Falling Walls Lab is all about connecting young and bright minds with each other. That’s why we invited a few of our Lab alumni and Engage experts to our first ever Science Engagement Brunch. Although it was the Sunday following another inspiring yet exhausting Falling Walls Conference, we were glad that the participants stopped by the office for a healthy breakfast and a small workshop, the motto being: “Discover new ways to make your science heard”.
After all, this remains one of the biggest challenges for young scientists. While our Lab program is all about putting promising scientists in the spotlight, once they go back to their research institutions and PhD programs, it can be tough to engage with a broader audience. Still, finding new and creative ways to promote their work is crucial. Luckily, we just happen to know a couple of experts who can help with this issue.
For our brunch, we invited a dozen Labsters and five outstanding experts of our Engage format: Meie van Laar, Theo Anagnostopoulos, Bella Starling, Liubov Tupikina, and María Pin Nó, as well as guest speaker Prateep Beed from the Neuroscience Research Centre at Charité Berlin.
Science doesn’t always have to be a big issue
Following a short introduction round where all participants described themselves in three hashtags, Prateep went on to describe his research on Ecstasy. He explained, how he took inspiration from the thriving Berlin club scene and combined it with his neuroscientific research on the human brain, thus proving how to make science more approachable.
Afterwards, it was time for our Engagers to take the (non-existing) stage in our office and tell about their own personal journey from scientist to engager. Theo Anagnostopoulos for instance took some detours and dabbled in comedy and shipbroking before returning to science, thus proving: There is neither a definite path to science engagement nor a “right” path to make science heard.
But of course there are strategies that have proven useful. That’s what the workshop section was all about. Split into three groups, our Lab alumni teamed up with the Engagers to talk about their personal challenges and experiences in getting their work heard outside the lab. As the workshop progressed, each group came up with their own ways to identifying stakeholders and methods, using the right channels and platforms and even some lighthearted advice: “Just take your kids and your friend’s kids to the museum. Science doesn’t always have to be a big issue”. And of course: “Just be human”.
After an entertaining four hours, we let all participants enjoy the rest of their afternoon. But not before taking the obligatory group picture. We certainly had a lot of fun meeting some of our alumni again, and judging by their smiles, they seemed to enjoy it as well.