School Regional Champions (SRC) support our funded researchers in the UK with public engagement activities for secondary schools and young people aged between 11–19.
A network of SRC develop and share best practice, tools and activities to aid the support for these researchers.
SRC receive £800 annually for public engagement activities and can also apply for additional project funding and travel expenses to attend the annual meeting.
To support our funded researchers in their public engagement with schools around our strategic priorities of food security, industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, and health and wellbeing.
- To enable and encourage researchers to engage with young people aged 11–19
- To promote access to researchers by young people, teachers and education professionals
- To inspire and enthuse young people about bioscience research, its applications and the research funded by BBSRC
- To enable researchers to communicate their research and discuss it with a new audience
- To share activities and tools developed by individual champions
SRC judging panel members
Stephanie Sinclair - Project Manager, Wellcome Trust
Rachel Lambert-Forsyth - Head of Education, Society of Biology
Harriet Truscott - Communications Officer, Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS)
Patrick Middleton - Head of Engagement, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Dr Adélia de Paula firstname.lastname@example.org
Rothamsted Research - Food security/basic bioscience underpinning health
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.
Dr Anja Drozd email@example.com
Babraham Institute - Basic bioscience underpinning health
Anja runs the Babraham Institute secondary school programme.
"I aim to enthuse young people about bioscience research and inspire them to consider scientific careers, in addition to encouraging debate about the ethical aspects of science."
Events include an annual Schools' Day for around 120 GCSE/sixth form students, where students 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. Anja uses a variety of case studies high-lighting breakthroughs in healthcare to engage young people in discussions.
Sixth form events including an Applied Science Conference, to provide insight into the institute's research and health and safety topics relevant to the curriculum.
To maintain interest in science at the primary-secondary school transition, Anja delivers interactive after-school science clubs to groups of ten to twenty year 7 and 8 students.
Dr Emily Angiolini firstname.lastname@example.org
The Genome Analysis Centre - Food security
'How can genomics solve the issue of food security?'
Providing an introduction to food security and genomics tools, Emily will help teachers deliver this topic to secondary students through problem solving activities, discussions and debate. Emily will be supporting teachers, updating their knowledge of current research and technology as well as facilitating student visits to The Genome Analysis Centre and tours of the state of the art laboratories.
As The Genome Analysis Centre outreach programme manager Emily delivers workshops introducing electrophoresis, PCR, molecular biology and genomic techniques to secondary pupils and coordinates the work experience placements. She has established a summer school to give local sixth form students the chance to get some hands-on training in the lab as well as some up-to-date knowledge of technologies and techniques in use at the sequencing facility.
Emily is building relationships with local schools and supporting researchers at The Genome Analysis Centre to deliver activities in schools. She is also actively involved in organising events and delivering activities at Science Fairs, careers days and exhibitions such as Big Bang.
"The opportunities that we will offer will engage students, to get them thinking about what they learn in the curriculum in the context of the latest technologies and current research, how research can impact their lives and those of the future generations. It is vital that we reach out to those students who perhaps have not previously seen science as a career option for them, encourage them to think about science in the wider context and the possibilities that it offers."
Mr Mark Fernandes email@example.com
The Institute of Food Research - Food security/basic bioscience underpinning health
Mark has been involved in public engagement and work with young people for a number of years including work with schools and the Scouts.
As an SRC he will be exploring Food Security and the food supply chain through interactive demonstrations.
He is a keen advocate of audience participation and will be working with his audiences to inform the future direction of research to tackle the issues of waste, food safety and security. Mark is a passionate mathematician and will be championing the role of maths in the biosciences and its role in solving complex problems.
"People often have difficulty understanding how much maths and science bring to our civilisation. As a Schools Regional Champion, I want to help pupils look at the iceberg beneath the water's surface to see the massive contribution that these disciplines make to society. Through my activities I will show young people, as potential scientists, how they are a crucial part of future advances.
