The Lockdown Lectures: Everything you need to know about the latest online series

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The Lockdown Lectures are a series of mini lectures and interviews with some of Manchester’s most inspiring and acclaimed researchers. The series kicked off on Monday 18th May, where I’m joined by Professor Brian Cox for a Q&A to discuss everything from the current pandemic to his personal inspirations and interests. Following this interview, the rest of the series will be uploaded online to the University’s social media channels over the next few weeks. Find out more below about the Lockdown Lectures and how I got involved…

The Lockdown Lectures aim to give students, professionals, and the general public an insight to the lives and the work of some of Manchester’s amazing researchers. Whilst the lecturers that feature are highly acclaimed for their research and discoveries, these lectures are a way to get to know them, and not just their findings. The talks and Q&As enable us to connect with them on an entirely different level, putting questions to them that go far beyond the limits of a lecture theatre. And I’m asking the questions we all want the answers to – has Dame Nancy Rothwell had the chance to binge watch anything during lockdown? Has Brian Cox ever thought about getting the band back together?

If you want to keep learning but you’re finding it difficult given the current restrictions, and you have exhausted the news, tuning into the talks and the Q&As offers something new and exciting in the comfort of your own home. It’s a chance to hear from world-leading experts, not just in COVID19-related areas but far beyond. And even when the pandemic is discussed, the lecturers offer extremely interesting insights. Away from science-related discussions, the likes of Gary Younge and David Olusoga OBE have been on hand to provide insight into how the pandemic has shaped society in Britain, and what it tells us more broadly about race and inequalities, offering  welcome and unique commentary on the current situation that differs from common discussions that feature on mainstream news.

By now, you’re probably wondering where I fit into all of this! I first heard about the lectures a couple of weeks ago, when I received a phone call. I had been approached as a potential interviewer/presenter based on my previous work at the University as an Instagram Q&A host and an SEI Intern on the Student Communications and Marketing team. After being told about the project and the opportunity to interview some truly influential academics, I jumped at the chance! The University of Manchester is full of incredible researchers, yet sometimes it’s easy for your contact with them to be limited; I think most students would agree that we only ever really get to know our own lecturers, and the academics whose research area is relevant to our course or discipline. The Lockdown Lectures provided the opportunity to hear from researchers my path would have never usually crossed with, and it’s the same for anybody that tunes in to watch them. Ultimately, it’s a great way to hear more about the amazing people that make up The University of Manchester.

And, of course, none of this would have been possible without Zoom (surely it isn’t just me that had never heard of it before the pandemic)?! There’s me, the lecturer, a member of the technical team and a member of the communications team on the call as we record each Lockdown Lecture. There has been so much effort that has gone into the production of this online series, which of course is down to the amazing team that are working on it. It’s been quite strange working on a project like this from home, when usually we’d all be meeting in person and we’d have all the technical equipment, lighting, microphones and so on. Instead, we’ve had to place all our trust in the hands of Wi-Fi connections, and Zoom video and audio quality. One thing is for sure, we’d be totally lost without 21st Century technology!

For me personally, getting involved with the Lockdown Lectures has ticked all the boxes – I’ve stayed busy, I’ve stayed connected, and most importantly I’ve continued learning. There has always been something to reflect on or consider based on discussions in the lectures and the Q&As. In times like this I think that is crucial – we must keep our minds busy, and we must keep feeding it with new knowledge. And for anybody that tunes in to watch over the next few weeks, it will do all the above for you too. I can guarantee you’ll come away feeling inspired, uplifted, and proud to be a part of The University of Manchester.

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for the Lockdown Lectures, where I’m also joined by Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov (the Nobel Prize winning physicist who isolated the properties of graphene), wellbeing expert Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of Immunology Dan Davis, and many more. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed taking part!

The first few lectures with Brian Cox, Nancy Rothwell and Cary Cooper are live and you can watch them here, and the next lecture is on Wednesday 27 May with Nobel Prize winning Kostya Novoselov – tune in live at midday! Plus, you can check out the schedule for the rest of the series here.

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