The Cambridge Series at the Hay Festival 2019

The Hay Festival is one of the most prestigious cultural and literary events in the world.

The University of Cambridge has partnered with the Festival for 11 years to deliver The Cambridge Series which gives a taste of the research being conducted at the University.

The Series is part of the University’s public engagement work and draws on the University’s two flagship public engagement events, the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The Hay Festival runs from 25th May to 2nd June 2019.


25th May

2.30pm - Emily Shuckburgh - Title: How will climate change affect me?


Description: Dr Emily Shuckburgh is a climate scientist and mathematician and co-author of the Ladybird book on climate change. She will speak about her research on modelling localised effects of climate change. Emily will also be in conversation with Mary Robinson on Climate Justice at 7pm.


7pm - Sander van der Linden - Title: Vaccinating against fake news


Description: How do we counter fake news and can we inoculate public opinion about misinformation? Dr Sander van der Linden is Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab and is investigating the psychological mechanisms behind  the spread of misinformation.


26th May

11.30am - Nicole Soranzo - Title: Human disease: nature, nurture or both?


Description: The sequencing of the human genome has revolutionised how scientists search for the genetic causes of human diseases. Human geneticist Professor Nicole Soranzo will describe how the field has evolved in the last 15 years, discussing how new genetic evidence is used to better understand the interplay between our DNA (‘nature’) and the environment (‘nurture’).


27th May

10am - Victoria Bateman  - Title: The Sex Factor - how women made the West rich


Description: The Industrial Revolution brings to mind famous male inventors and industrialists. In her new book economist Victoria Bateman instead argues that the everyday woman underpinned Britain’s – and indeed the West’s - rise.


28th May

11.30am - Christopher Reynolds - Title: The universe of black holes.


Description: Black holes are nature’s most extreme objects. Professor Christopher Reynolds will  describe how they stretch our understanding of space-time to the limits and power some of the most energetic phenomena in the Universe.


1pm - Bill Sutherland - Title: Rethinking decision making in a post truth world


Description: Bill Sutherland, who holds the Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology at the University of Cambridge, will describe attempts to make global evidence available to all, improve the effectiveness of experts and change attitudes toward the use of evidence, especially in relation to conservation.


4pm - Anthony Shillito and Neil Davies - Title: A path well trodden - following the footprints of fearsome beasts from Britain's deep history


Description: Throughout its ancient history, the UK has been home to many amazing creatures that are now long extinct. From dinosaurs to  giant millipedes, discover how these animals shaped the land around them and what secrets are held within their prehistoric footprints.


29th May

1pm - Adrian Weller - Title: Where AI meets ethics


Description: Adrian Weller is a senior research fellow in machine learning at the University of Cambridge. He will address the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence for society and the importance of ethics, trust and transparency.


2.30pm - Martin Jones - Title: Food security past and present: what archaeology tells us about the food we eat


Description: Professor Martin Jones is Emeritus Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Cambridge and a member of its Global Food Security research centre. An expert in archaeobotany and archaeogenetics, he will discuss how our prehistoric ancestors built resilience into their food supply and what we can learn from them.


30th May

7pm - Mike Kenny, Eluned Morgan and Adam Price Title: Brexit and the Politics of National Identity in Wales and the UK


Description: What are the Brexit implications for Wales and for the coherence of the United Kingdom. Professor Kenny is co-director of the British Academy’s “Governing England” programme, and is a member of an external experts panel convened by the Scottish Parliament to advise on the constitutional implications of Brexit. Morgan is Welsh Government Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language. Price is leader of Plaid Cymru.


31st May

1pm - Tyler Shores - Title: Reading in an age of digital distraction


Description: What is the difference between reading in print and digital? How is our reading experience affected in a digital age where we are prone to endless distractions?  Writer, editor and researcher Tyler Shores explores his latest research.


5.30pm - Paul Fletcher - Title: Apples or ice-cream? Who - or what - determines what we eat?


Description: Paul Fletcher is Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. A central principle of his research is that the brain is occupied in the process of forming predictions and associations to minimise error and uncertainty and to maximise reward. In many instances the processes engaged with this goal can conflict with underlying automatic and habitual processes, shaping our decisions and behaviours. The end result may be that our behaviours can seem irrational and in conflict with our longer term goals and plans. Given that major global non-communicable diseases are profoundly influenced by health-harming decisions and behaviours, understanding how body, brain and environmental signals are integrated and how they shape these behaviours will be a crucial part of improving health.


1st June

9am - Fiona Maine - Title: Beyond words: exploring the magic of visual texts


Description: What is the potential of complex, ambiguous wordless picturebooks and short films as springboards for children’s critical and creative discussions about the world and how we live together in it?  Fiona Maine is a lecturer in literacy education at the University of Cambridge.


2nd June


Title: Female voices on climate change

Does having more women involved in climate change-related research make a difference to discussions? What kind of adaptations will be required as global warming increases and how do we bring a broad range of the public on board, particularly with regard to the more complex issues around climate change? Panel discussion with Morgan Seag, co-chair of the international council of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, anthropologist Ragnhild Freng Dale from the Scott Polar Research Institute and the Western Norway Research Institute, Chandrika Nath, executive director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, and Professor Melody Clark from the British Antarctic Survey.



Title: Your granny’s bump - how life in the womb affects future generations

We’re constantly bombarded by advice on what pregnant women should do - but what does science really tell us about how early development impacts on future health? Dr Catherine Aiken, University Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Medicine, explores how life in the womb affects not only our children’s lifelong health and well-being, but maybe even our grandchildren too.


Other University of Cambridge speakers at the Festival include Professor Martin Rees, neuroscientist Giles Yeo, author and lecturer Robert Macfarlane and neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow. Charlie Gilderdale, NRICH Project Secondary Coordinator, will once again be running maths masterclasses with Alison Eves from the Royal Institution.

*To book tickets and find out more, go to Tickets are on sale from 29th March.