Microbial Fuel Cells Show Off Their Stuff

Posted in: Events, Public engagement

It's a wintry Thursday evening (January 22nd to be exact) and upon the river, at the esteemed Grain Barge in Bristol, the extroverts and comics of the science world conglomerate for SCIENCE SHOWOFF: an evening of chaotic science open mic.

What's more, I had the delight of being one of these extroverts/comics as I arrived ready to bedazzle the audience with a demonstration of my research in microbial fuel cell technology.

But first, I shall reflect on the evening, and I can say it was rather quite spectacular. Laughs were aplenty (as were the pints) and we were treated to a plethora of interesting and hilarious talks ranging from: 'Why you get a song stuck in your head', 'Parasites', 'Ventriloquist Victorian Puppets' and we even got got the delight of sampling some meal worm flapjack (yes, MEAL WORM). "Slimey yet satisfying" [1].

Then it was time for me to stand upon the stage, and I conducted an interactive demonstration (with heaps of audience participation) to show the crowd how a microbial fuel cell works- primarily with the eating of biscuits and Gandalf impressions. I even introduced a toxin to this demonstration to show how this fascinating fuel cell technology can be used to detect toxins in water supplies (which involved less eating of biscuits).

This is exactly what I'm studying for my PhD at the University of Bath (no, not eating biscuits*); we are developing microbial fuel cells as water sensors for use in developing countries.


The evening was an incredible experience, and the audience were top-notch, and I found that stand up comedy is a great way to disseminate your research to the public. Moreover, I even learnt something quite important: Science can be interesting and FUN!

See the full performance.

*I do actually eat a lot of biscuits throughout my PhD studies, but alas eating biscuits isn't something you can publish.

[1] The Lion King, 1994, Directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff [Film] USA: Walt Disney Pictures

Jon is in his second year of his degree in the CSCT and is working with Dr Mirella di Lorenzo, Dr Petra Cameron and Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Horden. For more info on Jon's work click here.

Posted in: Events, Public engagement


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