Top TV Scientist Draws a Crowd at UCLan

George McGavin

Glen Carrigan, Masters by research student UCLan School of Psychology, palaeontologist Dr Robert Asher, associate lecturer in computer aided engineering at UCLan Matt Dickinson and Television presenter Dr George McGavin.Written by:

Rachel Atkinson, 09 June 2014, original article

The BBC’s Dr George McGavin was the headline speaker at a science event.

One of the country’s top entomologists drew a crowd at a public lecture at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Television presenter Dr George McGavin, who is a regular contributor to the BBC’s One Show, was the headline speaker at the Evening of Science and Reason.

He was joined at the free student led event by Dr Robert Asher and UCLan’s Matt Dickinson. All three talks were designed to highlight scientific discovery and ethical living in a modern world.

Dr McGavin, who has recently presented Monkey Planet for BBC1, gave a talk entitled Insects: Sex, violence and a cast of billions. Dr Asher, a palaeontologist specialising in mammals, presented Evolution, Reason, and Religion and Matt Dickinson talked about The Science of Superheroes.

Organiser Glen Carrigan, who is a Masters by Research Student in UCLan’s School of Psychology, said: “An Evening of Science and Reason was a huge success. With Matt Dickinson showing us how his fully functional iron man helmet worked, Dr Robert Asher weighing up his religious belief whilst being a palaeontologist and Dr George McGavin telling us how much sex insects have whilst he threw melons around the room, there truly was something for everyone.”

“I set up this project in order to stimulate scientific and ethical debate, and feel that this aim was definitely achieved. We hope to hold more events like this in the future and wish to thank all of our guests and fantastic volunteers for coming along.”

Adults Only! Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and Surgical Spirit: The Science of Cocktails

Glen Carrigan - Homoscientificus


The University of Central Lancashire is hosting Lancashire Science Festival again this year! After our huge success last year with Titan the robot and Matt Dickinson’s Science of Star Wars amongst a whole host of other fantastic events, the public are gearing up to experience all things science yet again.

This year we have some special late night, adults only events, because adults love science too! Festival of the Spoken Nerd features Helen Arney, a geeky songstress, Matt Parker a stand-up mathematician (maths can be funny?), and the BBC’s Steve Mould. This will be an excellent show, having met Helen Arney before, I was blown away with her perfect blend of music, wit, science and satire… and the glasses too – an act you just can’t miss!

Our second adults only event is Surgical Spirit: The Science of Cocktails. Have you ever wondered about the physiology of booze? Well…

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Thank You To The British Humanist Association And The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist, And Secularist Student Societies

Happy Human

I would like to thank the British Humanist Association (BHA) and The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Society (AHS) for their help in advertising our event and sharing with us some valuable critical feedback. I have seen our event promoted on Facebook, Twitter and in the most recent newsletter and I feel that this help as allowed us to make the event even more inclusive, indeed, we have sold a few more tickets and gained some volunteers in response to these efforts which we value greatly.

For anyone interested in what the BHA or AHS does, and how you can be part of fantastic opportunities that range from this year’s World Humanist Congress at Oxford University, to local human rights and social justice activism amongst myriad other activities and initiatives, I would definitely recommend a visit to their website.

There you may perhaps discover if you are a Happy Humanist and how you can help out. Or, you might happen upon the informative and beautifully entertaining videos by Stephen Fry and the BHA on many important questions such as “how can I be happy?” or “what makes something right or wrong?” For a brief introduction to Humanism, why not watch the video below and listen to the views of, amongst others: Tim Minchin, Phillip Pullman, Richard Dawkins, and AC Grayling.

Thanks again to the BHA and AHS.

– Glen Carrigan

Volunteer Update: Hamza Naseer, PhD student in Honour-Based Violence


Hamza Naseer


Course: PhD Psychology

Thesis: ‘Honour’-Based Violence (HBV) perpetration and victimisation in the UK: The development of a dynamic risk assessment approach. The United Nations (2000) estimates that nearly 5000 women are murdered by their own families in the name of honour every year. ‘Honour’ killings, however, are only a part of the greater problem of ‘honour’ based violence (HBV). In Britain there were over 2,800 cases of HBV reported to the 39 police forces in 2010 alone, and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation estimates that a further 500 incidents may have been reported to the 13 forces who did not participate in data collection (IKWRO, 2011). My PhD research aims to develop a dynamic approach towards the risk assessment of HBV victimisation and perpetration thus empowering social workers, clinicians, and law enforcement who deal with this type of violence.

