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The University of Plymouth is for the first time taking part in an international festival of discovery offering a range of engaging, interactive and fun activities to help lighten the dark wintery days.

FUTURES2020 is taking place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November 2020 as part of European Researchers’ Night, an annual event held simultaneously in more than 300 cities across 24 European countries.

Fittingly for Britain’s Ocean City, the events in Plymouth include a talk on marine litter by Professor Richard Thompson OBE, the first scientist to use the phrase microplastics when referring to items of ocean debris and Head of the University’s International Marine Litter Research Unit.

There is also Land Ahoy! – an exciting opportunity to find out more about the people who protect our seas, with a series of talks on maritime history and heritage filmed on location at some of Plymouth’s most renowned maritime landmarks. 

The Big Family Quiz, hosted by Professor of Early Modern British History James Daybell, will invite families to test their knowledge of the world around us, featuring mind-boggling facts on marine life, the history of pandemics, plants and the human body. 

There will also be a programme of Discovery talks, panel discussions and Q&As across the two days, including Expedition Earth: An Explorer’s Guide to a Planet in Peril, a talk from Professor Iain Stewart MBE, Director of the University’s Sustainable Earth Institute.

Professor Jerry Roberts Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise

Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Enterprise, said:

“We are always looking for exciting and interesting ways to share our world-leading research in ocean and earth science, heritage and health, and sustainability, with a wider audience. With its combination of talks, quizzes and panel sessions, FUTURES2020 does that and gives a real insight into the breadth of our work and how it is having a genuine impact on people’s lives. It is also a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues across the South West, to fuel the public’s imagination, and inspire more people to find out about our work and perhaps think about a career in research themselves.”

FUTURES2020 will see the University joining forces with the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter and Bath Spa to offer the public the opportunity to meet and chat with researchers, and take part in activities that showcase the innovative research taking place in their cities.

It will feature a huge number of online and virtual events including the Curiosity Carousel Knowledge Fair, hosted by University of Bristol, a science comedy gameshow led by sci-stand-up Steven Cross at the University of Bath, and a creative workshop from University of Exeter that promises to help beat the Lockdown Blues.

Budding scientists are also being encouraged to try out a plethora of exciting and hands-on activities through the FUTURES2020 Do Try This at Home challenges.

Many of the FUTURES2020 events are targeted at families, with the aim of inspiring young people to consider a career in research, but there promises to be something to inspire anyone with a curious mind.

A full programme can be found at, and while some events are ticketed they are all free.

Dr Joel Morley, FUTURES2020 project co-ordinator at the University of Bristol, said:

“After two successful years of FUTURES in Bristol and Bath we are delighted to bring European Researchers’ Night to an even bigger audience. Working with researchers across all four universities has allowed us to offer a much wider range of activities.

"So whilst the event might look a little different to previous years, with many of the events taking place online, there are still plenty of ways that people can get actively involved; whether that’s pitting their wits against other families in our quiz, challenging our researchers with mind-boggling questions at Q&A sessions or trying out some of the brilliant experiments and activities as part of our Do Try This at Home event. We hope that everyone who comes along to a FUTURES2020 event walks away feeling that they’ve learnt something new, experienced something different and above all had a great time.”