Outreach and Engagement Activities

ScienceX: On the 22nd and 23rd April 2017 researchers from the University of Manchester took over the Trafford Centre and talked to members of the general public about science and engineering. This Science Extravaganza event, or #ScienceX, included an interactive stand at the SEALIFE Centre about the effect of CO2 on our oceans. School of Chemistry, Materials, Biological Sciences and SYNBIOCHEM representatives used simple experiments and leaflets to inform visitors about ocean acidification and provided the opportunity to learn about how the use of biotechnology could reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. The researchers involved reflected the broad range of research undertaken at the institute, with representatives

As part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s event to engage non-traditional audiences (#ScienceX) social science researchers from the SYNBIOCHEM team engaged shoppers at the Trafford Centre with synthetic biology research on menthol production. Participants interacted with a range of menthol-containing products and left comments on how they would feel about biotechnology derived ingredients. The opinions and queries received will be used as part of the MIB’s responsible research and innovation initiative to involve the public in the scientific development process.

British Science Week 2017: Using interactive demonstration of fragrance compounds, visitors to the Universities annual British Science Week fair were engaged with the potential of synthetic biology approaches to green and sustainable chemical manufacture. ~1100 students, ages 9 – 14, visited the event in the Sackville Street Building between 14th and 17th March.   MIB scientists and members of the 2017 Manchester iGEM team were on the stand for the first 4 sessions (16 scientists in total). On the last day, 2 researchers from sociology and the Business School ran a different stand, collecting opinions on production of menthol using synthetic biology.

A sticker survey was used to assess the perceptions of school-aged children with regards to genetically-modified bacteria as a means of producing flavour and fragrance chemicals. After learning about all the options, the majority of participants across all 4 sessions voted for synthetic biology as opposed to agriculture or synthetic chemistry as their preferred production methods.

Multilingual Science at the Huaxia Mandarin School:  A second visit in March 2017,  to a local supplementary language school organised in partnership with Multilingual Manchester.  This time 4 researchers (Dr. Cunyu Yan, Dr. Jane Kwok, Dr. Nick Weise and Kun Huang) introduced students to the chemistry of enzymes and sugars in Mandarin Chinese.

The session, on 19th March,  included short talks from each of the Mandarin-speaking scientists on their research, enzyme demonstrations and an arts-and-crafts style glycan building

jervisSchool talks: Our researchers regularly visit local schools and colleges – Adrian Jervis our Senior Experimental Officer who provides pathway assembly expertise as part of our “Build” team recently visited Japan and spent a day at the Hiroo Gakuen Junior and High school.

MIB Open Day 2016: On 18th November the MIB once again opened its doors to approx. 225 A’ level students. The SYNBIOCHEM Centre provided interactive stands (RRI menthol; Flavours and Fragrances; Enzyme pathway discovery), a SynBio talk and a GFP E. coli laboratory demonstration.

Feedback from our outreach stands has surprised us – Synthetic Biology may be more easily accepted in the field of chemicals production than anticipated!

To find out more about our Outreach and Engagement activities, please contact Nicholas Weise, Public Engagement Programme Manager,  nicholas.weise@manchester.ac.uk


Congratulations to Nick Weise on his recent Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy award in recognition of his on campus and distance learning course design and support of researchers at the University of Manchester. Nick also received an award from the Inclusion and Diversity fund of the Royal Society of Chemistry to support his community engagement project in collaboration with Multilingual Manchester.