Opening the door to OxIOSCR research

APs and IDP team
12th Sept 2015

Research communication is an essential part of any doctoral programme; however, when it comes to communicating with non-experts and the general public, challenges are often faced by new and emerging scientists. Their research needs to be explained in the most accessible and enjoyable manner in the way that people can also participate in discussions and activities. Putting this to the test, four OxIOSCR students developed resources and led tours at the 'Cancer Research: from bench to bedside' Open Door event held at the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford today.

The Oxford Open Doors weekend is held annually and organised by the Oxford Preservation Trust, in partnership with the University of Oxford, to allow access to over 200 heritage sites, University buildings and places of interest, to members of the public. In collaboration with Cancer Research UK, the Chemistry Department opened the Chemistry Research Laboratory doors to raise awareness of the exciting chemistry and cancer research going on.

Our four enthusiastic students Sandra Ainsua Martinez, Anaïs Bouisseau, Patricia Fernández-Rodríguez and Christian Kuper manned the project stand, fully laden with newly developed teaching resources (synthetic chemistry information pages, project poster, leaflets) designed to teach members of the public, including young people, about chemistry and cancer research. The stand was part of the exhibition also featuring Cancer Research UK | the Oxford Centre, the Brain Tumour Charity and works of art by sculptor Katharine Dowson.

An hour-long informative and interactive panel session chaired by Claire Bloomfield, Strategic Planning Lead for Cancer Research UK, enabled topical discussions with the Department's Head of Organic Chemistry, Professor Chris Schofield FRS, Dr Sarah Blagden, Associate Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine, and Dr Geoff Higgins (Dept. of Oncology).

Following the panel discussion, in order to add more dynamism to the event, OxIOSCR students led four tours around the Chemistry Research Laboratory including a visit to a lab where separation techniques (chromatography and distillation) were demonstrated, and the NMR and mass spectrometry facilities (introduced by James McCullagh). Such was the interest on the day that two further tours were led by Joanna Bonnici and Mike McDonough from the Schofield research group.


Researchers and members of the public alike enjoyed the day and the students were thrilled to be able to give a brief taste of a typical day in the life of a synthetic chemist!

By Tracey Marr & Sandra Ainsua Martinez

To take a look at the resources displayed on the day and download a leaflet, go to our Outreach page. View images from the day in Gallery 4.

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