Presentation Topics

Mike aims to give entertaining and insightful talks with many humorous anecdotes intertwined with a deceptive amount of hard science. He prides himself on his raw enthusiasm and has genuine empathy for the victims of the parasites and pathogens that he has worked with. But he never hides the awe he has for such tiny organisms.

Presentation titles

Parasite Experiences: what life really feels like as a 'practical parasitologist' and ,TV presenter. The inside story of leech attacks on the testicles, how to catch penis invading fishes, tapeworm growing nightmares, what hotels say when they discover your dung beetles in their fridges, and how authorities react when told that you've just lost an alligator in their sewage system. Is TV work really as glamorous as you might first think?

Disgusting Diseases, Killer Bugs and Bloodsucking Parasites: shocking images to tell a hard-hitting story of human suffering. A talk that can be modified for any age range, which gives a fascinating, humorous and enlightening look at the challenges faced by human beings around the world, and the myriad ways in which the world's nastiest creatures can kill you.

Their World in Your Motions: Originally written for 'Science Week' 2012, this talk looks at how pathogens and parasites move around the environment, the ingenious ways in which they travel from host to host and the incredible journeys they make within the bodies of the hosts they invade, and reveals a fascinating world which is rarely visited.

Pandemics: Packed with science. This talk is loosely based on Mike´s 2009 BBC4 TV programme 'Pandemics a Horizon Guide'. Using his experiences as a research scientist in Oxford while working on killer influenza strains, combined with his extensive journeys around the world in search of deadly diseases and parasites, Mike points out that many historic diseases have the potential to return and wreak havoc with more ferocity than ever. He goes on to propose that the world’s biggest pandemics are not simply the result of the causative pathogen, and proposes instead that greed and increasing inequality are the deadliest pandemics of all.

Bite Me – It's Not the Crocs and Snakes that You Have to Worry About: Based on Mike’s recent 'National Geographic Channel' series, he looks at the creatures you really should be afraid of, and points out that these may not be the 'dangerous' animals that first spring to mind! Particularly suitable for younger audiences, who may not appreciate that everybody is in fact a 'one-man-zoo'.

Bite Me UK: UK wildlife is pretty tame compared to the beasts in more exotic locations. Or is it? In the last one hundred years the infamous venomous spiders of Australia have killed only twenty-six people, none since 1979, whereas here in the UK the humble wasp kills around four people each year! The UK is even home around twelve species of venomous spiders and worms that can blind you. Want to know how to avoid them?

Real Biodiversity – are we sure that we want it? Originally written for 'Science and Engineering Week' 2009. Biodiversity isn’t just about pretty flowers, trees, butterflies and song-birds. In fact these organisms aren’t diverse at all. Mike points out that humans are more similar to slime mould than a virus is to a bacterium, and welcomes you to real diversity, including the most diverse, dangerous and numerous organisms in the world.

Gap Year Survival: Last year the Foreign Office reported that serious accidents and illnesses among young people travelling abroad have increased by 15%. Using his wide experience of foreign travel, misbehaviour, and contagious disease Mike looks at the obvious, and less obvious, risks that backpackers face, and gives practical tips on how to stay healthy. This talk will soon be supported by a website packed with tips, interviews and advice.

A Brief History of Self-Experimentation: From rocket sleds, to jelly fish, the scientists who put their bodies on the line for the good of mankind. Mike uses his experiences as one of TV's most daring science-guinea-pigs, in TV shows such as 'Bodysnatchers', 'Invasion of the Bodyscratchers', 'Lab Rats' and 'Bite Me', to bring the history of self-experimentation to life.

Science on TV – How a TV show is made: From inception to your living room. Viewing figures to advertising revenue. Who does what, and who gets paid most when making a TV show. Including what it's really like to be a TV presenter.

TV and Science – professional parasitism? How big an issue is the misrepresentation of science in the media? How do we filter out the bullshit we come across on TV and in the press? What is the impact of poor science reporting?

Killer Cure: Nature has all too often shown that the world around us contains an amazing natural pharmacy, but what many people don’t realise is that hundreds of groundbreaking drugs are currently being developed from the most unlikely of sources, including the venom, saliva and toxins of some of the world's most fearsome animals, bacteria and plants. What exactly is 'alternative medicine' and when does it become 'mainstream'?

Catching cancer: It might come as a surprise that many forms of cancer are caused (or triggered) by viruses, bacteria and bigger parasites. Mike looks into the science, politics and controversy of 'contagious cancers'.

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