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Public Engagement

Why engage?

Stem cell research has, and will, impact large parts of society, and consequently receives a large amount of public interest and scrutiny. As research leaders in this area, we believe our scientists play an important role in engagement with a wide variety of voices. We believe such encounters enhance the quality of the scientific questions we ask and help us build trust in research.

Read this piece by scientist Hans Clevers on the importance of communicating stem cell science.

Engagement strategy and activities

To ensure that public engagement remains a core part of our research culture, the Institute has developed a Public Engagement Strategy. The strategy directs our annual public engagement programme of centrally coordinated events, activities and training. It also lays out our strategic priorities, target communities and measures of success.

We are currently refreshing our strategy and compiling a new annual report. These will be available online in early 2019.

CSCI PE Strategy cover    CSCI Annual Report 2017 cover

Public Engagement team

Dr Rebecca Jones, Public Engagement Manager (currently on secondment)

Becky joined the Institute as Public Engagement Manager in March 2017, replacing Philippa Russell. She is responsible for creating a culture within the Institute of openess and dialogue between researchers and the public through developing and delivering the Institute's public engagement strategy. She is always on the look out for new opportunities to bring our researchers and members of the public together as part of our annual programme of public events and activities.

If you would like to find out more about our engagement projects, or are interested in developing a project of your own, please contact the team at .

Dr David Kent, Academic Champion

Recently, deep divisions have been revealed in our society on a global scale. These divisions are particularly evidenced by “surprise” results in elections and independence votes. Yet, political issues are not the only area where we fail to connect, and as scientists we must ensure that we regularly engage across all sectors of society. For me, this underscores the distinction between traditional science outreach (delivering information) and proper public engagement (understanding and interacting with public views). As the academic champion for public engagement at the CSCI, I hope to drive a culture change amongst academics to embrace, celebrate, and reinvent their role in shaping the future as publicly funded scientists.

David's research group focuses on blood stem cell biology and understanding how blood cancers develop from single cells. He has previously coordinated the UBC Chapter of the award winning science outreach organisation Let’s Talk Science.

Public Engagement steering committee

Our Public Engagement steering committee provides academic oversight of the CSCI public engagement programme and allows us to respond to the needs and the interests of our scientific community. The PESC meets four times a year to discuss current and future public engagement plans and pioneer ways to further embed public engagement at the Institute. We also work with an external mentor appointed by Wellcome to improve our programme.

Dr Kerry Leslie, Wellcome Mentor

Kerry worked for the Research Councils for over fifteen years and was the Head of the RCUK Public Engagement with Research (PER) unit, leading on high-level policy and strategy. This included conception and production of the Beacons for Public Engagement, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, the PER Catalysts and the Schools University Partnerships Initiative. She led on the development of the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research and the public engagement lens on the Vitae Researcher Development framework.

Public Engagement Seed Fund

Our Public Engagement Seed Fund aims to support new and creative ways of sharing stem cell research with the public. From September 2018, we have increased the top amount you can initially apply for to £2000, allowing you to develop more innovative engagement ideas!

Funding: £100 - £2000

All Institute members and affiliates may apply either as individuals or as a group. If you have several ideas, you can submit more than one application. Want some inspiration, check out previous seed fund projects: Stem Cell RobotsStem Cell Beer and Stem Cell Exchanges.

Applications are welcome all year round. To discuss a potential idea, no matter how small, email the team at scipe@stemcells.cam.ac.uk at any time.

Public Engagement resources

Need advice on planning planning, delivering and evaluating public engagement activities? The MRC have created a set of webpages just for you. Click here to find out more.

Want to involve the public or patients in your research? Check examples of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) from the NIHR here

Public Engagement award winners

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute group leader Dr Elisa Laurenti recently won one of six University of Cambridge Public Engagement with Research Awards. She received a £1,000 prize presented by the Vice-Chancellor in an award ceremony on 13 July 2017 in the Old Schools.

Find our more about Elisa's award winning public engagement work here.