It was that time of the year for the researchers across Europe to descend from their so-called ivory tower to reach out to the general public about the research they do. Explorathon, Scotland’s event for EU Researchers’ Night. Researchers’ Night, takes place on the last Friday in September each year. It is a public celebration of research that takes place in more than 300 cities across Europe. The key objective of the event is to motivate and inspire youth to enjoy, understand and pursue science and technology.
The venue for the Glasgow chapter of Explorathon was at the Riverside Museum, and a band of researchers here at CMAC with CORE members Johannes Hoffmann, Sudhansu Jena, Giulio Valenti and myself were ready to showcase our work at the Explorathon and engage with the public about our institution and research.
As a part of this year’s showcase at our stall we had a marshmallow crystal designing activity, chocolate polymorphs, a poster on history of pharmaceutical manufacturing and a poster on chirality and odorama cards (smell-o-vision of enantiomers) containing the aroma of the enantiomers of carvone.
As usual it rained heavily in Glasgow as we prepared to move our stuff to the venue but still managed to brave the weather and got to the venue on time. Around 5PM we were done with setting our stall and we eagerly awaited for the people to visit us to share our research experiences. After a brief wait, the visitors started to trickle in at a brisk rate and we were excited to explain our displays at our stall especially to the young kids to motivate them towards science.
We had some guests from CMAC with two of the postdocs and their family and the most special guest was Prof. Joop and his son and it was a real deal to explain chirality to Prof. Joop himself :-). The kids were having a great time showing their creativity in designing crystals and lot of adults especially researchers, were interested in our research and a lot of good discussion went on from pharma industries, designer drugs and mainly with chirality. The displays we had on chirality did pique a lot of interest in masses and they were surprised on the existence of chirality in mundane things like snail/ sea shells to the molecules we encounter in our daily life.
At the end of the evening we were visited by a whopping 680 people in a sold out event. After 5 hours we reached the end of the event and we were tired & exhausted nevertheless very satisfied in doing our best to extend out to the public about our research. Looking forward for more public outreach events to disseminate our research.
Raghu is a PhD researcher in CMAC, University of Strathclyde working under the supervision of Prof Joop ter Horst. His project work is Chiroptical Spectroscopy in Suspensions. His research interests include Analytical sciences and Separation techniques, peptide synthesis – Solid phase synthesis (Resin) & wet phase synthesis, Process Analytical Tools involving chemometrics and spectroscopy. He is one of the 15 Early Stage Researchers of CORE Network Horizon 2020 project.