Return to homepage Skip to navigation Skip to site search Skip to main content Skip to footer


Female scientists take centre stage at Abertay

14 March 2013

If you’ve ever wondered how giant Jenga, computer games, nuclear disasters and secret codes fit together, the University of Abertay Dundee’s female scientists have got the answer.

In an interactive event this coming Saturday (March 16) they – along with colleagues from the James Hutton Institute – will be showcasing the many ways in which all these things relate to their varied areas of research, focusing in particular on the issue of security.

Through demonstrations, Q&As, hands on activities, and posters - that cover everything from psychology and engineering to food security and how to stay safe online - they will show that science is most definitely not a subject just for the boys.

All are welcome (men included) to join in this celebration of women in science and to find out more about the fascinating research going on at Abertay University.

Dr Patricia Dello Sterpaio, who organised the event, said:

“We’ve got some great activities lined up for Saturday that will hopefully help make science a bit more accessible and inspire more girls to think about it as a career.

“Some of us work in areas that you might automatically assume were just a male domain – like ethical hacking, computing and engineering – so Saturday’s event is all about highlighting what we do, changing perceptions and breaking down barriers.

“A lot of the time, science can just seem like it’s all about numbers and equations, and people don’t really get to see how it gets used in every day life – but science covers so many different things, and the fact that we'll be talking about all the different ways it can be used to focus on security issues is a really good example of how diverse a subject it is.

“So Saturday’ll be a lot of fun, but hopefully people will leave feeling like they’ve learnt something as well – whether it’s about engineering from having played giant Jenga, or from having found out a bit more about how we go about conducting a scientific study by taking part in some of our research. Everyone is welcome, and we look forward to seeing you all there."

The event - “Women in Security: protecting ourselves, protecting our world” - will run from 11am to 4pm on Saturday (March 16) in the Events Area behind Main Reception, University of Abertay Dundee, Kydd Building, Bell Street, Dundee. Entrance is free.

The programme of activities is as follows:

  • Buildings, Water, Energy and the Environment

Why buildings fall down (& how to stop it)

Giant Jenga: test your building skills on our Giant Jenga game and learn about load, compression, tension and torsion

Dr Cornelia Doerich-Stavridis (Civil Engineering, School of Contemporary Sciences)

Water Town

Play ‘Water Town’ – a water management computer game. You make decisions and see if it makes the flooding better or worse! Did you save the town J or flood the school L ? Your choices are played out as a computer game animation.

Dr Rebecca Wade, assisted by Roshni Jose (in association with Professor Chris Jefferies) (UWTC, School of Contemporary Sciences)

Lift off Nuclear Accident

A strategy game designed to assess the danger zone after a nuclear accident. You decide where to send a robot rover to test the radiation levels after a nuclear accident – the data from the robot is fed back to you right away so you can decide where to test next. See if you can get the best score!

Dr Rebecca Wade and Dr Cornelia Doerich-Stravridis, assisted by Nicola Day.

Feed the World

Test your skills at balancing the energy resources for food and see if you could feed the world.

Dr Lawrie Brown and Dr Timothy George (James Hutton Institute)

3D plants and soil

Watch a 3D video of the root-soil interface. How can X-ray microtomography help us to feed the world?

Dr Sonja Schmidt (SIMBIOS, School of Contemporary Sciences).

Hold soil space in your hands

Understanding the hidden world - How we can use 3D printing to see the complex structure of soil and to develop theories as to how this regulates life beneath our feet.

Dr Ruth Falconer (SIMBIOS, School of Contemporary Sciences)

  • I know where you’ve been! Is this your password? Things others know without you knowing it!!

Do you use Twitter or Flikr? … then we know where you’ve been. Watch as traces your footsteps. It’s quite frankly, --- creepy!

Lynsay Shepherd (PhD student) and Dr Jackie Archibald (School of Engineering, Computing and Applied Mathematics)

Secret Codes

See how secret codes turn your password into something completely different to keep your information safe online. Test how strong your own passwords are and find out how to keep your login details even safer.

Dr Natalie Coull (School of Engineering, Computing and Applied Mathematics)

  • Investigating, Policing and Security

Missing Memories

Does remembering an event cause us to forget the details when asked about it again later?

Take part in two research studies about how we describe missing persons and police emergency call handling.

Ashleigh McGregor (PhD student) and Sarah Firth (MSc student) (School of Social & Health Sciences)

X-ray security – could you do it?

Are you the best X-ray security detector in Tayside? Come and have a go at being an X-ray security screener! Find out what border control x-ray screeners are looking for when they’re keeping our world safe.

Annabelle Nicol (Research Assistant), Ashleigh McGregor (Research Assistant), Kirsten Lindsey (Research Assistant), Dr Elena Rusconi (School of Social & Health Sciences)

Evidence Collection – helping to solve crimes

Rebecca Cochrane (Honours graduate), Rebecca Gray (Honours graduate), Dr Graham Wightman (School of Contemporary Sciences)


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07922041198 E:

Back to News