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SRC: Current Champions

Background information and contact details for our current Champions working around the UK can be found below:

East England
East Scotland
North West
South West
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
Greater London

East England

Dr Adélia de Paula
Rothamsted Research – Agriculture and food security/bioscience for health

Dr Adelia de Paula - Rothamsted Research

Adélia runs the Rothamsted Research programme of school activities in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. The work involves primary to post-16 students and aims to support the school's curriculum as well inspiring students to understand and appreciate science.

Rothamsted Research has a strong commitment to young people through Open weekends, National exhibitions including the Royal Society Summer exhibition, hosting students with Nuffield Science Bursaries and delivering activities in schools.

Students will be able to find out about the research to tackle global challenges, such as; food security, bioenergy, carbon sequestration and sustainable agriculture.

Mr Michael Hinton
The Babraham Institute – Basic bioscience underpinning health

Mr Michael Hinton - Babraham Institute

Mike runs the Babraham Institute schools programme.

"We aim to inspire the next generation to consider science careers and stimulate an interest in the relevance of science to everyday life."

Events include an annual Schools' Day, Animals in Research workshops, an Applied Science Conference and after-school science clubs.

The annual Schools' Day enables around 100 GCSE and sixth form students to spend the day in Institute laboratories experiencing bioscience research underpinning health alongside 'real scientists'.

Animals in Research workshops for groups of around fifty year 9 or 10 students stimulate discussion around the ethical issues of using animals in basic and medical research. Using a variety of case studies highlighting breakthroughs in healthcare Michael will engage young people in discussions on the ethics of animal research.

The Applied Science Conference provides an insight into the institute's research and health and safety topics relevant to the curriculum for sixth form students.

"The key to science outreach is transferring our excitement and enthusiasm for science to students, whether primary, secondary or beyond"

To maintain interest in science at the primary-secondary school transition, Michael will continue the interactive after-school science clubs for groups of ten to twenty year 7 and 8 students.

Dr Philip Smith
John Innes Centre – Agriculture and food security/industrial biotechnology and bioenergy/bioscience for health

Dr Philip Smith - John Innes Centre

Phil has been working with schools for thirteen years (initially as a partnered scientist during his PhD and post-doc) and has run the highly regarded science education charity, the Teacher Scientist Network (based at the John Innes Centre) since 2003.

Phil's role as a SRC will allow him to facilitate further partnerships between BBSRC funded researchers and local science teachers (bringing 'real-science' into the classroom, challenging stereotypes and aiding teacher confidence).

Phil also organises and delivers a high-quality cpd (continuing professional development) programme of master classes to bring high-school teachers up to date with current research in BBSRC strategic priority areas.

Phil has won numerous awards for his work including an MBE for services to science education in 2008, BBSRC science week awards and a Royal Society partnership grant.

Stephen Robinson
University of East Anglia – Bioscience for health/Food Security/Bioenergy and industrial biotechnology

Stephen Robinson

Stephen is a lecturer and group leader in Cell Signalling and Angiogenesis, at the University of East Anglia. He and his students will run workshops on "understanding research funding" for A-level students and their teachers.

Groups of students will take on the role of "funding panels" and after hearing research proposals from scientists they will work together to deliberate over the proposals. Each panel will be provided with assessment criteria similar to those outlined by BBSRC. The panels will be told they have enough funds for only one of the grant applications and they will be asked to choose which of the grants to fund and provide the reasoning behind their choice.

"We are aiming to engage more deeply the next generation in the decision making processes that go into deciding what science gets funded and how that funding is achieved. We are hoping we will inspire students to become active in influencing funding policy as they move into their adult working lives."

The workshops will discuss where funding comes from, the ethics of research, strategic priorities and the impact the research will make. They will need to consider what makes a good grant proposal and how funders can achieve value for money as well as the importance of engaging the public.

Dr Edward Codling
University of Essex – Food Security/Basic bioscience underpinning health

Edward Codling - University of Essex

Edward is a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Essex who will be undertaking a range of interactive activities that demonstrate the importance of mathematics within the biological sciences.

These activities include “The Maths of Cows”, where school-children can take part in an interactive tracking game using wireless sensors and learn how we use maths to determine the behaviour and welfare of dairy cows.

In “The Human Swarm” we run interactive experiments to show how human crowds can behave like swarms of animals and use maths to predict crowd behaviour in order to improve evacuations and pedestrian safety. We even run an interactive experiment where participants have to use maths to help them escape from a horde of zombies!

