This one was an incredibly hectic week with three cultural programme events and the launch of the LANS Assembly – not to mention all the preparations for the ball, both from our dedicated and hard-working LANS Society committee and from all us attendees having to rush around this week finding things to wear for it. We’ll be covering the ball next week – so stay tuned for photos of our elegant evening!

LANS students eating pizza at the first assembly

The first LANS Assembly ran this Wednesday, which provided an opportunity for students and staff to come together to discuss the question, ‘what should LANS do to combat the climate crisis?’. Using techniques from Extinction Rebellion’s Citizen Assemblies, we gathered into small groups to brainstorm initial ideas on how to make the department more eco-friendly, looking specifically for actions that we can implement ourselves as a department and having a real-world impact. Many ideas were debated, from symbolic actions like sustainability targets to immediate actions such as moving recycling bins to more accessible places. We came together to form a single group to deliberate on what we had discussed, critically assessing ideas together – over some tasty vegan pizza.

LANS students at Warwick Congress

We took a few LANS students to attend this student-run conference at the Warwick Business School, which combined the disciplines of economics, finance, politics and law to answer questions about the future of business. The conference opened with a passionate talk from a student speaker on how focusing on singular disciplines only provided partial answers in an interconnected world – a sentiment relevant to our interdisciplinary studies. Highlights included a talk from David Buttle, Global Marketing Director of the Financial Times, who discussed how the advent of digital media has changed how journalism is funded and a panel on social mobility from CEOs Chris White and Andrew Fairbairn, who delivered affirming talks on how students can put themselves forward in the business world. Mircea especially enjoyed the business pitches given by students on the second day, similar to what our fourth years do in their Entrepreneurial Skills module. It was really inspiring to see students manage an entire conference by themselves – perhaps a student-led LANS conference could be in the works some day?

Mathematician Galane Luo introduced LANS students to his project: a virtual reality experience that teaches users about the mathematical modelling behind plant cell mechanics. This interdisciplinary research area is at the nexus of maths, biology and physics, combining concepts and models from each discipline to understand more about plants. The idea is to create a game-like experience for students to understand more about plant cells. Galane discussed how the project was funded, giving an insight into the practical aspects of research projects. Second year Scott Elkington tried on the headset and explored the virtual lab which not only provided an entertaining experience for those watching in the real world, but allowed us to really see how the project provided an educational experience. Students can apply to work alongside Galane on this project as part of the LANS & IGI Studentships on offer over summer.

LANS Students at the Writing Love Poetry Workshop

As part of LGBTQ+ History Month, the Barber Institute invited poet Al Anderson to lead a workshop exploring the theme of embarrassment through interpreting artworks at the Barber Gallery.

LANS Students at the Writing Love Poetry Workshop in the Barber Institute

The workshop began with participants pairing up and describing what we saw in the artwork to each other which provided an interesting experience into how diverse perceptions of the same image can be. At the end of the workshop, students wrote a 14-line draft of a poem inspired by a portrait of the penitent Mary Magdalene.

LANS Students at the Writing Love Poetry Workshop in the Barber Institute

If you are in the Birmingham area, here are some upcoming events that we think will tickle your interest, including our very own LANS employability event!

  • Next week is LANS’ yearly employability event – The first half will have five LANS alumni speaking about their experiences in a range of sectors from graduate schemes to start-ups to freelancing, explaining how they communicated the skills they attained from LANS to attract employers. The second half will be a CV-Building workshop led by the Careers Network, to help students identify skills you’re acquiring on LANS and communicate them not just in CVs, but in letters of intent and job interviews, too. We hope this event will be useful and curb any anxieties one might have about securing a career after LANS. There will also be an informal get-together in the hub with a buffet after the workshop – any alumni in the area are very much welcome to join us for that! The event is on Wednesday 4 March, 17.00-19.00, LANS Hub and G51, ERI Building.
  • Equal in STEM 2020 – This event aims to bring students, researchers, and professionals in STEM, from all backgrounds and disciplines, together to discuss common barriers and how we can come together to overcome them. The event will include four panels discussing important issues in STEM, as well as extensive networking with speakers from various backgrounds over food and drink. Panel discussions currently include "Parenthood in STEM", "Expectations of a role model in STEM", "How to be a good advocate and ally", and finally "Improving mental health awareness in STEM". Register here. Wed 4 March, 15.00-20.00, Teaching and Learning Building, Lecture Theatre 2 – recommended by Dr James Everest.
  • If you’re missing out on your interdisciplinary fix, you can watch this semester’s Distinguished Lecture from Professor Tom McLeish here. I really enjoyed this talk, hearing about research as a creative act was oddly fulfilling and a real insight into interdisciplinary research.

To our alumni, it’s not too late to sign up to our Cultural Programme events! Here’s what we still have planned for this term:

  • Thursday 5th March, 10am until 6pm – Exploring Midlands Industrial Heritage in Smethwick (transport to be provided).
  • Exploring creativity with puppets with guest, Sophie Huckfield. Wednesday 11th March, 3pm in the LANS hub.
  • Six: The Musical, Friday 13th March @ 6pm. This will be at The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton (transport to be provided).

If you would like to attend any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact our Cultural Programme lead, Julian, at

With this week’s ball situated just outside of Digbeth’s Custard Factory, it seems only fitting to recommend an attraction inside this quirky building. Try Chance & Counters’ new board game café. With over 500 games to choose from and daily promotions (see us at Taco Tuesday!), this venue is sure to provide the perfect late-night or daytime social outing. The food and drink offerings are second to none, too!

If you haven’t already heard of the Clean Kilo in both Digbeth and Bournville, then pay a visit! This zero-waste supermarket allows you to fill up your own containers with a range of different foods. This means you can cut down on single-use plastic packaging and recycle the containers you already have. As students ourselves, we understand that doing your weekly shop here may be a bit pricey, so definitely also check out Birmingham’s daily market (located just outside of the Bullring). Bowls of fruit and veg are sold here at just £1 and so it’s definitely worth stocking up at this market, plastic free, than paying more at the supermarket.

We hope you have a wonderful week! If you can think of any events or student achievements that you think we should feature in the newsletter, please email them to us at or (or come and find us in the LANS Hub). Give us feedback on our social media presence too!

Thanks for reading,

Adam & Katharine

Your LANS Media and Communications Ambassadors