Institute of Physics (IOP) - Evening Lectures

These lectures will be of interest to students studying GCSE and A-level physics and to the general public with an interest in the subject.  The lecture is held in the Poynting Building on campus in the Large Lecture Theatre on the top floor. Doors to lecture theatre will be open from 7pm and refreshments will be available. The talk begins at 7.30pm and will last an hour. There is no requirement to pre-register for this event.

20 March 2024 - Thinking Beyond Boundaries by Professor Marika Taylor

Lecture info - Inaugural lecture as Professor.
Professor Marika Taylor is Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Marika commenced her career as an undergraduate student studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, inspired to follow this pathway having read “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. After completing her undergraduate studies, Marika undertook a PhD with Hawking; her thesis “Problems in M-Theory” focused on black holes, string theory and holography.

Following a research fellowship at St John’s College, Cambridge, Marika moved to the Netherlands, working first at Utrecht University in the group of Nobel Laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft and then at the University of Amsterdam. In 2012 she moved to the University of Southampton as part of a strategic investment to establish a new research centre (STAG) bringing together gravity, high energy physics and astronomy. She later took on a variety of leadership roles at Southampton including Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences. She became a fellow of the Alan Turing Institute in 2019.

Her research interests range from mathematical and theoretical physics through to geometric AI and its applications; mathematical modelling for defence, security and finance, and the sociology of science. Marika has held many academic leadership roles nationally and internationally, including REF2021 panel member; advisory board of the Academy for Mathematical Sciences; advisory roles to government departments and agencies; chairing of research council committees and divisions in the UK and Europe, and leadership of the CERN GenHET initiative.

Tuesday 5 March 2024 - 100 years of medical x-rays in Birmingham: how radiation has transformed healthcare

Dr Geoff Hayes, Deputy Head of Radiotherapy Physics, University Hospitals Birmingham

Geoff read physics at Durham University, graduating in 1999 before moving to Birmingham,  completing his PhD in Physics from the University of Birmingham; examining the potential of different energies of x-rays to induce cancers in a human cell line. His experiments involved using a clinical accelerator at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to simulate the x-ray spectra from an atomic bomb. After his PhD, Geoff worked as medical physicist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham– specialising in radiotherapy. In 2022 he was appointed as the head of radiotherapy treatment planning, and deputy head of radiotherapy physics.


Tuesday 6 February 2024 - Understanding the Atomic Nucleus: Into the Quantum Realm

We hear a lot about the subatomic realm and new discoveries but how do we actually "see” the behaviour of matter at this scale? This lecture will give an overview of how physicists have learnt ever more about the core of every atom - the nucleus - and the techniques scientists use to study it and how these methods links to our everyday lives.

Dr Jack Bishop is an Assistant Professor in Nuclear Physics in the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. His research encompasses studying the microscopic structure of nuclei, development of next-generation detectors and nuclear astrophysics. A lot of his work is performed on the two particle accelerators located in the Medical Physics building at the University of Birmingham; the Birmingham MC40 Cyclotron and the new HF-ADNeF neutron facility. 

Tuesday 9 January 2024 - Satellite to Satellite: The case for in-orbit observation

With the rise of commercial constellation implementation in low earth orbit (LEO), the near-Earth space environment is becoming increasingly challenging to monitor and protect. New observational techniques and instrumentation, as well as carefully considered policy frameworks, are needed to ensure that safe operations can be maintained by all space users. The Pervasive Sensing group at the University of Birmingham is exploring in-orbit conditional monitoring of satellites using inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) as a potential technique for dedicated observation of high-value space-based assets. I will discuss some of our recent results from both experiments and simulation.

Dr Leah-Nani Alconcel is an Associate Professor and space payload instrument engineer at the University of Birmingham in the School of Metallurgy and Materials. She has worked on NASA and ESA missions across the solar system including Cassini, Cluster, and JUICE. Here on Earth, she works to increase access to space-based assets and space data across countries and age groups, as well as developing novel systems for in-orbit intrasatellite monitoring.

Tuesday 5 December 2023 - What is Topological Design?

Professor Dennis is Director of EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design and
Head of Theoretical Physics Research Group at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Mark Dennis and students from the Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design at the University of Birmingham talk about research in the centre, including knot theory, complex networks and design for 3D printing.

Tuesday 7 November 2023 - Neutron Star Mergers: Nature’s Gold Factories

Dr Ben Gompertz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. He researches the explosive signatures of collisions between neutron stars – the dead cores of very large stars that have been squashed down to an area the size of Birmingham under their own extreme gravity. These signatures include intense jets travelling at close to the speed of light, the radioactive glow of newly-forged heavy elements, and even “ripples in space-time,” known as gravitational waves.

A video of the lecture is on YouTube

Tuesday 3 October 2023 - Detecting Exoplanets - Other worlds beyond our Solar System

Dr Annelies Mortier is Assistant Professor in Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham. She works on several projects related to exoplanets and their host stars, determining stellar parameters and chemical abundances, battling and understanding stellar activity, characterising planets via radial velocities, and studying the Sun-as-a-star. When she is not playing with the stars or Sun on her computer, she goes to observe them in La Palma or Chile.


Links to other useful sites

For more information please email the physics outreach team