Upcoming opportunities

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1: 9 September, Business Leaders Forum

Two key themes for discussion (I) the research findings ‘innovative interventions designed to increase women’s motivation to both enter and succeed within male-dominated professions’ and (ii) the process ‘how business and academia can engage in two- way knowledge transfer’.

Further details about the event and how to register can be found here: http://business-school.exeter.ac.uk/executive/partnersandnetworks/businessleadersforum/

2: University of Bristol Engage conference: 18 September

There are still a few places left at at Engage – the University of Bristol’s free annual conference about public engagement. The finalised timetable is now available; alongside discussions about various aspects of public engagement there will be case studies highlighting recent examples of excellent engagement – from social media to working with patients.

For more details see web: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/public-engagement/staff/training/engage2013.html and register at: http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/cpe/engage2013.

3: British Ecological Society Outreach Grants: deadline 17 September

Grants of up to £2,000 are available to promote ecological science to a wide audience.  Project aims can include stimulating discussion about ecology and its societal implications, increasing knowledge and inspiring people, and developing skills in communicating ecology.

For more information see web: http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/grants/outreach/index.php

4: Royal Society Partnership Grants scheme: deadline 1 November

The next round of the Royal Society’s Partnership Grants will open for applications in September. Through the scheme, grants of up to £3,000 will be available to support teachers, scientists and engineers help develop science projects, with the aim of making the teaching science more interesting within primary and secondary schools. Any UK primary or secondary school teacher and practising scientist/engineer can apply as long as the students involved in the project are between 5 and 18.

For more information see web: http://royalsociety.org/education/partnership/

5: 23 & 24 September, UK Community Partner Summit, Bristol. Do spread the word to your community partners and be sure to let them know that their travel and accommodation costs are covered by the grant. UK_CPSummit_Sep13_A5

Summit places are being prioritised for community partners ideally with a link to a community organisation and at least some experience of community university partnership working. The community partner working group is busy finalising the programme detail, however we know that community partners attending can expect:

– a delicious lunch to kick start the event, meet each other and relax

– an inspiring keynote speech from Ann-Gel Palermo, Harlem Community & Academic Partnership, New York about ways to create strong community university partnerships

– a showcase of projects and presentations from community partners across the UK working in a range of research, student placement, teaching and public access partnerships

– an informative outline of the Higher Education context within which we aim to build mutually beneficial partnerships

– a choice of workshops and round table discussions: Getting Started; Avoiding and Resolving Problems; Influencing National Policy and Practice; Shaping the UK Community Partner Network.

– a scrumptious networking dinner, good company and comfy hotel rooms!

Please note that in this context community partners is really broadly defined – to include voluntary organisations, charities, cultural organisations, community based organisations etc etc.

6: CFP 18 September deadline for 6 & 7 March event: Visitor Studies: it’s all about relationships

The theme of the 2014 VSG Conference will be Visitor Studies: It’s all about Relationships and will be held on 6th and 7th of March 2014 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.

The conference will explore the relationship between cultural organisations and their visitors and the equally important relationship between visitor studies and internal and external stakeholders. How can visitor studies have a real impact on the work of colleagues, leaders, funders and other decision makers?

Want to get involved? The Conference will include a range of formats, lasting approximately 45 minutes to one hour each, and include interactive workshops, presentations of case studies with Q&A and panels sessions. Please download the call for proposals from our website for ideas of how you can contribute.

Final date for proposal submissions is Wednesday 18th September. Contact Sheena at  for

7:  Flowers Fellow for PhD students

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is offering a three month fellowship to a PhD student from a UK university funded by the Nuffield Foundation in memory of its late Chairman, Lord Flowers of Queen’s Gate. The Foundation will fund one Flowers Fellow each year from 2013 to 2018.

The Flowers Fellow will work on a project in any area of science or technology policy and may produce a short briefing note (a ‘POSTnote’), another form of report or work with Select Committees in a way to be agreed with POST. The Fellow will be based at the offices of POST at Parliament in London.

