As we head into British Science Week 2022 (11th-20th March), an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths, we’ve taken the opportunity to ask some of the team here at TSP what they value most about science, the scientists they most admire, and their favourite moments in scientific history.
“Alexander Fleming’s eureka moment springs to mind when thinking about the impact scientific discoveries have had, and continue to have, on the world. Fleming believed that there was an antibiotic-like chemical in human cold secretions. He smeared bacteria and his own phlegm on a set of Petri dishes and left them to develop while he went on a two week holiday. When he returned, the phlegm had not killed any of the bacteria, but mould had transferred into one of the dishes from a nearby lab. All of the bacteria close to the mould had died. A closer look revealed that the mould was creating a chemical penicillin that was killing the bacteria. I’m sure this discovery paved the way for many of the drugs we use today.”
- Sarah Martin-Tyrrell, Scientific Communications Lead
A lasting impact
“Over the last two years, the research focus on Covid-19 has really demonstrated that when the world’s experts come together and focus on one major problem, what can be achieved is truly astonishing. Many of our clients were (and still are) involved in research related to the pandemic, from diagnostic kit development, to possible alternative delivery mechanisms for vaccines and furthering our understanding of so-called long-Covid. I’ve found it fascinating to hear first-hand from experts about the challenges of a virus such as Covid and how to manage or overcome them. The technologies scientists now have at their disposal for better understanding diseases and possible treatments are incredible and, if they are put to good use, as in the case of Covid, I have real hope for a future in which people live longer, healthier lives.”
- Louise Reid, Managing Director
“One British scientist that deserves recognition for her efforts combating Covid-19, in helping to develop the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine, as well as for her work on malaria vaccines, is Sarah Gilbert. Sarah is a Vaccinologist and Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford. It is because of scientists like Sarah’s determination and perseverance that we have seen a slowing of case numbers and infection rates, and most significantly, falling death rates. Because of this, we are starting to see a return to ‘pre-pandemic normal’.”
- Rose King, Intern
Out of this world
“I’ve always been fascinated by astronomy and, for me, a true watershed moment in science came when the Manchester-born astronomer Margaret Burbidge found that the chemical elements on Earth were actually formed in outer space, inside stars. She established that the building blocks of human life – the carbon in our DNA, the iron in our blood, even the oxygen in our lungs – were all made within giant stars which then exploded, releasing the elements back into space and reaching Earth. Margaret’s findings, published in 1956, changed our understanding of cosmic evolution – and of every individual’s connection to the universe. This revelation paved the way to further scientific discoveries that benefited diverse fields including human medicine, helping us better understand disease and so improve healthcare across the globe.”
- Alison Owen, Senior Account Director
“My favourite scientist is Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell, the first director of Jodrell Bank Observatory from 1945-1980. He is a physicist who, at the end of the Second World War, decided the countryside of Cheshire was the ideal place to study cosmic rays without much electrical interference. To me, his most influential work was the construction of the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world: The Lovell telescope. Today, Jodrell Bank Observatory is a leading radio astronomy facility with the Lovell telescope having become an iconic landmark that is still operational as part of the MERLIN and European VLBI Network of radio telescopes. Located less than 5 miles from our Holmes Chapel office, the dramatic view of the Lovell telescope against the backdrop of different weather conditions has become my favourite part of the journey to and from work.”
- Hannah Steele, Account Executive
Turning the extraordinary into the ordinary
“It’s easy to overlook science within every day life, but there’s a lot to be celebrated in both big and small breakthroughs. I love working with clients to learn more about the work that goes into discoveries that benefit us in our daily lives without us even realising it. For example, flavouring food and beverages. Most of us happily tuck into a packet of crisps or enjoy a refreshing fizzy drink, and don’t think about all of the experiments that have gone into developing those specific flavours with our enjoyment at the forefront; the amount of time and effort that has gone into layering the right flavours to create a fresh strawberry taste, or perfecting a delicious buttery biscuit product. It’s fascinating to not only learn about the science that goes into these areas, but also to speak to and work with the incredibly talented people who make it happen.”
- Georgia Smith, Account Director
“My favourite scientist is someone whose work I came across quite recently – Clare Grey, for her pioneering work on the optimisation of batteries using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Grey’s work is helping to significantly increase the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which supply power to everyday technology such as mobile phones. She’s also been instrumental in the development of new types of batteries and, although research is in its early stages, could offer ground-breaking results in helping to combat climate change. She sees her research as an important contribution to achieving the European Union’s stated goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and is leading the way when it comes to research into cost-effective and durable storage systems for electricity from renewable sources. Her efforts into making sustainable batteries could be huge for the climate in years to come.”
- Beth Jones, Junior Account Manager
“TSP has worked in the science and technology markets for over 25 years so this British Science Week, I would like to talk about a personal highlight from our time so far. I was really proud when we helped a client’s product to become the first ever software product to win a Gold Pittcon Editors’ Award. The award was led by Instrument News and used to honour the best new products on show at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. Although Covid has clearly had an impact on trade shows, Pittcon was historically a key event in the scientific calendar and attended by thousands. We have won lots of gold awards for clients at this event over the years, but it was extremely exciting to achieve the accolade of first software product to win Gold. Together, we worked really hard to help our client win this: we devised a new strategy and played it out to perfection. It was an incredible moment and these are the kind of successes that make it such a pleasure to support clients working in these fields.”
- Kath Darlington, CEO
We hope you have enjoyed reading these, and welcome you to share your favourite scientists or scientific breakthroughs, big or small. Check out the British Science Week website for more ways to celebrate #BSW22.
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