Category Archives: Zone Reports

Climate Zone Report – March 2018

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The Climate Zone was supported by Wellcome and specifically for students in Year 6 and Year 7. In this zone, we worked with a PhD researcher who will be analysing the language of the questions asked to find out what students think about the climate. Because of this, we asked teachers not to brief their class on the climate before taking part. We edited the questions on the profiles of the scientists to try and prompt students to think about the climate, and within chats moderators encouraged students to stay on topic.

Six scientists took part in the zone: Stephen is a Climate and Environmental Specialist for the United Nations, Stephanie, the winner of the zone, is looking for ways to improve wind turbines to make renewable energy cheaper and Rehemat is studying 50 million year old plankton fossils to see how they lived through climate change. Christopher writes computer code that generates weather forecasts, Caroline is a social scientist studying the public’s attitudes to climate change and Aileen is a PhD student looking at how fungi react to extra greenhouse gases to predict how forests will grow in the future.

 

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Enquiry Zone Report – March 2018

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The Enquiry Zone was supported by Wellcome and was for Year 6 students to work with scientists to develop a citizen science project. The scientists involved each suggested a research idea which they refined with the students in the live chats and ASK section, and students then voted for the project they most wanted to carry out at their school.

Sakshi wanted to work with students to find out how boys and girls are different from each other, Martin’s experiment idea was to measure the breath of students and see if that could tell us how students feel during the day and Luke wanted to find out what students think about regenerative medicine and stem cells. Jennifer, the winner of this zone, proposed a project that would look at how much primary school students knew about their own bodies and Dan wanted to find out whether students were able to pace themselves during physical activity.

This was the second Enquiry Zone we have run, and this time we changed the scientists’ profile questions so they could focus on the aims and method of their experiment ideas. As with the Enquiry Zone we ran last March, the best chats were those where students had been briefed by their teacher beforehand and had had a chance to discuss the scientists’ experiment ideas before meeting them.

As the event went on, all of the scientists improved how they spoke to students within the live chats and learnt to prompt the students with questions about their projects to engage them in conversation.

 

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Genes Zone Report – March 2018

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The Genes Zone was a themed zone supported by Wellcome. Yinka is studying the DNA of cows in Africa to improve the amount of milk they can produce, Stéphane is researching the effect different lifestyles have on human sperm quality and Matt is a bioinformatician making pictures to explain patterns in gut microbes. Juhi is a PhD student researching genetic causes of pregnancy complications, Gemma teaches NHS staff about genetics and how it can help them provide better care for patients and David, the winner of this zone, is a postdoctoral research fellow studying the genetics of depression.

Students were very engaged with the zone theme and over 50% of questions in ASK were about science topics, relating to all things genetics. The scientists were great at explaining things in a way students could understand and often provided videos and links to support their answers.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Immune System Zone Report – March 2018

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The Immune System Zone was supported by Wellcome. Sian is researching new medicines through microbial fermentation, Max (the winner of this zone) is a PhD student using gene editing to understand how white blood cells cause cancer and Lizzie works with biotech companies to help them communicate information about diseases to doctors. Francis is a post-doctoral researcher finding out how we can use a patient’s immune cells to fight cancer, Ben works in an immunology lab finding new ways to help people with arthritis and Ashlea is a PhD student studying how the immune system works and how it can go wrong.

This zone had the highest number of questions asked (897) and approved (489) out of all the zones in March’s event, with students engaging well with the topic and wanting to find out more about the scientists’ work. There was an even mix of questions about science topics, how science works and careers.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Space Data Zone Report – March 2018

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The Space Data Zone was funded by the UK Space Agency. Tim, the winner of this zone, is a PhD student investigating waves that happen over and inside the sun, Stephen is using space telescopes to find out how the first stars formed and Sammie is using data from satellites to work out how much sea ice is in the Arctic. Rachel is looking water supply in the environment using information from satellites, Mark is a PhD student studying the most ancient light in the universe and Lisa uses radars, cameras and rockets to find out how the magnetic fields of the Sun and the Earth interact.

Students in this zone engaged really well with the zone theme, with lots of interest in space and the work of the scientists. Lisa took part in the event from where she lives and works in Svalbard, and students were interested in what it was like to live there.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, UKSA, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Americium Zone Report – March 2018

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The Americium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists all working in different areas. Walaa is a PhD student studying bee behaviour, Sophie, the winner of the zone, is a PhD student looking at human impact on the climate and Sarah is an air quality specialist predicting future air quality levels. Gabriel is a biomedical scientist working with doctors to find out which patients need a pacemaker, Breandan is a Geohazard Specialist working out where it is safe to build on a seabed and Adam is working on a new vaccine for malaria.

This zone had the highest number of students logging in – over 600 – out off all the zones this March. Sophie, the winner of this zone, accounted for 64% of all live chat lines throughout the two weeks.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Curium Zone Report – March 2018

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The Curium Zone was a general science zone supported by Wellcome, with six scientists all working in different areas. Matthew works for the Institute of Cancer research detecting cancer in blood, Kezia is a PhD student developing new solar cells and Jacque, the winner of this zone, is researching ways to increase the yields of nematodes to control insects on crops. Hazel is a geologist researching how people think and talk about geology, Fiona is a PhD student in mathematical biology finding out how our immune system can fight cancer and Daniel is a director of an environmental planning consultancy providing soil science advice.

