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Dr Kaitlin Wade

Impact

Public engagement is a key aspect of research with which I love being involved, both in the organisation side and talking to the public, that has the aim of making seemingly complex scientific research more accessible and understandable. Whilst I have been involved with many projects throughout my research career, most recently, I have contributed to the organisation and running of the MRC Festival of Science (21st-22nd June 2016, 17th-25th June 2017 and 14th-24th June 2018), an art installation on the Human Genome called "The Data Mine" that we took to the Green Man Festival in August 2016 and collaborated with an artist during the Creative Reactions project in Bristol, 2018 and 2019, which communicated the importance of the human gut microbiome to members of the public in an open gallery.

During Creative Reactions 2019, the artist - Chloe Russell - with whom I was paired created an encyclopaedia on gut bacteria (“Up Your A-Z”), which won the publisher’s “Book of the Month” in April 2019. Our collaboration also inspired the basis of a school workshop (July 2019), where Chloe and I went to a Year 1 class at a local primary school to run activities (involving glitter, slime and sticky-back plastic) to inspire the younger generation about bacteria, how there are both “good” and “bad” types of bacteria, how we measure it and how washing our hands is important to maintaining the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria.

My work and that of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit has inspired the ongoing development of a board game to be manufactured with local graphic designer, Laurence Ware, which aims to demonstrate the main ideas of epidemiology – understanding the causes of disease and improving public health. I have also spoken to participants of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a population-based birth cohort from the Avon area, about The Genome and What We Do With It in 2016 and to schools across the South West of England and Wales on similar topics.

Due to my public engagement activity, I won the Cancer Research UK Rising Star in Public Engagement award in 2017 (https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/research-features/2017-06-19-celebrating-our-engagement-prize-winners). As I am continuousely invovled in public engagement and policy activities and am part of the public engagement and policy champions teams at the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit.