We’ve all been there. You’re chatting to a distant family member that you haven’t seen since uncle bob’s funeral and there it is, hanging in the air, ‘So what is it that you do?’. If you’re like me then this instantly sparks a myriad of answer option in your head and yet I always say ‘scientific research’. It’s the cop out option. I know I’ve lost their interest at that point and they say something like ‘Oh great…. I think I’ll get some more sausage rolls’.
Recently I increased my social circle and happened to start chatting to a medic. When the inevitable exchange of profession came around he did not give me the glazed eyes response, he actually asked questions. He wanted to know what I do in the lab, he wanted to know why Trypanosomes were better than Plasmodium – but that shall have to wait for another blog post!
Why do I always expect people to be bored by what I do – by what I LOVE doing? Why do I short change myself and my unsuspecting colleagues? What is this culture that we have where science can’t be fun? Whiffle I say!
It reminded me of a talk I went to a few years ago given by a researcher from University of Glasgow http://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/iii/wtcmp/. He mentioned a project that his lab were doing to educate the locals about Trypanosomes and what sort of work the lab got up to. He handed out cool comic style booklets. I thought it was an awesome idea. I have heard and read about this project a few times since then and I think now is the time I did my bit to spread the word.
Below is a picture of the team at the Glasgow West End Festival Parade 2010
Video of the team at the west end festival parade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyX2mH18-xA
The group now have a rather groovy website dedicated to their mission to educate the public about parasites http://www.parasites.me/Parasites.Me/Introduction.html
To round up! It important to remember science is fun! Be inspired! If you loose sight of that fact them how will you inspire the next generation of scientists?