The Curium Zone was quiet with a below average number of students logging in. This zone had a huge range of questions asked and 94% of students logged in were active in ASK, Chat or Vote – higher than the average for March’s zones.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Molecule Zone Report – March 2018

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The Molecule Zone was a chemistry themed zone funded by ScotCHEM to provide places for schools in remote parts of Scotland and the north of England. Seven scientists took part from the seven major Chemistry research universities in Scotland. Shuo is a PhD student creating artificial human tissue, Neil (the winner of the zone) is a teaching fellow and researcher creating new functional molecules, Martin is an Astrochemist looking at how molecules control the universe and Leonie is a PhD student finding cheaper ways to create new compounds that can be used in medicine. Lauren is finding new ways to tackle diseases, Ciorsdaidh is a lecturer in organic chemistry who specialises in cancer research and Alan uses catalysts to make chemicals in an environmentally friendly way.

This was a quiet zone compared to the rest of the zones in March, with a lower than average number of students logging in (318). This could be because school sizes are generally smaller in remote areas, resulting in a smaller number of students in a class. There was also disruption for many schools in the area due to heavy snowfall the week before the event.

Posted on April 17, 2018 modmichaela in 2018, ScotCHEM, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2017 Zone Report

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The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone of I’m a Scientist was commissioned by The Royal Institution with support from Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The online event allowed school students, the viewing public and Lecture attendees to continue the conversation about the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, ‘The Language of Life’ and its theme of communication. The Royal Institution wanted to create a focus for the online discussion and during the planning stages, the topic of Privacy was identified as a pertinent topic within the wider theme of communication. A Privacy Debate Kit was also developed and sent to teachers participating in the zone to use as part of this activity. The Kit structures a class debate around the question “Should mobile phones be always listening?”

The 18 experts online included the 2017 Christmas Lecturer, Professor Sophie Scott, along with others from the CHRISTMAS LECTURES team and other communication and privacy experts. Sophie’s presence on the site was great, answering 42 questions in ASK across the four weeks. Attendees at the filming of the Lectures could submit written questions to the site using question cards and have answers from experts emailed to them. A total of 18 audience members submitted questions using these cards. Overall the Zone was focused around the themes of privacy and communication, the Lectures themselves and the work of each expert. A number of classes had taken part in a privacy debate before their live chat which was evident from the privacy-related questions posed to the experts. The school students taking part were on topic in live chats with experts and in the ASK section.

School uptake for this event was much higher than the previous year with 898 registered school users from 36 schools in 2017-18. 11 of those schools were under-served (distant), 7 were widening participation and 3 were outside the UK.

Posted on February 28, 2018 modkatie in 2017 | Leave a comment

25 Genomes Zone Report

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25 Genomes was funded by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute as part of their 25th Anniversary celebrations. In 2018, the Institute is going to decode the DNA of 25 UK species for the first time, five of which have been decided by the 25 Genomes public vote.

Over five weeks, scientists and wildlife experts championed species they thought deserved to have their entire DNA decoded. They competed for votes across five Zones from school students and the public, and answered questions about everything to do with their species and genome sequencing. A variety of different scientists took part, including some working at the Sanger Institute, scientists from the Natural History Museum, PhD researchers and conservation workers. Some species were championed by teams, such as the Asian Hornet whose team consisted of experts in the UK, France and Italy.

Schools all over the UK were involved, as well as schools in Ireland, Europe and the USA. Around 2,000 students took part in nearly 120 Live Chats with the Species Champions, as well as sending them 600 questions in the ASK section. As well as students, over 3,000 members of the public logged in to have their say, and many Species Champions campaigned for their species online resulting in Zones with a high number of public users. We also ran two drop-in Live Chats open for the public. In total, there were nearly 5,000 votes.

Posted on December 21, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Sanger Institute, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Cells Zone Report – November 2017

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The Cells Zone was a themed Zone, funded by Wellcome, with six scientists for students to meet. Tom is a PhD student studying how white blood cells fight bacteria in our lungs, Paul is a research fellow studying how egg cells and embryos grow and Natasha is looking into how to use a patient’s own cells to kill their cancer. Ildiko is a lecturer in cell biology and genomics, Ester is studying how cells work together in the gut when we are healthy, and how this is altered when we get sick, and Eoin is a research fellow trying to understand how to treat our immune system when it’s not working properly.

Conversations in the Cells Zone were on topic, with students really interested in the scientists’ research areas as well working as a scientist. All of the scientists were great at explaining their work as well as the more complicated aspects of cell biology. Natasha was the winning scientist in this Zone and was also the most active, making up almost 50% of all Live Chat lines from scientists.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Gravity Zone Report – November 2017

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The Gravity Zone was a themed zone, funded by the Institute of Physics. In this zone, students met five scientists including Scott, a PhD student researching theoretical physics and Ryan, who is studying explosions caused by black holes and neutron stars. Maggie is a researcher at the European Space Agency mapping out dark matter, Hannah is a PhD student studying gravitational waves and black holes and Daniel studies the data from gravitational wave detectors and simulations.

