Public engagement is an important part of our research at i-sense, in order to disseminate our findings with a wide, diverse and inclusive audience and also to develop our network and engage future researchers into the field. Let’s take a closer look at some of the varied areas of public engagement that we have been involved in over the past few months.
In July, i-sense joined with Stemettes, an award-winning social enterprise that has worked with more than 55,000 young people across the UK and Europe in 9 years. Stemettes works with girls, young women and nonbinary people aged 5 to 25 years old and supports them to make informed decisions on pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related careers. Alyssa, i-sense PhD student in the McKendry group, volunteered as a role model and networking panel member on the day. The event saw over 50 young girls attend and it was a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness about i-sense research to a younger age group, inspiring young girls to consider a career in infectious disease research.
The Great Exhibition Roadshow is a weekend of free events for all ages celebrating the inspirational power of awe and wonder in science and the arts. This year, the roadshow had an estimated 38,000 attendees. The Stevens Group at i-sense led a fun, interactive stand on lateral flow tests. Christy, i-sense PhD student who led the project said, “It was great to have a platform to interact with members of the public and fuel their excitement for science. Our simple Velcro ball game helped to explain how lateral flow tests really work, and it was rewarding to equip visitors with knowledge about how lateral flow tests can be used to diagnose a range of diseases”.
The Stevens Group also developed a YouTube animation entitled “How Does a Lateral Flow work?”. The animation demonstrates how through the binding of antigens to antibodies on the test membrane, nanoparticles give a clear lateral flow test result in less than 30 minutes. The animation was widely circulated and in only a couple of months has reached almost 2,000 views on YouTube. Dr Leah Frenette is a Postdoctoral Research Associate who led on the project. She commented, “Though it felt different to a typical engagement activity, it was exciting to see the number of views climb and to know we were reaching more people than we could feasibly do face to face. It will be a great tool to be able to use in the future”. Following this project’s success, we look to develop further visual animations, graphics and videos to disseminate our research in the future.