PER Day 2015

“Myth-busting the Barriers to Public Engagement”

 – A day of public engagement talks, discussion and sharing good practice

The Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC) organized their annual Public Engagement with Research Day, themed on “Myth-busting the Barriers to Public Engagement”.

The fully booked event took place on Friday 11th of December, 2015 in The Lapworth Museum of Geology (located in the Aston Webb). The event gathered together 80 attendees from across the University as well as a number of external invited guests.

Researchers from across the University joined us to share personal stories of public engagement with their research, helping myth-bust some of the key barriers which typically inhibit researchers from undertaking public engagement with their work. These researchers were: Dr Adam Ledger (Drama), Professor Cristina Lazzeroni (Particle Physics), Dr Ian Mitchell (Neuropsychology) and Professor Robert Stone (Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering).

We were also joined by Paul Manners, Director of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). Funded by the four UK Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust, the NCCPE helps inspire and support universities to engage with the public. Paul lead an important workshop session on ‘Public Engagement as a Pathway to impact: lessons from the REF Impact case studies’. [REF= Research Excellence Framework is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions].

In the afternoon, we were grateful to be joined by Professor Tim Softley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Knowledge Transfer who discussed his thoughts on culture change in reference to institutional support and recognition for public engagement with research. We were also thrilled to be joined by Dr Jenni Chambers, Head of Research Councils UK Public Engagement with Research. Jenni touched on support for public engagement with research from the funding body’s perspective. Following this, PERC hosted a panel discussion involving Alice Roberts (clinical anatomist, author and TV broadcaster), Professor of Public Engagement with Science. Alice also closed the event with a compelling talk centered on the ‘modern Prometheus’ – using the classic story of Frankenstein to explore notions of the ‘mad scientist’, theorizing that it was Dr Frankenstein’s lack of engagement with his public that led him on his infamous and misguided research project, i.e. his monster.

Attendees also had an opportunity to ask anonymous questions directly to our panel.

PERC gratefully acknowledges John Clatworthy (Director, Lapworth Museum) and Jane Harris (Project Manager, Lapworth Museum) for use of the museum venue prior to its re-opening in Summer 2016.

The event was programmed by Public Engagement with Research Officer, Dr Caroline Gillett. For further information, email Caroline:


Details of Programme

 Date: Friday 11th of December, 2015

 Location: The Lapworth Museum of Geology in Aston Webb (Building R4 on campus map)

 Time: 9:00 – 15:00

Open to all University of Birmingham researchers, staff and postgraduate students.


—                     PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED         —


Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC)

                                      “Myth-busting the Barriers to Public Engagement”                                                                                      

Friday December 11, 2015

The Lapworth Museum of Geology, Aston Webb


9:00 – 9:30 Registration & Welcome (start 9:15)

 Overview of new institutional PER strategy & some upcoming opportunities next year

Dr Eliot Marston, Deputy Head of Research & Knowledge Transfer, MDS

Dr Caroline Gillett, Public Engagement with Research Officer, Planning Office

 9:30 – 10:00 UoB CASE STUDIES: Myth-busting… (part 1)

 ‘No support’ Dr Adam Ledger, Department of Drama & Theatre Arts

‘No impact (for REF)’Professor Cristina Lazzeroni, School of Physics & Astronomy

10:00 – 11:00 WORKSHOP/TALK: Public Engagement as a Pathway to Impact: Lessons from the REF Impact Case Studies

 We are extremely pleased to be joined by Paul Manners, Director of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) who will lead this interesting session.

 11:00 – 11:40 UoB CASE STUDIES: Myth-busting… (part 2)

 ‘Not worth the time’Dr Ian Mitchell, School of Psychology

‘No public interest/relevance’Professor Robert Stone, School of Electronic, Electrical & Systems Engineering

 11:40 – 12:00 Postgraduate PER Activity & Storytelling Researcher Video Competition

A few examples of public engagement undertaken and coordinated by UoB postgraduates will be showcased by Jim Bell (Outreach, previously from the Graduate School), followed by a screening of the winning videos from our Storytelling Researcher Video Competition. Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement with Science, will introduce the winners.


 12:00 – 12:45 Lunch

Over lunch attendees are invited to anonymously submit a question to our afternoon panel


 12:45 – 14:00 Myth-busting ‘Lack of institutional support, resource, reward & recognition’

 Thoughts on Culture Change for Public Engagement

Professor Tim Softley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Knowledge Transfer

We are also thrilled to be joined by Dr Jenni Chambers, Head of RCUK Public Engagement with Research for this session.

 Panel Discussion: Professor Tim Softley – Professor Alice Roberts – Dr Jenni Chambers (RCUK) – Paul Manners (NCCPE)  

Panel chaired by Dr Eliot Marston

14:00 – 15:00 Talk from Professor Alice Roberts & Lapworth Developments from Jane Harris (Project Manager of the Lapworth Re-development)

Short Q&A and closing remarks


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