Thursday, 19 June 2014

A Date With Charles Darwin

 The Society of Experimental Biology in collaboration with the Biochemical Society organised a science communication training day at Charles Darwin House, London, for early career researchers on 11th June 2014.
I personally have an issue with the term "early career researcher" and who exactly is an "early career researcher" but perhaps I'll save this for a blog post another day.

A pre requisite for applying to the funded training day was to submit an idea for a science resource or activity with which you would develop for use in public engagement. The aim of the workshop was for attendess to then develop and enhance this science communication idea in preparation for engaging a wider audience.

During registration, amidst networking in the room full of keen "early career researchers", there were a couple of science demonstrations where I got to make my own DNA Origami and also came away with  a lesson on how the red mushroom (Amanita muscaria) got its white spots.

Coordinating the day was Sarah Blackford of Bioscience Careers who I must confess I find amazing and was thrilled to meet. The morning plenary lecture: 'Balancing PhD research with public engagement - why bother?', was given by Elizabeth Granger, a 2012 winner of the Society of Biology science commnucation award, recent PhD graduate and now manager of the Ri Young Scientist Centre at University of Central Lancashire. Liz shared her story on how she came into her currenrt role and her science communication and public engagement antics during her PhD.

After lunch, Alun Anderson former Editor-in-Chief of New Scientist gave a lecture on "10 ways to be a science communicator" and goodness did it sound like fun. From travelling the atlantic to publishing a book, the avenues are as open as you create them to be. 

The rest of the day was focussed on the workshops where participants presented their ideas and the members of the various groups worked together to advise and help develop the individual projects. It was refreshing to be among like-minded "early career researchers" full of enthusiasm and with various ideas buzzing around the room. 

We were allowed time after the workshop to put together an action plan and pin up on a board for others to review. This was the highlight of my day,  "The silent debate" session where we got to walk the room (a bit like you would in an art gallery) commenting on the various action plans. 

On a whole my date with Charles Darwin was a blast and one to remember.  A big thank you to the organisers for setting us up. 

No comments: