Check out these PER projects funded through the University's seed fund
1 March 2022
Public Engagement - case study Public Engagement - news
The University's annual PER Seed Fund supports a range of engagement activities - the scheme usually opens towards autumn so why not take a look at these for some inspiration and start getting your ideas ready.
Congrats to the teams in Earth Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry and Physics who all had projects funded:
Professor Helen Johnson, Professor of Ocean and Climate Science; and DPhil students Matthew Kemp and Roberta Wilkinson, Department of Earth Sciences
Climate Change: Science, Research and Performance
Aimed primarily at children and young people, this project explores creative responses to climate science and research through performance and music. It consists of two complementary strands: a musical theatre show about climate change aimed at children(11+), teenagers and their families, and creative climate science workshops for older teenagers. These elements will be devised and delivered by science theatre duo Geologise Theatre, in collaboration with climate researchers from the University of Oxford, coordinated by Helen Johnson, Professor of Ocean and Climate Science. The hour-long musical theatre show will tell a story about climate change, directly informed by climate science research. The workshops will connect climate change researchers from a range of disciplines with young people, who will interview these experts and devise their own creative responses to the discussions. This project aims to break down traditional barriers between arts and sciences, and between researchers and the local community. It aims to empower young people to explore new ways to engage and express themselves in relation to climate change, its impacts and solutions.
Dr Ali Marie, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant; Department of Engineering Science
Scientific Adventure to Unravel Mysteries of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay (dental cavities) is one of the most common diseases in the UK and the main reason for tooth loss. Expenditure on dental services is significant, for example between 2015-2016 the NHS spent £50 million only on tooth extraction, not to mention other costs. Public health research has shown that prevention programmes aid in the reduction of tooth decay, and this activity aims to explore causes of tooth decay, steps everyone may take to promote dental health and some related materials research at the University of Oxford. Our group Dr Cyril Besnard, Dr Sisini Sasidharan led by Professor Alexander Korsunsky, research is to tackle tooth decay challenge by undertaking a systematic, coordinated, multi-scale microscopic investigation, coupled with numerical disease modelling to move towards better diagnosis, and proactive intervention and treatment of tooth decay. We would like to highlight some basic physical process, including mechanisms of tooth cleaning (brushing and flossing) and biomineral loss from teeth, and explore public perceptions of dental care and materials research. Using the format of a drop-in hands-on science festival activity, I want to develop my own and my research group’s public engagement skills meanwhile delivering messages of science to children and families, teenagers and adults. These messages include: relevance of research to daily life, how science and engineering is all around us and that anyone can be involved at many different levels, there are careers in science that are exciting and varied, and that we can develop skill sat any stage in our lives that can help make us healthier.
Dr Patricia Rodriguez Macia, Glasstone Research Fellow in Science; Department of Chemistry
Small, yet Mighty! / Molecular machines to power our world.
This project explains current Oxford Chemistry research into the hydrogen economy andenzymatic and microbial fuel cells, showing how metalloenzymes can be exploited in biotechnological applications to provide new routes for renewable energy technologies that contribute towards a more sustainable future. The newly elected Glasstone Research Fellow,Dr Patricia Rodriguez Macia, and two Oxford Chemistry students, supported by Chemistry ‘Ambassadors’ and the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory team, will co-develop and deliver at leastfour1-hour workshop targeted at 14-16 year olds. The design of this ‘blended’ workshop combining interactive/hands-on practical work and an online Q&A will allow it to be delivered in Oxford Colleges and/or Oxfordshire Schools during May-June 2022,and the workshop will become a staple of the Department’s engagement programme beyond the funding term. Those engaging with the workshops will gain a greater understanding of Oxford Chemistry research, its relevance to their everyday lives and the future potential of this area of research in solving the energy crisis and limiting climate instability. As a result of participating, those involved in this project will be more positive about the role of scientists and science in providing viable solutions to the climate crisis.
Dr Suzie Sheehy, Royal Society University Research Fellowand DPhil student Laurence Wroe; Department of Physics
Funky-Shaped Drums and Particle Accelerators
You may be hard-pressed to find a link between drums and particle accelerators. The underlying physics of these seemingly disparate instruments, however, is identical: our accelerator physics research to design a component that is able simultaneously accelerate and control a beam of particles in a particle accelerator is analogous to asking “if we build a drum that isn’t circular but instead more funky-shaped, what will it sound like?” This project will develop and pilot a workshop for 11-14 year-old school children to investigate the link between music, drums and particle accelerators. Students will be encouraged to play and undertake experiments with different funky-shaped drums and Chladni plates and help us with our cutting-edge physics research! We also hope to hold a concert in Oxford where the student scan perform to their families using the funky-shaped drums and explain the underlying physics. The aim of our project is to broaden student’s knowledge of what actually counts as science, build their science capital, and encourage an uptake in post-16 STEM study.
If you could like any support or guidance for a PER idea click here to get in touch.
What to read next
17 February 2022
The annual MPLS Impact Awards aim to foster and raise awareness of impact by rewarding it at a local level, and preparing the ground for the impact case studies that will be needed for future REF and similar exercises. We welcome nomination of researchers at all career stages. There is a category for Public Engagement with Research.
From Michaelmas 2021, Oxford Sparks - the University's platform for digital science engagement - will be regularly creating and publishing live action video content. Would you like to share your research with others? Submit an expression of interest now!
4 June 2021
Julien Carponcy (MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit), Joy Todd (GLAM Division) and Jozie Kettle (Pitt Rivers Museum) were awarded £12,000 to support people with motor-related neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s, and their families and carers) to work with researchers, engineers, and artists/fashion designers to create their own aesthetically pleasing mobility solutions, and to empower them to manage their day to day lives, inspired and provoked by collections from the Pitt Rivers Museum.