"Mathematical modelling and data analysis skills are crucial for successful scientific research. However, students are often “turned off” mathematics while at school and this has a huge negative impact on both their own potential science career, and the future UK skills-base as a whole. By engaging and inspiring school-children with maths I hope I can go some way to alleviating the skills gap we currently have."

Edward has run events at the London Science Museum and the Big Bang Fair as well as writing several research papers that have used data collected through these ‘citizen science’ experiments.

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East Scotland

Dr Nicola Stock
The Roslin Institute – Agriculture and food security/bioscience for health

Dr Nicola Stock - Roslin Institute

Nicola runs The Roslin Institute's programme of public engagement, which includes work with schools from the local area and beyond.

"I aim to work with local high school teachers to develop an exciting schools programme for The Roslin Institute that complements the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and brings together researchers and school students to explore current science through dialogue and hands-on activities."

The Roslin Institute currently offers Institute visits to high school groups from the local area and further afield, occasional outreach visits to local primary and high schools and laboratory-based work experience placements for 16-18 year olds.

Working with teachers and CPD providers, Nicola aims to enhance the content and impact of The Roslin Institute's school activities and ensure that opportunities to engage with science are made available to young people from all backgrounds. The initial focus will be on dialogue activities around potentially controversial areas of bioscience research such as the use of animals in research and genetic modification, but the programme will also address areas of the biology curriculum that teachers find hard to teach due to a lack of resources or specific skills.

"Working with school groups is a great way to introduce researchers to the joys of public engagement and the resulting interactions with young people can prompt them to think about their work and its potential impact on society in new ways. As such I regard work with schools and young people as a key part of The Roslin Institute's public engagement strategy."

Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall
University of Dundee – Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy/bioscience for health

Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall - University of Dundee

Nicola coordinates a biannual event for local school children and members of the public called “Magnificent Microbes”. This is held in conjunction with colleagues at the Dundee Science Centre. The event aims to provide high quality training for the scientists and hands-on interactive events for the visitors.

"I aim to encourage Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists to engage with the broader community to help them discover the wonderful world of microbiology.”

Scientists work in small teams to develop an activity that encourages the visitors to think about microbiology and the influence it has on our lives through a new perspective.

The event not only introduces visitors to the basic microbiology principles that underpin many biotechnology, health and bioenergy processes but allows them to interact directly with researchers.

Nicola has won several awards for her work including the Royal Society of Edinburgh Beltane Award in 2012.

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North West

Dr Mark Travis
The University of Manchester – Bioscience for health

Dr Mark Travis - University of Manchester

Mark helps run an annual week-long interactive event for Key Stage 3 students from local inner city secondary schools to visit the University of Manchester and learn about biology research.

Students work in teams, led by a team mentor who may be young researchers doing their PhD or senior scientists.

The event begins with a tour of the laboratories, to experience what a working lab looks like, explore technologies used in research and meet the scientists at work.

Students then set about a series of tasks to learn about a specific biological topic directly related to research (e.g. the importance of DNA, how cells function, how mucus protects us). Students learn how our bodies work normally and how disease occurs when things go wrong (e.g. diseases causes by genetic mutation, uncontrolled cell proliferation/signalling).

The event not only introduces students to the basic biological principles important in health and disease, but allows them to work in teams and interact directly with research scientists.

"The students find the event stimulating and fun, and their opinions on science as a whole is favourably changed. After the event, feedback suggests students are more likely to engage with science learning at school, and to consider science as a future study/career option. This is especially important in inner city schools, which we directly target for our events."

Professor Amanda Bamford
The University of Manchester – Agriculture and food security

Dr Amanda Bamford - University of Manchester

Amanda will be working with scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences to develop and deliver a new exciting menu of school programmes at the University Botanical gardens for Key Stages 1 to 4 (Ages 5-16) for local inner city schools. The programme will include a range of curriculum linked practical workshops, worksheets and teacher resources.

Bringing a global perspective to the curriculum, especially in food security, crop production and plant diversity from around the world, the researchers will encourage schools to use the plants, facilities and opportunities offered by the Botanical Gardens and link with the Manchester Museum herbarium in interesting and innovative ways. The Botanical Gardens events programme will help to spark an interest in plant sciences research and science as a career.

"The University Botanical Gardens provides an ideal arena to expose school children to 'science in action' as they will see plants being grown outside and in greenhouses for research into areas such as drought tolerance, new biofuels, urban vegetation and alternative crops."

