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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Evidence on Trial Public Lecture - Evidence in Experimental Science

30th November 2015, 18:15 to 19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre, Professor Dame Julia Higgins, DBE, FRS, FRSC, FREng (Imperial College London)


As an experimental scientist, Professor Dame Julia Higgins has built her own apparatus to measure properties of materials, sent sample materials to another organisation and received data in return, supervised new young scientists starting their own research careers who come to her to discuss their measurements, and used large multi-user apparatus at international facilities where she has little or no control over the construction and maintenance. Add to this the fact that modern technology and IT often presents the experimentalist with data from an apparatus where the “numbers” are far removed from the “raw” measurement. In every case there is a judgement to be made about the reliability of the results with which she is presented. This talk will discuss how these judgements can be made. Then, given an observation of certain behaviour, how can the evidence be presented to the scientific community in a way that allows them to make their own judgements.

Julia Higgins is a Senior Research Investigator (Emeritus Professor) in the Department of Chemical Engineering in Imperial College, London. Her research career has focussed on the application of scattering techniques, notably neutron scattering, to the understanding of polymer behaviour. She is a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and has been involved in Diversity matters at both Academies.

She was the Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society from 2001 to 2006, and Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council from 2002 to 2007.

She was the founding Chair of the Athena Project from 1998 to 2003, and continues to support the careers of women in academic science as Patron of the Athena Swan awards.

For the Royal Society she has recently stepped down as chair of the Education Committee and was vice chair of the recent Vision report on science education.

This lecture is free and open to all.


Map – The Calman Learning Centre is denoted at building number: 43.

Contact for more information about this event.