Making noise at a local library!
While I have taken part in lots of different outreach events while I’ve been at The Babraham Institute I have particularly enjoyed my latest experience with a very different audience.
I decided to get involved in this new activity because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to practice my communication skills with people I had never met before. I wanted to challenge myself and try to communicate what I do every day as a PhD student to people who probably have little idea what is required in planning and performing an experiment.
So that’s why I spoke at a free bioscience lecture at the public library in Willingham, a lovely book-filled room situated in a small village north of Cambridge, where a group of people - mostly retired - gave us a very warm welcome.
My challenge was to break the ice and try to explain in non-scientific language what my project is about. The discussion was followed by an informal get together, in what I would define a classic British setting! How many times you get the chance to talk about what you love the most with a cup of tea and a biscuit kindly offered to you by a librarian?
I discussed the importance of two signalling proteins called P-Rex and Norbin in the recruitment of neutrophils (white blood cells) to sites of infection. During my talk, I explained how I analyse the signalling pathways and host defence responses of neutrophils, how I work with genetically-modified mouse strains, and how, day by day, I am becoming an expert in the field of signalling!
The discussion made me realise that science does not know boundaries of any kind. I was fascinated by how curious the audience were about my work, how much they were already aware of the importance of research like mine and that scientists like me are working hard to reveal what is still unknown.
It was not the normal scientific way of presenting my data, and at the end of the session it made a great change to feel the admiration from the audience – because to my fellow researchers it would be a part of the routine of being a scientist.
The beauty of our job is that we do something unique in the lab every day. It was great to feel that I was chatting with some of the people who, as tax-payers, not only fund our research but may benefit from it in the future!