Research Comms

Research Comms


Research Comms is a podcast exploring the theme of research communications in a digital age, hosted by Peter Barker. Each episode will feature an interview with a guest who is doing inspiring, innovative work in the field of research communications or public engagement. Fun and informative, the goal of research comms is to give researchers and communicators fresh ideas about how to tell research stories. Suitable for everyone from rookie research communicators to seasoned professionals.

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    Duration: 40min | 08/08/2019

    Dr Peter Hotez has devoted most of his professional life to developing vaccines to combat neglected tropical diseases that affect millions of the most impoverished people in the world. More recently he has also become an outspoken and prominent advocate for vaccines in the face of the growing anti-vaccine movement. In this episode Dr Hotez opens up about why he is so angry with those spearheading the anti-vaccine movement and his new book 'Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism' which debunks some of the most prevalent anti-vaccine myths, as well as telling the story of his life as the father of a daughter with autism. This podcast is presented by Peter Barker and produced by Orinoco Communications. Twitter: @orinococomms -------------- LINKS to PETER HOTEZ Books Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism Forgotten People Forgotten Diseases Blue Marble Health Twitter: @PeterHotez Website:    

    Duration: 46min | 09/07/2019

    Will Storr is an award winning author, journalist and storytelling speaker, whose most recent book ‘The Science of Storytelling’ unpicks why storytelling is such an essential part of being human, and how we can use science and our understanding of the human brain to become better, more powerful storytellers and, by extension, better communicators.  Presented by Peter Barker Produced by Orinoco Communications   BOOKS Science of Storytelling by Will Storr The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr ARTICLES Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Ketchup Conundrum’ TALKS Will Storr’s ‘Science of Storytelling’ Ted X Talk

    Duration: 37min | 02/07/2019

    In this first episode of the new series Peter talks with Dr Shaun O'Boyle: science communicator, founder of House of STEM (a network of LGBTQ+ scientists in Ireland) and co-organiser of grass-roots initiative, LGBT STEM Day, which is gearing up to happen for a second time this July 5th 2019. Peter and Shaun talk about some of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ scientists, why so many feel that they have to hide their sexuality in the workplace and about why science communicators are perfectly placed to drive culture change in the STEM sector.   LINKS House of Stem Pride In Stem Queering Museums ‘Exploring the Workplace for LGBT+ Physical Scientists’ report by Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Astronomical Society. Yoder and Mattheis; Queer in STEM: Workplace Experiences Reported in a National Survey of LGBTQA Individuals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers A reading list by Shaun O’Boyle that he maintains at House of STEM Articl

    Duration: 44min | 27/02/2019

    How do you tell the story of an 800+ year old academic institution - one of the most famous universities in the world - using the most modern of communications methods? Barney Brown has been doing that for the past decade as Head of Digital Communications at Cambridge University where he has headed up an award-winning team that not only generates excellent digital content of its own but also embraces other creators who form part of the university community, such as student vloggers.  In this episode of Research Comms Barney Brown talks about the power of authenticity, how academic institutions can tap into the creativity of their members, as well as giving advise on what social media platforms offer the greatest returns on investment. To  ------------------------- Research Comms is produced by Peter Barker, digital media producer and director of Orinoco Communications, which is a communications agency that specialises in the communication of research and innovation in science, the social sciences and humaniti

  • S2 Ep9: The Science Media Centres Fiona Fox on the relationship between scientists and the press
    S2 Ep9: The Science Media Centre's Fiona Fox on the relationship between scientists and the press
    Duration: 49min | 12/02/2019

    In this episode The Science Media Centre's Fiona Fox talks about the turbulent time in the late 1990s/early 2000s when science was rocked by a number of adverse news stories that led to the formation of her organisation. She reflects on how things have changed in the seventeen years since the SMC started, the impact of digital technology on science journalism, and the danger posed if scientists decided to retreat to their ivory towers. ---------------------- LINKS  

  • S2 Ep8: Dr Kat Arney
    S2 Ep8: Dr Kat Arney
    Duration: 41min | 06/02/2019

    This week's guest is science communication extraordinaire, Dr Kat Arney. Kat cut her scicomm teeth at Cancer Research UK where she spent 12 years before a hugely successful run with phenomenally successful podcast series The Naked Scientists. Now she is a freelancer producer and has her own science communication consulting company. Her latest work is the brilliant podcast, Genetics Unzipped. Through her years in the science communication sector Kat has developed an acute understanding of what it takes to engage people with compelling and accessible narratives and she was kind enough to share her wisdom with me in this episode. --------------- Kat's website First Create the Media Genetics Unzipped --------------- Research Comms is produced and presented by Peter Barker in association with Orinoco Communications. Orinoco is a digital communications agency that specialises in the communication of research and innovation.  

