The COVID-19 pandemic thrust scientists into the media spotlight. The importance, and also the challenges, in communicating faithful scientific information became rapidly apparent. Through organisations such as the Science Media CentreLink opens in a new window, efforts are being made to ensure that the public has access to evidence and expertise when science is in the headlines. Academic research environments can also actively contribute to delivering timely, accurate, and digestible information to the media and public at large.
With this underlying motivation, Ed HillLink opens in a new window and Laura Guzmán RincónLink opens in a new window set out to develop a collection of podcasts to broaden the media output from the Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER)Link opens in a new window. The goal was to share with the public the scientific research taking place within the group and to highlight the career trajectories of its members.
The SBIDER Podcast HubLink opens in a new window was subsequently formed in March 2022, led by Ed and Laura, after it was one of eight successful applications for a RAMP Outreach Innovation AwardLink opens in a new window. The funding call was open to Early Career Researchers based in the UK in the field of infectious disease modelling to undertake projects with a significant outreach component. Projects had to include communication of infectious disease modelling concepts to the general public and/or to the wider scientific community. With the support of the RAMP Outreach Innovation Award (UKRI Grant EP/V053507/1), funds were used to purchase a podcast kit and supporting hardware.
As of December 2022, the SBIDER Podcast Hub is home to two podcast series:
- SBIDER Presents endeavours to showcase how the research conducted in SBIDER uses mathematics to solve challenges in the biological and medical sciences, to better understand the biological world, often with the goal of controlling disease. Each episode comprises a discussion with a researcher from SBIDER about their work in the biological and medical sciences, plus a segment sharing recent news from SBIDER.
- SBIDER Careers Podcast is targeted at those interested in research careers in epidemiology and mathematical modelling. By interviewing SBIDER researchers and research support staff, the series explores the paths to a research career in epidemiology and infectious disease modelling and delves into the duties carried out within these roles. Topics of conversation have so far have ranged from postdoctoral research to project management, to directing the research group.
To date the SBIDER Podcast Hub has recorded 10 episodes in total across both series and more episodes are planned for production during 2023. The investment in podcast equipment is envisioned to support engagement activities for years to come.
WMI Magazine staff
Published 18 January 2023