Archive for July, 2007
Entrepreneurial women in the East of England talk about why there are fewer women working in bioscience enterprise, and barriers for innovative women in science and technology.
If you could choose what kind of scientific research was funded, do you think you would choose the same as what’s funded now?
The Institute of Food Research investigated this question with a competition at Norwich arts venue the Garage, on the 13th of June. The public were invited to an event called ‘you decide what science is funded’, where four scientists pitched their research proposals to a broad audience, who voted on which should get £500,000 funding.
The four research proposals asked: how do chicken eggs get infected with salmonella; how does eating broccoli reduce the risk of cancer; could eating good bacteria reduce allergic reactions; and does eating burnt meat increase the risk of colon cancer?
PhD student Jeff Temblay easily won the competition with his proposal to investigate the impact of good bacteria on allergies.
“As an early stage researcher and someone who had never wrote a grant research proposal before, I didn’t think I’d have much of a chance,” Jeff said.
Despite his modesty going into the competition Jeff had good reason to be confident, because in fact his research had already been funded and the evening’s competition was a hoax, designed to investigate public engagement with science.
Dr Dee Rawsthorne, the Norwich BioScience Institutes’ Outreach Coordinator, was behind the event, which was a pilot study for further research into public understanding of how science is funded.
“It’s given me faith that the public really do understand – even if they don’t understand the technicalities of DNA repair and how cancers work, they do understand the basic ethics behind the way we do scientific research,” she said.
Ethical concerns were raised in response to the fake research presentation by Dr Liz Lund, who proposed a colon cancer research study that involved making healthy volunteers eat lots of burnt meat and little fish or fibre. The volunteers would then have colon biopsies taken for study.
Liz’s ‘red herring’ proposal was the only one that got no votes.
“I think I was relieved, it’s very nice that the audience recognised it was false,” she said.
Read this story on the i10 website.
Entrepreneurial mothers working in science, engineering and technology in the East of England discuss how they juggle work and family.