The Flowers Fellowship is open to postgraduate students registered for a PhD in a UK University and in their penultimate or final year of part-time or full-time study, starting in 2013 / 2014 in any field of science or technology. Applicants will be required to obtain approval from their PhD Supervisor and Head of Department.

The Fellow will receive a three month extension to their PhD stipend at a rate equivalent to their current PhD maintenance stipend. Please note that this will be capped in line with the rate set for UK-EU students. For students who are based outside reasonable commuting distance of London, an extra allowance will contribute to travel and accommodation needs. The Nuffield Foundation will reimburse the University for these costs.

The Fellow will be responsible for suspending her/his university registration for the duration of the Fellowship. University fees will not be covered by this award.

The Flowers Fellowship is a competitive award and interviews will be held at POST’s Westminster offices in London in November. The offer is conditional on obtaining parliamentary security clearance. The successful applicant can take up the fellowship from January 2014 onwards.


Full details on the Nuffield Foundation website: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/job-vacancies


8: STFC Public Engagement Symposium – free, 25 November 2013

STFC invites all those interested in public engagement (PE) with STFC science and technology to this free one day Public Engagement Symposium, being held on the University of Birmingham campus on 25th November 2013.  Online registration is now open.

The main aims of the symposium are to share best practice; discuss the STFC programme and the UK national ‘context’ for PE; hear of new developments, e.g. in the new & social media; to better understand the benefits of PE to researchers; and to further  build a community of practitioners including networking.   There will be fully interactive workshops on getting funding for PE, new & social media, PE made easy & evaluating your PE work etc.

All researchers who engage with STFC and its supported Laboratories/Facilities are welcome.  We particularly welcome participation by early career researchers, and attending can contribute to researchers’ continuing professional development.  STFC can pay up to £100 towards reasonable actual travel and subsistence costs for STFC-funded PhD students, PDRAs and postdoctoral fellows to attend. Please contact Jane Butt, to check your eligibility.

Champions news

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Our next round of Champions have been announced today:

Ewan Woodley and Stewart Barr, Fran Martin, and Tim Kendall all join the fold. We’re delighted to reveal that we’ve joined forces with the Fellows of the Centre for Leadership Studies in Business School. The CLS Fellows are going to mentor our Champions offering them support and guidance on Leadership.

Caitlin, Sharon and Helen visited the University of Manchester. Manchester was a Beacon for Public Engagement and we wanted to see how they made the transition from a funded project to one where public engagement is embedded in the institution. As with our other visits to UEA and Brighton, it was really inspirational to meet people who are have made the journey before us. We heard about their pitfalls and successes, as well as what is now supporting and maintaining the culture of engagement. We also had a lovely lunch.

Catalyst project news – Summer 2013

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We took a break from the newsletter over the summer thinking there wouldn’t be much to share – how wrong we were!

We’ve had a busy couple of months. Helen helped Jodie West with a creative workshop on apps, new technology and citizen science at the ESI. Read the report here: Outcomes from the Citzen Science. The Catalyst project team had an away day (OK, it was an afternoon in Byrne House, but it worked for us!) where we looking forward to the second half of the Catalyst project and beyond. Lots of great ideas, lots still do, but we feel like we’re well on the way.


All the Catalyst universities got together in July for a quarterly meeting (we’ve another one soon). As well as sharing our ideas and experiences we also talked directly with RCUK and the other research councils and hosted a seminar for the wider RCUK seminar about culture change.

Helen’s been talking with Debbie Myhill and Alison Black about evaluating engagement activities in schools for another RCUK funded project: Schools University Partnership Initiative. We’ve been coming up with interesting, novel and non-intrusive ways of gathering feedback from students.

An important part of engagement is knowing who’s engaging. UWE, Bristol have a research project which is exploring ways of mapping relationships with external partners. Helen participated in a focus group as part of the research project. It was pretty clear there wasn’t going to be a quick and easy answer as relationships are diverse, change in time and space, happen at many levels within institutions and serve many purposes. How do you map something that is constantly in flux?

Over the summer we’ve started to think about how we present our Case Studies of engaged researchers and also what we should include in the Researcher Toolkit. Do let me know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see in the toolkit that could help you with your public engagement work.

Lizzie Dridge is supporting a group of undergraduate bioscience students who are entering the iGem competition. As part of this international competition the team have to undertake a public engagement activity. Helen ran a creative workshop with the team who came up with several great ideas. They could only take one forward which will be an evening event for photography enthusiasts where they will showcase their iGem project: a synthetic biology camera and talk about photography. Let me know if you’d like a similar workshop to develop your own PE activities.

Helen’s also been supporting the British Ecological Society with their centenary celebrations: Sex and Bugs and Rock and Roll. We heard from Sarah Dalesman about her experiences at Wychwood, this time we were rockin’ out at Green Man in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Over 1500 festival goers came to the tent to talk with the ecologists and take part in the activities. Everyone had an amazing time which even the rain couldn’t spoil.

We worked with the local University of the Third Age (U3A) group to take part in the BBSRC dialogue about bioenergy. Tom Howard joined in the fun and talked about why bioenergy is important and about the research happening in this area at Exeter. There was a lively discussion which was wide ranging: covering topics including cradle-to-grave carbon mapping, population growth, maintenance of soil quality and energy reduction/efficiency.

Coming up we have our annual Catalyst Gathering. We’ll be hosted by Queen Mary University, London and will be spending time discussing the values of our institutions and how they affect our commitment to public engagement. Should be interesting.

Later in September we have an Operational Board Meeting where we’ll be discussing how we reward and recognise publics’ involvement in our research. Here’s the paper outlining the issue: 2013 09 03 Catalyst briefing paper – paying people HF v1. Do let us know if you have any thoughts or comments.

Sex & bugs & rock ‘n roll

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Sarah Dalesman shares her experiences of being part of the British Ecological Society’s roadshow.

On the Friday as the gates opened the first of our bug hunters started to turn up, playing a quick game of ‘whose poo’ or ‘which animal are you’ (apparently I’m a kestrel!) on their way into the tent. On the first day ground beetles and crane flies (Daddy Long Legs) were everywhere, and our enthusiastic bug hunters did a great job of finding them. It was really fascinating chatting to so many people over the weekend, and I learnt a lot from people dropping by the tent. I was very impressed with how knowledgeable our visitors of all ages were. Discussions ranged from how to recognise frog poo (very tricky for most people including me, but apparently easy if you’ve seen your aunt pooed on by a frog!) to the potential factors contributing towards bee decline. It became clear that whilst people are often very aware of scientific issues that have made it into the news, they were enthusiastic about the opportunity to discuss why science isn’t always as ‘cut and dry’ as news articles often portray it. I definitely gained a greater appreciation of ensuring I don’t just present ‘facts’ at public science events, but provide an opening to discuss what is unknown and why continued research is needed.

The bug hunter’s enthusiasm was fantastic, with many of our hunters that we met over the weekend turning up with beasties they had found throughout the festival site, including tent-loving soldier beetles and a ground beetle that had ventured onto the bouncy castle. I found that children of all ages enjoyed discovering which beastie they had collected, with younger children preferring to hunt through for a picture that resembled their find, and older potential ecologists of the future working their way through the keys (a series of questions that you answer to identify a plant or animal). I really enjoyed seeing eagerness to engage in scientific discovery at the festival. My highlight was a wonderful picture we received from Blossom, one of our first time bug hunters on Sunday; a stunning drawing of some mini-beasts with the inspiring title on the back ‘Saving Bugs’. Great idea Blossom!

