Brookes Biologist lends expertise to UK live science event

Monday, 19 September 2016

Dr Simon Underdown

Dr Simon Underdown will be talking about human evolution at New Scientist’s first ever four-day live science event in London this week (22-25 September)

New Scientist Live will be an inspirational festival of ideas and discovery taking place at ExCeL convention centre in London.

The show will feature more than 200 exhibitors, 120 speakers, five theatres and four immersive zones covering Brain & Body, Technology, Earth and the Cosmos to showcase how science, technology and engineering drive our economy, shape our culture and improve our lives.  

Dr Simon Underdown, Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University will be joining other experts from the Royal Society of Biology to take part in an ‘Ask a Biologist’ session giving the opportunity for attendees to ask everything from gene-doping to the importance of coral reefs.

I am really looking forward to taking part in this festival from New Scientist. I’ll be attempting to answer those burning questions about human evolution and Neanderthals, and bringing along some interesting fossils and stone tools.

Dr Simon Underdown, Oxford Brookes University

Simon said: “I am really looking forward to taking part in this festival from New Scientist. I’ll be attempting to answer those burning questions about human evolution and Neanderthals, and bringing along some interesting fossils and stone tools.  

“I will be drawing on recent research looking into ancient DNA, combined with archaeological and fossil data, that has allowed us to build a much more sophisticated model of our evolutionary journey and challenged previous theories about the origins of disease.

“Far from being the only ‘human’ species it’s now clear that the Neanderthals, traditionally thought of as stupid and brutal, were in fact our equal in terms of language, symbolic thought and ultimately were just as ‘human’ as us.”

Simon is part of the Human Origins and Palaeo-Environments Research Group in the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes.

You can read more about his research in a recent article ‘Being Human’, written for Research Forum, the University’s research magazine.

Among a host of influential speakers at New Scientist Live will be British ESA astronaut Tim Peake recently back from his six months on the International Space Station and also Dara Ó Brien, comedian and host of BBC2’s Robot Wars.

The Royal Society of Biology will be holding their 'Ask a Biologist' sessions all week at the exhibition in the Earth zone.

More information about New Scientist Live can be found on the website.