CCnet hosts an outreach exhibition stand in London
New Scientist Live (NSL) is an award-winning, mind-blowing festival of ideas and discoveries for everyone curious about science and why it matters. For four days in October, NSL2019 transformed ExCeL London, into the most exciting place in the universe. More than 120 speakers and 150 exhibitors came together in one venue to create an unrivalled atmosphere and energy, packed with thought-provoking talks, ground-breaking discoveries, interactive experiences, workshops and performances. This year over 40,000 visitors attended the festival, from school children to families, academics, industrialists and the media.
For the third year running, The Synthetic Biology Research Centre – Nottingham (SBRC) and its associated BBSRC NIBB – CCnet hosted an exhibition stand which highlighted the great research we do here at the centre.
The exhibition stand included an anaerobic microbiology cabinet, kindly loaned by Don Whitley Scientific. In order to give visitors an idea of the skill needed to work with these cabinets they were tasked to participate in an electronic buzzer game against the clock. To add learning to the fun, the game was modelled the transfer of a plasmid from E.coli to Clostridium sp.
Other exhibits and activities included a DNA coding puzzle and display cases showing petri dishes and microscope images of the bacteria we use in the SBRC. Additionally, we had an array of potential products, such as a model tyre, a fuel tank, PVA glue and bioplastic items, to demonstrate the end products of gas fermentation. Our give-aways were pencils made from recycled wooden pallets, featuring our slogan “I heart Carbon reCycling”
“As a PhD student, participating as a member of the NSL2019 committee has provided me with an excellent opportunity to improve transferable skills that are not normally a core part of an academic career. I have learnt how to adapt complex ideas to a non-specialist audience in an engaging way, which allowed us understanding their concerns about synthetic biology. This information should be used as a reference to keep improving my communication skills.” Claudio Tomi Andrino, SBRC PhD Student and CCnet member.
The final section of our stand was part of an industrial collaboration set up with Deep Branch Biotechnology. Deep Branch Biotechnology is a start-up company founded out of SBRC-Nottingham by 3 of its PhD postdocs, also CCnet members Bart Pander, Rob Mansfield and Pete Rowe. Their technology takes carbon dioxide directly from industrial emissions and transforms it into single cell protein which acts as a more sustainable alternative to soy or fishmeal, the conventional protein sources for livestock and aquaculture feed. Their disco-lit bioreactor and molymod interactive game were major draws to the stand.
The event was extremely successful not only as a fantastic opportunity to highlight the wonderful cutting edge research taking place at SBRC–Nottingham but also for the researchers and CCnet members to raise public awareness and practice their science communication.