If you are interested in finding out more about Pint of Science and our experiences of contributing to this public engagement venture, then please read on!
What is Pint of Science?
Pint of Science is a global science festival that brings researchers to local venues to share their scientific research with the public.
A stated core value of Pint of Science is "to provide a space for researchers and members of the public alike to come together, be curious, and chat about research in a relaxed environment outside of mysterious laboratories or daunting dark lecture theatres".
For the 2022 edition, across the UK 31 towns/cities hosted events.
What was the theme of our event?
The Pint of Science event we attended was part of the event series in Coventry & Warwickshire. It brought together three researchers from the University of Warwick under the theme of Our Amazing Body, to talk about the human body and how it works, and how we can help it work if needed.
Talks included how an individual’s own immune system could be used to destroy cancer cells from within, how understanding the way infections spread can help to limit their impact, and how a low-cost prosthetic can be engineered to provide touch sensation.
We were especially fortunate for our venue to be in the popular Assembly Festival Gardens in Coventry!
What did we speak about?
Our talk was titled "Disease detectives: how maths can help us against disease outbreaks".
It is an unfortunate fact of life that there is an abundance of infectious diseases, negatively impacting public health and the livestock industry. To reduce the negative effects of an outbreak, epidemiologists look for information on where cases are, try to determine risk factors and ascertain how the infection may spread.
Mathematical modelling is one tool for analysis that can help. The opening section of our talk discussed three questions: What are models? Why do we use models? What can models be used to estimate?
Our concluding section gave a view into decision making in the presence of uncertainty. This included an interactive activity, putting the audience members in the role of a decision maker and asking them to vote between different intervention choices.
You may download a PDF copy of our the presentation slides from our talk here.
What did we learn about in the other talks?
John discussed why cancer is so difficult for the immune system to deal with and how new therapeutics are beginning to overcome this hurdle.
The final talk of the evening, "Enabling the future with affordable prosthetics" by Manuela Trejo, was also captivating. A researcher in engineering, Manuela develops upper limb prosthetics and the talk addressed the question of how can a low-cost prosthetic be engineered to fit a person’s needs and provide touch sensation?
Manuela also highlighted the amazing work being done by e-NABLE, "an online global community of “Digital Humanitarian” volunteers from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to make free and low-cost prosthetic upper limb devices for children and adults in need".
Post event reflections
Overall, being able to present our research to the general public was very enjoyable! It was terrific to work together with the Warwick Institute of Engagement, which helped us prepare our presentation and improve our interactive activities to ensure they were accessible to all. If you have ideas on conveying your research to a general audience, to hone the activity I would very much encourage getting in contact with groups who have practical engagement expertise.