Plant Doctors at the Big Bang Fair

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Published on: March 19, 2014

BigBang cover2

On Friday I went to the NEC in Birmingham to join an intrepid team of plant scientists running activities on an exhibit at the free national science, technology and engineering event the Big Bang Fair. The stand was organised and funded by the British Society of Plant Pathology and the John Innes Centre.

The theme of the exhibit was Plant Doctors. Visitors learned about plant diseases and were encouraged to think about a world without plant doctors – what effects would uncontrolled plant diseases have on our air quality and food supply?

There were four activities on the stand, aimed at different age groups.

The main event was the Plant Doctors activity, where children and young people could don a white coat and clipboard and learn to diagnose a bacterial, fungal or viral plant disease. In my experience the particularly gruesome crown gall tumour (just like the black death!) went down well, but some groups were fascinated by the spores on the bean rust pustules (little mushrooms), which we showed them down the microscope.

At the Polling Station, adults and young people discussed the benefits and drawbacks of bio-control, pesticides and GM approaches to controlling plant pathogens. Older Plant Doctors were also invited to vote on how best to treat the plant diseases. I didn’t spend much time on this activity, but it seemed to keep some groups very engaged. It was certainly an effective way of talking about the importance of innovation in plant science. (more…)

The Plant Science Panel

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Published on: August 15, 2013

Have you heard about the Plant Science Panel? It is a panel of plant scientists, including GARNet committee member Smita Kurup, and previous guest bloggers Anne Osterrieder and Alan Jones, ready and waiting to answer questions from the public about plant biotechnology and plant science.

There are regular live Q&A sessions online, during which people can ask questions via email or on the #plantsci Twitter hashtag. The first few of these sessions, which took place over summer 2012, tackled the Big Question surrounding plant science, agri-technology and the public – genetically modified foods. You can see the topics and the questions and answers on the Plant Science Panel webpage.

Now though, the Plant Science Panel is bigger than the classic GMO debate, covering the many areas of every day life that feature plant science affects. There have been Q&As about ash dieback, bee colony collapse, and organic farming. The questions submitted and answered outside of the allocated Q&A times are broader still, including the subtle differences in herbs like lemon and orange thyme, nutrient uptake by roots, and why nutrient burn causes leaf tips to brown and curl.

Postcards advertising the plant science panel are now available from Sense About Science. Frances Downey, who runs the Plant Science Panel, says, “If you are doing some outreach, giving a talk or just want to give them out to your friends and family contact plantsci@senseaboutscience.org. Help us ensure as many people know about it as possible – request some postcards and give them out to anyone you think might want to send a question in.”

 

Demystifying GM

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Published on: March 15, 2013

Geraint Parry of the University of Liverpool stepped up to the challenge of communicating the real science of GM at Ignite Liverpool in February. Ignite is a grassroots movement started in Seattle but now established in many cities all over the world. Ignite events consist of many 5-minute powerpoint presentations given by anyone who wants to contribute one about anything they want to talk about. Such a fast-moving event with a diverse audience is of course a great place to communicate science, and you can see Geraint’s excellent presentation in the video above.

If you want to have a go yourself, Ignite Liverpool is next on in May, and there is also an Ignite London, although I don’t know if they will be running another event.

The video is from the Ignite Liverpool YouTube Channel, where you can see other presentations from the event, including this one on ATP.

Funding opportunities with deadlines in the next two months

Categories: funding
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Published on: August 1, 2012

Grants with deadlines in August and September

Science outreach from the Biochemical Society: Deadline 27 September. Up to £1000 available for a science outreach project.

BBSRC Policy Placements for BBSRC-funded PhD students: Deadline 14 September. Fully funded three month placement with a science policy team, with a three month extension to your PhD to compensate for your time.

BBSRC Flexible Interchange Programme: Deadline 20 September. £150k for a scheme lasting up to 24 months involving the ‘interchange’ of a person between working environments. The interchange may be between, for example, academia and policy, business, or a different academic discipline.

The Leverhulme Trust International NetworkVisiting Professorships and Research Project Grants. Deadline: 1 September or 1 December. Funding for international collaborations and original research projects.

BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships: Deadline 20 September.Funding for a five year project for an experienced post-doc to become a PI.

COST Open Call: Deadline 28 September. Funding for a research network, not original research. Money can be used for organization of meetings, conferences, workshops etc, and travel and subsistence for them. Initial application is a preliminary report, after which you may be invited to submit a full proposal.

BBSRC Sustainable Energy and Biofuels: Deadline 30 August for intention to submit; 9 October for applications. Funding for a proposed collaborative project between a UK university and an university in India.

 

Some travel grants which have rolling deadlines

BBSRC International Scientific Exchange Scheme (ISIS): apply 6 weeks before travel. Up to £5000 for travel and subsistence for short term travel intended for meetings, long term travel, and stays of up to one month to work in a lab outside of the UK. Students are not eligible for travel.

EMBO Short-term fellowships: apply at least three months before travel. Funding for early career (PhD students or researchers less than 10 years from the end of their PhD) researchers to work in a lab outside of their own country for up to 3 months. This is for collaborations, not consultancy. Funding covers travel and subsistence.

 

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