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Department of Biochemistry

Science Festival 2015 (6)

Science Day 2015

Science Festival Theme: International Year of Light

Department of Biochemistry Theme: On the Right Wavelength


Science Day Logo (2015)


Our 2015 Event was held on Saturday 14th March and was hosted by Marc de la Roche, Ben Luisi, Ross Waller and Simone Weyand. This was themed around the title of ‘On the Right Wavelength’ where visitors of all ages could participate in hands-on activities such as:


  • Alarm Challenge
    An obstacle course was set up for visitors to pass through. This course included invisible beams of light which triggered an alarm if passed through. A prize was awarded to the visitor who completed the course (without triggering the alarm) in the fastest time.
  • Arts and Crafts
    There were a variety of arts and craft activities.
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum
    This was an introduction to wavelengths, including how they are used in everyday life and also how they are used within the Department. This included a game where visitors could guess where items such as TVs, mobile phones and computers fitted on the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
  • FireFly Luciferase Assay
    Visitors were asked to mix the contents of two tubes (Firefly extract and ATP) with a bulb pipette. They could then observe the luminescent light given off by the reaction.
  • Flow Cytometry

    A device was created where visitors could drop jellybeans and metal spheres into a tube - these were then sorted into 2 separate containers. A short video played alongside this.

  • GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein)

    This mini presentation outlined the origin and uses of green fluorescent protein (GFP), detailing the applications of GFP in Biochemical Science.

  • Making Waves
    Using skipping ropes, demonstrators were able to show different wavelength frequencies to visitors.
  • Painting with Yeast

    Before the event, one of the demonstrators grew yeast cells labelled with red, yellow and blue fluorescent proteins. This allowed visitors to use paintbrushes to draw onto agar plates with the concentrated yeast cultures. It was possible for visitors to receive a picture of their plate after a 2-day incubation at 30ºC.

  • Preparing Protein Crystals
    Visitors could use pipetting devices to mix together harmless solutions (representing protein and the precipitating buffer) and seal these over chambers so that the droplets equilibrate.
  • Protein Expression

    A fluorescent microscope was set up to allow visitors to observe specimens of parasites using both transmitted white light illumination and fluorescent emission after excitation with specific wavelengths. A computer was also used to display movie sequences of moving live parasites under similar illumination conditions.

  • Protein Purification

    Visitors were able to use a syringe to put the His GFP onto a HiTrap column. A second syringe contained PBS which was used to wash the column. A third syringe contained PBS imidazole which removed the protein from the column. The end result being that it would glow green.

  • Running Spectra of Proteins and Dyes

    This demonstration used light to measure the concentration of biomolecules. A photo spectrometer was used to run spectra of proteins, nucleic acids and dyes.

  • X-Ray Information
    Videos were shown with information regarding X-Rays.
    There were also parts of X-Ray equipment that visitors could look at while the demonstrators described how this is used within the Department.


Other Departmental Activities:

  • Photo Bio Electrochemistry: Electrical Current from Nature
    Chris Howe, Paolo Bombelli, David Lea-Smith, Ruth Laing and Jack Hervey discussed a few of their ongoing research projects. Two of these projects, Moss FM and P2P Solar Hub, were available to view at the Botanic Gardens throughout the two-week Science Festival.


Departmental Volunteers: Mona Alqazzaz, Abdulkhaliq Alsaadi, Hannah Ambler, Srinjan Basu, Bessie Bilsland, Julie Boucher, Lu Cao, Dima Chirgadze, Lucia Correia, Caia Duncan, Shannon Esswein, Steph Favrin, Chris Green, Dan Hill, Jo Howes, Barbara Humphrey, Ceyda Kasavi, Miriam Llorian, Stephanie Low, Leonardo Mancini, Luisa Moretto, Janaina Nascimento, Xue Pei, Irina Pshenichnaya, Chen Qian, Ana Rebocho, Maria Ribeiro, Clare Simpson, Johanna Syrjanen, Rebekka Weissbach, Chao Ye