Additionally, I would like to see this insight spreading amongst their parents, family and friends whenever they encounter the enthusiasm of these pupils for maths and science."
Dr Philip Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
John Innes Centre - Food Security/bioenergy and industrial biotechnology/basic bioscience underpinning health
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.
Dr Samuel Fountain email@example.com
University of East Anglia - Basic bioscience underpinning health
Understanding and treating cardiovascular disease
Samuel will be inspiring students to pursue a career in biomedical science by providing a platform for teaching, dialogue and discussion about basic principles, cutting-edge research and ethical considerations around the cardiovascular system in health and disease. There will be a particular emphasis on blood vessels and the blood that runs through them. Samuel will be working under a Research Councils UK School-University Partnership Initiative recently awarded to UEA and with partner secondary schools around Norfolk and Suffolk.
“Lifelong Health and Wellbeing is a BBSRC strategic priority and represents a significant scientific, clinical and economic challenge in the UK. Cardiovascular disease is a growing problem for the UK population and it is likely we all know somebody who has had a heart attack, stroke or suffers from diabetes. Current secondary school students may become the biomedical scientists of the future, helping to understand, diagnosis and treat cardiovascular disease.”
Dr Neil Mabbott firstname.lastname@example.org
Roslin Institute - Food security/basic bioscience underpinning health
Neil Mabbott will be inspiring young people to pursue a career in biosciences and show school children how his research on the mouse's immune system is helping to improve protection against food-borne pathogens.
Neils' laboratory generates large amounts of bioimaging data using light and fluorescent microscopy. As an SRC his main objective will be to employ microscopes and videos to provide hands-on demonstrations to small groups of secondary students of the types of techniques his laboratory uses. His hands-on bioimaging experience aims to motivate the students and convince them that bioscience is an important and exciting career choice.
"Improved public understanding of how animal biosciences research is both necessary and important for the BBSRC to achieve its strategic priorities on food security and basic biosciences underpinning health. I will visit schools in those areas that would not normally receive such interactions, such as more deprived areas of Edinburgh, and identify opportunities where BBSRC-funded scientists with public-engagement interests may share activities."
Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall email@example.com
University of Dundee – Bioenergy and industrial biotechnology/basic bioscience underpinning health
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.
Dr Mark Travis firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Manchester - Basic bioscience underpinning health
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."
Dr Amanda Bamford email@example.com
University of Manchester - Food security
New ways to grow food - "We can grow food - on windowsills, in gardens, in our schools and on allotments."
Amanda is a Senior Lecturer at University of Manchester who will be working with scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences on projects to explain the ways plants grow and new ways to grow them.
Along with The Manchester Museum and The Sustainability Consumption Institute, Amanda will involve community initiatives and businesses to develop science projects in a network of schools.
Scientists will carry out projects in classrooms involving aquaponics and 'green wall' plant growing technology, as well as bringing students in to use the first-class laboratory facilities at the University of Manchester.
The schools' projects will culminate in a showcase of their work for the public at Manchester Museum.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Manchester - Basic bioscience underpinning health
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.”
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke - Food security
Rothamsted Research has been involved in engaging young people and the farming community with science at the annual Devon County Show for a number of years, showcasing some of the research carried out at North Wyke.
Each year the Devon County Show is visited by well over 3,000 children together with their teachers or carers as well as members of the general public.
North Wyke organises interactive stands at the Devon Country Show, such as the Rothamsted Research 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth - the first 23cm' exhibit featuring an interactive computer game looking at the gene pool in the soil and opportunities to look down a microscope at minute life in the soil, as well as a colembola community.
PhD students and researchers regularly help at the events and the STEM ambassadors at North Wyke have been involved with running a Science Fair for School Science Week for over 10 years. In 2011 the North Wyke Science Fair won the 'Outstanding Contribution' award from the British Science Association.