  • S2 Ep7: Jonathan Haidt on Communicating Across Cultural Divides
    S2 Ep7: Jonathan Haidt on Communicating Across Cultural Divides
    Duration: 39min | 24/01/2019

    That we’re living in highly polarised times won’t come as news to most people. Our natural propensity to tribalism has been let loose and public discourse has given way to people ranting and raving at anybody who doesn’t share their worldview. And all of this comes at a time when we need strong and healthy debates more than ever to to tackle the major challenges we face. So what can we do to encourage better communication across political and cultural divides? How can we have productive conversations about issues like climate change that have become so politically and culturally loaded? In this episode of Research Comms social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, author of the superb book ‘The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion’ talks about how we can break down barriers by talking to people’s ‘elephants’ and why the defence of viewpoint diversity in academic and research institutions is one of the most critical battles of our times, an argument laid out in his latest book, The Codd

  • S02 Ep6: The British Academys Communications Director, Liz Hutchinson
    S02 Ep6: The British Academy's Communications Director, Liz Hutchinson
    Duration: 30min | 15/01/2019

    The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences. For almost 120 years the Academy has been championing these disciplines and boasts some of their most distinguished scholars as fellows, past and present, including John Maynard Keynes, C.S. Lewis, Mary Beard and Rowan Williams. Recently the BA announced a new strategic plan that places reinvigorated communications at its core, so for this episode of Research Comms I caught up the Communications Director, Liz Hutchinson, to find out more about their plans. --------------------------- British Academy Website British Academy Blog Wonkhe article by Liz Hutchinson Diarmaid MacCulloch on 'What are the humanities?' --------------------------- Research Comms Blog

  • S02 Ep5: Hana Ayoob
    S02 Ep5: Hana Ayoob
    Duration: 29min | 10/01/2019

    Hana Ayoob is a science communicator with a plethora of skills. She is a festival organiser who has helped run some of the UK’s biggest science events, she is a comedian, a consultant, an illustrator and one quarter of the excellent science podcast ‘Why Aren’t You A Doctor Yet?’ In this week’s episode of Research Comms Hana talks about her multi-pronged approach to scicomm, what it’s like being a new-found freelancer and why she is so committed to supporting minorities in STEM. This episode can also be found over on the Research Comms Blog. Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to the podcast if you like what you hear and please feel free to leave a review! ----------------------------- To see/hear what Hana does check out here work here: For her illustrations: Why Aren't You A Doctor Yet? podcast:  

  • S02 Ep4: Sam Illingworth on Communication of Climate Science
    S02 Ep4: Sam Illingworth on Communication of Climate Science
    Duration: 39min | 11/12/2018

    In this week's episode I welcome back friend of the podcast and science communicator, Sam Illingworth, to talk with me about the recent report 'Climate Communication in Practice - How Are We Engaging the UK Public with Climate Change?' produced by Sam and members of the Climate Communications Project.  We discuss the importance of identifying specific audiences, the need to understand their beliefs and values, and how it's ok for scientists to have opinions.  Here are links to some of the things discussed: The Climate Communications Project Report Yale Climate Change Communication Report 2017 The Age of Consequences documentary How Not to Talk About Climate Science YouTube Climate Visuals Project

  • S02 Ep3: Jessica Fox on Science and Storytelling
    S02 Ep3: Jessica Fox on Science and Storytelling
    Duration: 31min | 04/12/2018

    Science and storytelling are not often seen as natural bedfellows. Stories are more commonly associated with the make-believe, told for purposes of entertainment or escapism. Cast as being a million miles away from the strict, truth-seeking nature of science. But in reality science and storytelling have a great deal to offer each other, at least when it comes to the communication of science. In this week’s episode of the Research Comms Podcast we’ll be exploring how storytelling can help drive clear communication of scientific ideas to all kinds of audience. And my guest, who will be helping me do that, is Jessica Fox: writer, filmmaker and science storytelling consultant. We speak about how she got into the world of science storytelling, why stories resonate with us so deeply, and how researchers can harness the power of Story to engage people with their ideas. ---------------- Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets available here Jay O'Callahan's story about NASA 'Forged In The Stars' can be seen here

  • S02 Ep2: Science Gallery London
    S02 Ep2: Science Gallery London
    Duration: 26min | 28/11/2018

    In September of this year London welcomed an exciting new addition to its cultural scene - Science Gallery London - opened by King’s College London at its central London Bridge location. It promises to be a place ‘where science and art collide’ designed with young adults in mind; a space where visitors can consider the most urgent scientific challenges we face, through the lens of art and culture. Just before its opening I popped along to check out ‘Hooked’ its inaugural exhibition, exploring the theme of addiction, and in this episode of the Research Comms podcast I chat to some of the people who have helped to bring the gallery’s mission to life.

