Storytellers, Scientists, Innovators, Changemakers, Wild Thinkers, and Problem Solvers all gather in Cambridge for insightful and thought-provoking discussion.

In the lead up to the annual Conference, our Salon series provided a chance to engage with a range of topics at a deeper level throughout the year.

There were four chapters last year, each exploring a range of concepts and shedding light on new and little heard ideas in a comfortable, dinner-party style setting.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in our Salons last year.

Take a look at the inspiring speakers who were involved in our Salons series last year as well as photos from last year!

    Chapter I: Beyond the Veil

    Wednesday 16th October 2019, 7pm-10pm at Baroosh

    Through looking “Beyond the Veil”, we explore the discrepancies between expectations and reality, shedding light that what we see, or choose to see, might not be what there is.

    Jon Roozenbeek

    Jon Roozenbeek is a researcher at Cambridge University’s Social Decision-Making Lab. His work focuses mainly on online misinformation. By drawing on insights from psychology and behavioural science, he explores how fake news can be demystified by pre-emptively exposing the techniques and strategies used in its production. Can you “vaccinate” people against fake news? And if so, what would such a “vaccine” look like?

    Andrew Salmon

    Andrew Salmon is a nanotechnology researcher at the University of Cambridge. He talks about how common intuitions (developed in the macroscale world) are broken on the nanoscale, and discusses what that means for people trying to build nanotechnologies, and what that means for how we understand ourselves. The machinery of life (DNA, proteins) operates in a nanoscale world we do not intuitively understand.

    Marion Leeper

    Marion Leeper grew up in a family of actors, raconteurs, tellers of tall tales and downright liars. She has been listening to and telling stories (true and less true) for longer than she can remember. Stories take us to other worlds. The old traditional stories of the little people, the unnamed ones, the fairy folk, point to a world beyond the veil: a world beyond the everyday, a world which illuminates our precious natural world like the light behind a magic lantern, but which also uses enchantment, or ‘glamour’ to hide that which should be in plain sight.

    Melanie Hoyes

    Melanie has a background in academia and joined the BFI in 2016 as a researcher, working on a project to acquire diversity data about gender and ethnicity for the BFI Filmography. She has now moved into the Film Fund to deputise for the Head of Inclusion, to advocate for equity and access in the industry. She talks about misrepresentation within representation in filmic/screen narratives; how diversity and inclusion often lead to conversations about the numbers of people from underrepresented backgrounds working in the industry or appearing onscreen without addressing how they are being represented or what stories are they are allowed to tell.

    Chapter II: Into the Periphery

    Tuesday 19th November 2019, 7pm-10pm at The Cambridge Brewhouse

    Out of sight, out of mind? When we step Into the Periphery, we explore what has historically been overlooked or sidelined. What have we forgotten, misconstrued, neglected, or actively ignored?

    Nicola Clayton and Clive Wilkins

    Professor Nicola Clayton FRS is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Professor Clive Wilkins is an artist and writer. He is Artist in Residence at the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and a Member of the Magic Circle. Together, Professors Clayton and Wilkins will explore what cognitive illusions reveal about the psychology of our minds. Using magic tricks and research they will illuminate aspects from Theory of Mind, our ability to think about what others might be thinking, and will share research on why memory has evolved the way it has.

    Hugh Warwick

    Hugh is an author and ecologist with a particular interest in hedgehogs. Over the 30+ years he has been studying hedgehogs there has been a gradual shift in public attitudes – and now it is rare to find anyone who has a negative thing to say about hedgehogs. People love hedgehogs – hedgehogs top all the polls for ’nation’s favourite’ species/animal/nature icon – and this means that he can talk about so many important ecological and environmental issues through the lens of the hedgehog.

    Henry Shevlin

    Dr Shevlin is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, where he leads the Consciousness and Intelligence project. Dr Shevlin will talk about the moral status AI will hold in the future.

    From the abused simulants of Blade Runner to the neglected child-robot ‘David’ in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, science-fiction is replete with the figure of the maltreated machine. But could an artificial system ever come to possess genuine moral status, and how would we know? In this talk, Dr Shevlin argues that this issue – while superficially esoteric – deserves serious consideration from philosophers and researchers, and examines various pathways that could lead us to identify an artificial being as possessing some moral status.

    Barry Griffiths

    Barry is an ex-homeless individual, ex civil servant and now communications officer at Jimmy’s Cambridge since 2013. Apart from being an avid reader, Mr Griffiths is an armchair sports enthusiast and an overall fan of life! In his talk, he will talk about the issues surrounding homelessness and identity.

    Chapter III: Our Rearview Mirrors

    Monday 27th January 2019, 7pm-10pm at Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar

    “A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily, one chooses the moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” Our Rearview Mirrors seeks to interrogate how the past has shaped the present, and reflect on how we can waltz into the new year with lessons and new ideas in mind.

    Calvin Hooper

    Calvin is a first year undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge reading Physical Natural Sciences. For the past two years, Calvin has been researching and designing metamaterials with a specific focus on holography and optical computation. At the Salon, Calvin will share insights from his work and what we can learn from applied physics to gain better insights on what reflection means.

    Zoë Slattery

    Zoë is a student of Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge. Previously, she has worked on international development projects in southern India. At the Salon, Zoë will speak about her research on how NGOs and charities can learn from failures in international development projects!


    Olivia Ahn

    Olivia is the co-founder of Polipop – a femcare start-up with the market’s first flushable sanitary pads. Having founded Polipop in her final year of medical school, Olivia went full-time into business after completing her medical foundation training in 2019. She will explore how the future of consumables will change with mounting environmental concern and new legislation, and how media influences the portion of blame for consumables in the modern world.


    Abigail Joseph

    Abigail is a student organiser currently reading for a MPhil in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She is passionate about dismantling capitalist white supremacy and fighting for prison abolition. In her free time, she can be found gushing about art, cinematography and the latest vegan restaurant she has found.