Amanda was a BBSRC public engagement coordinator for 8 years, working with numerous inner-city schools. She has received BBSRC, RCUK and Royal Society Partnership grant awards, and had her school engagement activities published in the Times Educational supplement. She has been involved in national events such as the Big Bang Manchester and runs frequent school visits to the University of Manchester laboratories.

Dr Sheena Cruickshank
The University of Manchester – Bioscience for health

Dr Sheena Cruickshank - University of Manchester

Sheena helps run an annual interactive event for Key Stage 4 students from local inner city secondary schools to visit the University of Manchester and learn about research on the healthy gut and how it protects itself against foodborne pathogens and parasites. The event is based in laboratories and students work in groups alongside research scientists learning about everything from mucus to basic microscopy.

Sheena also works with local community groups and works to raise awareness about food hygiene and the significance of gut worm infections globally.

“The students and people I meet at our events really take the opportunity to engage with the scientists and ask us incredibly astute questions. To see people from such diverse backgrounds get excited about our research is incredibly rewarding.”

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South West

Professor Lindy Holden-Dye
Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton – Agriculture and food security

Professor Lindy Holden-Dye - Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton

Lindy and her colleagues at Southampton are engaged in an outreach project that brings hands-on research into the classroom. They are working with teachers to assemble a set of resources that will give students the chance to carry out their own experiments and in the process learn more about current research in the life sciences. To highlight the importance of BBSRC funded research into food security this project will provide year 10 pupils with the chance to find out more about nematode worms, major pests of livestock and crops. The students will work with the popular genetic model organism C. elegans, a microscopic translucent soil-dwelling worm which is non-parasitic, in addition to parasitic species that are safe for classroom study. They will observe worms hatch, feed, mate and devise simple experiments to test behaviour. A website will list background information and links to current research in the field.

”I hope the students will experience at least some of the excitement I get from doing experimental research - and might be inspired that this is the career for them.”

Martin Stevens
University of Exeter – Bioscience for health

Martin Stevens

Martin will be inviting year 9 and 10 students from schools in Cornwall to take part in events to understand how animals use camouflage to avoid being attacked by predators, and how humans benefit from understanding this. Using games that replicate real scientific research students will work in teams to find camouflaged animals and create artificial ‘prey’ hidden in different environments. They will also learn about how Martin and his colleagues are using computer games and photographs of actual camouflage techniques used by animals to carry out their research. These games have been very popular and include Where is that nightjar and egglab, both available at [Project nightjar].

As well as developing innovative games to further research Martin has been running widening participation sessions for year 9 students at the University of Exeter – Science is it for me? and he will be visiting local schools to engage students directly with scientific processes and inspire them to consider science careers.

"It’s wonderful to inspire a future generation of scientists and science enthusiasts, and to illustrate how understanding the natural world and biology can help human lives. The students will learn about the visual systems that animals have, including different abilities to see colour, and how this fundamentally affects the way in which they interact with their world. I will show students how studying non-human animals can benefit society. For example how understanding animal camouflage and vision can help us to protect soldiers on the battlefield, disguise ugly but functional buildings in an urban environment, and help those with restricted vision."

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Dr Fiona Corke
IBERS, Aberystwyth University – Agriculture and food security/industrial biotechnology and bioenergy/bioscience for health

Fiona Corke

Fiona will be broadening the IBERS engagement with young people activities out to a wider audience, such as Wales Young Farmers Clubs (WYFC). Young Farmers will be visiting IBERS to hear about the research and see the facilities. This will include tours of the new state of the art National Plant Phenomics Centre, talks about the usefulness of animal genomics, biofuels and the diversity of plant derived products, demonstrations and hands on activities learning the techniques that underlie plant breeding. Activities will be delivered bilingually and tie-in with national events including National Science and Engineering week and Fascination of Plants Day.

In addition to events at IBERS, Fiona will be taking IBERS science to The Royal Welsh Show and other WYFC County events.

Fiona said "Feedback from a recent visit made by two WYFC clubs to IBERS said ‘it was the best educational visit they’d made, as it engaged all ages'".

For more information visit: IBERS: Information for schools and colleges.

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East Midlands

Gareth Hathway
The University of Nottingham – Bioscience for health

Gareth Hathway

Gareth is a neuroscientist based at the University of Nottingham who will be inspiring students between the ages of 11-16 years old to take further interest in science and technology through visits to schools and University based "Brain days". Students will learn about the research through presentations and interactive workshops where they will get the chance to perform simulated "neurosurgery".

