Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

RS blog 119 days to go

Let’s create an exhibition

I am very excited that the Institute managed to secure a place at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE). The exhibition will showcase our research about ageing and the different scientific models we are using to study the biological processes. In particular, the exhibit will highlight our epigenetic research.  Epigenetics control the mechanisms of how DNA is interpreted and as such influences how a cell works. The exhibition will feature one of our research articles published in Genome Biology in April 2017 on the epigenetic clock. But how will we develop an idea that on paper talked about worms, clocks, iPad games, epigenetics and stem cells into an actual exhibition? Motivated researchers across various labs at the Institute have come together with support from the Public Engagement team to make this happen!

To get the ball rolling I attended with Julia, a PhD student from the Reik lab and enthusiastic member of the exhibit development team, a preparatory meeting at the Royal Society in London last December. Here we met all other successful exhibitors and it was exciting to hear about the  very broad range of topics present at the next RSSSE. The Royal Society provided many logistical tips and tricks and former exhibitors shared their experiences. The Babraham Institute has exhibited before in 2010, 2013 and 2015, but it is always valuable to hear, and learn, from others’ experiences. Before attending the meeting, I wasn’t fully aware of the magnitude of the RSSSE, but they are expecting over 10,000 (!) visitors who want to learn about developments in research. However, what really made me realise the scope of the RSSSE was what one of the former exhibitors said: “we used 28kg of sweets and that wasn’t even enough”.

Following this meeting, the development team came together to discuss the plans from our proposal. The researchers involved vary from PhD students to group leaders. When designing the content of the exhibition the team will ensure that the content of the exhibit showcases cutting-edge research findings from the Babraham Institute, as well as being interactive, beautiful and hands-on. It is great to have a mix of Public Engagement professionals and researchers in the development team to complement each other’s skills and knowledge. Furthermore, it gives me the opportunity to learn more in-depth about the science behind the exhibition. During this first meeting, we drafted the key messages we would like to share with those visiting our exhibition and we considered how we want the exhibit to look and feel.  To give you a glimpse of what it will look like; it will involve clocks!

With 2018 just started, I look forward to 2-8 July to showcase “Race Against the Ageing Clock” at the Royal Society and to the months of preparation to come. Interested in a sneak preview of Babraham Institute’s new exhibit? We will be present at the Cambridge Science Festival in March. And, keep an eye on the Institute’s Public Engagement blog to stay informed on developments and get insights into our exhibition.


10 January, 2018

By Esther Van Vliet