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Immersive city festival brings research to life

Press release issued: 6 April 2018

Fly a drone, experience night time at a refugee camp and watch a robot race — just some of the exciting activities that members of the public can experience during Research without Borders, the University of Bristol’s free public festival of postgraduate research, which includes a day-long showcase at Colston Hall on 9 May.

The interactive exhibition will feature 100 postgraduate researchers and over 70 stalls, giving visitors the chance to get hands-on with cutting-edge research on a vast range of topics.

Experience night time in a refugee camp

Visitors will be able to get a feel for what life might be like in a refugee camp at night and how challenging it is to perform simple tasks, like cooking, without electricity.

Robot athletics

See robots take on an obstacle race complete with sand pit and steps, as well as discovering behind the scenes of soft robotics manufacturing.

Fly a drone

Try your hand piloting a drone — they might be harder to fly then you had imagined.

Feel the buzz

An opportunity for people to have a go at moving pollen between ‘flowers’ using electrostatically charged rods, which will be charged by rubbing them on hair or clothing.

Fake blood

Spot the difference between real red blood cells and artificial lab-grown blood.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “Our postgraduate research students play a vital role in developing key advancements which tackle major societal issues around health, the environment, entertainment and advanced engineering. It’s fantastic to see their work brought to life, so that the public can experience first-hand how this work may affect them and their concerns about the world.”

In addition to the showcase exhibition, the festival programme also includes a series of stimulating evening discussions, organised in partnership with the University Research Institutes. Held from Monday 30 April to Thursday 3 May (6pm to 8pm), the discussion series will allow Bristolians to get their teeth into topics such as healthcare challenges, antibiotic discovery and learning from the past.

Festival-goers will discover how research is used to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and how it can impact on their lives. Each evening talk will be followed by a debate, giving the audience the opportunity to challenge and question the presenters, and will finish with a drinks reception.

Further information

For more information and to register for free tickets visit:

The showcase

Apply for free tickets and drop in between 10:30am and 4:30pm to view the interactive exhibits or register for an organised school visit.

There will also be a lunchtime networking event for academics and external organisations to explore collaboration opportunities.

Visitors who stay until the end of the day will be able to witness speed and academic clout collide in live finals of the Three Minute Thesis competition from 4.30pm to 5pm. The tournament will see eight finalists whittle their thesis down to a short and snappy presentation, as they compete to be crowned the University of Bristol’s 2018 champion.

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