Storytelling Researcher Video Competition is back for 2016!

The Storytelling Researcher Video Competition is back for 2016! Calling all researchers to present your research in an engaging video and win up to £200!

The Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC) will be offering 3 prizes [1st place wins £200, 2nd place wins £100 and 3rd place wins £50] for the best 5-minute (or under) videos based on Birmingham research aimed at a general audience. We welcome creative videos from senior staff as well as post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers, whether individually or representing wider groups. The video can be in the form of a presentation, interview, exercise, activity, role-play, cartoon or in any way that you feel conveys your research most effectively. Take a look at previous winners for inspiration!

 How will the entries be evaluated?

  • The research is presented in a creative and engaging way that is easy to follow. Fancy graphics and hundreds of extras on set don’t necessarily mean your work is any more exciting – simplicity and enthusiasm can work wonders.
  • The level is appropriate for a general audience. Presenting your research effectively could help with recruitment, philanthropy or policy, but presenting at a level that a family could all understand is best. Note – that doesn’t mean ‘dumbing down’, it just means clear explanations.
  • A clear link to the relevance of the research – whether you are a hardcore blue-skies lab scientist or studying the history of art, your research is important. We just want you to help explain why!

For a the full info, rules and entry form get in touch with and put ‘Video Comp 2016’ into the title of your email.

The deadline is Friday 9th December 2016 at 12noon.

Winners will be announced live by Professor Alice Roberts at our annual Public Engagement with Research Day on Thursday 15th December 2016.

Last year’s winners:

1st place

2nd place

Joint 3rd place



28 September – Worlds Collide  

This is a University of Birmingham event hosted at Birmingham Open Media (BOM). With an interdisciplinary focus, this will be a fun and interactive speed-dating session involving researchers, artists and creatives. We encourage all researchers to join us. Come find out about funding for public engagement as part of the Worlds Collide scheme. Learn about how to work with BOM and other partners. Cook up ideas for innovative public engagement with other researchers and others who share similar passions. Pump-priming funds are available to successful proposals which want to pilot activity that will feed into an application for a larger external public engagement grant. We also provide support to write these grants as part of this scheme! Come find out more and don’t miss out! Refreshments will be served, bring along your colleagues. Full details coming next week!

1 August  – 9 December: Storytelling Researcher Video Competition

It’s back! Our annual competition is back starting next week and you have until December 9th (deadline at noon) to create an engaging video centred on your research. See entries from previous years here. Winners will be announced on Dec 15th at the event below!

1 July – 9 Dec 2016: Bi-annual Public Engagement Awards 

The second round of awards is open now for public engagement activities which will have taken place between July 1st and December 9th 2016 (deadline at noon). See previous winners from Jan – June here. Winners will be announced on Dec 15th at the event below!

15 December: Annual Public Engagement with Research Day

PERC’s signature annual event. We invite you to join us for a day themed entirely on public engagement with research. In the past we have explored good case studies from UoB academics, heard directly from funders, learnt about the links between REF and public engagement, interacted with external partners, listened to talks from Professor Alice Roberts and Pro-Vice Chancellor Tim Softley, run training on science communication and much more. We also host an awards ceremony for our annual video competition and this year we will also announce our bi-annual awards at the event too.

We are currently working on a theme for this year and inviting some very special guests so you definitely don’t want to miss out. This is your chance to ask the University, funders and other academics the how, why, what, when, who of public engagement. This event is meant to support, inspire and thought-provoke! It’s a day not to be missed! All details will be announced soon, but for now, get the event penciled into your diaries! All researchers and PGRs welcome.

To register interest for events ahead of formal registration please contact Dr Caroline Gillett via with ‘Worlds Collide’ and/or ‘Annual PER Day’ in the title of your email. Formal registration will be coming very soon!


TALENT FACTORY: Opportunity to train & work with Steve Cross!


Would you like to develop your science performance skills?

Read original article here.

Over the next year, would you like to meet and work with key contacts across the industry, and have access to new opportunities to perform? All with the help of the creator of Bright Club and Science Showoff, and one of the UK’s most popular science comedians?

From September 2016-August 2017 Steve Cross will work closely with up to 12 science communicators to help them become a mutually-supportive group of elite science performers. Steve has previously helped kick-start the scicomm careers of people like Hannah Fry, Suze Kundu and Sophie Scott, so you know he’s got the skills.


