LMS PhD students explore science communication at the Wellcome Collection

 23 September 2022  

The PhD students at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences recently held a retreat at the Wellcome Collection exploring the topic of science communication. 

Organised by the PhD student committee, the day-long event was a chance for students to come together away from the labs to do something different. 

“We really wanted to create an opportunity to explore another area outside of our research. We chose science communication because  . It was a fantastic day and we are delighted with how much everyone got out of it,” said PhD students Zoe Heckhausen and Anno Koetje who organised the event. 

Ellie Cawthera presenting at the PhD retreatTo start the day, Ellie Cawthera from our GECo team gave a fascinating introduction into the history of science communication and the importance of sharing our research with the public. This was followed by an interactive workshop where teams of students had to come up with and pitch an idea for a project to engage broader audiences with science. Amongst the ideas was “EpiScape” an escape room where visitors would have to solve epigenetics themed puzzles. 

Following a quick tea and coffee break, the Otoscope team held a live podcast recording with Eva Kane, a medical writer at Fishawack and former student at the LMS. Student committee presidents, Bonnie Evans and Lucas Morales asked questions about Eva’s experience in medical writing and her path to her current career. The podcast is now being edited and will soon be available to listen to via the Otoscope Spotify and Buzzsprout pages. 

After lunch, Lucas and Bonnie hosted a science trivia game “the right is prized” where teams had to guess the year of significant science discoveries. 

Next in the program, Tim Fung from Biorender gave a virtual tutorial on top design tips for creating graphical abstracts. This was a useful opportunity for students to learn how we can take advantage of our institute’s Biorender licences and enhance our scientific figures. We hope to see plenty of fancy illustrations in upcoming student milestone presentations! 

Our final talk of the day was given by our keynote speaker, Dr Kat Arney. Kat is an award-winning science broadcaster and author and a former post-doc at the LMS. Kat gave an insightful and entertaining account of her journey from academic research into broadcasting science to a wider audience and starting a company focussed on science communications strategy. She gave useful advice and answered questions from the audience on how to pursue a career in science writing and broadcasting.  

Following the keynote talk, students enjoyed a drinks reception accompanied by some of our speakers. This was a great occasion for socializing with fellow students and reflecting on the events of the day.  

Student committee president, Bonnie Evans said “Massive thank you to  Zoe, Anno, Ellie and all our speakers for such an engaging and enjoyable retreat. It was great to learn not only about careers in science communication, but how we can all be science communicators.” 

We would also like to thank Helen Figueira for her support in organising our student retreat, and the MRC for providing funding.