Professor Lindy Holden-Dye email@example.com
Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton - Food security
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.”
Schools' Swap Shop
Joanne and Elaine will be enabling children and teachers to work directly with practising scientists and researchers, investigating how the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) research affects and addresses local and global issues.
"Children in rural Ceredigion have few opportunities to participate in and connect with wider, national events, especially in science. A School Regional Champion will ignite IBERS' engagement with children and teachers, promoting a strong ethos that science is for everyone and raising awareness of important topical issues related to food security, bioenergy and human health" says Joanne.
The reciprocal "Swap Shop" enables interaction between IBERS' scientists and school teachers, so that shared experiences can be translated into each other's working environments. Researchers from IBERS will deliver activities in schools and contribute to the continuing professional development of teachers through visits to IBERS.
A framework of bilingual activities will be developed between IBERS' scientists and Ceredigion teachers. Activities will include lectures, practical classes and shadowing programmes. For example, "The struggle for health, people, parasites and HIV" is an interactive parasitology session that can be run in schools, with a reciprocal activity at IBERS called "Antibodies in vitro: diagnosing diseases" providing an opportunity for teachers to develop laboratory skills.
"Greater interaction with schools will raise the profile and reputation of our research and inspire innovative ways of reaching a wider audience" says Elaine.
For more information visit: IBERS: Information for schools and colleges.
Dr Jeremy Pritchard firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Birmingham - Food security/basic bioscience underpinning health
Jeremy organises seminars, tours and practicals at the University of Birmingham and in local schools for both pupils and teachers. He is involved in encouraging wider participation and continually developing new and innovative ways of engaging students. He also runs the practical challenges for the BBSRC sponsored Biology Olympiad held each year in the School of Biosciences as well as the Biology Big Quiz.
"At the University of Birmingham we run a range of activities in the School of Biosciences that address the increasing disengagement of the science taught at Schools with the needs of the policy and research community. Previously BBSRC has funded a range of activities run across the West Midlands, including schools visits by our lecturers. Schools quizzes, visits and activities are held on campus across a range of subject areas from medical aspects of health to evolution and ecology, with over thirty-five events in 2010."
Jeremy has developed interactive lectures that reflect modern molecular and physiological scientific research approaches focusing on dynamic aspects of plants, (Plants and Pressure) and human evolution (Am I an Ape?), aimed to present the modern context of plant biology and human health issues respectively.
Jeremy will be training researchers across the UK to deliver a flexible lecture resource 'The Organism Olympics' he has developed to coincide with the 2012 Olympics.
"The opportunity for researchers to interact with teachers in a two way dialogue can provide a greater understanding of teacher needs and improve the quality of resources and activities delivered."
Dr Susannah Lydon email@example.com
University of Nottingham - Food security
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.”
Yorkshire and the Humber
Dr Sean Sweeney firstname.lastname@example.org
University of York - Bioenergy and industrial biotechnology/basic bioscience underpinning health
Sean will be delivering practical workshops in the principles of neurobiology to A-level students.
Sean has developed an innovative teaching practical that enables the investigation of the nervous system without carrying out dissections.
The workshops explore the principals of synaptic transmission by measuring rates of paralysis when applying heat to 'temperature-sensitive' and 'wild type' Drosophila flies. Students also investigate sensory function using an assay of heat avoidance in Drosophila maggots.
This practical introduces students to important areas of neurobiology and reinforces substantial parts of the curriculum relating to the scientific method, experimental design, calibration and practical laboratory skills.
Professor Ian Graham email@example.com
CNAP, University of York - Bioenergy and industrial biotechnology
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.”
Dr Julie Keeble firstname.lastname@example.org
King’s College London - Basic bioscience underpinning health
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 email@example.com
Royal Veterinary College - Basic bioscience underpinning health
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.”
Tristan Maclean, Inspiring Young Scientists Co-ordinator, Norwich Research Park
tel: 01603 450970