Applicant Department Award Project
Dr Jeongmin Choi and Dr Leonie Luginbuehl Plant Sciences £529 Secret Conversations between Plants and Fungi underneath our feet
Jeongmin and Leonie will design a set of engagement activities that will showcase the importance of a beneficial relationship between plants and a group of fungi (called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi). When nutrients are limited in the soil, plants invite the fungi to colonise their roots and form tree-like structures called arbuscules inside the root cells. Fungi forage nutrients from beyond the reach of their host plants roots and deliver them to plants in exchange for carbon fixed through photosynthesis. With a strong support of the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Jeongmin and Leonie will target the Botanic Gardens visitors through producing engaging and interactive activities, and hands-on experiments. Visitors will also be able to witness this plant-fungi relationship through using chive mycorrhizal home kits. Observations from these home experiments will be fed back to researchers and published online.  
Dr Ghina Halabi Institute of Astronomy £1,500 Scheherazade Speaks Science
Ghina will create, develop and improve her 'Scheherazade Speaks Science' science communication online platform to showcase her scientific findings through storytelling and narrative blog posts (engaging the public in a powerful way). She will engage school children, particularly females from less privileged backgrounds, with her research to enthuse and inspire them to pursue the career in astronomy / STEM fields. By inviting contributions from female scientists and building a larger, diverse community of role models, Ghina plans to use her platform as an effective engagement tool to promote equality and diversity within the University and beyond.
Eòin Parkinson Archaeology £1,039 Headstone Survey in west Ulster: Cross-community engagement in rural communities
Eòin is an archaeologist from Northern Ireland who uses funerary monuments as a means of understanding both life and death in past societies. His research on the historic headstones of Northern Ireland investigates the cultural expressions of identity between Native Irish groups and English/Scottish settlers at the 17th century. By analysing inscriptions, decoration and typology of memorials, Eòin explores the differences and similarities between these groups. For his Starter Fund project, Eòin will involve members of rural communities in western Northern Ireland to enable them to engage with their shared heritage. Through public lectures and and community fieldwork (field visits, site conservation days, graveyard surveys) in west Ulster, the proposed project will not only enable participants to become directly involved in archaeological research but also develop community appreciation for important historical sites. 
Darren Bloom Music £1,200 Collision - where science meets art
Darren proposes a public engagement project that is based on his collaboration in 2016-17 with a physicist on a string quartet that was commissioned to write by the Royal Philharmonic Society for the 2017 Cheltenham Music Festival. Drawing on Carlo Rovelli's recent bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics for inspiration, they delved into the subject matter from each chapter to find points of collision where principles from physics and music could marry to express the same fundamental concept. The work they created was simultaneously a demonstration of principles from theoretical physics and a dramatic musical composition. This work will be presented to the scientifically interested members of the public and science students through an interactive lecture-recital in the 2019 Cambridge Science Festival. Engagement in this manner will serve to increase the potential audience for music in the genre, provide an enriching cultural and intellectual experience, and also broaden the understanding of the subject and its potential applications.
Dr Cerian Webb and Dr Ciara Dangerfield Plant Sciences £1,200 Cambridge University Tree Trail
Cerian and Ciara's research focuses on developing mathematical models to predict the spread of tree diseases across the UK. Such models are important for decision makers and have been used by DEFRA in the planning and control of recent tree disease outbreaks in the UK (such as ash dieback and oak processionary moth). In order to accurately estimate the spread of a new or current tree disease threat, as well as to evaluate potential control strategies, it is important to know the location and species of trees. Cerian and Ciara will engage with families through designing a tree trail around the centre of Cambridge. The tree trail will include a myriad of interactive, hands-on activities: quizzes, tree identification exercises through a phone app or a Woodland Trust tree identification booklet, a stall with an informative display of the important role trees play in the environment, current disease threats to UK trees and how to identify different tree species, and a leaf decorating station.  
Alec Hutchings Earth Sciences £1,500 PanWatch
Alec will engage the public in a temporal study of the salt marsh ecosystems in Abbotts Hall Farm, Essex. As his research focuses on the salt marsh geochemistry (heavy metals and their fate in sedimentary environments), he will propose a real-time experiment that can engage visitors to Abbott's Hall over the four month span - both directly, with independent sample collection, and indirectly, by having a long term monitoring and sampling campaign of two salt marsh ponds.
Dr Thomas Hiemstra and Laura Mader Medicine £1,500 Ketogenic Diet Therapy in Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome
Through engaging patients, family members, medical advisors, multidisciplinary healthcare providers and the UK patient charity (Ring 20 Research and Support UK) via a series of workshops, Thomas and Laura will collect data, produce surveys and draft protocols to better understand the importance of Ketogenic Diet Therapy (KDT), its challenges and benefits, and provide evidence for cohesive assessment of its use and resources. KDT is applied as a treatment to reduce seizures and improve behaviour in children with refractory epilepsy (one of the characteristics of the Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome (r(20))). Since KDT prescription and professional support is very limited in the UK, more patients and families seek informal resources and initiate their own home-based diet. Thus, the paucity of KDT r(20) research must be first addressed with a comprehensive assessment of KDT use and experience of both clinicians and r(20) families. Engaging this way will ensure the research remains relevant and practical to patient needs, and will facilitate trust with the greater patient population, increasing support, participation and dissemination.
Dr Diarmuid Hester English £1,480 Trash! Garbage, Waste and Excess in Queer Culture
Diarmuid will offer a programme of events which explores the role of trash, waste and excess in queer life and culture (based on his Leverhulme Trust supported postdoctoral project: "Culture and Waste in New York City: Ephemera, Realia, Rejectamenta"). Through a series of talks, film screenings, readings, performances and shows in Cambridge during LGBT History Month in February 2019, he will answer the following research question: how does waste as both matter and concept inform the culture of social groups who have themselves been disregarded as waste by dominant social forces? 

 

The 2018 Public Engagement Starter Fund projects are supported by:

Research England The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)