The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, open to all, is an annual display of the most exciting and cutting-edge science and technology in the UK.
Dr Nina Alphey and colleagues from the University and Oxitec Ltd are taking a display on genetically modified mosquitoes. This pioneering research, described as “insect birth control”, works by creating "sterile insects". These sterile male insects are released so that females already living in an area mate with them. They then have fewer offspring or none at all. If enough sterile males are released over a long period, this can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, the pest population. The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition display provides information about how GM sterile insects can be used to control mosquitoes that spread diseases such as dengue and malaria. Visitors will have the chance to talk to Dr Nina Alphey and the other scientists who created these insects, and to take part in interactive activities. This new insect control technique and the display were developed with funding support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Among the displays, visitors will also find information on research being carried out by Professor Peter Donnelly as part of the 'People of the British Isles' project. The project examines the genetic variations that explain some common normal differences between people, such as what may be the genetics behind left- and right-handedness. Scientists behind the project have analysed DNA variation at 500,000 DNA positions in over 2,000 people from all over the UK, in order to create a detailed genetic map of the genetic variation between groups of people from different parts of the UK and their relationships with other countries. A video of Professor Donnelly discussing the project can be found online here.
More information on both exhibits, together with general information for visitors, can be found on the Royal Society website. The exhibition is aimed at an audience of interested adults and young people over the age of 12. No formal science background or training is required.