Students in this Zone were very engaged with theme of gravity and space in general, with a mix of both factual and conceptual questions. All of the scientists were great at explaining sometimes quite complicated topics in a way that younger students could understand, especially within the fast paced Live Chats. The topic seemed to really capture the students’ imaginations and the Chats were lively with lots of positive reactions from students about what they had learnt.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, IOP, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Microbiology Zone Report – November 2017

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The Microbiology Zone was a themed Zone, jointly funded by the Society for Applied Microbiology and Wellcome. Lea is a PhD student researching how soil animals can help us produce environmentally friendly food, Emma is studying a particular bacteria that is infecting hospital patients with Cystic Fibrosis and Christopher works for a food safety company working to find new ways to treat diseases. Ash is a PhD student looking at the differences between the causes of Tuberculosis in humans and cows, Ananthi (the winner in this Zone) is studying alternative treatments to replace antibiotics and Aaron is working on ways to produce energy from grass using microorganisms.

This was a busy Zone, with a higher than average number of questions and Live Chats in comparison to the other Zones in November’s I’m a Scientist event. Questions in this Zone were balanced, with an even mix of interest in the theme, science in general, careers and the scientists’ personal lives. Lots of students were interested in the theme of microbiology with questions about bacteria and antibiotic resistance, as well as the research of the scientists.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Stress Zone Report – November 2017

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The Stress Zone is a themed zone funded by the Physiological Society, with five scientists studying different areas of stress and how it affects us. Livia is studying how we can prevent and treat mental illnesses, Laura is a part-time lecturer in physiology researching the bad effects of stress in the workplace and Kirsti is a PhD student studying how stress during pregnancy can affect the development of a baby. Georgina, the winner of the Zone, is researching the hormone cortisol and why it is released into the body when we are stressed and Chris is looking at how extreme environments can affect how humans perform during exercise or cognitive tasks.

This Zone was relatively quiet compared to the other Zones in November’s I’m a Scientist, although it was very on topic with some interesting and well thought out questions from students. There were lots of conversations about how stress can affect the students during exam times, for example, and all the scientists were good at dealing with sensitive subjects such as wellbeing and mental health, often relating their own experiences.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Uranium Zone Report – November 2017

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The Uranium Zone was a general science Zone supported by Wellcome, with five scientists working in a variety of areas. Sajid works at QIAGEN developing a test to help HIV patients manage their treatment routines, Katherine uses computer modelling to help the Home Office solve problems affecting our society and Jayne is a Hazard Management Scientist who researches decontaminants for toxic and illicit chemicals. Duncan, the winner of this Zone, is developing better ways of taking pictures inside people’s lungs with fibre optics and Anu is a PhD student researching ways to improve the way we generate energy from renewable sources.

This was a busy Zone with 93% of students active in ASK, CHAT or VOTE and there was a huge variety of questions due to the range of areas the scientists work in and it being a general science Zone. Duncan and Sajid, who came in first and second place respectively, were the most active scientists and between them made up an impressive 84% of all Live Chat lines by scientists.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Neptunium Zone Report – November 2017

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The Neptunium Zone was a general science Zone supported by Wellcome. In this zone students met six scientists, all working in different areas. Yo is a software developer who writes code for experiments within biology and Theo works for a company that makes breath chemical detectors as a scientific writer, explaining to scientists and doctors how to use the technology in their research. Oli, the winner of this Zone, is a PhD student in environmental science studying fossils to work out the history of a threatened forest in Brazil. Nina is a geologist who has studied volcanoes and now researches materials different buildings are made from, Kerrianne is a PhD student making and testing optical fibres and Edward is a research associate in neuroscience looking at how our brain is wired up.

Chats in this Zone were lively with lots of back and forth conversations. The scientists were good at building a rapport with the students and engaging them with their subject areas. For example, after hearing about Oli’s work with plants in a chat a student said ‘I honestly didn’t think plants could be interesting until 10 minutes ago’ and that they had been inspired to study plants in the future.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Plutonium Zone Report – November 2017

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The Plutonium Zone was a themed Zone supported by Wellcome, specifically for Primary School students. Simonne is a biomedical scientist who tests patients’ blood to help doctors work out which medicine to give them and Senga, the winner of this Zone, is a PhD student researching ways to make plants grow better using DNA from bacteria. Pete works for a drugs company using bacteria to improve their products, James is an archaeologist studying how human brains have evolved and Jake is an applied mathematician looking into why fluid or gasses can change from being smooth to chaotic.

This Zone had a high number of questions from students in Ask about a variety of science topics, as well as the scientists’ work. All the scientists were great at explaining things in simple terms and building up a relationship with the students. Senga often talked about her ‘fake poo’ experiment as which the students found hilarious and were very interested in, and Senga often shared the experiment with teachers after the chat so students could carry it out. Senga also visited one of the schools – Doonfoot Primary – the week after the event to do the experiment with the students.

Posted on December 15, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Drug Resistance Zone Report – June 2017

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The Drug Resistance Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Thom is a PhD student researching how bacteria produce drugs and how we can discover new ones, Sanjib is a course director in infectious diseases and also researches tuberculosis and Donna is a lecturer looking at how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. Avril is an antimicrobial pharmacist and Abid is a microbiologist doctor who treats patients with antibiotics.

This zone had the highest number of students logged in out of all the zones in June’s I’m a Scientist (539), 91% of whom were active in ASK, CHAT or VOTE. Scientists in this zone were extremely positive and encouraging towards students which made for some sociable and engaging chats. One chat in particular inspired Avril to change her twitter handle to a name the students had made up for her – ‘Avrilbiotic’.

Students in this zone engaged well with the theme, although often asked questions about illegal drugs, addiction and side effects. The scientists were still happy to answer these questions outside of their research areas as best they could, which was appreciated by the students.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Epidemic Zone Report – June 2017

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The Epidemic Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Rosie is a Consultant Microbiologist who advises other healthcare professionals about infectious diseases, Liz is a researcher who uses maths to understand more about norovirus and Christl is a Professor of Statistical Epidemiology who uses maths to study the spread of disease. Kevin is a Senior Epidemiologist working on cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine and Beccy is a PhD Student researching how to eradicate whiteflies to prevent the destruction of crops.

Lots of conversations in the zone focussed on the theme, with students showing a strong interest in infectious diseases and how they can be cured.

The scientists were great at interacting with students and a good rapport was built up, with friendly chats and conversations involving multiple scientists and students. The scientists in the zone also built up a good relationship with each other, which reflected positively in the chats. Notably, Rosie and Beccy continued to engage lots with the event even after they had been evicted. Liz, the winner of this zone, attended every single live chat.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Mental Health Zone Report – June 2017

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The Mental Health Zone was a psychology themed zone funded by the British Psychological Society. Steve is researching how cancer medications affect people to help develop better treatments with less side-effects, Michelle is a postgraduate research student studying the beliefs of people with psychosis and Jermaine, the winner in this zone, is a lecturer of psychology who also researches how working in the public sector can cause mental health problems. Jack is a PhD student studying how sleep disturbances might put people at rise of experiences associated with schizophrenia and Gem works for Cancer Research trying to find the best ways to help people stop smoking.

There were around 16 A Level psychology classes taking part in this zone, so many students had a strong interest and understanding in the subject. This meant many of the live chats were incredibly focussed with informed questions about the psychologists’ research and psychology in general. These smaller A Level class sizes meant that the number of students logged into this zone was lower than the average for this event.

The theme of mental health meant that students often drew upon their own experiences, or those of friends and family, when talking to the psychologists in both ASK and the Live Chats. Michelle also spoke openly about her own experiences with mental health issues, which seemed to aid students’ understanding of the topic and help to diminish negative stigma.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, BPS, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Relationships Zone Report – June 2017

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The Relationships Zone was a themed psychology zone funded by the British Psychological Society. Sam – the winner in this zone – is studying how the relationships we have with friends and family affect us, Rose researches how reading stories and watching stories on TV can help us understand and interact with people in real life and Maggi is a PhD student studying whether technology influences the relationships children with autism have with other people. Kirsty is studying how teenagers’ social relationships can affect their health and behaviour and Ben is looking at what children think about right or wrong actions.

Around 17 classes in this zone were A Level psychology students, and these smaller class sizes often meant that within Live Chats psychologists were able to spend time writing lengthy answers for students and engaging in really good discussions. The smaller class numbers resulted in a lower than average number of questions asked and students logged in, compared to the other zones in June’s event.

Students in this zone were focussed on the theme of relationships, and psychology in general. Questions were informed and thoughtful, with students asking about the psychologists’ research areas as well as wider discussions about relationships. The psychologists were great at giving detailed answers and looking up things they weren’t sure about to further the discussion, such as in this ASK question, where Rose researches and explains the psychology behind the love triangle in the Twilight books.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, BPS, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Actinium Zone Report – June 2017

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The Actinium Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Samantha is an Educational Data Scientist analysing data to try and find out how students learn, Matt – the winner of this zone – is a Research Technician studying colorectal cancer and Deborah is working with robots to teach school students healthcare skills. Adele works for an engineering company working out how future buildings and developments could affect the environment and Adam is a postdoctoral research fellow currently studying venomous snakes to make new anti-venoms.

This zone was busy, with a higher than average percentage of active students and questions asked. Chats were often lively and fun, due to the scientists’ ability to easily engage with students. Matt and Adam were especially good at finding common ground with students, sharing jokes and building a rapport. They also made up nearly 75% of all activity by scientists in ASK and the Live Chats.

Students engaged with the work of all five scientists, with Matt, Adam and Deborah’s work being easy to relate to and attracting the most attention.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Protactinium Zone Report – June 2017

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The Protactinium Zone was a general science zone funded by Wellcome. Thorrun is a community pharmacist working for Sykes Chemist, Nicolas is a Senior Lecturer in Physics and Astronomy who is studying the sun, and Helen is a science communicator for a biotechnology company that produces medicine for children. Dan, the winner of this zone, is a PhD student in chemistry studying tests for kidney disease and Amy is a research scientist looking at why people develop rare blood and bone marrow cancers.

All the scientists took an active role within the event and students showed an interest in getting to know them as people, with the highest percentage of personal-themed questions out of all the zones in June’s event. The scientists were all really friendly and good at engaging at conversations with students, within both Live Chats and the ASK section. There were a higher number of comments than the average of June’s zones, and many of these were scientists and students continuing a conversation, with other students joining in

 

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Thorium Zone Report – June 2017

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The Thorium Zone was a general science zone specifically for primary schools, and was funded by Wellcome. Wajiha is a PhD student researching ways to make MRI scans faster, Tom is a PhD student in nuclear fusion – working out how to make a star in a box – and Rosie, the winner in this zone, is a PhD student studying how life can survive in extreme environments like inside a volcano or at the bottom of the ocean. Phil is a landscape ecologist researching ways to observe bees in flight and Chris studies wheat plants to help us grow stronger plants without disease.

This was a really busy zone with nearly 390 questions sent to scientists in the ASK section, and the highest percentage of active students out of all the zones in June’s event (96%). All the scientists were great at answering directly and tailoring their language to suit younger students. Rosie and Chris were the most active scientists, providing nearly 80% of all answers by scientists and attending lots of live chats. This meant a lot of questions were related to their work, with students asking all about space and plants.

Posted on July 17, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Animal Behaviour Zone Report – March 2017

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The Animal Behaviour Zone was a themed zone funded by The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB). Rupert is a lecturer teaching animal behaviour and studying why birds sing, Ines is an ecologist studying how a particular species of fish is being affected by its environment and Ellen is a PhD student looking at how elephants interact with each other. Cedric is a conservation biologist looking at the behaviour of the Malaysian clouded leopard and Carrie, the winner of the zone, is a senior lecturer teaching animal behaviour and welfare.

The Animal Behaviour Zone was one of the busiest zones in March’s event, with a higher than average number of questions asked, comments and lines of live chat. All five scientists were active within the ASK section and live chats, between them providing over 1,200 answers.

The zone theme was very popular, with students interested in the facts and the science behind animal behaviour as well as the day to day work of the scientists. The topic as a whole was clearly easily understood and highly engaging for the students.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, ASAB, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Decision Zone Report – March 2017

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The Decision Zone was a themed psychology zone funded by The British Psychological Society. Wil is a PhD student looking at emotions in language and bilingualism, Mary is a psychology lecturer studying how our senses work together to perceive the world and James, the winner of the zone, is a Strategist and Consumer Psychologist who advises brands how their design can influence consumers’ decision making. Diana is an Emeritus Professor studying how people weigh up evidence to make important decisions and Andy is a lecturer looking at how people can lose control, leading to drunkenness and eating bad foods.

The Decision Zone centred on investigations into psychological research, and also involved three A-Level psychology classes. Some students seemed unsure what psychology was, and the psychologists were all good at explaining their research areas, as well as a more broad definition of psychology, in clear and relatable terms.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, BPS, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Enquiry Zone Report – March 2017

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The Enquiry Zone was funded by Wellcome. It was a general science zone for primary schools focusing on the development of a citizen science project. The scientists involved each suggested a research idea which they refined with the students in the live chats and ASK section and students then voted for the project they would most like to carry out at their school. With the help of the winning scientist, schools will carry out the research in June 2017, recording and sharing their results using the nQuire-it online platform developed by the Open University.

Sallie, the winner of this zone, is a neuropsychologist who suggested an experiment looking at whether what you know about people before you meet them influences how attractive you think they are. Cathal specialises in diagnosing heart problems and his project idea was for students to develop an application that checks the pulse, to help detect whether someone needs first aid. Jade is an analytical scientist, who wanted students to test whether there’s a link between how much air you can breathe and how far you can shoot a blow dart. Hannah is an ecological researcher, whose idea was for students to pick an animal and study its behaviour, and Anthony is a conservation biologist who wanted students to study birds in their school and find out what they like to eat.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Medical Physics Zone Report – March 2017

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The Medical Physics Zone was a themed zone funded by The Institute of Physics and The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine. Sarah is a trainee medical physicist specialising in radiotherapy physics, Mohan is a clinical scientist helping put radioactive drugs inside patients for diagnosis and treatment and Jen is also a clinical scientist who focuses on processing images of patients who have taken radioactive drugs. Dan, the winner of the zone, is a postdoctoral researcher using sound waves to detect diseases like cancer and Christopher is a PhD student looking at how to design more advanced MRI scanners.

Students connected with the topic and discussed some of the issues rising from using the technology needed in medical physics. There were some personal conversations on how medical physics relates to cancer and cancer patients, including members of the students or scientists’ families. Students were also curious about the career path the scientists followed, some of the decision making behind it and the nature of their current professions.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, IOP, IPEM, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Organs Zone Report – March 2017

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The Organs Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Nicholas is a PhD student looking at the changes in the DNA that causes liver cancer by growing mini-organs in the lab, Natalie is a neuroscientist looking at how brain cells connect to each other and Marta is a postdoctoral researcher using a computer model of the heart to understand heart disease. Devon is a PhD student looking at proteins in the kidney to understand how they are important to healthy kidneys and Craig, the winner of the Organs Zone, is a PhD student studying how the immune system fights viruses.

The scientists were all enthusiastic and met the questions in the chats and in the ASK section with interest even when they were outside of their own subject areas. The chats were lively and enjoyable, with all the scientists sharing a good rapport with one another and with the students.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Space Exploration Zone Report – March 2017

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The Space Exploration Zone was a themed zone funded by the UK Space Agency. Stephen is a Principal Mechanical Architect designing, manufacturing and testing spacecraft such as the Mars Rover, Rochelle is a medical doctor who monitors the physiology of people doing space missions and working in microgravity and Phil is studying planetary rings using computer models. Lucy is a PhD student creating models of Martian geological processes to help determine what the climate was like in the past and Hannah, the winner of the zone, is a PhD student looking at ways to get water and oxygen from the Moon to help humans to live there in the future.

The Space Exploration Zone was incredibly on topic, with students showing a real curiosity about the theme and wanting to know about a huge variety of space-related areas. They also showed a genuine interest in the scientists’ own research areas, engaging well in chats and asking specific questions. Off topic questions focussed on career paths and working as a scientist, with very few unrelated to theme or the scientists in some way.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, UKSA, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Francium Zone Report – March 2017

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The Francium Zone was a general science zone funded by Wellcome. Sandra is a molecular biologist working on making new proteins to help track cancer cells and Lewis, the winner of the zone, is a PhD student studying materials that absorb light and how this can be converted to electricity. James is a geophysicist that uses sound recordings to find layers in the Earth that are likely to contain oil, Humayra is a gastrointestinal scientist working for the NHS and Dakshat is a PhD student studying how men from different ethnic backgrounds age.

The questions in the ASK section covered all the topics the scientists work in, and many others on top. Live chats were mostly fast-paced with questions on lots of different topics. Lewis answered nearly 50% of all the questions in ASK and together with Sandra, wrote nearly 90% of all the live chat lines.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Radium Zone Report – March 2017

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The Radium Zone was a general science zone funded by Wellcome, specifically for Primary Schools. Sha is a PhD student looking at ageing in plants, Olivia is a PhD student studying how to make wastewater from households useful again and Marco is a PhD student looking at how to protect the lungs from the radiation used to treat lung cancer. Amanda is a biological scientist studying how we can use cells to repair the body when it is damaged and Alex, the winner of zone, is a PhD student looking at how birds use energy to fly.

The Radium Zone was a busy zone with the highest number of questions in the ASK section and of votes in March’s I’m a Scientist. The scientists in the zone were mainly PhD students or early career researchers and the questions often related to the scientist’s interests and work. For example, students asked Alex a lot of questions about birds and Amanda about cells. There were also many general questions which tended to focus on the body, natural world and observable phenomena, with a few direct, more personal questions to the scientists.

Posted on April 7, 2017 modmichaela in 2017, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

CHRISTMAS LECTURES 2016 Zone Report

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The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone of I’m a Scientist was funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The online event allowed school students, the viewing public and Lectures attendees to continue the conversation about the Royal Institution’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, ‘Supercharged: Fuelling the future’ and its theme of energy. The 24 experts online included the Lectures host Saiful Islam and members of his university department, as well as PhD students studying solar cells, members of the Lectures production team, human metabolism researchers, and engineers from energy companies.

Attendees at the filming of the Lectures could submit written questions to the site using question cards and have answers from experts emailed to them. This proved popular and 195 questions about energy and the Lectures were sent in by the audience. Members of the viewing public submitted 52 questions to the site on similar topics, most anonymously. The school students taking part were similarly on topic in live chats with experts and in the ASK section. Overall the Zone was focused around the future of energy, the Lectures themselves, the work of each expert and advice for a science career.

Posted on March 13, 2017 modantony in 2016, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Radon Zone Report – November 2016

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The Radon Zone as a general zone specifically for Primary schools and was funded by Wellcome. Réka (the winner of this zone) studies genetics to find out how our DNA makes us look like our relatives, Pip is a paediatrics doctor and Kuntal is studying how climate change will affect crop growth to improve ways of growing rice. Kate is a medical physicist who uses x-rays to treat cancer and Ajay studies how skin changes throughout our life in order to learn more about diseases like skin cancer.

The Radon Zone was extremely busy, with over 3,000 questions asked – the most out of all the zones in this event and over four times the historic average. In the ASK section, the scientists provided an extremely high number of answers (777), and students left a much higher than average number of comments in reply (191). Réka made up over half of all scientist activity in both ASK and the live chats, and attended every chat session.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Polonium Zone Report – November 2016

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The Polonium Zone was a general science zone funded by Wellcome. Peter is a PhD student studying black holes, Miranda, who was the winner of this zone, researches bumblebees and writes computer programs modelling possible future extinction events and Lucy works in muscle metabolism researching whether a particular vitamin makes our muscles healthier. Jack is a doctor who is trying to identify which medical tests and treatments don’t work and Huma is a research fellow using the Turing test to find out if humans can tell whether they are talking to another human or a robot.

This zone was one of the busiest in this event, with a higher than average number of questions asked from students, and answers by scientists. Peter was particularly active in the ASK section. Live chats were also very busy, with a high total number of live chat lines, over half of which were made up by zone winner Miranda.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Astatine Zone Report – November 2016

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This is a general science zone funded by Wellcome, involving five scientists working in a variety of areas. Sam is a radiation scientist who looks at how to keep people safe if there was an accident involving radiation, Ellie investigates causes of diseases such as heart attacks and Darren, who was the winner of this zone, researches human consciousness and is currently working on how to get robots to have a sense of time. Catherine works in a blood transfusion laboratory providing blood products to hospitals and Andres is a PhD student studying the connections between neutrinos and dark matter.
Students engaged well with the scientists’ individual research areas, resulting in diverse live chats and interesting conversations between scientists and students.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Sports Science Zone Report – November 2016

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The Sports Science Zone was a themed zone funded by The Physiological Society, and included four scientists and three professional athletes.  Laura-Anne, the winner of the zone, researches how our muscles work in order to help people faster and stronger, Katy studies the body temperature of athletes with a spinal cord injury to help keep them cool during exercise, Helen is working on ways to stop athletes getting sick before a competition and Dan is a former Paralympian who is now a lecturer in exercise physiology.

We recruited three athletes to take part in the zone. Stephanie is a Paralympic swimmer who won five medals in Rio 2016, Emilia is currently training for sprint canoeing hoping to make the team for Tokyo 2020 and Andrew is an Olympic swimmer who also competed in Rio 2016.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Physiological Society, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Plants Zone Report – November 2016

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The Plants Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Zarah, who was the winner in this zone, is an invasion ecologist who studies alien plants and how they can affect native plants in the UK, Kon is a PhD student teaching bacteria how to find and eat sugars from plants and Kirsten is researching why vegetables are good for us. Jena is an archaeologist who studies how people used plants in the past and Freddie is researching how to use molecules to make plants grow bigger and healthier.

All of the scientists were active within the ASK sections and live chats. Jena provided just under half of all 243 answers from the scientists, and between them Zarah and Kon made up over half of all live chat lines by scientists.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Energy Zone Report – November 2016

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This zone was a themed zone funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry, of which Olivia, Mzamo and Megan were members. Weiyi is a PhD student researching biofuels, Olivia is researching materials that can be used for more sustainable energy sources, Ola is looking at ways to save more energy, food and water and Mzamo is a lecturer in bio-renewable energy and based in South Africa. Megan, who was the winner of this zone, researches how waste uranium could help carry out reactions and reduce waste from nuclear energy.

Megan and Ola were particularly engaging within the live chats, both showing up to almost all sessions. Within the chats and ASK there were some fairly serious discussions on topics such as global warming and nuclear power with students showing a lot of interest in how scientists are working to save energy in the future.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, RSC, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Investigation Zone Report – November 2016

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This zone was funded by Wellcome and is a general science zone for Primary Schools, which focusses on how scientists work. People doing scientific research need to use a range of investigative skills, many of which are used in science lessons at school. The five scientists in this zone use identifying, observation, classifying, testing or pattern spotting skills in their research. We hoped that from talking to the scientists, students would be able to find out the similar things they do in school that the scientists do in their jobs.

Sophie (identifying) studies animal behaviour to try and understand how humans are changing the natural environment, Sarah (observation) works on radiation protection and Michael (classifying) is an archaeologist who looks at bones to learn about how people lived ten thousand years ago. Marisol (testing) looks at a parasite of dogs to try and prevent it spreading to other species and Lauren (pattern spotting) researches how storms are changing our coastline. Lauren was the winner of this zone.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Drug Discovery Zone Report – November 2016

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This was a themed zone funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry, of which Steve, Hannah and Eleni were members. Steve, the winner of the zone, is a PhD student making new anti-cancer drugs from sugars, Oli studies bacteria which can become resistant to viruses in order to use them in replace of antibiotics and Jenny develops drugs for diseases like cancer and diabetes. Hannah makes drugs for the parasitic tropical disease leishmaniasis and Eleni is a PhD student finding antibiotics from rare sources like fungus growing ants.

All of the scientists in the zone were engaging and provided detailed and accessible answers, with Steve and Hannah making up well over half of all answers and lines of live chat.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, RSC, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Brain Zone Report – November 2016

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The Brain Zone was a themed zone funded by Wellcome. Ria is researching why some people get dementia while others don’t, Rachel is a neuroscientist who studies human brain tissue to help find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and Joe, the winner of this zone, is looking at how children’s brains work and why some find school more difficult than others. Iroise studies the brain and behaviour of adults and adolescents and Adrian is researching ‘brain-eating’ bacteria to help combat infectious diseases.

All the scientists in this zone were active in both the live chats and ASK section with lots of interest from the students about the zone theme. There were lots of lively, on-topic discussions about the scientists’ research and the brain in general, with students often commenting about how much they had learnt.

Posted on December 13, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Bismuth Zone Report – June 2016

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The Bismuth Zone was a general science zone funded by the Wellcome Trust, and included five scientists working in different areas. Thomas works in Nuclear Medicine and uses radioactive substances to look at how our bodies work, Rupesh is a research fellow who studies why plant roots grow down and shoots always grow up, Hazel works as an Application Scientist at an engineering company which makes microscopes, Elliot makes mutants to try and work out why our muscles grow when we use them, and Ellen specialises in designing and analysing shielding against gamma radiation.

The scientists in this zone were very engaging and good at communicating their work with their students, particularly Thomas and Elliot, who took part in most of the live chats and answered a large amount of questions.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Lead Zone Report – June 2016

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This zone was a general science zone funded by the Wellcome Trust. Stuart works for the NHS and looks at the DNA of people in hospital to work out why they are ill, Rob is a Teaching Fellow who uses maths to investigate how cells work, Maheen is a PhD student who uses brain imaging to understand how babies brains develop, Euan works with lasers and is trying to build a quantum computer from particles of light, and Deborah analyses food samples to see if they are genuine or counterfeit. The zone had a higher than average number of questions approved and the highest number of comments compared to all the other zones in June’s event

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Thallium Zone Report – June 2016

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The Thallium Zone was a general science zone funded by the Wellcome Trust. Sian works for the Food Standards Agency working with data to make sure food is safe to eat, Dawn is a cell biologist who grows brain cells and researches the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, David is a physicist who researches gravitational waves, Dan works at GSK testing drugs of the future and Christie is a PhD student researching how proteins work in the mitochondria. This zone was very busy, with a higher than average amount of questions approved. There was an even spread of answers by scientists in the ASK section, and Dawn, who won the zone, made up almost half of all live chat by scientists throughout the event.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Mercury Zone Report – June 2016

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The Mercury Zone was a general Primary School zone funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry, of which Waqar, Melissa and Angus were members. Waqar researches how to find out if someone has an infection by studying their breath, Melissa is an environmental scientist looking at how explosives travel through the ground and the effect the chemicals can have on the environment and Jenni researches how our brains understand the words they hear and read, in order to help children with learning difficulties. Catherine is a cardiac scientist who uses ultrasound to examine people’s hearts and Angus is a PhD student who researches what makes stainless steels rust in order to know what we can use them for. The zone received diverse questions, but was quiet compared to the average number of questions in June’s event.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, RSC, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Antibiotics Zone Report – June 2016

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The Antibiotics Zone was funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry, of which Lindsay and Jonny are members, with additional funding from the Biochemical Society Diversity Grant. Danna is a Research Associate who studies how bacteria evolve, Lindsay is a chemist working to improve compounds to better target diseases and Juan researches how our bodies fight off threatening microbes. Jonny is a PhD student working to make medicines in more environmentally friendly ways and Daniela is a PhD student who modifies the DNA of viruses.

All five scientists took an active role in the event, answering a similar number of questions and attending many live chats even after being evicted. Some students from Jonny’s old college – Selby College – took part in the zone and were excited to have the opportunity to talk to him in a live chat.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Biochemical Society, RSC, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Parasites Zone Report – June 2016

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The Parasites Zone was a themed zone funded by the Wellcome Trust. Mark is an epidemiologist who is interested in removing parasitic infections that harm vulnerable populations, Linda is a PhD student who studies the malaria parasite, Koi (who won the zone) uses big data to understand the life of parasitic worms that live in human blood, Franco works on allergy and infectious diseases and Claire is an immunologist who researches parasitic infections and treatments.

All the scientists took an active role in both the ASK section and live chats and answered a similar amount of questions. The zone was largely on topic, with a majority of the focussed on parasites and the scientists’ work, but received the fewest amount of questions compared to the other zones in this event.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Ecosystems Zone Report – June 2016

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Ecosystems was a themed zone funded by the Wellcome Trust, and was a zone specifically for Primary Schools. Vincent is a PhD student who uses maths to look at how species move within their environment, Luis researches the interaction between oil spills and marine sediments like beaches and the seabed and Joe is a biologist who studies animals with the aim of protecting them and educating people as to why we need nature. Joanna is a zoologist who studies how animals interact with their environment and Hannah researches animals that live on our sea shores and makes sure they are protected.

All the scientists were very good at adapting their answers and describing their work in ways to engage younger students, and the live chats were lively and fun. This was a quiet zone with a lower than average number of questions approved and live chats booked.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment

Cells Zone Report – June 2016

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The Cells Zone was a themed zone funded by the Wellcome Trust, and included five scientists whose work relates to cells in different ways. Sam uses polymers and proteins to research how cells evolve, Rob works in a cancer hospital using radiotherapy to treat cancer cells and Matt grows brain cells in order to study brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Kylie studies white blood cells in the lungs to try and find out what happens to them when someone has lung disease, and Rebecca is a structural biologist who uses electron microscopes to study cells and proteins within them.

This was a busy zone with a high amount of questions in ASK and some engaging live chats which focused on the topic of cells, as well as other aspects of the scientists’ work and science in general.

Posted on July 15, 2016 modmichaela in 2016, Wellcome Trust, Zone Reports | Leave a comment