Public Engagement with Research does not only have to be carried out in person - a number of innovative digital platforms enable online audiences to engage with our research.
The Zooniverse is an online platform that grew out of ‘Galaxy Zoo,’ a project started at the University of Oxford to get the public involved in science. The Zooniverse is an online platform that facilitates citizen science – where non-scientists are involved in scientific research, expanding opportunities for data collection and providing access to scientific information for community members. Researchers led by Dr Philip Fowler in the Modernising Medical Microbiology group are involved in a Zooniverse project entitled ‘Bash the Bug,’ where members of the public help the CryPtic project to identify drug-resistant bacteria in petri dishes, which in turn could help to fight anti-microbial resistance. To date, citizen scientists have helped to make over 600,00 classifications.
At the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition, researchers from the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, including researchers from the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, used a variety of activities to showcase the latest research into our DNA and the incredible 'Folding Genome.' One of the activities involved using virtual reality software CSynth to provide an engaging way to explore and understand the complex structure of the genome in 3D, by integrating data from genome sequencing, computer modelling and high powered microscopy. Visitors to the Exhibition were able to manipulate DNA in virtual reality, seeing first-hand how changes in DNA folding influence the way our bodies work. Find out more.
DIGITAL PLATFORMS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Oxford Sparks is an online platform that highlights the scientific research carried out at the University through exciting videos, animations and podcasts aimed at a public audience. Scientists from the Division have worked with Oxford Sparks to produce a variety of digital content that explains their innovative research to a wider audience, including a large number of exciting animations which explain difficult scientific concepts in an engaging way. You can see one example of these animations (about research from the Department of Experimental Psychology) below, and see more on the Oxford Sparks website.
Oxplore is a digital outreach portal which aims to engage those from 11 to 18 years with debates and ideas that go beyond what is covered in the classroom. It asks young people to engage with ‘Big Questions’ and the research that we can use to unpick them. Researchers from across the Medical Sciences Division have contributed to ‘big questions’ including ‘Should we eat animals?’ ‘Can we choose to be healthy?’ and ‘Is sleeping more important than studying?
The Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine have developed a number of mobile apps which help public audiences to understand topics from the life cycle of malaria to acronyms of UN organisations. As part of the Vaccine Knowledge Project, researchers in the Oxford Vaccine Group (based in the Department of Paediatrics) have also developed an app that provides the user with independent, evidence-based information about vaccines and infectious diseases, and reminds parents of the UK vaccine schedule.
In addition, Professor Ilina Singh and the NEUROSEC Young People's Advisory Group (Department of Psychiatry) were involved in BBC Tomorrow's World Special - 'Would you trust a chatbox therapist?' - to celebrate 2017 World Mental Health Day. The group tested a new mental health app and gave feedback - see more.