Outreach and engagment
As much of our research is funded through taxpayer-supported public bodies, we consider it an enjoyable duty to find ways to share the process and outcomes of my research with a broad audience. To this end, we have created or presented at a number of science (and science-meets-art) outreach events that range from the conventional to the more creative/interactive in the USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. Some examples include 'Brain of a Dancer' events, where we have teamed up with professional dancers to present dance/science performances in Bangor (UK), Groningen (NL), and Munich (Germany), speaking at a public debate on the role science should play in art (London), a range of lectures about our lab's research geared toward a public audience, coaxing passers-by on a sunny summer's day on London's South Bank to dance the Macarena with me (as an introduction to observational learning and the brain, of course!), and a get-up-out-of-your-seat-and-dance interactive performance event (co-presented with Dr. Dance) at the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival. See below for more details on three public engagement platforms near and dear to me, and check out the media page for more information about media coverage of our team's work!
British Science Association
Emily has served as a committee member of the Psychology Section of the British Science Association since 2015. The BSA's mission is to, "support, grow and diversify the community of people interested and involved in science; and to strengthen their influence over science's direction and place in society." Perhaps most well-known is the BSA's annual British Science Festival, which brings science to the people in a different UK city every year. In 2017, Emily has received the BSA's Jacob Bronowski Prize for early career contributions to science & the arts. Along with this prize comes an award lecture to be presented at the 2017 British Science Festival in Brighton - my event is titled Getting in the Neural Groove - tickets are free, so why not come on down to Brighton & join in?
Soapbox Science, started by the effervescent research biologists Drs. Seirian Sumner and Nathalie Pettorelli, is a novel public outreach platform that places top UK women scientists on soapboxes in public places, and challenges them to transform these spaces into arenas of learning, debate, and entertainment. Emily had the enormous pleasure of taking part in Soapbox Science on London's South Bank in July 2013 - see BBC coverage here and read more about Soapbox Science here in the Guardian
Edinburgh International Science Festival
The Edinburgh International Science Festival, simply put, is AWESOME!! Each spring, EISF takes over the bonny city of Edinburgh to deliver one of Europe's largest, most exciting and diverse public science festivals, with a jam-packed schedule of events for sci-curious folks of all ages, including lectures, debates, workshops, demos, and even a science-themed ceilidh! Emily had the opportunity to team up with the one and only Dr. Dance in 2015 to put on a sell-out "night club" event where we had people grooving to all sorts of beats, learning some fun choreography, and of course learning about how the brain learns! Get a glimpse of the fun here in this awesome video!
A Popularity Contest in the robotic petting zoo
In this interactive public art performance, a small group of iRobot Rooma vacuuming cleaning robots compete in a popularity contest. All of the robots have unique characters specifically developed for this project. Just like in human life some of these robots are cheerful, others grumpy and another will apologize constantly.
By feeding their favourite robot with our special robot food, the public let us know which one of our petting zoo inhabitants they like best, and thus reveal more about the social relationships humans might forge with artificial agents.