Current projects in the Science Communication Unit

Students sat around a table having a discussion about their work

Staff from the Science Communication Unit (SCU) work on a wide range of projects, as researchers and practitioners of science communication.

Our projects are organised under five themes, though they may bridge more than one category. View them below:

Science, technology and engineering

Exploring and facilitating relationships between natural science, technology, engineering and society.

EU Parliament: Ethical concerns and moral issues in artificial intelligence

SCU is producing a report for the EU Parliament on the key ethical issues and challenges associated with artificial intelligence (AI), including robots.

SciRoc - European Robotics League

The European Robotics League (ERL) is a novel common framework for two indoor robotics competitions, ERL Industrial Robots and ERL Service Robots, and one outdoor robotics competition, ERL Emergency Robots. 

Verifiable autonomy

In the next 20 years, we expect to see autonomous vehicles, aircraft, robots, devices, swarms, and software, all of which will (and must) be able to make their own decisions without human intervention. This EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded project is concerned with building autonomous systems that are verifiably correct.

Virtual Natural History Museum

The Virtual Natural History Museum is a novel engagement project that aims to consolidate palaeontological multimedia into a single educational resource. The website takes the form of a giant computer game museum which visitors can explore, just as they would a physical museum, viewing digital versions of fossils and other items you’d find in a museum as they go. The SCU is evaluating the museum prototype to inform its future development for use in schools.

Women Like Me

Women Like Me is a new peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. The project pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Health and wellbeing

Examining the ways that communication plays a role in health and wellbeing.

Exploring the molecular basis of diabetes with Minecraft

This collaboration between UWE Bristol, Lancaster University, University of Hull and University of Aberdeen is funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry to explore the use of the computer game Minecraft in engaging children with learning about diabetes.

Pro- and anti-vaccine advocacy on Twitter: An analysis of networks and discourses

This research project explores the visual discourse of pro- and anti-vaccine images used for advocacy on Twitter, and investigates the networks that share these pictures.

Scientific Literacy in Nigeria: Boosting Science Communication and Journalism

In this three-year project, SCU is working with TReND (Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development) in Africa and University of Sussex to evaluate the short- and longer-term impacts of an intensive, multi-day training programme for journalists and scientists in Nigeria.

Unkindest Cut

Researchers are evaluating an interdisciplinary science and arts project which explores the theme of young people’s mental health. The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England-funded project is touring science festivals in the UK in 2018 and 2019.

Sustainability and the environment

Studying and enabling communication in areas related to sustainability and the environment

About Drought

This NERC-funded project is designed to maximise the impact of UK research on drought and water scarcity. Building on the work of four major drought research projects, and employing a range of communication methods, SCU is involved in creating guidance and advice relevant to the water supply sector, the agricultural sector, environmental stakeholders, UK businesses and UK communities.

ClairCity

ClairCity is an innovative project involving thousands of people in cities across Europe, enabling us all to decide the best local options for a future with clean air and lower carbon emissions. ClairCity is funded by the European Union.

DRY – Drought Risk and You

A multi-disciplinary team are developing an innovative drought science-narrative resource that can be used in decision-making for drought risk management. SCU is involved in two specific research projects: one explores barriers and enablers to drought communication and the other is considering how best to engage stakeholders in this type of interdisciplinary project. SCU is also involved with the citizen science and public engagement aspects of DRY, supporting researchers in developing and delivering activities.

Emerging environmental issues: FORENV report on new technologies in the urban environment

SCU produced a report for the European Commission Directorate-General Environment on new technologies in the urban environment.

INSPIRE: In-situ processes in resource extraction from waste repositories

Our objective is to understand and manipulate the in-situ biogeochemistry of waste within waste repositories (eg landfills, industrial waste, municipal solid waste, metallurgical and mining waste) to recover valuable resources by leaching and other treatments whilst the material lies in situ, thus avoiding the need to actively extract the material and thereby minimise ecological and environmental impacts.

Science for Environment Policy (SfEP)

The SfEP team of science-policy specialists manage a robust review process, producing bi-weekly news alerts on the latest, significant environmental research for policy makers, researchers and the public – especially with regard to emerging risks and new technologies. The newsletter has over 20,000 subscribers, and the team at UWE Bristol has run the service for the European Commission, Directorate General Environment since 2007.

Social science and art

Investigating public engagement and research in the social sciences and arts.

Exploring ways to change food waste behaviour in family households with children in the UK

Each person in the UK throws away more than their body weight in food each year and food waste is particularly high in family households – this project explores why that is and how we can change that.

Unkindest Cut

Researchers are evaluating an interdisciplinary science and arts project which explores the theme of young people’s mental health. The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England-funded project is touring science festivals in the UK in 2018 and 2019.

Informal and formal learning

Research and practical projects that link science communication and education.

Children as Engineers - paired peer mentors in primary schools

A new undergraduate module is being developed to provide student engineers opportunities to practice their public engagement skills with pre-service teachers and primary school children. To support Continuing Professional Development in this area, a new network for STEM outreach in primary schools in the Bristol region has been established, called Curiosity Connections Bristol.

Epic Fail

Funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Arts Council UK, Epic Fail will be a performance lecture made with, by and for young people and their families. Using the lens of Engineering and Art Epic Fail explores failure as a virtue with young people using fun, engaging, interactive and participatory methods.

Evaluation of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

This evaluation aimed to assess what makes the Christmas Lectures successful.

Horticulture Advocates Programme (HAP)

Inspiring students to explore exciting Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) opportunities in the horticultural industry, we are contributing to this project, which is being led by Eden Project Learning.

Invisible worlds

David Judge's PhD will use an action research approach to follow the development of the Eden Project’s latest exhibition, Invisible Worlds.

Science Hunters

Science Hunters is an outreach project, based at Lancaster University where it is managed by SCU Research Fellow Laura Hobbs, which uses the computer game Minecraft to engage children with science.

UWE BoxED

UWE BoxED is a school focused outreach programme of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)-related activities. The activities take place at the school and, this year, the focus is on Key Stage 3 and 4 (Years 7–13). The aim is to support schools in delivering engaging STEM content and keep students excited about STEM subjects.

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