The events will encourage pupils to think about the brain, what it does, how it works and how it changes in disease and over life.

"The brain is an excellent organ to study to improve our understanding of health. Encouraging pupils to think about the way in which the brain shapes our entire lives and the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle on both the brain and body can lead to academic benefits and healthier choices."

Gareth currently delivers 30-50 engagement events per year in Nottingham, interacting with about 750-1000 children alongside members of his research team and undergraduate neuroscience students as part of the BrainLab project.

Dr Susannah Lydon
The University of Nottingham – Agriculture and food security

Dr Susannah Lydon - University of Nottingham

Susie is the Outreach Officer for the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. She will be supporting students in Year 12 and 13 in local secondary schools in undertaking an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) with a Global Food Security theme. This will raise awareness of Global Food Security and of the BBSRC-funded research in this area which takes place within the School of Biosciences at Sutton Bonington Campus. Students who decide to undertake an EPQ with a food security theme will increase their knowledge and understanding, and may decide to pursue further study or a career in this field.

Susie runs a range of schools and public engagement activities within the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. She co-ordinates the Summer School in Plants and Crops for Year 11 students and co-organises the campus-wide Science@Sutton Bonington open day.

“Explaining the research that we do at Sutton Bonington, and the reasons why we do it, is important. It’s great to be able to get involved with local schools in a way which will also enhance students’ opportunities in the future.”

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Yorkshire and the Humber

Professor Ian Graham
CNAP, The University of York – Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy

Professor Ian Graham - CNAP, University of York

Ian is director of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) in the Department of Biology. Over the past 12 years CNAP has developed a considerable research base in biorenewables and industrial biotechnology. He will engage with schools to offer outreach activities in this area and will also involve the Biorenewables Development Centre at York: a not-for-profit company which provides industry with new processes to convert plants and biowastes into high value products.

Activities will include a mini-symposium on biorenewables and industrial biotechnology for around 120 secondary school pupils – offering a free, day-long programme of talks and interactive activities including practical tasks and dialogue/ debate to offer an appreciation of the science and processes used in industrial biotechnology and the wide range of applications.

In addition, new activities to demonstrate principles of industrial biotechnology will be developed for schools visits by CNAP scientists.

“We are looking forward to working with schools to demonstrate the importance and relevance of industrial biotechnology research to the next generation of consumers and scientists.”

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Greater London

Dr Julie Keeble
King’s College London – Bioscience for health

Dr Julie Keeble - King's College London

Julie is an in vivo pharmacologist with the Centre for Integrative Biomedicine at King’s College London and has been involved in public engagement and outreach activities for several years.

Julie’s aim as an SRC is to increase young people’s understanding of the necessity for the use of animals in research through the use of Daphnia (water fleas).

A Daphnia’s heart is clearly visible through a standard microscope and the heart rate can be counted using a simple clicker technique. Daphnia respond to several cardioactive drugs by increasing or decreasing heart rate. During a series of talks and experiments related to drug discovery, young people will use Daphnia to test the pharmacological activity of various drugs in a whole body system.

“It is extremely important that young people are aware of the use and necessity of using animals in research. Our workshops aim to inform a future generation of potential scientists about the fascinating nature of basic science and concomitantly increase their understanding of the use of animals in research by using Daphnia in a context which is relevant to their studies.”

Miss Lisa Pritchard
Royal Veterinary College – Bioscience for health

Miss Lisa Pritchard - Royal Veterinary College

Scientist for a day!!

Lisa will offer pupils aged 16+ the opportunity to visit the Royal Veterinary College and act as a scientist for a day. Pupils will get the chance to perform histological stains and learn how cancer can be diagnosed, extract DNA from fruit and take a look at how lab bench science is used in the process to drug discovery. A range of scientists at the college will also be on hand for an interactive session on science careers.

For younger pupils, Lisa will run an after school club looking at common illnesses such as diabetes and cancer in more detail. Pupils will design their own experiments around this subject and explore experimental design, ethics and finally present their work at their own mini scientific conference. Pupils will also learn about the trials and tribulations of therapeutic target and the road to drug discovery in an interactive board game.

“As a teenager I didn’t have the opportunity to experience science other than in a school environment. Being dyslexic myself I think it is very important to make science easily available and be aware that pupils do not all learn in the same way.”

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