I’m Cathy Moore and I’ve been a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St. George’s, University of London since 2012. I am a chair of the postdoc forum and a public engagement champion for 2020-21.
Public engagement is an important part of being a scientist. Disseminating our research is the essence of our work, but besides writing papers it’s often overlooked. I got interested in the public engagement activities at St. George’s when I started attending the Spotlight on Science events. I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part in one of the Spotlight events that my research group organised, and then organised one about parasitic diseases, with a few other parasite enthusiasts. It was a really rewarding experience and a lot of fun. I was surprised how interested people were in parasites!
It’s really great that St. George’s invites the public into the university to showcase all the great work we’re doing, and my public engagement project takes that one step further. I want to take science to the streets, set up a stall in a public area and give the public an opportunity to talk directly to some scientists in an informal way. The stall will have a display that’s entertaining and educational, but the real aim is to have young people in our community see that scientists are people like them and not like the stereotypical ‘mad scientist’. My colleagues are a really inspirational group of people so it will be great for the public to get to meet them.
When the COVID19 vaccines were rolled out I thought it was the perfect opportunity to run my first science stall. In collaboration with Tooting library, we set up our “Questions about COVID?” stall so that we could talk to the public: find out how people felt about the vaccine, what their concerns were, and give them any information they wanted on the vaccines, COVID19 or anything else they were interested in. It was a really great experience for me and my colleagues and we were very well-received by the people we spoke to. We plan to hold another “Questions about COVID” event within St. George’s so that we can talk to hospital staff and patients about their views on COVID19 and the vaccines.