Grand Challenges Seminars 2021

Brain Computer Interfaces - (this seminar has had to be rescheduled, new date tbc)

brain interface

Presented by Students in the BBSRC DTP in Interdisciplinary Bioscience


Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) analyse brain signals and translate them into an external device.  BCIs have the potential to restore functions such as speech or movement in patients with neurological disabilities. Join us to hear about Dr Chang's research in BCI and his perspective in this exciting field.


Dr. Edward Chang is a neurosurgeon at UC San Francisco specializing in the treatment of intractable epilepsy, trigeminal neuralgia, and brain tumors. His research focuses upon the brain mechanisms for human speech, movement, and cognition.

Register here 


Other Topics currently under development will be delivered in the autumn term:


BBSRC/NERC: Food security

SABS: Drug discovery for aging

SABS: Genetic engineering in humans

CIC/BBSRC: Climate change


Previous seminars this year

Why is Nature Valuable? - 14th September @ 5pm

the value of nature banner

Presented by Students on the NERC DTP in Environmental Research

Why is nature valuable? Why protect and conserve the environment? Protecting the environment is an increasing priority for life in the 21st century, however there is little discussion in the public eye as to why to do so. In this seminar, three speakers will address reasons for conserving nature, specifically focusing on its benefits towards health and the economy, as well as addressing nature’s intrinsic value and how this should motivate conservation.

The Panel

Sejal Patel, Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Her work focuses on climate and environment finance, public policy, and governance, particularly in relation to low-carbon climate-resilient development, and on the themes of supporting inclusive and equitable processes that bridge local priorities and voices with the national and international levels.


Prof Michael Paul Nelson, Ruth H. Spaniol Chair in Renewable Resources and Professor of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy at Oregon State University. Though a philosopher by training, Michael works extensively with ecologists and social scientists. He is a collaborator with the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project in Lake Superior, US, the longest continuous predator-prey study in the world, and he serves as the Lead Principle Investigator for the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Program, funded by the US National Science Foundation, in the Oregon Cascade Mountains.


Dr Daniela Fecht, Lecturer in Geospatial Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London. Daniela’s work focuses on geographical variation in population health, and environmental and health inequality.

Register here: the Zoom link will be provided to you via email prior to the seminar.

The Scientific Truth - 4th August 2021 @ 4pm

the scientific truth banner

Presented by Students in the BBSRC DTP in Interdisciplinary Bioscience


In an era where society is relying heavily on science to remain afloat, the challenges and inconsistencies associated with the scientific method are feeling the pressure. Stemming from a reproducibility and collaborative crisis, all the way to the outlet of fake scientific news supplied by media and the historical context of health racial inequalities, we have reached a critical breaking point. The lack of scientists in policy, mediocre media portrayal and low cultural diversity are having a negative impact on our work. Is the scientific process broken? Have we reached the point of no return?


In this hour-long free seminar, three expert speakers and the authors of “Covid-19 and ethnicity: how the information gap exacerbates inequality” will address these questions in a series of brief talks followed by open discussion. 

The Panel

Rooah Omer is a specialist registrar in public health medicine who currently works in the health protection field in London  

Dr Shruti Patel is a specialist registrar in public health medicine, working both in the Kent health protection team and as a paediatric doctor. 

Dr Danielle Solomon is a specialist registrar in public health medicine and a Wellcome Trust clinical PhD fellow at the Institute for Global Health in University College London. 

Register here:

Fusion is the solution - 9th June 2021 @ 3pm

fusion is the solution gcs

Presented by students in the NERC DTP in Environmental Research


Unlimited clean energy. That is the unfulfilled promise of fusion energy. For the past 70 years, science has made steady progress towards the goal of a fusion plant that produces more energy than it uses and today we are tantalizingly close to realising that ambition.  

Why is fusion so attractive? When might we have commercial fusion plants? Is progress fast enough to have any impact on climate change? In this hour-long free seminar, three expert speakers will address these questions in a series of short talks. It is also your chance to have your questions answered during the concluding Q&A.  

The Panel

Sir Steven Cowley is the director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, former head of Corpus Christi College Oxford and former CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.  

Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist and science communicator. She is the author of two books on plasma and fusion science.   

Prof Dennis Whyte is the director of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center and Hitachi America Professor of Engineering. He has been a key orchestrator of the SPARC fusion experiment. 

Register here: Oxford University Grand Challenges Seminar Series: Fusion energy Tickets, Wed 9 Jun 2021 at 15:00 | Eventbrite