  • To perform at lots of Science Showoff gigs and other fun things Steve organises or takes part in
  • Access to opportunities and development no-one else can get
  • Masterclasses from some of the top science performers
  • To appear on new podcasts and videos
  • Promotion via the Science Showoff website, YouTube channel and social media feeds
  • Lots of photos, video and audio of you performing to share with potential bookers
  • Help writing and improving science shows and comedy from Steve and his contacts
  • Recommendations to science organisations as a performer
  • Introductions to Steve’s contacts
  • A community of like-minded people to support you and work with you
  • No reasonable favour will be refused


  • To help the rest of the group and offer them opportunities you come across
  • To take part in more than 10 activities during the year
  • To give as much help as you get
  • To stay involved for the whole year


You’re a formal or informal science communicator interested in public performance. You might be a professional scientist, but equally you might be someone from any walk of life who’s performed at a Science Showoff or similar gig, like a poet, dancer, writer, teacher, comedian, videomaker, designer or anything else at all.

This is the first year the Talent Factory has happened so Steve is seeking to develop and provide opportunities for people who have already contributed to events like Showoff and Steve’s other event programmes, or who Steve has at least spoken to and sparked ideas with. So if you have already taken part in these events – we really want to work with you on this programme!


The projects and opportunities will be largely in London and the South-East because that’s where Steve is based, but applications will be considered from people based anywhere in the UK or Europe There isn’t a travel budget that comes with this, so if you’d like to take part and live outside London, do have a plan for how you’ll get here regularly.


Just send a CV (two pages maximum) and up to 500 words about why you want to take part, and what you could offer to the other performers in your cohort, by the 30th July. We’ll make decisions by mid-August and get back to you.


Email, tweet @steve_x or come to the London Scicomm Social on July 20th for a chat about it.


“When I used to work for a university one of the most satisfying parts of the job was helping scientists and communicators develop over time, and I spent seven years working with people who went on to become some of the UK’s most interesting science communicators. As a freelance comedian and producer I miss this, so I thought I’d create a different way to help people in a more intensive way. Plus I’m a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and thought it would be really fun to share the benefits of that with a wider group of people.”


“…through his training, support, encouragement, cheerleading and graduated exposure to bigger and scarier stage, Steve has created a monster that just can’t stop sharing science with the public.” – Dr. Suze Kundu, University of Surrey and TV presenter

“If it were not for Steve, I would neither have been invited to do a TED talk (1.3 million views in three months) nor would I have done it well” – Prof. Sophie Scott, UCL

The Royal Society: Summer Science Exhibition 2017


This is your opportunity to be part of next year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, happening in London 3 – 9 July 2017.

Showcase your research and technology to over 13,000 visitors in a diverse celebration of the UK’s best science. The Royal Society help you every step of the way, providing planning expertise, training in public engagement, and resources you can take back to your team.

The Royal Society wants to hear from any researchers based in the UK. Submit your proposal before Monday 26 September 2016. UoB researchers are encouraged to let Public Engagement with Research Committee know if they are applying to be involved at the festival.

Find out more

TEDxBrum… what happened.

On 11th June, Impact Hub Birmingham hosted the fourth TEDxBrum event at Birmingham Town Hall, with the theme for 2016 being “Power Of Us”. TEDx events are independently organised gatherings with local speakers and performers as well as screenings of TED talks, intended to bring communities together and present them with “ideas worth spreading” in the spirit of the original TED talks (with TED standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design).

The University of Birmingham were a major sponsor of this event, and several of our academic staff were invited to speak about their research. Professors Alberto Vecchio and Andreas Freise from the School of Physics and Astronomy took to the stage to explain the significance of the recent discovery of gravitational waves, followed by Dr Neeraj Lal from the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences who spoke about his pioneering research into the use of immunotherapy to fight bowel cancer.

Other high-profile speakers included Simon Willis, the European Managing Director of the website, and Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, while the performers included Midlands singer Mahalia, Kathak dancer Vidya Patel, and The People’s Orchestra.

The University’s gravitational waves research group were also well represented in the exhibition space, running a very successful stand to explain their research to people interested in finding out more following the main talk. They were even approached during the day by both an artist and a documentary maker interested in engaging with them on different outreach projects, making this an even more exciting time for the group.

