Making our Mark at Big Biology Day
On Saturday 14th October I was part of the team of Babraham Institute scientists who attended Big Biology Day at Hills Road Sixth Form College to talk about our research on Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function which do not involve changes in the DNA sequence itself. Several of our PhD students from the Nuclear Dynamics and Epigenetics research programmes, had worked with our Public Engagement team to prepare a new exhibit and so I was pleased to be able to support them and the event by spending time explaining my research.
Whilst the Institute has taken part in Big Biology Day for the last few years this was the first time I have participated. I was very encouraged in the enthusiasm shown, not only by my fellow researchers who are passionate about discussing their latest research, but also by the families and students of all ages who came to the event. It can sometimes be challenging to talk about my research to a lay audience, but I always like to find out what the public think about our research.
We were busy throughout the whole session, talking to visitors about epigenetics in general, and about our specific research in particular. As well as the interest in the exhibit, which explains epigenetics and ChIP-seq (one of the analytical techniques we use), many of the visitors wanted to learn more about how they could pursue a career in science and what it is like to work in a laboratory.
I was also pleased to get the chance to chat to colleagues from other Cambridge research institutions who were supporting the event, and to get positive feedback from them about our new exhibit.
Hills Road Big Biology Day is coordinated by Ian Harvey and is one of several held around the country. They are one-day science festivals that celebrate the life sciences and engage the general public with an array of biological topics, through hands on activities, crafts and displays, bringing together a number of biological organisations under one roof. Hills Road College have been organising their Big Biology Day since 2011 and this year’s event saw a new Careers Zone as well as exhibits and activities from over 20 local research institutions and companies.