Laboratory insight for Science Week visitors

Faculty of Science staff with the U3A guests.

Faculty of Science staff with the U3A guests. Pictures: Habibur Rahman.

University of Portsmouth scientists opened up their laboratories to the public as part of a series of free events organised to celebrate National Science Week.

Members of the Solent branch of The University of the Third Age (U3A) visited the Faculty of Science OPENLabs event yesterday, and enjoyed talks by experts and tours around the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.

An ear examination in the pharmacy lab.

An ear examination in the pharmacy lab.

The 43-strong group heard a talk by Professor Geoff Pilkington – who heads the Brain Tumour Research team at Portsmouth. He spoke about the latest advances and challenges in the fight against brain cancer.

Guests then enjoyed a series of lab tours around the school, which included visits to the brain tumour research labs, pharmacy practice, cell imaging facilities, chemical biology labs, and muscular dystrophy research labs.

The U3A group met staff and students and had the chance to use the latest scientific equipment, including an atomic force microscope – a device that allows researchers to take images of surfaces down to an atomic level.

Guests were also shown the pharmacy suite, where they took blood pressure readings and looked for ear infections using the school’s health-simulation mannequins.

Faculty of Science outreach champion Dr Darren Gowers said: “The feedback from the U3A visitors was excellent.

“They were very interested in what we do here, and asked lots of great questions.”

Cubs learn about the work of the pharmacy labs.

Cubs learn about the work of the pharmacy labs.

Graham Woodbridge, from the Hampshire South Central Network of U3As, added: “Everyone was very enthusiastic to hear about the world-class research going on at Portsmouth and have the opportunity to ask lots of questions during the lab tours.”

Cubs make dry ice.

Cubs make dry ice.

Later, experts and pharmacy students welcomed 32 Cubs from Hambledon Village Scout Group to the pharmacy labs, where they earned their science badges by taking part in experiments – including measuring their heartbeats before and after exercise.

Dr Gowers added: “It’s really good for the Faculty of Science to engage with the public about the great science and research that we do here, as well as showing them some of the practical studies that go on in the laboratories.”

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