The day was a tremendous success, with a buzzing atmosphere in the Town Hall and the hashtag #PowerOfUS trending nationally on Twitter. The University are proud to have played a part in this event and hope to strengthen our relationship with Impact Hub Birmingham and TedX in the future.

For more information please contact Andy Newnham, Business Engagement Partner,

INVITATION: UoB Environment and Geosciences Sandbox


At the University of Birmingham our goal is to be the leading university in the midlands for Public Engagement activities in partnership with you! We are reaching out to those interested in or actively engaged in activities related to research in Environment and Geosciences and as such want to learn from you how we can more effectively partner with you for mutual gain. Help us shape the future of Public Engagement in the West Midlands and surrounds / Central England.
Linking with the high profile re-opening of the Lapworth Museum of Geology in June 2016, we are hosting three select Sandbox events between 30th June and 1st July 2016 to initiate a network of active and engaged stakeholders, spanning special interest groups, amateur societies, schools, business and industry and the public sector. Our sandbox events are meetings that aim to bring together a cross section of these different groups. The Environment and GeoSciences (EGS) network is envisaged as a forum for sharing, collaborating with and communicating regional events and opportunities from across the midlands and beyond.
The primary focus of the University of Birmingham EGS sandbox is to identify opportunities to further develop these linkages and co-develop events / activities / knowledge exchange opportunities across a range of themes matched to the expertise in the University. Each sandbox will feature a high profile scientist / public engagement hero providing a context and stimulus, a buffet lunch or dinner, networking opportunities, and then a brainstorming activity and report-out. Children are welcome and will be well entertained with supervised activities and treats in the museum. Each is anticipated to last approximately 2.5 hours with food, refreshments, children’s entertainment provided in the Lapworth museum.
The sandboxes will take place in the newly re-opened Lapworth Museum on the University of Birmingham Edgbaston campus (building R4 on the campus map). Speakers at the events will be Dougal Jerram (1st July) and ‘Teacher at Sea’ Angela Bentley (2nd July) [the 30th June speaker will be confirmed shortly]. On-campus parking will be available, or alternatively the campus is accessible by train as the university has its own train station.
Key themes, linked to research strengths in Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and with enormous scope for collaborative partnerships, to be addressed at the Sandboxes include:

  • Food-Water-Energy interactions
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Climate Action: change, variability and impacts
  • Conflict and mass migration
Dates and times are as follows:

  • 30th June (6–8.30 pm)
  • 1st July (4.30–7.00 pm)
  • Saturday 2nd July (1.30–4.00pm)
– please select one and register your interest to attend by following the link, by June 25th 2016, or alternatively RSVP by email to indicating your preferred date, number and ages of any accompanying children, and any dietary restrictions.
If none of the current dates suit, but you are interested to get involved in future activities or to sign-up to the network email circular to keep informed of upcoming events & opportunities please enter email us at
We look forward to stimulating discussions, emergence of strong collaborative partnerships, and co-development of innovative approaches to connect our research with the wider world, and embedding of engagement with our stakeholder community into our strategic planning.
This invite is open so please feel free to forward to anyone or any group who you think might also be interested.
On behalf of the PERC & School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences,


Cultural Engagement Showcase Event

Cultural Engagement Showcase Event, University of Birmingham, Tuesday 5 July 2016


The University of Birmingham and the AHRC have been supporting recent Arts and Humanities doctoral graduates to work on projects that take elements of their research out into the public sphere. The projects were about cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships with the cultural sector in Birmingham. The 3 Cultural Engagement Fellows have been collaborating in interesting and exciting ways with various local arts and cultural institutions on a range of projects that demonstrated how dynamic this kind of partnership can be.

The University is developing a showcase event to celebrate the projects, but also to encourage cultural engagement with research to the wider UoB PG/ ECR community. We hope to inspire PGRs and ECRs to engage with cultural organisations and community groups (and vice versa), and to model the kinds of collaborations that are possible by considering what cultural engagement is and can be for both partner organisations and for academics.

