LIDC hosted public engagement training for PhD students and Postdocs
Written by Natalia Reijola and Gunn Benjaminsen
June 9, 2021
How do you spark an interest in the research you are conducting? In May, PhD students and early-career researchers selected from our members learned the ropes of public engagement – including by using socks as props.
History. Politics. Epidemiology. Management. Population Health. Linguistics. The PhD students and postdocs at our training eat, breathe and sleep their research disciplines, but how can they pass on their enthusiasm to others?
On 24 and 27 May, around 20 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in LIDC member colleges took part in our public engagement training. We teamed up with science communications experts Rachel Mason and Wendy Sadler in Science Made Simple (SMS) to create a bespoke training opportunity for researchers in our member colleges. SMS is an award-winning science outreach company aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and act as a bridge between researchers and the public.
The training took place on Zoom, with participants dialling in from India, Cameroon and Canada – as well as all corners of the UK – to explore ways to effectively engage a wide audience with science research. Somya Mullapudi, who is a PhD student at Kasturba Medical College in Manipal in India and an individual LIDC member, was among the participants.
“The training has given me a sense of confidence and helped me overcome barriers that I’ve previously faced when talking about my research with peers from around the world”, she said.
The workshop gave the participants an understanding of what is meant by public engagement and what researchers need to do to address the needs and interests of diverse public groups. The workshop included a range of activities and active learning tools. This has given the participants the practical skills and confidence they need to create an engaging three-minute talk about their research, tailored for different audiences. Every participant got a chance to practice delivering the talk and received personalised feedback for it.
“Being able to capture the minds in the audience plays a pivotal role outreach about my research. This is both crucial and challenging when the message you want to convey is scientific and your target audience is adolescents, Somya said. Her PhD research focuses on the impact of health warnings on tobacco packs, which are aimed at deterring young people in particular from starting smoking.
She hopes the public engagement training will open doors for her to reach a broader audience:
“The major challenges PhD students and ECRs face with sharing their research is finding an ideal platform to present their work to both the targeted audience and general public”, she said.
Are you a PhD student or ECR? We’d love to hear how we can support you in your research. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you any suggestions for activities that would be interesting for you and your colleagues.