We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Scientific progress is of little value if it goes largely unnoticed by the wider society. And, let’s face it, most scientific papers are tedious to read and, even worse, tend to be inaccessible behind a paywall. Therefore, we see public engagement as one of our key missions as scientists. We are fortunate to work with a charismatic group of plants that most people find immediately fascinating. Kids in particular love carnivorous plants! Over the years, we have attended local, national and international outreach events and given lay audience talks to primary school kids, natural history societies and people in a local pub. We love these events!
Explaining to Saturday morning shoppers how pitcher plants trap insects. Soapbox Science Bristol, July 2019 (photo by Stefano Dalcanale).
Proud to be featured in the Bicentenary Anniversary Exhibition of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, with the world’s first plastinated pitcher plant trap! Cambridge University Library, May-September 2019.
Ulrike leads an excursion of the Brunei Nature Society to her field research sites in Tutong district, explaining the ecology of pitcher plants and other specialist plants inhabiting the extremely nutrient poor white silica sand deposits (‘Pasir Putih’) typical of this region. Brunei Darussalam, August 2017 (photo by Ulmar Grafe).
In a hands-on session during the Kew Science Festival, children of 5 years and above (and their parents) can step ‘into the shoes’ of an insect and experience first-hand how the slippery surfaces of carnivorous pitcher plants work. Kew Gardens, August 2016.
The lab is represented with a stall at the Bristol Festival of Nature, showcasing live ants and pitcher plants – a firm favourite with the school kids visiting on Friday! Bristol, May 2015.
Sponsorship from the British High Commission enables Ulrike to fly to Brunei and speak at the inaugural Brunei Nature Festival. Bandar Seri Begawan, June 2013 (photo by Shavez Sheema).