The day will have inspiring keynote speakers talking from both perspectives about the forms cultural engagement can take and why it is so vital. It will provide useful networking opportunities for academics and cultural partners, and discussion panels exploring issues around the arts and academia coming together in this way, looking specifically at the role of cultural engagement in audience development, for instance, as well as a panel presenting some successful practice-led research activities. The day is about inspiring the PGR and ECR community as well as asking pertinent questions about what cultural engagement means and precisely how universities and the cultural sector can work productively together. The panels will allow participants to talk for 5-10 minutes about their work in this context, before opening up a broader discussion about these issues.

WHEN    Tuesday, 5 July 2016 from 10:00 to 17:30

WHERE    University of Birmingham – Nicholson Building (adjacent to Winterbourne House & Garden)

Storytelling Researcher: Engaging Poster Workshop

Storytelling Researcher: Engaging Poster Workshop

Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC) is happy to announce a special interactive workshop for researchers keen to develop an understanding of infographics/visual communication to enhance their public engagement skills.

Join Lulu Pinney, an infographics expert, for a hands-on workshop which will help you transform your existing academic poster into a ‘public engagement’-friendly version well-suited to non-specialist audiences.

PERC believes being able to engage the public with your research is an important part of being a well-rounded researcher. This workshop is aimed at researchers who are committed to the professional development of their public engagement and science communications skills. Whilst this session will focus on posters, we believe that the principles learned in this session can be applied to presentations, talks and other public engagement events which involve communicating data and aspects of the research process to non-academics. Indeed, it is worth noting that PERC recommend that posters be used as an engagement tool to facilitate direct conversations, rather than being the main method of engagement per se.

We especially encourage those struggling to simplify the ‘story of their research’ to join us for this workshop.

To make this workshop as interactive as possible and to give Lulu a chance to work with everyone, only 16 spaces are available. We expect this will be a very popular workshop, therefore please get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Email the Public Engagement with Research Officer, Dr Caroline Gillett via: with your name, position (e.g. PhD student, ECR, Lecturer etc.), School/Dept and College. Please put ‘Poster Workshop’ in the title of your email. Researchers from all Colleges are eligible to attend. The workshop is not open to undergraduates/those on teaching-only contracts/those outside the University.

WHEN & WHERE: July 4th, 2016 in Muirhead Tower Room 118 at 13:00-16:30pm. Please ensure you arrive on time. You must be able to attend the whole session.

WHAT TO BRING: Laptop with a copy of your poster, so that you can work on this in-session. Please also bring a physical copy of your poster if you have this printed out.


  • Develop infographic skills to help you make your future posters more creative and engaging
  • Enhance your science communication skills aimed at non-academic audiences
  • Embrace constructive criticism to improve your research message, working alongside others

All attendees will be required to provide PERC with feedback on the workshop so that we can continue to improve future workshops for others in future.



Why early career researchers should care about public engagement



Read the full article at Time Higher Education: HERE

A few quotes below…

“…, there are many benefits to be gained from positively engaging with cross-sector publics, both on a personal and institutional level, and particularly for ECRs. For one, it is truly refreshing to be able to address large and diverse audiences on topics close to one’s research interest, rather than a smattering of a few crusty specialists at conference parallel sessions.”

“In much the same way that interdisciplinary research projects open hitherto unimagined avenues for research, generalist conversations at public events can provide new perspectives and shift your perception of a subject. Talking at literary festivals, appearing in the media and writing blog posts forces you to express your ideas with added clarity.”


“…public engagement is valuable to all institutions. It can only be beneficiary to have staff engage with publics beyond the staff and students enrolled on their courses. It helps promote the researcher, the department and the university thereby ensuring future recruitment.”

“…it ensures that universities are places that radiate learning and that researchers are also teachers and public intellectuals. And it is for these reasons that research promotion and public engagement should be the new imperatives for Early-Career Researchers.”


BSA Masterclass: Science Communication Primer -15 June 2016 (Manchester)

BSA Masterclass: Science Communication Primer -15 June 2016 (Manchester)
People’s History Museum, Manchester, 10am-5.30pm
An essential event for researchers, full-time communicators or volunteers, in their first few years of science communication. Key science communication figures, including Dallas Campbell,Andy Miah, and Vic Gill will lead interactive sessions on story-telling, understanding your audience, choosing your medium and innovative evaluation,. The BSA have partnered with SciComm burrito to hold their sci comm meetup on the same day from 6:30pm till late.  

Book tickets on Eventbrite

  • Early bird (Available for limited time only) – £80
  • Full price – £100