The Royal Society (the world’s oldest scientific society) selected members of the Centre to exhibit their work at the annual Summer Science Exhibition which was held at the Royal Society in London between 30th June-4th July 2009.
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition presented a unique opportunity for the general public to meet and engage with some of the best scientists working in UK research. For the scientists it’s a rewarding experience. By distilling their research into a broadly understandable concept, it can help them to see the bigger picture. It also provides an opportunity to engage with the public, to hear their views and to help them into thinking about science in new and exciting ways.
Our exhibit, titled “Fishing for clues; why medical researchers are glowing with excitement” was an interactive showcase for our research on zebrafish models of human diseases, including neurological, cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions.
It was one of the most popular stands, with word of mouth spreading that the fish were a ‘must see’ exhibit. The stand was manned by basic and clinician scientists of all levels, from Biomedical Science students to Professors. On display were transparent zebrafish embryos just a few days old. For the visitors, seeing a tiny embryo down a microscope was certainly interesting, but when the fluorescent light was turned on, revealing such things as red-labelled blood flowing through glowing green vessels, the exclamation heard was usually ‘wow’!
Having such a ‘wow-factor’ allowed us to easily lead the conversation on to how such visually arresting fish can be used to really understand, and hopefully develop treatments, for human diseases. Interacting in this way revealed a level of understanding in the audience that was astounding. Many of the visitors were children – some as young as 3 were shown the fish – and they seemed to understand and enjoy the concepts presented. The questions from the public were often detailed and in depth, and without exception positive about the work carried out by The Bateson Centre (ex- Centre for Developmental Genetics and Biomedical science).
The exhibition was a great chance to show the public what scientists really do, and get them excited about science, whilst hopefully inspiring some of the younger visitors to consider a future career in research.