What Marmite can tell us about brain development – a night at Falmouth Café Scientifique

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By one of our Champions, John Chilton

Falmouth Café Scientifique brings scientists face to face with an interested and informed audience with no lectern or Powerpoint to hide behind.  The presenter has 20 minutes to put their case, the audience then has 20 minutes to refresh themselves at the bar whilst coming up with fiendish questions to fill the next 90…

Twenty minutes is tricky, it’s not so short that you can whizz through and excuse your lack of depth due to time constraints.  It’s not long enough that you can afford to waste time with digressions or droning.  All in all, it’s the sort of thing that we don’t like to admit is actually good for us – like visiting the dentist.  What do I need to say and how can I do this without waffle or jargon?  There’s really no better way to discover whether you understand your subject; that and a couple of dozen random questions.  It’s a process that we regularly go through when composing the ‘lay abstract’ of a grant application but those words can seem trite when you read them in public.

My challenge was to convey the excitement and relevance of research into brain development, how one fertilised egg becomes billions of nerve cells with trillions of connections.  My talk was titled ‘The Broken Brain: Too complex to mend?’ because I believe that in the rush to fund ‘translational’ research and find cures for nervous system disorders, the role of developmental biology in understanding how the brain gets wired up is crucially overlooked.

It’s nice to have a safety blanket and mine took the form of a model brain I would normally use for teaching anatomy.  It was familiar, it gave the audience a tangible idea of what I was talking about, it made me look like I was in a neuroscientists’ production of Hamlet.  Most importantly, holding it stopped the excessive hand waving to which I am prone, especially when nervous.

To illustrate the many brain pathways involved in performing a simple action, I tried a new way to get the audience involved.  Roughly mapping positions the audience were sat in with a map of the brain, I joined up people sitting in the ‘visual cortex’ to the ‘thalamus’ to the ‘motor cortex’ back to the thalamus and so on…until it ended up with me surrounded by a tangle of wool which hopefully did a good job of showing the many areas that need to be connected for the action they had chosen (skipping).  This is not the sort of thing I would normally contemplate doing but having had the usual crutch of Powerpoint removed there remained little point in dealing in half measures; it was interactivity or bust.  And in the end it seemed to pay off, the audience joined in with good humour and the resulting tangle certainly proved my point about the brain’s complexity.

So where did the Marmite (other yeast-based spreads are available) come in?  A large jar of it became a prop to clutch instead of the model brain.  Embryonic nerves are guided to their targets by environmental cues that can be either attractive or repulsive.  Like sandwich fillings, the same signal can be one or the other depending on the individual nerve cell that tastes it.  Understanding these responses is at the heart of my research and potentially underlies future therapies to promote and direct nervous system repair.

The talk contained elements I had never tried before but at least it was entirely under my control.  An open question and answer session holds no such certainties and naturally people’s questions about the brain were far more wide ranging: what is the effect of alcohol or cannabis?  Are video games harmful?  What causes consciousness?  Can we turn the brain off and on again?  (My fault for wearing an IT Crowd t-shirt).  Honesty is the best policy.  If I could answer all those questions I would have a Nobel Prize (but hopefully still be writing this blog of course).  People are happy to hear where the limits of knowledge lie – the challenge is to explain where these are and why, in clear language, without patronising.  The problem is usually with the explanation not their comprehension.  The other important point is that good public engagement is a two-way process so these sessions should involve the supposed expert researcher listening to people’s ideas and concerns as much as reeling off clever answers or mind-blowing facts (although a few anecdotes always come in handy).  Having said all that what did I learn from the audience and the evening then?

