London SciComm Symposium 2016

In 2016 we held our first ever London SciComm Socials Symposium, launched the London Public Engagement Network (PEN), celebrated our first birthday, organised a Career Development Day, and hosted a media training workshop for researchers.

As the socials continued to grow in popularity we decided to provide a more formal chance for people across the sector to share their work and their ideas – and that’s how the London Scicomm Social Symposium was born.

On 28th April 2016 we welcomed over 140 attendees to a basement lecture theatre at Birkbeck (in Gordon Square). The event was free to attend, but we requested a donation to charity in order to book a place. We raised an amazing £1084.35 for Sands: the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. We were overwhelmed by the support we received from the science communication community, and the positive feedback we received on the day.

The day was split in to four main sections:

  • Session 1: Research is the start of communication – We explored the relationship between funders, universities, membership organisations and learned societies, and the relationships researchers have with each of these.
  • Session 2: Not everyone in science is a scientist – We discussed the informal science communication sector, looking at science culture, freelancing, and performance, with speakers from the world of TV, podcasts, and events.
  • Breakout Session: Supporting public engagement within institutions – This session was organised in collaboration with the London Public Engagement Network (PEN), and aimed to share best practice and provide a space for sharing and networking for isolated public engagement support staff.
  • Session 3: The content session – With help from press office staff, science writers and communications professionals we looked at science communication in it’s broadest sense, including media, broadcast, science writing, and press.
The very first London SciComm Socials Symposium

Our speakers included:

  • Mary-Clare Hallsworth – Public Engagement Coordinator at Birkbeck.
  • Martin Zaltz Austwick – an academic, musician, podcaster and occasional visual artist. He was also the 2015-2016 UCL Provost’s Awards for Public Engagement Institutional Leadership Award winner.
  • Dominic Galliano – Director of Outreach at SEPnet.
  • Bella Starling – Wellcome Engagement Fellow, on secondment from her role as Director of Public Programmes at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester.
  • Jenny Jopson – Public Engagement Manager at the Francis Crick Institute.
  • Steve Cross – Wellcome Engagement Fellow and formerly Head of Public Engagement at UCL.
  • Jamie Upton – Part of the Royal Society’s Public Engagement team and freelance sci-commer.
  • Suze Kundu – Teaching Fellow, previously in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London and now at the University of Surrey’s Chemical and Process Engineering Department.
  • Ivvet Modinou – Head of Engagement at the British Science Association (BSA). Ivvet also convenes the UK Science Festivals Network.
  • Simon Watt – Biologist, writer, science communicator, comedian and TV presenter.
  • Ellen Dowell – Curator and creative producer of Einstein’s Garden (the science, nature and environment area of the Green Man Festival).
  • Aimee Eckert – a PhD student at the University of Sussex Genome Damage and Stability Centre. Co-organiser and co-host of the Brighton chapter of PubhD, which is a monthly research communication event that was first established in Nottingham.
  • Sarah Cox – Press officer for Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • Ruth Francis – responsible for the communications teams at Springer, BioMed Central and Nature.
  • Fran Scott – The only female science presenter on Children’s BBC. She worked behind-the-scenes on hit programmes such as Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, Bang Goes the Theory and Horizon, and she presents series for Children’s BBC, BBC Learning Zone, and BBC Worldwide.

Happy 1st Birthday!

Happy 1st Birthday London SciComm Socials

On 30th September 2016 we celebrated our first birthday with a special London SciComm Social. It was an amazing party and we were overwhelmed by the cakes and treats you all made for us. Our regular hosts – The Somers Town Coffee House even made us a cake.

Career Development Day

Following feedback from our symposium earlier in the year, on 20th July 2016 we organised a Career Development Day. The event was aimed at people interested in starting a career in science communication, to give them a chance to meet people with interesting and varied roles from across the science communication and public engagement sector. Attendees (in groups of up to 5 people) had around 20 minutes with each person to chat about their role, and ask them questions.

Our table hosts included:

  • Dom McDonald – Previously Outreach Programme Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Before that he spent 7 years as Head of Public Engagement at Science Oxford, and had a short but fascinating stint in RCUK’s Public Engagement with Research Team. He cut his teeth as a performer of science shows for schools and festivals, during which time he also did an MSc in Science Communication. He’s even spent time teaching sociology.
  • Louise Weiss – Louise’s career has taken a few twists and turns, and she is now the Public Engagement Manager at Science Gallery London (based at King’s College London). She started out as a Media Planner, planning and delivering national media campaigns to promote large international clients across TV, press, radio and outdoor advertising platforms. She then headed back to study for an MSc and – eventually – a PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. During this time she started a public engagement group called London Brain Project, which eventually snowballed into a social enterprise and, thanks to an Arts Council England grant, worked in partnership with charities and cultural organisations to deliver two years of programming around neurological disorders.
  • Charlotte Thorley – Now freelance, Charlotte was the manager of the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Charlotte has worked for SETPOINT Greater Manchester, the Royal Society and the South East Physics Network. Her recent role at QMUL leading their strategic interest in public engagement involved building networks and understanding across an incredibly diverse group of stakeholders and subjects. She was also recently awarded a PhD from the Institute of Education (IOE) looking at the role of the scientist in classroom interventions and outreach activities.
  • Ellen Dowell – Creative producer of science engagement projects and interdisciplinary facilitator. She has a BA in Theatre: Design for Performance from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and an MSc in Science Communication from the University of the West of England. Ellen had two roles: as the curator and creative producer of Einstein’s Garden (the science, nature and environment area of the Green Man Festival), and at Imperial College London developing creative engagement projects for the National Heart & Lung Institute.
  • Kat Nilsson – Based at Natural History Museum where she is building partnerships to deliver a new vision for engagement with natural history across the UK. Kat originally moved from plant scientist to comedian, eventually combining her skills to write and produce interactive shows. She has nearly 20 years’ experience in science communication driving innovation in zeitgeist-hitting exhibitions, digital experiences, and live programmes. Previously at the Science Museum Kat re-imagined and the science news gallery, and pioneered audience-led and cross-disciplinary programmes at the Dana Centre, the world’s first venue dedicated to engage adults in dialogue on contemporary science issues which has had an influence on programming on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Holly Rogers – Communications and Engagement Officer at the Academy of Medical Sciences. As part of the communications team, her responsibilities include public dialogue and engagement, corporate events, and managing the Academy’s website and online engagement.
  • Simon Levey – Communications Manager in the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. He joined Imperial in 2010 as Research Media Officer, becoming Research Events Manager in 2013, and taking on public engagement with research at the Imperial Festival as well as the busy public lecture and events programme. Simon previously worked in various science media roles at Queen Mary University of London, the Science Media Centre during its time at the Royal Institution, and as assistant curator at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL. Since 2008, he’s been involved in Stempra – the national association for science public relations professionals and Science London.

Media Training

On Monday 18th July 2016 we held a special media training session hosted by the brilliant Holly Powell-Jones. Places were limited and we requested potential attendees write to us in advance of the session to let us know why they wanted to attend. It was a fabulous day, hosted at the Wellcome Trust where we met new and up-coming science writers and media stars.