BHF Alumna Emma Agnew is a Research Fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. During her BHF-funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Emma found that engaging the general public with science can be hugely rewarding. From becoming a STEM ambassador to setting up a BHF fundraising group, there are many ways BHF Alumni can get involved with outreach activities related to science.
Blogging and writing for science magazines is a great way to delve into the field of science communication and there are many opportunities to carry out scientific writing through universities or local organisations like the BHF.
Pint of Science, for example, is a mini festival run over three days in May wherein scientific speakers come to a pub to talk about their research over a pint or two. There are many local science festivals in the UK and beyond happening all year round, such as the Beltane and Midlothian Science Festival, who are always looking for helpers to engage and excite the general public about what is happening right now in the world of science.
Become a STEM ambassador
I've been a STEM ambassador for a number of years now.
As part of the role I’ve enjoyed being involved with public engagement events, such as the Edinburgh International Science Festival. I've also visited a number of schools to tell children what a career in science is like.
As a STEM ambassador you try to engage and excite the next generation about the importance of science, as well as technology, engineering and maths. It's a fantastic opportunity to take science outside of the lab and to share your experiences with the general public. You also get asked some interesting science questions from the school pupils to keep you on your toes!
Get involved in fundraising
I set up the University of Edinburgh Cardiovascular Research Centre Fundraising group in 2015. The group is made up of Masters and PhD students, with many of us being supported by the BHF. We felt by organising events and carrying out fundraising activities we would be able to give something back to the BHF, while having fun at the same time.
During our first year we held many events such as bake sales, a pub quiz, took part in the BHF dechox and organised an end of year ceilidh. Within our first year we raised just under £4,000 and have had a fantastic time working alongside the BHF raising vital funds to carry out lifesaving research.
The Bigger Picture
It’s important to always remember why I’m carrying out the work I do. I enjoy talking about my research to the general public, attending events and meeting with other volunteers, researchers and patients to hear their stories. Volunteer work and the link with the BHF community has reminded me to think, on days where the research in the lab isn't going so well, that people really appreciate the work we do as scientists.
Three ways you can get involved
Showcase your research: The BHF can organise a range of opportunities for our currently-funded researchers to share their work with the public, our volunteers, fellow researchers and alumni.
Attend a store opening: Every year, 23,000 volunteers in 700 stores around the UK turn donated stock into £30 million of funding for life saving research. The volunteers who work in our stores love to see the impact of the funds they raise, and are always keen to hear about the inspiring research that their hard work helps to fund.
Organise a lab visit: The BHF’s supporters, volunteers and staff would love to see first-hand the amazing work being carried out in BHF-funded labs around the country.