, such as urban development and philosophy. It's an exciting time to do interesting research!

I'm looking forward to doing more research on developing computational models of human behaviours, and exploring how that research can bridge some of the divide between computing science and other disciplines. Interdisciplinary research is the most fascinating and interesting part of my time at university, and I'm excited to share what I enjoy with the Let's Talk About [X] audience!