Our lectures are open to the public and intended for a non-specialist audience. Subjects and their speakers have included the following:

2016 - 2017

Bitcoins, Blockchains and smart contracts
Professor William Knottenbelt

The future of artificial intelligence
Professor Murray Shanahan

Synthetic biology
Prof Richard Kitney

Large Hadron Collider update
Professor Paul Dauncey

Transitioning to low carbon energy
Professor Geoffrey Maitland

Quantum physics on stage
Dr Simon Foster and masters students

Soiree: Interdisciplinary innovation
Dr Nick de Leon

The compatibility gene
Professor Daniel Davis

Quantum gravity
Professor Fay Dowker

Why is life the way it is?
Dr Nick Lane

Turning the tables on cancer
Professor Charles Coombes

Is there Life below Antarctic Ice?
Professor Martin Siegert

2015 – 2016

Water: weirdest chemical in the universe
Alok Jha, science correspondent ITV News

Healing the Brain
Professor David Sharp

Improbably things always happen
Professor David Hand

Adventures in the Anthropocene
Gaia Vince, Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

Quantum mechanics in a nutshell
Dr Simon Foster and his CQD physics students

Mountains, magmas and mushes
Professor Matthew Jackson

Soiree: Antarctic honours and hazards
Roderick Rhys Jones, Chairman Friends

SABRE - a novel rocket engine
Dr Robert Bond

Science policy advice to Government
Professor Sir Mark Walport

2014 - 2015

Modelling the Heart
Prof Peter Kohl

The random universe
Professsor Andrew Jaffe

Matter from Light
Prof Steven Rose

Soiree: moon Symphony
Paul Gladstone Read MBE

Solar revolution
Emeritus Professor Keith Barnham

Stuff matter
Professor Mark Miodownik

Landing on comets and moons
Professor David Southwood

Quantum showcase: joushell
Dr Simon Foster and his CQD physics students

Blue green city dream
Professor Cedo Maksimovic

Epidemiology of Twins
Prof Tim Spector

Creating artificial cells
Dr Oscar Ces

Bio-inspired aerial vehicles
Dr Mirko Kovak

A biography of General Relativity
Professor Pedro Ferreira

2013 - 2014

Brain sex; - health and disease
Professor Glenda Gillies

Food, water and energy security
Professor Sir John Beddington

The search for dark matter
Prof Alan Heavens

The battle against influenza
Prof Peter Openshaw

Data is the new oil
Professor Yike Guo

Graphene: super material
Professor Neil Alford

My conversion to science
Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller

2012 -2013

Engineering novel biological systems
Professor Richard Kitney OBE, FREng

Changing human behavior
Professor Nelson Phillips

Driving the Mars Rover
Prof Sanjeev Gupta

Amazing quantum worlds
Dr Simon Foster and CQD physics students

The origin of our species
Professor Chris Stringer, NHM

Breaking into the brain
Dr Aldo Faisal

Unveiling the secrets of the universe
Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee

