Twelve Engagement Highlights of 2016

Twelve Engagement Highlights of 2016

Twelve Engagement Highlights of 2016

At the beginning of 2016, I stepped into the role of Public Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Manager, as Linden Fradet began her maternity leave.  Having already worked at the Institute for 2 years, I knew that I’d be continuing to work with some excellent researchers, contributing to a key programme of activity that the Institute established over 30 years ago, and this year really did not disappoint!  Through 35 events, Institute staff and students have discussed their research with 12,000 people.  Whilst I can’t include all of our events and those who have supported them, I thought I’d pick out my 12 highlights. For more information about each event please follow the links:

1. Science Festivals – Cambridge & Brighton:
2016 was a year of collaboration, in February we worked with the British Society of Immunology at Brighton Science Festival and in March, we worked with local Cambridge Institutes to host panel sessions discussing genome editing and stem cells and big data. We’re already looking forward to the Cambridge Science Festival in March 2017, watch this space for more information about upcoming events.   

2. Exploring the 3D structure of chromosomes – science & art collide:
Researchers in the Spivakov and Fraser labs have been working with musician Max Cooper and visual artist Andy Lomas to turn their research data into an audio-visual experience which explores how our chromosomes interact.  Watch out for the video, music and events in 2017.

3. Nuffield Foundation placements:
Four sixth-form students, four weeks, four pieces of research, a great opportunity for our researchers to show students what being a scientist is all about.

4. Careers in Science:
Having worked with teachers and students across the year, we recognised the need to show that a career in science might be quite different to what you imagine! Eight brave scientists (including me!) got in front of the camera to talk about their careers and current roles.

5. Excellence with Impact Commendation:
We received a commendation for our work to achieve openness around the use of animals in research, in particular our virtual-tours were recognised.  The tours use non-recording cameras in our small animal facility to allow visitors to be guided through the facility in real-time.

6. Royal Society Partnership Grants:
The Hemberger and Casanueva research groups were successful in collaborating with Hitchin Girls School and Colchester Girls School to develop student-led research projects which were awarded funding from the Royal Society.  The projects are underway, with results coming soon.

7. STEM Insights:
A new initiative for 2016, working with the STEM Learning Centre and the Biochemical Society we hosted five teachers for one week placements. They visited our research labs, our science facilities and campus companies Kymab, Astra Zeneca and Abzena.

8. Teacher Twilight Event: Epigenetics & Imaging:
Twenty teachers visited us in October to update their knowledge on epigenetics and the latest imaging techniques. A talk from Clara Novo, a post-doctoral research in the Rugg-Gunn lab was followed by a demonstration of our fluorescence microscopes from Simon Walker and Hanneke Okkenhaug in the Imaging Facility.

9. School’s Day:
Our flagship event got bigger and better in 2016! 60 GCSE students and 65 A-level students from across the UK took part in lab-based projects within the Institute and with Campus Companies, Definigen and Crescendo. Save the 2017 date – 1st March.

10. Engagement Blog:
We’ve created a space where our researchers can share their most recent engagement activities and projects.  Have you read the previous posts?

11. Technasium Projects with Sophianum School, Holland:
A new partnership challenged 15-year old students to design innovative technologies for staff working in our small animal facility and explore the legislation and regulation around the use of animals in research.

12. Two PE Prize winners:
Amy Macqueen and Olga Mielczarek were jointly awarded the prize for their outstanding contributions to the Institute’s public engagement programme.  Check out Amy’s ‘Weapons of Microscopic Destruction’ immunology video here. Olga’s work to develop an interactive game to explain DNA packaging can be found here.

What a year!  Thank you to everyone who has supported and participated in our activities both within and outside of the Institute.  If you didn’t get to visit us or spot us at a science festival or event, be sure to check back soon for more information about our activities in 2017.  If you have any comments of questions, please do get in touch.

Happy New Year!