The Next Prof Brian Cox?

As announced at his Manchester University open lecture*, it’s now official, Brian Cox is The Sun newspaper’s very own Science Professor.

For someone who wants to communicate about science or university research in general, there can’t be many bigger platforms in the UK to aim for – but if you’re passionate about your subject and want to inspire others, where do you begin?

Well, as Professor Cox proves, Manchester University’s not a bad place to start out, and there are lots of opportunities to develop your talents and test them out:

  • Know anything about Maths?
    Try Maths Busking – “interactive busking shows for everyone who walks by”. Not sure if this involves standing in shopping centres with a hat in front of you (seems to be a bit less scary than that – though I did once meet a 1st year PhD mathematician who supplemented his funding by performing on a unicycle in the city centre).
    There’s a free training day in Manchester on 10th May where Sara Santos (former Manchester University mathematician, now a fellow at the Royal Institution) amongst others will get you up to speed.
  • If you’re a researcher interested in public engagement, and potentially want to get your hands on some funding to help you, Vitae are running a free one day event in Manchester called “The Engaging Researcher” on 6th July. As well as attending workshops, this gives you the chance to find out what’s going on locally, so is ideal for those getting started as well as experienced “public engagers” (must be a better word for them…)
  • If you’re a scientist, or just interested in science, the Manchester Science Festival is coming up in October (23rd-31st) 2010. This gives you plenty of time to think about not only volunteering, but also organising an event (which looks great on your CV).
  • If you’re more interested in the way research shapes our society and the impact on business in particular, the new “Shape of Science” symposium is looking, right now, for posters from research students and staff in all sciences (including social science) and engineering. Deadline for poster submission is Friday 21st May and the symposium takes place on Monday 5th July.

If you’re a researcher and want to keep up to date with events and activities around communicating your research, I’d recommend reading the Faculty research training blogs for EPS, Humanities and Medical and Human Sciences, plus STEPS (for all faculties), as they regularly advertise all sorts of activities in which you can get involved during your research degree.


* That’s just a way of shoe-horning in the fact that I got tickets to attend the Brian Cox lecture at the university last week. How did I get tickets to the hottest gig in town? It pays to have an RSS feed of the university news on your iGoogle homepage so you see announcements as soon as they are made.

And yes, it was exceptionally good – plus it was the first time I’d been in a physics lecture with so many women in the audience …