Courtyard Lates: Resources

+44 (0)20 7434 4479 EXT 211

SPECIAL EVENT Friday 27 July 2018 18:00—21:00

G and Tea poster

See the Burlington House Courtyard like never before and discover the six learned societies that reside there. Their aim is to further the study of art, history and science, and share it with audiences around the world. Come and experience our third annual Courtyard Summer Late— During this event, visitors will be introduced to our special collections as we explore the theme of RESOURCES (in its widest sense!) with the resources needed, used and produced as part of each Society’s contribution to the study of art, history and science …

Each society has a unique programme to offer audiences of all ages, and great food and drink on offer, too! Find out more details about the other societies events here.

At the Linnean Society, drop into our meeting room and listen to fascinating 15 minute talks, looking at plants as resources.

Taxus baccata -  a poisonous plant and source of anti-cancer drugs
Taxus baccata © Henry Oakeley

At 18:00 and at 19:30 hear Dr Henry Oakeley FRCP, FLS talk about 'Why poisonous plants make good medicines'

No plant came on the planet to cure human diseases: those which became poisonous survived the evolutionary process. Our ancestors who developed genes to detect poisons as bitter (or to vomit), survived. This explains why, of the 370,000 flowering plants on the planet, less than 30 are in our supermarkets. Medicines are poisonous, taste bad, and we use plant based medicines/poisons from yew (Taxus baccata) to kill cancer cells and from Cinchona to kill malarial parasites, although some like the (poisonous) yam, Dioscorea batatas, make synthetic steroids. The talk will discuss several poisonous medicinal plants.

Dr Henry Oakeley FRCP, FLS is a Garden Fellow at the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, a Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society and author of several books on orchids and medicinal plants.

Paul Wilkin
© Paul Wilkin

At 18:30 and at 20:00 hear Dr Paul Wilkin talk about 'Yam conservation and implications for food and income security'

Tuberous plants are diverse and resilient sources of carbohydrate and other nutrients that are more productive per unit area than cereals, supporting higher levels of human population. Their edible underground organs also appear to be increased in size by elevated CO2 levels. Thus they will be an important part of the response to the challenges presented by human population increase. In this talk, PauI will show how we are seeking to conserve and improve existing crop genetic resources and develop new crops from wild sources to drive current and future benefits in food production.

Dr Paul Wilkin is the Head of Natural Capital & Plant Health at RBG, Kew and specialises in research on tuberous crop and wild relative diversity, its conservation and role in enhancing lives and livelihoods. His current projects are on yams (Dioscorea) in Madagascar, Ethiopia and on the Ethiopian false banana Ensete ventricosum.

Jose Farinas Franco
High tide in Connemara © José M. Fariñas-Franco

At 19:00 and at 20:30 hear Dr Brenda Parker talk about "Manufacturing with Light: Microalgae and Seaweed for a Sustainable Future"

As a coastal nation, the seaweed has enjoyed an important role in our past. But what will the future hold? Using light, carbon dioxide, and even recycled nutrients we have the possibility to create new sustainable products and materials using algae. This talk will introduce some of the exciting possibilities for algal industrial biotechnology today, and why the future of manufacturing may well be green. We will explore some of the roles for algae in bioenergy, food security and health, and speculate on the potential of algal synthetic biology.

Dr Brenda Parker is a lecturer in Biochemical Engineering based at University College London. Her research focuses on how we can develop algal manufacturing platforms for sustainable industrial biotechnology. Her particular interest lies in bioremediation, and she is currently investigating how microalgae can be used to clean up heavy metal pollution.

Continuing the theme of plants as resources, attend an exclusive spirit tasting session in our Library looking at the use of plants in gin, vodka and whisky, as well as a herbal tea making session in the Discovery room. Experts will be on hand in both rooms to discuss the use of plants in the various spirits and tea. Slots will last 15 minutes each for both the spirit tasting and the tea making and will need to be booked in advance.

  • This event is free and open to all.
  • There is no registration for the talks and seats will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
  • Registration for the spirit tasting and the tea making is essential.