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Science communicators from across the UK came together at the University of Birmingham for the first ever symposium for biosciences outreach and engagement practitioners.

Delegates included early career researchers, those new to working in outreach and engagement, freelance and others working in science communication.

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Delegates in the Elgar Concert hall at the University of Birmingham (Photo credit: RSB)


Hosted by the University of Birmingham, the day was supported by RSB Member Organisations the Biochemical Society, The Physiological Society, The British Society for Pharmacology, the Microbiology Society and the Association for Studying Animal Behaviour.

The day saw 12 sessions covering topics such as increasing confidence in delivery, engaging with local communities, science comedy, increasing diversity and inclusion, and digital outreach and engagement.


Delegates get hands-on in making their own activity (Photo credit: @GalacticZoo)


Professor Alice Roberts, professor of public engagement at the University of Birmingham, also delivered a keynote address, covering research for her new book and offering insights and advice for those wanting to pursue a career in science writing.


Professor Alice Roberts delivering her keynote lecture (Photo credit: RSB)


Philippa Skett AMRSB, press and communications manager of the Royal Society of Biology, commented: “The idea behind the event was to bring together anyone and everyone interested in outreach and engagement, to share ideas, build bridges and strengthen a community that is working to make biology as accessible as possible.

“We do outreach and engagement to show that science is an integral part of everyday culture, and that anyone can enjoy learning about science and how it influences our lives.

“Conferences such as these help those who are doing this important work, which in turn helps the biosciences to become more accessible and the biosciences community to be more inclusive.

"We hope that this symposium will be the first of many, and we'll be using the valuable feedback collected to help shape our next event. These events are only possible if people feel they will be beneficial and worth their time, so taking feedback and new ideas on board from audience members is vital.

"We will also ensure ticket prices remain low, to ensure future events are as accessible as possible and that everyone can afford a seat at the table."

Many of the delegates said they enjoyed and valued the day, with one commenting that they thought it was “Fantastic, and I hope for another next year!”


Miranda Lowe FRSB FLS addresses the audience during a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion (Photo credit: @KiuSum)


The Public Engagement with Research Team at the University of Birmingham commented: “The University of Birmingham’s Public Engagement with Research team was extremely pleased to partner with the Royal Society of Biology for their inaugural Outreach & Engagement Symposium.

"The event serves as another significant marker on our collective and ongoing journey towards culture change, to see that public engagement with science is better embedded within our policies and practice, whilst simultaneously nurturing a more creative and supportive environment for engagement activity and networking across our research community.

"We were pleased to welcome so many researchers and engagement practitioners from up and down the country to join us here in Birmingham in order to share best practice and to discuss the future of engagement.

"The sessions on offer were interesting and accessible to all different levels of public engagement experience, which meant there was something for everyone who came along.

"We hope that the next edition of the symposium will take on the challenge of improving interdisciplinarity and diversity in engagement (two areas our team are strongly committed to working on) and we very much look forward to it!”

Check out some tweets from the day, and a blog post written by one of the attendees.