By Siobhan Petrie, Communications Officer for the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research and Glasgow Polyomics.
June seems a little while ago now, but it was a really busy time for the CVR on the outreach front – so busy, that’s it taken us a little while to share what we were up to at the Glasgow Science Festival.
This year’s event was yet again, another great success with a packed programme of events with something on offer for all tastes, interests and age groups. We got involved in 3 very different events, each one offering something interesting for a mix of audiences – from a workshop for schools through to TED style talks and live TWIV podcasts, where we really did go viral. Here’s what we got up to…
Virus Hunters – A day of discovery
This was a unique workshop tailored for 15 -16 year olds and presented a ‘true to life’ lab-based emergency scenario where pupils were given the task (as scientists) to diagnose a group of patients who had recently returned from the Congo presenting signs of a virus infection. 4 of our CVR researchers developed new activities to compliment the workshop including: ‘Contagion’ – a short talk explaining the epidemiology of viruses with Q&A. ‘Virus Evolution’ – an activity where pupils learn how viruses adapt and mutate using diagrams and paper models of viruses to keep it interactive and fun. ‘Immunology Quiz’ – a quiz where pupils work in teams to answer multiple-choice questions with prizes. ‘Ethical Debate’ – pupils are asked to explore and discuss the ethics of the development of a new vaccine and the possible implications for different population groups and individuals. Pupils gained hands on, practical experience of using gels, pipetting and electrophoresis. They also had a chance to try out racing against the clock to put on PPE clothing in an emergency situation.
microTALKS: An Evening of Infectious Diseases
CVR postdoc Connor Bamford organised an evening of short, engaging ‘TED-like” Talks and a live TWIV (This Week in Virology) podcast by his guest and friend of the CVR, Vincent Racaniello. The event was targeted at students and members of the public with an interest in science education, and was attended by an audience of around 80 people. It featured local, national and international speakers, who covered a wide mix of hot topics in virology research across many disciplines; including parasitic infections, antimicrobial resistance and emerging virus infections.
Carla Brown, PhD student at GU, spoke first about antimicrobial resistance and novel antibiotics as well as her own developed resources to educate about antibiotics. Joanne Power, Ph.D student at GU talked about parasitic infections, specifically malaria. Lynda Coughlan, postdoc at the University of Oxford talked about vaccines and the development of a universal flu vaccine. Professor Mike Barrett gave an engaging and highly visual talk about the Scottish influence of parasitology. Adam Kucharski, MRC postdoctoral fellow at the LSHTM gave an interactive talk on epidemiology and the spread of infectious diseases, getting audience members to stand up and simulate virus infections during an outbreak.
‘TWiV 344: Glasgwegians go viral’– As part of the microTALKS event, Vincent Racaniello interviewed Ruth Jarrett (CVR), Glen Nemerow (The Scripps Research Institute), and Esther Schnettler (CVR) about their research on viruses and Hodgkin lymphoma, adenovirus structure and entry into cells, and also interactions between arthropod borne viruses and their hosts for his popular weekly podcast. This was recorded live during the evening and now features on the popular TWIV website where it has already received 5,837 audio downloads, 168 video views.
Vincent Racaniello also visited the CVR and interviewed Emma Thomson (CVR), Gillian Slack (CVR), and Adam Kucharski (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) about their Ebola virus experiences for another TWiV podcast. They discussed the challenges of caring for an infected patient, working in an Ebola diagnostic center in Sierra Leone, and making epidemiological predictions about the outbreak in West Africa. The podcast has received 9,977 audio downloads and 453 video views. Listen or view at TWIV.
Science Sunday – 14th June 2015
If all that activity wasn’t quite enough, 5 more of our CVR researchers attended ‘Science Sunday’ – a packed day of activities for families at the University. As ever, it was an incredibly busy day with an estimated 300 visitors to our stand. Our team took along two activities – including a microscope show and tell using slides containing insects used in our research. They also demonstrated the hands-on strawberry DNA extraction activity.