University of Dundee

SLS Researchers at Dundee Science Festival and SLS ‘Open Doors Day’

20 Dec 2016

Last month many researchers from the School took part in the annual Dundee Science Festival and School ‘Open Doors Day’. “It was fantastic to see representation from across the whole School in these recent public engagement events. It is a key skill for scientists at all levels to be able to not only communicate their research to people of all ages and educational backgrounds but to also interact and listen to these individuals as well,” said Professor Julian Blow, Dean of Life Sciences.

During the Science Festival we had multiple appearances by Jenny Woof and David Foley. Jenny hosted a drop-in activity exploring coeliac disease and what goes wrong in the immune system at a number of locations in Dundee. This project inspired by Dana Hutton a 6th year School student from Grove Academy at the time, undertaking her Science Baccalaureate in Jenny’s lab last year.  Dana has coeliac disease and wanted to teach the general public about the condition. She is now in the first year of her Medicine degree at the University.

David Foley from the Drug Discovery Unit put on his ‘Big Bang The Rocket Men Show’ with local chemistry teacher David Wharton to deliver one of his signature flash bang shows. He then teamed up with his usual outreach partner in crime, Lesley-Anne Pearson to do activities relating to the process of inventing new medicines. Glowing feedback came from the various school children who met David and Lesley-Ann with the word ‘fun’ being the most popular to describe science and ‘smart’ for a scientist as well as ‘dedicated’, ‘quirky’ and ‘engaging’.

Sonia Moniz and Natasha Sientiewicz got into the Halloween spirit by dressing up for their show on magnets. Both Sonia and Natasha took part in the Festival through STEM Ambassadors, a national voluntary scheme designed to ‘encourage young people to enjoy STEM subjects.’ Sonia and Natasha explained the importance of the scheme and why they take part "As STEM Ambassadors we can make science accessible to the community and show kids of all ages just how much fun science can be!”

The School held an invited ‘Open Doors Day’ event for local secondary school pupils on Friday 25th November. S3 pupils from Braeview and S4 pupils from St Johns attended. The students had tours of some of lab spaces in the School and took part in hands-on activities relating to the topic ‘Robotics and Technology’. They got to see the huge robots within our National Phenotypic Screening Centre and learn about how microscopes, cell sorting and X-ray machines help our scientists in their research. The students had a presentation and interactive discussion around the ethical topics of Stem Cell research, GM foods or Artificial Intelligence from researchers who work in these areas.

Dundee Science Festival Participants:

Jenny Woof (CSI), Dana Hutton, David Foley (DDU), Lesley-Anne Pearson (DDU), Sonia Moniz (BCDD), Natasha Sientiewicz (BCDD), and Amy Cameron (Dean’s Office).

Open Doors Day Participants:

Ethics Sessions:

  • GM Food by researchers in Plant Sciences: Sarah McKim, Cristiane Calixto (Brown lab), Fulvia Dracchio (Flavell lab), Senga Roberson and Manuel Blank (both Bulgarelli lab).
  • AI by researchers in Computer Biology: Nick Schurch, Chris Cole, Kira Maoro (all Barton Lab).
  • Stem Cells: Marios Stavridis (CSI), Greg Findlay (MRC-PPU), Charles Williams and Francisco Bustos (both Findlay lab).

National Phenotyping Centre Tour: Paul Andrew, Zoe Gage, Emma Gutcher and John Raynor.

Microscopy: Alan Prescott and Paul Appleton (CAST).

X-ray: Paul Ffye, Alice Dawson (Hunter lab - BCDD), Thomas Eadsforth (PPT), Genadijs Pankovs (Hunter lab - BCDD), Mat Jones (Wellcome trust rotation student) and Amber McWhirter (Honours project student, Hunter lab - BCDD).

FACS: Arlene Whigman and Mercedes Lee (FACS facility) plus help from members of Doreen Cantrell, Simon Arthur and Paul Crocker groups.

Guides: Andrew Lim (Gilbert lab – BCDD), Seraina Blumli (Owen-Hughes lab - GRE), Maithili Shroff (Marie Curie EU Fellow) and Molly Fitches (Rotation PhD student).

About STEM Ambassadors Scheme

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Ambassadors aim is to create opportunities to inspire young people in these fields. It is a UK-wide programme and the Ambassadors cross all ages and backgrounds. To be eligible you have to be over the age of 17 and have skills or interest in any STEM subject.  If you would you like to become a STEM Ambassador Fife College, the new co-ordinator of the scheme in Dundee, is running a number of inductions sessions in the University throughout 2017.  

Dates: Thurs Feb 16th, Fri April 14th, Thurs June 15th, Tues Aug 15th, Mon Oct 16th and Mon Dec 11th 2017 from 2-4pm in the Murray Seminar Room, School of Life Sciences. 

For more information please visit 

For any questions about the scheme or to register an interest in an induction session please contact Kevin McKeever, STEM East: