The NHM Hydroscape Team were out in full force manning our science stations on Friday 30th September for the Natural History Museum’s annual Science Uncovered event. Part of European Researchers Night, the annual festival of science brings together hundreds of scientists and experts working across a wide range of scientific fields to engage with the public about the ground breaking research happening at the museum. A 6-hour evening event open to all, Science Uncovered was packed with engaging and exciting activities, including ‘meet the experts’ science stations, interactive talks, visitor participation activities, science café, behind the scenes tours, and lots more.
The theme of the night was ‘Hidden Worlds’ and the NHM Hydroscape team manned a science station under the sub-theme ‘Hidden Relationships’, where we displayed posters, museum specimens, and clips of sample collecting from our recent fieldwork activities. We interacted for hours with members of the general public, from young children to senior citizens, to people from all corners of the world. We talked about our research on specific parasites, the tools that we are using to investigate their presence and abundance, and the potential effects of connectivity and stressors on the distributions of these parasites and the potential for disease outbreaks (such as the recent high profile outbreak of prolific kidney disease in trout populations in North America, caused by one of our focal parasites, which led to closure of the Yellowstone River in Montana).
Images: Professor Beth Okamura of the Natural History Museum, one of the Principle Investigators on the Hydroscape project, talking with Science Uncovered visitors about our research and the work of the Hydroscape project.
Bryozoan gene flow researcher Paolo Ruggeri also took part in the ‘Science Café’ event, where he conversed with individuals and small groups in a more informal café/bar setting about his research on gene flow and genetic diversity as part of the Hydroscape project.
We had some great conversations and interesting and diverse questions from the public about our research and the Hydroscape project in general. The younger audience particularly enjoyed getting up close to some of our specimens, such as the alcohol preserved head of a huge salmonid fish, displayed to show an example of the hosts impacted by the parasites we are investigating.
Other ‘big hits’ were video clips of our Norfolk fieldwork taken earlier this year using a GoPro camera. The landscapes and summer weather were so great that one of the visitors thought we were sampling in the tropics!
Thousands of visitors passed through the doors of the NHM during the event, so it was a great platform for to generate conversation, interest, and questions from the general public on the nature and rationale of our Hydroscape research.
NHM Hydroscape Team