Public engagement funding

CISoR members have been successful in winning two Public Engagement with Research Fund grants. The first initiative (Lab rejects) will be headed by Dan Lloyd and the second (Café Scientifique: Science, Law and Bioethics – Unmasked) by Pamela White

Lab rejects (Dan Lloyd, Rebekah Higgitt, Darren Griffin)

As technologies advance, once-valuable equipment becomes redundant. The fast-evolving nature of biological research means that once essential equipment begins to gather dust as newer models emerge. And yet this equipment can reveal so much about the culture of research, the contribution of technology to knowledge and training, and the rapid evolution of the “state-of-the-art”, while providing insight into world-leading biological research at Kent. Lab Rejects is stimulated by a recent collaborative project with the School of History, entitled Chain Reaction!, which used interdisciplinary approaches to explore biological technologies. This extended art-science residency in the School of Biosciences culminated in an exhibition in the Sidney Cooper Gallery marking the 30th anniversary of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The success of this event, based on a rather humble and unassuming piece of machinery, illustrated how technological resources within the School of Biosciences can be harnessed for public engagement and informal learning, particularly when viewed from different disciplines and perspectives. Lab Rejects will build upon this approach to engage the public and encourage informal learning, through an exhibition of decommissioned research equipment. The aim of the exhibition will be to explore the evolution “state-of-the-art” technologies within the biological sciences by interrogating specific artifacts that form part of a collection anchored within a specific biological research context. It is hoped that the exhibition will form a blueprint that would leave a legacy for future use of the equipment archive in different research contexts and venues,

Café Scientifique: Science, Law and Bioethics – Unmasked (Pamela White, Sally Sheldon, Ellie Lee, Darren Griffin)

Café Scientifique seeks to democratize academic research by taking it out of the domain of the expert and enabling everyone to voice an opinion. A Café Scientifique pulls scholarly academic research away from its usual habitats of the classroom and the laboratory and into pubs, bars, and restaurants, demystifying new developments and opening them up for public debate. This new set of 6 Cafés will provide an opportunity to bring together researchers and members of the public to spark a discussion about some of the most interesting, and sometimes contentious, research currently underway at the University of Kent in genetics, reproduction and the family. The aim in hosting the proposed series of 6 Cafés is to inform, interest and engage people outside of the university in the research being undertaken by Kent staff and students. The Cafés will appeal to those interested in the social, legal and bioethical implications of reproductive science, but who generally don’t have the opportunity to discuss their views with and to ask questions of lawyers, social scientists, bioethicists and geneticists. By holding the Cafés in a an off-campus location (at Ye Olde Beverlie) and featuring a sustained program of research on topics of high social importance we plan to break down barriers between the university and the community, foster idea exchange and enable both groups to contribute to learning and knowledge sharing.

Tentative programme (subject to change)

  1. October 13, 2015. Designer babies – one step further on the slippery slope?’   Professor Darren Griffin (School of Biosciences), Professor Simon Kirchin (Philosophy). Moderator, Professor Sally Sheldon (KLS).
  2. November 10, 2015. ‘Reproductive labours: surrogacy, egg sharing and reproduction in the 21st century?’ Kirsty Horsey, Katia Neofytou. Moderator Dr. Karen Devine (KLS).
  3. December 08, 2015: ‘Maintaining the reproductive edge: Should UK companies pay for employee social egg freezing?’  Antony Blackburn-Starza (KLS), Dr. Emily Grabben (KLS), Bridge Fertility Clinic physician. Moderator, Dr. Pamela White (KLS).
  4. February 9, 2016. “Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and vaccination behaviour’, Karen Douglas, Moderator Professor Robbie Sutton (Psychology).
  5. March 8, 2016. ‘Should the state define what makes a good parent? Ellie Lee (SPSSR), Moderator Dr. Ruth Cain (KLS).
  6. April 12, 2016 ‘Learning about stress from our early ancestors’, Sarah Johns (Anthropology), Moderator Darren Griffin.