Monthly Archives: October 2013

Join the Engage UCLan team!

This is a really exciting opportunity to join our team and help develop this brand-new facility. You’ll be working with UCLan and the Royal Institution, to develop a Young Scientists Centre, at UCLan’s Preston campus. You can see more about the YSC at the Ri here  RI_SLH_RGB

We’re looking for someone with an enthusiasm for STEM, who has experience of teaching/outreach and is a confident communicator and at ease in the lab. Further job details are here , and you’ll need to access and click on ‘vacancies’ to apply.

For an informal chat about this role, contact me (Jo) the Public Engagement Manager-  on 01772 892706 or via email

Exciting times!



Engage UCLan Steering Group

We’ve formed an Engage UCLan steering group- the main purpose of the group is to share best practice, contacts and ideas for engagement, and to ensure that we continue to embed the core principles of the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research and remain true to both the Manifesto for Public Engagement and our own internal definition of Public & Community Engagement, which reads: 

Engagement is by definition a multidirectional process, building connections, exchanging knowledge and sharing expertise with the goal of generating mutual benefits and understanding. 

Appreciation of the breadth of this activity is essential; inclusive of public and community engagement, innovation, enterprise, research, volunteering, dialogue and debate. We are all each other’s publics.

In the spirit of being transparent and open, the group agreed that notes from each meeting will be posted on this blog. This will enable us to share more widely the ideas and opportunities that are brought to the meeting and be receptive to any suggestions, criticisms and ideas from the wider community. 

The first meeting took place on 17th September and the main purpose was to agree how the steering group would operate. The following was agreed:

The Engage UCLan steering group will:
1. Provide guidance to Schools in setting and meeting the public engagement aspects of the delivery plan.
2. Drive engagement opportunities across the institution
3. Raise the profile of public and community engagement and ensure a coordinated approach
4. Create partnerships
5. Ensure integration with regional projects and activities
6. Receive reports from the Creative Communities Group, and ensure coordination of activity
7. Ensure progress against the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
8. Receive reports from the Lancashire Science Festival steering group and ensure coordination of activity
9. Share information and best practice

Our next meeting takes place on Wed 30 October, and every 6 weeks from then on. If you’d like to bring any matter to the groups attention, please comment below and we’ll add it to the agenda. We will also look to open up the meeting to external partners- let us know if you’d like to be involved


Doctor Who: The Science Behind The Scenes

Tardis (2)To celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who, we are holding a great Doctor Who themed event on Saturday 16th November, here at UCLan:

Doctor Who: The Science Behind The Scenes

The idea behind the event is to celebrate all that we love about Doctor Who whilst giving people a bit more information about the ‘science’ side of science fiction.

So in the spirit of ‘Bring On The Science’, not only are we going to have a visit from the brilliant Hyde Fundraisers (lovely chaps who use their love of all things DW to create amazing masks and costumes and in turn raise loads of money for a selection of brilliant causes – see them on Children in Need this year), screenings of loads of classic Doctor Who episodes and the marvellous Paul Stenton’s (UCLan’s Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre Manager) ‘Paul’s Real Deal’ where you can bring along your Doctor Who toys and memorabilia to have them valued an authenticated.

And in breaking news, Stephen Gallagher, a Doctor Who scriptwriter will be visiting us to hold a Q&A Session and Autograph Signing. Stephen wrote ‘Warrior’s Gate’ in 1981 in which Tom Baker played Doctor Who and ‘Terminus’ in 1984 in which Peter Davison played the good doctor. He has also written extensively for screen (including Bugs, Chimera, Chiller, Murder Rooms and more. He is the creator of Eleventh Hour and was the lead writer on Crusoe) and is now an acclaimed author of several novels and short story collections, ranging from period horror to modern thrillers.

Not only all this, but to really set Doctor Who: The Science Behind The Scenes out from the rest, is our packed schedule of sessions that will be looking at differing aspects of exactly what is going on in Doctor Who; is it possible and how do they do that?

Session include:

  • Doctor Who: Science Fact or Science Fiction (Matt Dickinson)
  • Is Doctor Who a Modern Doctor (Prof Paola Dey)
  • Creating Worlds for Doctr Who: The Science Behind The Illusion (Dr Andrew Ireland)
  • The Psychology of Doctor Who (Dr Sarita Robinson)
  • Is Time Travel Possible? (James Davies)

All this for only £5 for an Access All Areas Pass? Whovians rejoice!

For further information and tickets please see

Ogden Trust Lancashire Schools Physicist of the Year

Last night we held the Lancashire Schools Physicist of the Year award. I love this event. We write to all schools in the area that offer A level physics and ask them to select their top student. Some teachers choose students that are high achievers, others choose students who need a bit of a confidence boost.

We invite all the students, plus their proud families, to a nice awards evening, with a buffet and wine. They get to meet some of our research staff and then we have a public lecture from one of the researchers- last night Jo Bibby talked about her ‘Journey to the Stars’ a very inspiring tour of her research career and subject, which is the Death of Massive Stars.

The event is sponsored by the Ogden Trust- all the award winners become Ogden alumni and are eligible for scholarships and other benefits.

It’s a lovely event, meeting bright students and proud parents.



Events! So many events!

October is the month of events. And many had a women in science theme, as Tue 15th Oct was Ada Lovelace Day.

At the weekend we held two events as part of Preston’s first feminist festival- the Ladyfest. UCLan hosted a discussion and Q&A on females in business, which was led by entrepreneur and former Dragons Den star Rachel Elnaugh. The event was really inspiring, although Rachel’s faith in energy, vibration and auras did test the scientist in me a little!

On Sunday UCLan campus was inundated with girls aged 7+ and women from many, many careers, for a networking session. The aim of the event was to show girls that they can do anything that they like- they met forensic scientists, paramedics, computer scientists, roller girls, accountants…and their aspirations were truly diverse, from politicians to footballers.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the ScienceGrrl ‘because science is for everyone’ lecture, at the Uni of Manchester. This was delivered by Brian Cox, who is a keen supporter of public engagement and increasing participation in science. I was invited through the Ogden Trust, who were sponsoring the event and therefore making it free for schools to attend. It was wonderful to hear so many young people ‘wowing’ at science.

And on Monday I spent the day in a primary school in Westgate, Morecambe. I ran a Science Question Time session- the children were encouraged to ask me anything they liked about science, working in science, or- as it turned out- about life in general. As a light touch evaluation I asked the group to draw a scientist at the start of the session- only 3/75 drew a female scientist, and everyone stuck with the mad hair, white lab coat stereotype. By the end of the session they drew a much more diverse range of scientists! Excellent.

And last night we held our Physicist of the Year event. I’ll blog about that separately



Possible Preston ‘twig’ of the British Science Association

We seem to have reached a critical mass of engaged researchers, involved community and great ideas. And it seemed to me that we could tie a lot of fab activities together under the banner of the British Science Association. For those of you that may not be familiar with the BSA, they are the national organisation for public engagement with science- indeed their core aim is to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of sciences.

Yesterday we welcomed Pam Buchan, BSA Regional Officer, to UCLan to talk us through how we could set up a branch. Initially, our branch will be more of a twig, until we are confident that we have enough volunteers and momentum to become a fully fledged branch.

Some great ideas were suggested- at the heart of our events programme will be a Cafe Scientifique style event. Cafe Sci, as the name suggests, takes researchers into cafes, or bars, to discuss their research in an informal manner. We used to have a Cafe Sci in Preston and it was well received, so this seems like a simple place to start. Other ideas included science busking in the supermarket and a programme of discussion events about diversity in science.

So now we need more volunteers- anyone interested?