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School of Life Sciences

Switching Off Cancer Cells

Cells are like rooms with lots of switches, but we don't know which switch turns on which light. Only by knowing which switch is connected to a light bulb, can we control the light in the room. The same happens in a cell: the switches are proteins called kinases and the light bulbs are new proteins produced in the cell. Dr Prischi's group focuses on the study of a unique family of kinases, the RSK, which is a promising target for the treatment of lung cancer. By knowing how RSK works, we can understand, and eventually control, the fate of a cell. This information will be indispensable for the development of novel molecules that are able to target only the right "switch", thus providing a treatment that can stop the continued growth of cancer cells.

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The Limits of Life on Earth and Beyond

Understanding how life - usually in the form of microbes - functions at the limits of habitability, can help us to understand where we may expect life to occur in the Universe. Such extremophilic microbes also carry out important processes on Earth, and they can produce biomolecules with biotechnologically valuable properties. In this talk I explain some of my research into the salinity limits of life as well as asking whether microbes can live forever, and discuss where life might exist elsewhere in our solar system.

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Deep Sea: The Real Final Frontier

The deep-sea is the largest space for life on Earth. The deep-sea plays a crucial role in global level Earth system maintenance - carbon cycling, oxygen creation, weather etc. It is also the real “final frontier” in terms of exploration. Dr Taylor is a deep-sea biologist and has explored several regions of the deep-sea - from Antarctica to the tropics. She gives an introduction to deep-sea habitats, the environment found there, and how this mysterious realm is researched on expeditions.

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The Biology of Ageing

We are experiencing a demographic shift around the world with the proportion of elderly people continuously expanding. Increased life expectancy is considered an achievement of modern science and healthcare. Nevertheless, population ageing is accompanied with a rise of age-related diseases such as neurodegeneration, cancer, cardiovascular problems and metabolic syndromes. Biogerontology aims to understand the Biology of Ageing and the molecular mechanisms underlying age-related diseases towards promoting healthy ageing. Dr Rallis is a geneticist and bio-gerontologist working on nutrient-responsive signalling pathways and diseases of ageing. He will give an introduction on theories of ageing, the biological processes associated with ageing related pathologies. Finally, he will discuss the links between diet and ageing.

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School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

Human Performance Unit

You can choose to bring your students for a full or half day visit to the Human Performance Unit.

  • Full day visits (09.30 to 15.00/15.30) include TWO taster sessions.
  • Half Day visits (09.30 to 12.30 or 12.30 to 15.30) include ONE taster session.
Exercise Physiology

The Exercise Physiology session is designed to support your students understanding of aerobic and anaerobic parameters of fitness, VO2 max, respiratory exchange ratio, lactate thresholds and energy systems.

Students will perform, record and interpret data collected during the following exercise tests: VO2 max and lactate threshold test, sub-maximal cycle test, anaerobic cycling power test (6 second sprint), and countermovement jump.


This taster session will support your students understanding of key principles of biomechanics and how they relate to sports performance. Students will use specialist software and equipment within the University of Essex sports science laboratories to cover topics including speed, velocity, acceleration, force and angular motion.

The practical activities in this session include: Straight line sprinting through timing gates, the assessment of jumping using bilateral force plates, technique analysis using motion capture and video software.

Sports Psychology

This session introduces students to important psychological factors in sport, including stress, competitive anxiety, motivation, decision making and reaction time.

Interactive practical activities during this session bring these topics to life, enabling the students to experience and observe the application of psychology to sport and exercise science. 

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Department of Psychology

Tackling Gender Stereotypes

Many people still believe that women and men differ in terms of their abilities, personality, or preferences. However, research shows that women and men are typically much more similar than different. For example, in terms of their math or science performance, similarities are 95% or above. Showing people those similarities reduces stereotypes and improves how much women and men respect each other.

This session will be delivered by Dr Paul Hanel.

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Using magnets and sensors to understand the functioning of the human brain

How can we observe the functioning of the human brain from the outside?

The study of the human mind and brain is one of the most important and exciting areas in the life sciences and has fascinated many of us for decades. Thanks to new technical advances, we can now observe the functioning of the human brain in real time. This innovative taster session aims to provide with an overview of novel methods that allow to observe the functioning of the brain by delivering small doses of magnetic pulses that can activate different areas in the brain. We will also show how it is possible to observe activity from the brain by placing small sensors on the head.  

This session is an ideal introduction to understanding the human brain for interested students, and will be delivered by Dr Alex Sel.

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Synced Brains: Understanding Human Social Interaction

This taster session aims to provide students with an introduction to social neuroscience - the research discipline at the interface of psychology and neurobiology examining the brain basis of human social interaction.  Students will learn about several state-of-the-art social neuroscience methods used to study human social interaction, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). A special highlight will be the example of fNIRS hyperscanning - the simultaneous measurement of brain activity in parents and their children - used to assess brain-to-brain synchrony and its implications for parent-child relationship quality, caregiving, and attachment.

This session will be delivered by Dr Pascal Vrticka.

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Secrets infants can teach adults about learning

This session introduces students to studying human development. It will present the Essex Babylab research facility housed in the Centre for Brain Science and some of the techniques we use to study how infants learn and develop. By describing key aspects of cognitive and brain development, students will find out how insights about how infants learn can be used to improve our learning as adults. 

This sessions will be delivered by Dr Maria Laura Filippetti.

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The Love Hormone - Fact or Fiction?

The hormone oxytocin has been dubbed 'The Love Hormone' - but does the science match the hype? In this taster session students will learn what hormones are, what oxytocin is, and crucially what aspects of our behaviour it does and does not influence. The field of oxytocin research serves as an excellent case sample of why critically assessing science is so important. And how scientific theory can evolve over time.

This session will be delivered by Dr Katie Daughters.

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The Rhythm of the Brain

Visit a psychophysiology laboratory and learn how neuroscientists monitor brain activity with electroencephalography (EEG). You will experience a demonstration of how EEG can be used to study emotions. Other measures of (peripheral) physiology may also be discussed.

This session will be delivered by Dr Sebastian Korb.

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How to Recognise Microaggressions

Microaggressions are the sometimes subtle expression of prejudice in everyday life. Many people may not even realise something they said or did could be considered a microaggression, but members of the target group (e.g., racial or ethnic minorities, non-heterosexual individuals, etc.) will definitely notice these incidents. Microaggressions can do real harm, even if they are unintentional.

In this interactive session, students will learn about the different types of microaggressions, how to recognise them, and begin to consider what they can do to help make the world a less hostile place for members of marginalised groups.

This session will be delivered by Dr Angela Meadows.

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Prejudice and Weight Stigma

Weight stigma can be defined as negative judgments, attitudes and behaviours towards people of higher weights. Weight stigma is so common in everyday life, most people don’t even notice it, or if they do, they think it’s justified. This is about more than just hurt feelings – weight stigma affects physical and mental health, education and employment opportunities, access to good healthcare, and many more. And with two-thirds of us now being classified in one of the higher-weight BMI categories, this sometimes forgotten form of stigma can have enormous impact on individuals’ life outcomes and on society as a whole.

In this mini-workshop, we will use the topic of weight stigma to learn a little about explicit and implicit prejudice – the negative thoughts that we are aware of and those that we may be less aware we hold. Students will have the opportunity to complete an online implicit association test (IAT) and consider whether they hold sub-conscious biases and what they may be able to do about them.

This session will be delivered by Dr Angela Meadows.

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