2011 - 2012

The extended mind
Dr Rupert Shelldrake

Celebrating chemistry
Emeritus Professor David Philips OBE

Genomics: 21st century Medicine
Professor Timothy Aitman

Oddities of physics
Dr Simon Foster and his CQD students

Where does life come from?
Dr Zita Martins

Plastic electronic revolution
Professor Donal Bradley

Changing lives globally
Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham

2010 – 2011

The end of ageing
Professor Nadia Rosenthal

Does the Sun drive our Climate?
Professor Joanna Haigh

Can humanity survive in the information age?
Emeritus Professor Igor Aleksander

Chaotic cards and dynamic dice
Dr Frank Berkshire

Swarm robotics drug delivery?
Dr Frantisek Stepanek

Does God play dice?
Dr Antony Valentini   


Self-healing broken hearts
Professor Michael Schneider

Engineering and emotion
Dr Chris Wise

Nazi persecution: Britain's science gift
Dr Ralph Kohn

Seeing is believing – eye and brain
Professor Christopher Kennard

Theatre of the Quantum Absurd
Dr Nic Harrigan and his troupe of CQD physicists

Extraterrestrial life in the solar system?
Professor Michele Dougherty FRS

How cells switch genes "on" and "off"
Professor Richard Festenstein

Hunt for the Higgs Boson
Professor Jordan Nash

2008 - 2009

Is human evolution over?
Professor Stephen Jones

The eco-cities of China
Dr Peter Head

Eleven dimensions of the Unifying Theory
Professor Michael Duff

Alternative medicine or trickery
Dr Simon Singh

The evolution of music
Professor Armand Leroi

Can science make you happy?
Professor Lord Robert Winston

2007 – 2008

Great technologies shaping the 20th Century
Professor David Egerton

Nanotechnology in magnetic materials Professor Russell Cowburn

The biological rationale for beliefs
Professor Lewis Wolpert

Why Americans play Baseball
Professor Stefan Szymanski

2006 – 2007

Invisible cloaks and a perfect spyglass
Professor Sir John Pendry, FRS

Relieving forgotten diseases
Professor Alan Fenwick

Upgrading humans technically
Professor Kevin Warwick

Imperial Innovations flotation
Dr Susan Searle, Chief Executive

2005 – 2006

The emergent mind
Emeritus Professor Igor Aleksander FREng

Mad cows, monkeys, and Chinese ducks 
Professor Sir Roy Anderson

Planes, trains and automobiles
Professor Rod Smith

2004 - 2005

Big Bang
Dr Simon Singh MBE

Curing rheumatoid diseases
Professor Sir Ravinder Maini

Is sustainability achievable
Julia Marton Lefevre

2003 - 2004

Spinning gold
Dr Susan Searle, CEO Imperial Innovations

Imaging our bodies
Professor Richard Kitney

The evolution of female promiscuity 
Dr Olivia Judson 

2002 – 2003

Railways of Britain: quo vadis
Professsor Rod Smith

Cognitive neuroscience
Professor John Gruzelier

The hunger hormone
Professor Sir Stephen Bloom

Behind-the-scenes visits

Friends organises a series of visits to laboratories at the College for members and their guests. They have included:

Environmental Engineering

The Energy Futures Lab

St Mary’s Academic Health Centre NHS Trust

The Porter Institute

Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology

Grantham Institute for Climate Change

The Institute of Biomedical Engineering

Nanostructured Materials and Devices Group

Institute for security science and technology

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Department of Materials

Lifelong Health Project

Silwood Park Postgraduate study of ecology, evolution, and conservation

Blyth Center for Music and Visual Art

Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine

Photonics Group

Dyson Robotics Lab

Data Science Institute

Next Generation Neural Interfaces Lab

Imperial Bio-engineering and Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies

Science visits

Friends organises a series of member only visits to laboratories outside the College. They have included:

Diamond Light Facility, Harwell Science Park

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot

Natural History Museum, South Kensington

Imperial White City Campus

Orion Laser, Aldermaston

Science Museum Collider Exhibition

Diamond Light, Harwell

Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire

University of London Observatory, Mill Hill

Heritage Tour of the Royal Institution, Mayfair

JET Tokamak, Culham

Science tours

Friends have organised a number of tours to European science facilities where Imperial College has links including:

Visits to CERN to view the Large Hadron Collider, a visit to the Science Museum on the waterfront in Geneva and a talk about the city’s links with science in the old town.

A five-day Science in Tuscany tour, included a guided tour of the stabilising of the Leaning Tower of Pisa by Professor John Burland; the European Gravitational Wave Observatory, Pisa; the science and technology departments at Pisa and Florence Universities; and the Galileo Museum in Florence.

A group joined a three week tour of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic led by the Chairman of Friends in 2015.

Social events

The Chairman and committee members are keen to make everyone who attends the lectures feel welcome. They are greeted on arrival and after each lecture they are encouraged to join the speaker, members and other guests for a glass of wine. In addition there is a lively Friends supper table at a local restaurant after our lectures when we entertain the speaker. Each summer we entertain our speakers and college academics and students to a Summer Party which has been jointly sponsored by the College for the last two years. Friends has also contributed to the Imperial Festival held in May by organizing discussions with science authors on their books.

Membership and benefits

Membership is £20 a year. Members have the satisfaction of helping to promote the public understanding of science and benefit from reduced prices for tickets for public lectures. In addition they have the opportunity to attend a number of member-only events with a guest. Public lecture prices are £12.00 non-members, Members £5.00, Member’s Guest £10.00, Staff £5.00, Students £3.00 and school pupils free.

Join Friends