Angela Thornton (cropped)

Nottingham researcher selected to present at British Science Festival

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

A University of Nottingham researcher has been awarded a lecture at the internationally renowned British Science Festival.

Angela Thornton, a PhD candidate at the university’s Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) and member of the Faculty of Engineering’s Human Factors Research Group, is one of just seven researchers in the country selected to showcase their cutting-edge work to the public.

As part of her Digital Innovation Award Lecture, Angela will explore ‘Mind Uploading’, which is a concept often discussed in science fiction. However, it is also one potential outcome from the scientific process of emulating or ‘reverse engineering’ the brain. As well as sharing her findings, Angela will also showcase a novel method of researching such far future concepts involving a bespoke storytelling website, which allows participants to explore both utopian and dystopian scenarios in a world where mind uploading is a reality.

She said: “Although we’re probably still around a century away from being able to emulate a human brain and much further away from the possibility of mind uploading, the ethics of how we handle personal neural data are attracting a lot of attention around the world. We need to ensure we all think about the potential risks as well as the benefits of such advances."

New technologies have the potential to transform what it means to be human and I’m really excited to be able to contribute to this dialogue.
Angela Thornton, PhD candidate at the university’s Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) and member of the Faculty of Engineering’s Human Factors Research Group

She continued: “Coming from a predominantly commercial background myself, I fully understand the importance of engaging with those not in the field of academia, which is why I’ve always been passionate about sharing my research with different audiences. Speaking at such a prestigious event is a huge personal achievement for me and I can’t wait to experience the festival.”

Alexandra Lang, Assistant Professor in Human Factors and Angela’s Lead Supervisor, said: “I’m incredibly proud that Angela has been selected as part of this year’s Award Lecturer cohort. Her research is truly unique and interdisciplinary and I’ve no doubt that her lecture will be one of the most popular at the festival.

Angela has a real skill for communicating complex concepts in an easily understandable and engaging way – making her the perfect presenter for this topic.
Alexandra Lang, Assistant Professor in Human Factors and Angela’s Lead Supervisor

The British Science Festival has acknowledged promising early career researchers for more than 30 years, with previous Award Lecturers including Brian Cox, Richard Wiseman and Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

This year’s event is being held at the University of Exeter from 7-10 September. To find out more about Angela’s research, please visit:

Story credits

More information is available from Angela Thornton, Faculty of Engineering at the University Of Nottingham, at or; Danielle Hall, Media Relations Manager at the University of Nottingham, at or 0115 846 7156.

About the Faculty of Engineering

Made up of six departments – Architecture and Built Environment, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and Foundation Engineering and Physical Sciences – the university’s Faculty of Engineering is home to more than 5,600 students and 800 staff.

The faculty, which has educated engineers and architects for more than 140 years, was the first in the country to be accredited with an Athena SWAN Gold Award for excellence in advancing gender equality across higher education and research and is home to multiple state-of-the-art facilities, including the recently opened £40m Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC).

With research at its heart, 21 research groups are undertaking pioneering projects for a sustainable future across several themes – including net zero transport, sustainable energies and the built environment, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare technologies – and has delivered a positive impact in more than 20 countries. Within those countries, the faculty’s research has supported 500 companies and three governments – that have changed their strategies as a result of its research – and has also directly created jobs for around 3,000 people across the world.

Danielle Hall - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Engineering
Phone: 0115 846 7156

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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