Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

Thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in participating in our Pay-it-Forward with Public Engagement pilot. We received lots of interest but sadly we could only pick five of you to take part this time around. PERC were really impressed by all the candidates that got in touch and we are already thinking about how we can involve everyone who got in touch in future activity, so don’t be disappointed if you didn’t make it this time! Other opportunities will be revealed soon…

Congratulations to the five researchers who will be paying-it-forward with public engagement!

Meet our cohort:

sophie cox

Dr Sophie Cox

Hello! My name is Sophie and I’m a Research Fellow in the School of Chemical Engineering. I currently work on an interdisciplinary Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded project exploring the introduction and added value that additive layer manufacturing can bring to the medical sector.

Having completed my undergraduate and PhD in Engineering I moved to the University of Birmingham in 2014, bringing my passion for public engagement with me. Since, I have become a STEM Ambassador and through their network I have connected with a number of local schools to deliver hands-on and career based activities.

In the past, I have worked as a mentor for the International Gateway for Gifted Youth, an online global educational social network designed to help young people reach their full potential. For a number of years I also helped establish and organise the first royal academy engineering summer school at the University of Warwick. This scheme involved lots of really fun hands on activities that I hoped helped to inspire the next generation of engineers!

I’m really excited to have been selected for the Pay-it-Forward scheme and can’t wait to get started!

elizabeth randall

Elizabeth Randall

I’m Elizabeth and I’m a PhD student in the PSIBS doctoral training centre here at UoB. My project involves developing new chemical imaging methods for use in pharmaceutical research.

After completing my undergraduate degree in chemistry I decided to continue my studies in the interdisciplinary field of biomedical imaging. It’s a very exciting area and one that is easy to talk to people about – most people know about MRI and CT scanners in hospitals.

I became a STEM ambassador 3 years ago and have since taken part in events like ‘meet the scientist’ at the Birmingham ThinkTank. I also supervised 2 secondary school pupils on a week-long project which introduced them to the work at our lab, let them carry out a small research project and gave them an idea of what it would be like to work as a research scientist. Showing younger people what science is really about is my favourite part of public engagement – and perhaps also dispelling some misconceptions along the way.

Finding alternative ways to explain things is of particular interest to me. As a spare-time artist and writer I have produced artwork for exhibitions about scientific research and written articles for university and national publications including the ‘Access to Understanding’ organisation.

I’m looking forward to getting involved with the Pay-it-Forward scheme and hope to contribute some different ideas!

shardia

Shardia Briscoe-Palmer 

Hello, my name is Shardia. I am a second year PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham. I am currently researching in the field of Gender and Development focusing on Masculinity, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS related Stigma and Discrimination. My other areas for research include Gender & Development, HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, Disability studies, sexual health and young people.

I am currently writing an article for the European Journal of Political Science (EJPS) on ‘Challenges facing minority PhD Politics students: women, BME groups and disabled people. I am a member for the Political Science Association’s Equality and Diversity committee. Being part of this group led me on to becoming a research assistant for the BME Ambassador project at the University of Birmingham were at present I co-ordinate the peer mentor scheme. #mentoringisgreat

Along side my studies I am employed by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a national HIV and Sexual Health charity, where I works as sex and relationship education (SRE) co-ordinator in the Midlands.  I recruits, train and support young people in to becoming Peer Ambassadors in Sexual Health (yes I get to talk about sex all day). I am currently planning a Young People’s Sexual Health Conference which will be held in February 2016.

I am the Co-Founder of GEMS (Gender Empowerment Movement); a community interest company who conducts workshop, events, research and consultations to engage and empower young people in the community on issues such as domestic violence, child sexual exploitation, girls and gangs, self-esteem, human rights & democracy, etc.

I am really looking forward to getting involved in this initiative and can not wait to start planning and most importantly engaging the public.

katherine eales

Katherine Eales

Hello! I’m Kat and I am currently in my second year of my PhD in the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research at UoB. My research is primarily in cancer research and investigates into the role of a signalling pathway within the progression of type of brain tumour.

After completing a Biochemistry degree and research assistant post in Neuroscience, I moved to Birmingham in 2013 to start a 4 year MRes/PhD course.  After completing the MRes year I decided that the area of cancer research is my heart lies as it such a valuable research area and one in which the public is so engaged with.

I believe that public engagement is such an important part of being a scientist in gaining public awareness of our research and building a great relationship with the general public. I became a STEM ambassador when I started my PhD and have so far participated in engagement activities such as being a judge for the NSEC competition at the Big Bang Fair West Midlands and also various events with Cancer Research UK such as hands on creative activities making ‘cell badges’ and ‘meet the expert’ at Birmingham ThinkTank. I love engaging with young people about science and will hopefully help to inspire the next generation of scientists!

I am really looking forward to participating in the Pay-it-Forward scheme and can’t wait to bring back some exciting engagement ideas and activities to share with fellow UoB researchers!

ruth

Ruth Wareham 

Ruth is a doctoral researcher in philosophy of education. Her main research focus is the legitimacy of faith-schools but, as a former primary school teacher, her interests extend to a variety of subjects relating to the philosophical nature of education.

Ruth completed her BA and MPhil in philosophy at Birmingham (1999-2004) before going on to train for a PGCE on Nottingham University’s SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) in Outstanding Primary Schools. She returned to the University to undertake a PhD and left teaching for a career in Higher Education in 2011.

Ruth currently works in a number of roles at the University of Birmingham, including Student Experience Officer for the School of Philosophy, Theology & Religion, Postgraduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Education and Research Network Administrator for the Beauty Demands Project (Department of Philosophy).

Through her varied experience of working in HE and mainstream compulsory education, Ruth has been involved with a wide range of public engagement projects and initiatives. These include: running philosophy workshops in schools on behalf of The Philosophy Foundation and The Royal Institute of Philosophy; working with the University’s outreach team and with the College of Arts & Law to participate in and organise Discovery Days, Taster Sessions and 6th Form Study Afternoons; running events as part of the University’s Arts & Sciences Festival and Community Day; and using social media platforms (such as Twitter and blogs) to increase engagement with the research of staff and students.

One of Ruth’s current projects is hoping to address public engagement in the arts and humanities and she is very much looking forward to seeing how her involvement with the Pay-It-Forward programme can help to address issues in disciplines other than science.