  • Give the audience the benefit of the doubt.  Questions featured alcohol during pregnancy, cannabis, omega-3 oils, video games, teenage behaviour – all topics that have me instinctively flinching and waiting for some ill-informed rant rehashing tabloid scare stories.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  Despite my misgivings, most people are aware that a balanced diet is better than any faddish superfood, that most things are fine in moderation. They are interested in hearing a balanced appraisal: yes there is evidence that omega-3 can be beneficial for nerve cells but no, we don’t really know for how or when which is why we are studying it.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of social media.  I was asked if I have a YouTube channel with the films we make of nerve cells in my lab.  It had never occurred to me!  (Incidentally this was reinforced a few days later by a talk about public engagement at the Exeter Imaging Network – more about that coming up in another blogpost).  Anyway, I’m now determined to get my homepage in order.
  • If in doubt give it a go.  Even with minutes to go before I spoke, I was still toying with the idea of chickening out with the wool wiring diagram.  I’m glad I didn’t.  It put people at their ease and managed to illustrate an important point at the same time.


They are keen to have a wide range of speakers down in Falmouth so if you are at all interested please let me know ( or tweet @axonology). They have a small budget to help with travel costs and you are liberally fed and watered, although Marmite sandwiches were not on the menu.


Champions for Public Engagement – round 2 open

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Our second call for Champions for Public Engagement is now open. Find out more about our current Champions, view the call document and application form. If you have any questions then get in touch with Helen or ask our Champions what they’ve done with their time. We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Expression of interests: Impact report

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Expressions of interest (EOI) are invited from evaluators who are interested in producing a report summarising the overall impact of a range of public engagement activities related to the research work of Professor Kate Fisher and Dr Rebecca Langlands.

If you wish to undertake the work please submit a short (one page) expression of interest outlining your experience in creating reports of this nature by Friday 5 July including an estimated cost. The EOI’s will be reviewed, and further telephone interviews may be conducted, with selection being made by the end of July. We anticipate the report being complete by the end of September.

Budget available will be in the range of £3000-£5000.

The final report is expected to include a 2-page executive summary and be approximately 10-15 pages.

Knowledge of the Research Excellence Framework Impact Criteria for Panel D (Humanities) will be useful but support in this area will be provided.

A dedicated point of contact within the university will be available to support access to internal documentation and people.

Call EOI Impact Evaluation report Exeter June 2013

News for May and June

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What’s been going on

1. Science Communication Conference

Helen ran a session with Paul Manners, National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement which prompted discussion on how to bridge the gap between those who do public engagement and those who critically study it. There was lively discussion with clear messages emerging about synthesising research insight for practitioners, involving researchers at practitioner conferences and co-research involving practitioners, read the notes from the session.

2. Seed fund updates

Our Seed Fund projects have begun in earnest: meetings, site visits and bursary adverts are all happening. We’re looking forward to seeing how these progress over the coming months.

See this news item about Thomas Davies and Hannah Guy’s collaborative project about light pollution.




3. Derek Janes: The Smugglers’ Coast

Derek Janes is undertaking PhD research looking at smuggling in SE Scotland, in the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies. In the course of his studies, and using experience from his long career in museums and heritage, he’s identified 15 sites along the Eyemouth coast which could be interpreted for walkers and visitors to the area. Derek is working with National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Borders Council and has submitted proposals to funding schemes which support the revival of fishing communities. From this, Derek has learned that serious academic projects in the humanities have the potential to make a contribution to economic regeneration and to change the view that people have of their own communities. Derek is keen to share his experiences – get in touch with him for a chat

4. Research Focus Week

We had a busy week during Research Focus Week. We ran a PE workshop and also took part in the two Show Me The Money workshops for Early Career Researchers. It was great to see so many people interested in involving the public with their research.

5. Guardian news chat on public engagement

If, like me*, you didn’t take part in this as it happened then catch up now. It makes for interesting reading and highlights some of the live issues for those us involved with public engagement in HEIs. *I was helping the British Ecological Society at Wychwood Festival.

6. John Chilton at the Science Cafe

One of our Champions for Public Engagement spoke at the Falmouth Science Cafe yesterday. We’ll hear more about his experience in the future, but I expect it was an exciting and interesting evening!

7. University of the Third Age (U3A)

We had a really productive meeting with representatives of the Exeter branch of the U3A . They’re really keen to be more involved. Do get in touch if you need a friendly audience or would like to work with an enthusiastic and interested group of adults.

