Already feeling a little out of place at the North East Postgraduate Conference, my sense of not being in the right talk was greatly increased when I couldn’t see any sign of Dr Adam Rutherford, the proposed speaker.
It turns out he was stuck down South on account of the storm. This meant that instead of a talk on the links between evolution and hip-hop (a topic about which I now have many unanswered questions!), we were told about the importance and problems surrounding public engagement, with a strong focus on the theme of ownership.
With music and genetics cast aside for the day, Kate Hudson highlighted the many barriers that higher education institutions face when trying to involve themselves in public engagement.
From overcoming the diminished confidence the public has in the science sector, to simply not having the right tools, contacts or resources to engage the public, Kate stressed that more needs to be done to develop a relationship between academics and the wider community.
Although, engagement for engagement’s sake should be discouraged. Connecting with the public should be done so enthusiastically and not because academics feel obliged and forced to share their research – which in all likelihood is charitably and publically funded and owned.
So, my slight disappointment of not hearing about sampling, remixing and synthetic biology was soon washed away thanks to the expertly and vehemently expressed opinions of Kate, a well prepared and eager stand-in presenter.