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Dr Natalie Garrett was announced as the winner of the competition on November 20th.

Exeter researcher wins science outreach competition

A University of Exeter scientist has won the ‘I’m a Scientist: Get me out of here’ competition, beating four other science enthusiasts to the prize.

Natalie Garrett, a Research Fellow in Biophotonics, was announced as the winner of the competition on November 20th. The initiative comprised of two weeks of intensive outreach. The panellists were grilled by school pupils from across the UK with creative questioning and live chats, after which each student voted for their favourite. The questions posed to the panellists ranged from the predictable “have you always wanted to be a scientist?” to the bizarre “what would you do if you were the last person alive?” and each panellist answered by drawing on their personal and professional experience.

The panellists consisted of a biomedical engineer, a communications officer, a diplomat, a solar panel analyst and a biomedical physics researcher – all united in their passion for science and their common background in physics. The aim of the initiative was to promote science to school pupils, where the scientists would book interactive live chats with schools lasting thirty minutes. For those seeking answers from a certain participant, children could also ask questions via individual profile pages. They would then vote for their favourite; the scientist with the least amount of votes being evicted until one scientist remained.

Dr Garrett after winning the initiative, said: “I want to expand outreach talks to include more exciting experiments to bring to schools. Outreach is vital – we need to encourage the next generation of scientists, and provide visible role models. This is particularly important for STEM subjects where women are under-represented.”

The competition gave the opportunity for budding science researchers and students to gain valuable insight into the daily lives of the professionals, and how varied a job in science can be.

The initiative allows for scientists or people from industry to sign up and, if selected, get assigned to a ‘zone’. In this case, it was the Osmium ‘zone’, an area populated by scientists each of which had backgrounds in physics. This was funded by the Institute of Physics.

Date: 25 November 2015

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