8. Arts and Ecology Moves On Campus

The Innovation Centre is the new base of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, an innovative educational charity whose aim is to use the arts to explore deeper understandings of our place within nature.

Many of its past programmes have been linked to academic research, ranging from collaborations with Oxford Brookes University to the London College of Fashion. On campus, its particular focus will be on creating research links with Colleges and subject disciplines in the University, as well as other organisations in the Centre.

CCANW would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to discuss collaboration with them. In the first instance, please email Director Clive Adams on adams@ccanw.co.uk . Further information on CCANW is available at www.ccanw.co.uk

What’s coming up

1. 18 June – Public Engagement – what do the funders want?

There are still places available! Book now if you want to talk directly with the research councils and Wellcome Trust.

2. Impact Awards – Public Engagement

We are really pleased to announce that we have a Public Engagement category in the Impact Awards. Do apply – it’s the first year that we’ve had this category and there are lots of really good examples that could qualify. Let me know if you want to chat about your submission. Find out more about the awards and how to apply.

3. Melting Pot 2, ESI

The Creative Exchange programme is a joint project of the ESI and Falmouth University’s Research in Art, Nature and the Environment research group (RANE). The Creative Exchange programme fosters dialogue between the two groups and facilitates collaboration between ESI researchers and creative practitioners, across all media, who engage with issues of environment and sustainability in their work. The programme also aims to stimulate opportunities for public engagement with ESI research. We have a rolling programme of Creative Exchange Affiliates and a small budget to help support projects. Register and find out more.

4. Call for proposals Community-Campus Partnerships for Health’s next conference, April 30-May 3, 2014, Chicago

From Rhetoric to Reality: Achieving Authentic, Equitable & Transformative Partnerships.” Proposals are due September 30, 2013 for skill-building workshops, creative arts sessions, stories, roundtable discussions and posters that advance the conference theme and align with one or more of these conference topics:

•     Communities as centers of learning, discovery and engagement

•     Authentically engaged institutions

•     Shared power and resources

•     Ethical policies and practices

•     Changing governmental and institutional policies and systems

•     Sustaining partnerships and their outcomes

•     Next generation leadership

•     Mobilizing knowledge for action

Whether you are directly involved in community-based participatory research, service-learning or multi-sector coalitions – or are working to ensure the conditions are in place for such partnerships to thrive and have impact – the conference is designed to challenge and inspire you!

Regardless of the social justice issue you are passionate about – health equity, education, environmental justice, food security, sustainability, indigenous rights and so forth – together we will explore how partnerships can transform our communities and institutions. Find out more.

5 Community Partner Summit 2, 23rd and 24th September 2013 – Bristol

The summit will bring together community leaders and practitioners from across the UK to collectively examine, debate and identify ways to build community partner capacity. The aim is to help generate stronger community-university partnerships that benefit us all and impact social challenges now and into the future.   For more information on the event.

6. Engineering busking

Are you and engineer who wants to take their work to the streets? You might be interested in Ingenious Busking:

“We are ‘Ingenious Busking’ and our mission is ‘to share the thrill and importance of Engineering through street theatre’. We want to get people to think about Engineering, we want to promote the careers in Engineering.

We are recruiting volunteers to join us in interacting with the public with our brand new short engineering street theatre shows.”

Upcoming Catalyst activities

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Catalyst activities coming up

1. British Ecological Society

Helen’s been working with a great crew of people who are going to festivals over the summer to take ecology to young people. They are piloting their activities at Imperial Science Festival (4 May) [http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/festival] before going to Wychwood at the end of May, Green Man, Larmer Tree and Butserfest. The events will celebrate 100 years of the British Ecology Society. You can follow the activities of the team on their blog.

