How we engage communities with our research

How we engage communities with our research

How we engage communities with our research

At the Babraham Institute, we strongly believe in sharing our science with public audiences. We run a number of programmes focused on engaging school-aged students, helping to enrich the curriculum and to show the huge range of careers in science. However, we also work to ensure community and adult audiences have equal opportunities to engage with our work.

Group of people chatting around table

In the past, much of our work has been focused on our local area with events such as the Cambridge Festival being a core event where audiences can come and talk to staff about our research. We recognise that the people coming to these types of events are often already interested in science and regularly have the opportunity to engage with researchers so over the last few years we have made a concerted effort to expand our reach and to bring events to communities across the region, with a strong focus on more rural areas.

We have taken activities and events on-the-road bringing our research to people’s doorsteps. In 2018 and 2019, together with other Cambridge-based institutes, we ran LifeLab – a celebration of science - that took place at the end of September with pop-up events located in Peterborough and Ely, as well as some in Cambridge. We have also taken activities such as our cell signalling themed escape room to the Latitude music festival in Suffolk and worked to be involved in a number of other local events.

Screenshot of virtual Science Spotlight talks

Although the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on our in-person programme of events, we have continued to build links across the region and run online events for communities to join from their homes. Throughout 2020 and 2021, we ran a series of ‘Science Spotlight’ talks where audiences got to hear from Institute staff about their work and how the pandemic impacted life at the Institute. We had a great response from audiences with fantastic turnout from groups such as University of the 3rd Age groups from across East Anglia. Many in rural and coastal areas were delighted to be able to join our events in this way without the barrier of having to travel to our events. We covered a huge range of topics including: our work to understand our internal ageing clockswhat microscopic worms can tell us about human ageing, and how the cells of our bodies talk to each other! The series continues this year with our next event being part of the Cambridge Festival programme where audiences can hear from staff in our Biological Support Unit.

We look forward to continuing to build links with more communities in the region and enabling more people than ever to engage with the work of the Institute. Our science is for everyone and public understanding and input is crucial to ensure it has the maximum impact possible.