Five reasons why you should attend this year’s Research without Borders festival

Have you heard of Research without Borders, the University’s annual festival of postgraduate research? This year, the festival returns with its usual takeover of Colston Hall, which sees almost 100 of our postgraduate researchers demonstrate their work through games, immersive lab simulations, hands-on activities and whacky Wallace-and-Gromit style contraptions.

If you’ve ever wondered what researchers are working on in the University’s labs, seminar rooms and lecture halls, then this is the festival for you!

Research without Borders is open to anyone and everyone, and is a great way to find out about the behind-the-scenes world of what goes on at a University. Whether you’re a student or work for the University, it’s a great way to get literally stuck in with some of the methods, spaces and questions that research students work in.

Alex Moylett, a PhD student in the School of Mathematics who took part last year, explains why the festival is a great field trip for the Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught community, alongside researchers.

“It is easy as a taught student to get caught up in your studies and forget that a university is also a research institution (I certainly did that in my undergraduate degree), and a world-leading one in the case of Bristol. Research without Borders is a great way of highlighting that side of the university,” she said.

Join us at the showcase exhibition at Colston Hall on 15th May.  

Here are five reasons we think you should get involved:

1 – Celebrate the weird and wonderful
Have you ever wondered what PhD students work on all day, every day? Research at the University is incredibly varied, and often quite bizarre! This is one of the few opportunities you’ll have to get literally stuck in with the fantastic research taking place Check out some of what’s on offer at this year’s showcase:

  • Become a lab technician and peer into the microscope to understand organisms that date back earlier than the dinosaurs
  • Step into a roman kitchen and churn butter
  • Take on the persona of an alien character and walk around another world
  • Heal a broken heart
  • Deliver a baby!

2 – Meet the researchers behind-the-scenes
A big part of the festival’s mission is to create conversations and connect our researchers with the world outside of their academic bubbles. We want you to come along and ask questions to the people working on some of our biggest healthcare, climate, cultural and engineering challenges facing the world.

As one visitor said last year, “[the festival] provided a great environment for learning and networking and really opened the doors on what happens behind the University – in plain, accessible English with smiling faces!”

3 – Explore unique artworks inspired by doctoral research
RwB Visualise is this year’s pilot arts programme, which invites a group of doctoral researchers from across all our faculties to work with local artist Zoe Cameron to create an artwork celebrating what research without borders means.

We’ve also paired with Creative Reactions, the pint of Science spinoff that invites artists to respond to research through visual artwork displays. Come along to this year’s festival to meet the artists, see the art, and think about all the different ways extraordinary research affects our ordinary lives.

4 – Attend the Three Minute Thesis finals
Always a highlight, Bristol’s leg of the Three Minute Thesis competition hosts its finals at the end of the day on May 15th. Eight contestants will each have 180 seconds to explain their research and its impact in terms that everyone can understand – with a sprinkling of flair! You’ll even get a chance to vote for your favourite.

5 – Share your ideas
Most importantly, this is a chance for you to come along and ask questions and offer your own insights.

Have a go at some of the most curious exhibits, find all the artwork, and hold your breath as researchers race against the Three Minute Thesis clock – and more importantly engage with the research underway. Come along and share your own experience and ideas with our researchers to help inspire and generate new conversations. No question is too big or too small.

Book your free tickets for the Showcase Exhibition on May 15th at Colston Hall