2. If the hat fits…. 9 May, 11-3pm

Drop in to this free event in the forum run by one of our Seed Fund awardees: the Lived Experience Group (LEG). The LEG work with researchers in the Mood Disorders Centre and they want share their experiences of being part of a research group as well as giving people the chance to find out a bit more about depression. There’s even free cake!

3. Falmouth Cafe Scientifique – first event and Facebook group, 8 May

We’re delighted to hear that the first Falmouth Cafe Scientifique event is going to play host to our very own Sasha Dall talking on “Unintelligent design: understanding the complexities of life”. This will be a broad introduction to the modern study of evolutionary biology with particular focus on animal behaviour. You can follow the Falmouth Science Cafe on facebook now.

4. Mental illness on film: Stigma and ‘The Soloist’ 10 May

Join Dr Susan Kelly (Egenis) and Dr Daniel Racey (University of Exeter Medical School) and Dr Helen Featherstone (University of Exeter) in the Chair for a free screening of the film The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright and starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. This event is free but ticketed – tickets from RAMM: in person, or phone 01392 265858, or .
Gallery 20, RAMM, Queen Street, Exeter. Further

5. Science Communication Conference, 19 May

Helen’s been invited to speak at the Science Communication Conference. Along with Paul Manners, Huw James and Brigitte Nerlich they will be opening up conversations about the gaps and/or bridges between Science Communication researchers, Scientists who communicate and Science Communicators. Looking at the delegate list, it’s going to be a lively debate.

What’s been happening

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1. Catalyst project update

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks with our first round of Seed Funds being awarded, our end of year report going to RCUK and our External Advisory Board meeting on 1 May. We spent a great day with the successful Seed Fund applicants and colleagues exploring key ideas for the projects. The External Advisory Board lived up to their brief of being our critical friends giving us lots to think about. Full reports to come!


2. Science at Work, Penryn College

Claire Young spent a day at Penryn College’s Science at Work day where over 200 year 8 pupils had a chance to talk to people from 12 organisations who use science at work. Kate Whetter who organised the event was delighted with how it went, with the Head of Science commenting that it was the best event he’d seen in his 20+ years of teaching. Claire commented on the day:

“I enjoyed chatting to the kids about my job and asking them what they wanted to do in the future. A lot of them told me that they wanted to do jobs that involve science, which is really positive and exciting. I think the day really inspired them and got them thinking about what they could do and how science is involved in their everyday lives.”

3. Dance Network Active research bursaries

As part of the Catalyst Seed Fund scheme Kerry Chappell has two bursaries available for dance teachers/educators to reflect on their practice and work with Kerry based on her AHRC-funded Dance Partners for Creativity Research Project. Full information here.

4. ESI open day and video

One of our Champions for Public Engagement, Caitlin Desilvey was part of the ESI launch week. She reflects on her experiences here:

“On Tuesday I spent a few hours with 10 very enthusiastic and inspired 10 year olds as part of the ESI launch week activities. The students, all in Year 5 at Penryn School, visited the ESI to talk about their favourite places in Cornwall, and what makes these places special. The students had been asked to do some research in advance of their visit, and came prepared with photos, sketches and short essays. Many of the favourite places were coastal–Gwithian Beach, Flushing Pier, Kynance Cove–but Tehidy Woods and Glasney Woods also featured, as did the Falmouth Art Gallery.

We started with the students sharing their places, and we also also talked about what we need to do to make sure these places stay special in the future. I explained that we needed their help in doing some research, and that what we do in the ESI is research places (environment) and how to keep them healthy and whole in the future (sustainability). The students took their research task very seriously, and created an amazing scroll with detailed drawings of their favourite places, populated by people, squirrels, dogs, crabs, dolphins and other creatures. Some of their work is featured an a short film about the day (www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/about), along with footage of the workshops attended by 130 older students. The ESI was buzzing!”

The feedback from the students and teachers we very positive with one student at Penair School commenting “it was fascinating to learn about what they are researching right now and to see the actual equipment they use for research – not set up as in a presentation – but actually in their labs and offices”

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