Volunteer Update: Chris Malburn & Jack Marcham from Liverpool & Lancaster University’s Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Societies

Chris Malburn

Chris Malburn

 Volunteer – Liverpool Humanists, Atheist Secularist and Humanist Student Societies

Course: Bsc (Hons) Architecture

I’m a student at the University of Liverpool, and have studied Engineering Foundation and part of an Architecture degree. I was one of the founding members of the University of Liverpool Humanists, and spent two largely successful years (I like to think!) as President following its reboot in 2012. I also joined the AHS’s volunteer team in 2012 as the Regional Development Officer for the North West region, with the job of giving a helping hand and advice to up-and-coming atheist, humanist and secular student societies and I’m now part of the team organising the AHS AGM, which will be held in Liverpool in July 2014. It shouldn’t be any surprise to find out that, while I don’t have a science background, I recognise the importance of the Humanist and Skeptic movements in spreading a message of rationalism, fairness and critical thinking, and I’m willing to my own little bit to help out! If you’re interested in getting involved by starting your own student society and don’t know where to start, give me a shout.



 Jack Marcham

Volunteer – President of Lancaster University Atheists, Non-believers and Agnostics Society

Course: BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science

I am a 2nd year student at Lancaster University and one of the founders of the society. I am a huge fan of the scientific method and became primarily interested in biology after reading ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins. This led me to his other great work ‘The God Delusion’. I also enjoy debating philosophy in the pub or discussing physics with my flatmate. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Volunteer Update: Lydia Dena Walker, our new British Sign Language Interpreter


Lydia Dena Walker

British Sign Language Interpreter

Course: Ba (Hons) British Sign Language

My name is Lydia Walker. I’m studying British Sign Language Interpreting at Uclan and shall be going into my 3rd and final year in September. My interest in British Sign Language started when I was 19. I got a new job in a school where I became friends with a lady who is deaf. She taught me new signs every day, but I wanted to learn more about the language. I then went onto complete Level 1 and Level 2 in BSL at White Cross College in Lancaster before starting at Uclan in 2012. My aim is to become a fully qualified interpreter of English/British Sign Language. In my spare time I enjoy running and I am signed up to take part in The Great North Run in July.

Dr George McGavin to sign Monkey Planet DVDs


Our headline speaker Dr George McGavin will be signing copies of his newest BBC documentary, Monkey Planet, for An Evening of Science and Reason at The University of Central Lancashire on the 6th of June. Come along if like us you are fascinated by everything that science and the natural world has to offer, or if you just love the cute and hairy faces of the other members of our primate family!

Blog Preston picks up An Evening of Science and Reason

Blog Preston have kindly picked up our event and advertised it on their website after a chance interview with PSR founder at Winkley Weekend. Thanks Blog Preston!

Poster 06.06.14 event George, Robert and Matt

“Three leading scientists will be speaking at Preston’s university in June.

Billed as an Evening of Science and Reason it sees BBC documentary maker and Oxford University scientist Dr George McGavin speak about the insect world.

His talk is titled Insects: Sex, violence and a cast of billions.

Dr Robert Asher speaks about Evolution, Reason and Religion.

Matt Dickinson is last up speaking about the Science of Superheroes. He is a lecturer in computing, engineering and physical sciences at UCLan.

The event is free to attend and takes place from 5pm until 9pm on Friday 6 June in the Darwin Lecture Theatre at UCLan.

You can register for the event via Eventbrite and find out more on the Science and Reason blog.”

Dr George McGavin’s Monkey Planet on BBC

Are you coming to An Evening of Science and Reason with Dr George McGavin, Dr Robert Asher, Matt Dickinson and all of our wonderful student volunteers? I hope so! To introduce you to one of our speakers, here’s a short video of one of the many fascinating – and in the case of this short clip very amusing – documentaries that George has been involved in. If you’d like to come along get your free ticket HERE.