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  • Writer's pictureBioYorkshire

Event: The Remarkable Power of Poo

Updated: May 14

Sunday 9th June 2024 2.30pm to 3.30pm, Campus East, University of York

Poo can be a real problem, but also an opportunity for those dealing with it. With the average human producing 145kg of poo a year and a dairy cow producing 62kg of the stuff per day, there’s plenty of it to do something with!

This event aims to shed light on the issues surrounding waste management while highlighting the exciting possibilities it holds, particularly in addressing climate change. 

Our panel of experts, featuring researchers from BioYorkshire partners (University of York, Fera Science, Biorenewables Development Centre, Askham Bryan College) and will guide us through the journey from problem to solution.

Join us for an eye-opening panel discussion and exhibition that not only addresses the challenges posed by waste but also explores the exciting prospects of turning poo into a catalyst for positive environmental change. 

The event also features a range of hands-on activities suitable for all ages. There is no need to book, please just turn up. This event is part of the Festival of Ideas, a free programme of events aimed at showcasing research to the general public. 

Together, let's envision a world where waste is not just a problem but a valuable asset in the pursuit of a sustainable and eco-friendly future.

Tickets for this event will be released on the 3rd May 2024 via the Festival of Ideas website.  

Our speakers include:

Steve Bagshaw, Chair of BioYorkshire

Steve has over 35 years’ experience across the biotechnologies and fine chemicals business and manufacturing sectors.  He is currently Chair of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and has been a Council Member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council since January 2021.

He was CEO for six years of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies – a globally leading contact biopharmaceutical manufacturing and development organisation.  Prior to that he led the UK business for seven years based in the north-east of England in Billingham, Teesside.

Steve also worked on the UK Government’s Vaccines Task Force as an Industry Advisor from 2020 to 2022.  He chaired the UK’s Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum from 2013 to 2021 and was Co-Chair of the UK Bioeconomy Strategy Board between 2016 and 2021 – leading to the publication of the UK Government’s Bioeconomy Strategy in December 2018.

He was awarded a CBE in 2020 for services to the UK Manufacturing and Biotechnology Sector. 

Professor James Chong, CEAD Director | YESI Food, Water, Waste Theme Co-Lead | Department of Biology, University of York 

James was introduced to industrial research as an undergraduate at the University of Manchester where his BSc in Molecular Biology included a sandwich year working in GSK’s Natural Products pilot plant at Greenford. He learned protein biochemistry as part of his PhD at Cancer Research UK and gained yeast genetics experience with EMBO and HFSP fellowships at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York. James returned to the UK as a BBSRC David Phillips Fellow at the University of Bath in 2000. He moved to the University of York in 2004. He was awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship in 2016 which allowed him to redirect his research to use ‘omics techniques to understanding the microbial community dynamics of anaerobic digestion. He currently works with Yorkshire Water, other UK water companies and other commercial users of AD, to optimise resource recovery from organic wastes such as sewage.


Kerian Holiday, Science and conservation officer, Flamingo Land Resort

Kieran is currently working as the Science and Conservation Officer at Flamingo Land, where he oversees the research undertaken on site and leads on native species conservation projects. He also holds the voluntary position of sustainability officer. He has a BSc in Zoology from Swansea University and an MSc in Conservation Ecology from Oxford Brookes University. Kieran has previously worked as an animal technician and spent a period of time training and working in conservation on a reserve in Botswana. 

Anna Alessi, Project & Communications Manager, Biorenewables Development Centre

Anna is a project manager at the Biorenewables Development Centre, which is an open-access R&D centre based at the University of York. She manages a diverse range of projects in collaboration with academia, industry, and local farmers. The projects focus on exploring novel food production systems, industrial biotechnology for bio-based products and bioenergy production. Anna also serves as a project manager for a £4M BBSRC-funded sLOLA project at the Department of Biology, led by Prof Gavin Thomas, and includes academic partners from the Universities of York, Cambridge, Newcastle, and Nottingham.

Anna has a background in molecular microbiology and has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of York's Department of Biology. During her time there, she contributed to several large, multidisciplinary collaborative projects. She gained expertise in anaerobic digestion and analyzing complex microbial communities using multi-omics approaches.

Martin Folan, Innovation Partnerships & Portfolio Manager, Yorkshire Water

Martin has worked across several sectors over the last 25 years, focusing primarily on change management and delivery of innovative solutions to complex problems. In his second stint at Yorkshire Water, Martin is tasked with delivering innovation that spans the full water cycle, to help deliver a thriving Yorkshire, right for Customers, and right for the Environment. A member of the BioYorkshire Advisory Group, and Future Humber Advisory Board, he has also recently started to champion national initiatives to deliver value and equity for customers across the water and wastewater sector.

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