  • S02 Ep1: Lord Martin Rees
    S02 Ep1: Lord Martin Rees
    Duration: 38min | 20/11/2018
  • S01 Ep 9: The Academic Ideas Labs Lucy Vernall on getting your research on the TV or radio
    S01 Ep 9: The Academic Ideas Lab's Lucy Vernall on getting your research on the TV or radio
    Duration: 37min | 13/06/2018

    In 2011 the Academic Ideas Lab was created, with the goal of transferring the most exciting research stories from UK universities onto our TV screens and radios. Ex TV producer, Lucy Vernall, runs the company and in this episode of the Research Comms podcast she talks about the challenges of getting shows commissioned, what elements can turn a piece of research into a captivating documentary idea, the difficulty of gauging the impact of reaching millions of people with your research, and how the changing digital landscape is affecting our viewing habits and what we watch.

  • S01 Ep8: Oxford Sparks Michaela Livingstone Banks on science communication and digital engagement
    S01 Ep8: Oxford Spark's Michaela Livingstone Banks on science communication and digital engagement
    Duration: 36min | 31/05/2018

    Just over ten years ago a couple of communications staff at Oxford University realised that there was need for a one-stop-shop where members of the public could go to find out more about the university's scientific research. Oxford Sparks was the result. It started out as a website and has since grown into a multi-faceted digital engagement programme, including including podcasts, animations, blogs, teaching resources and live streaming events. In charge of it all is Michaela Livingstone Banks, who is this week's podcast guest. In this episode of Research Comms she discusses the need to be realistic when defining a target audience, getting scientists into bed for Facebook Live, overcoming social media algorithm changes and the power of networking.

  • S01 Ep7: Katherine Mathieson on the British Science Associations bold new mission
    S01 Ep7: Katherine Mathieson on the British Science Association's bold new mission
    Duration: 38min | 17/05/2018

    Last week I met up with one of the most influential figures in British science and science communication, Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association. The British Science Association is an organisation that plays a prominent role on the science scene over here in the UK. It's been around for almost 200 years now, since it was founded in 1831 as the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Its focus back then was on the communication of science amongst scientists but since then it’s evolved considerably and now it’s a far more outward looking organisation that seeks to engage the public with science through a variety of programmes, such as British Science Week and the British Science Festival, as well as public engagement campaigns both offline and digital. I had a fascinating conversation with Katherine at BSA's headquarters in London.  As you’d imagine, given her role, she's a passionate advocate of the importance of public engagement with science, so we spoke about why

  • S01 Ep6: Kimberley Freeman on What is Public Engagement?
    S01 Ep6: Kimberley Freeman on 'What is Public Engagement?'
    Duration: 34min | 03/05/2018
  • S01 Ep5: University of Texass J.B. Bird and Christine Sinatra
    S01 Ep5: University of Texas's J.B. Bird and Christine Sinatra
    Duration: 35min | 19/04/2018

    This week's episode of the Research Comms podcast comes all the way from America's wild and wonderful Lone Star State......Texas. A few weeks ago I paid a visit to the University of Texas in Austin to meet the team behind some of the most creative research and science communication content that's coming out of American universities at the moment. J.B. Bird is UT's Director of Media Relations and Christine Sinatra is Director of Communications at the university's College of Natural Sciences.

  • S01 - Ep4: Professor Sir Doug Turnbull tells the story of his fight to persuade politicians to legalise a pioneering but controversial fertility treatment
    S01 - Ep4: Professor Sir Doug Turnbull tells the story of his fight to persuade politicians to legalise a pioneering but controversial fertility treatment
    Duration: 34min | 05/04/2018

    This episode tells the story of a team of scientists and doctors from Newcastle’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research who spent years campaigning strenuously, alongside patients, to persuade UK policymakers to pass a law that would permit the use of a pioneering but controversial fertility treatment The team from Newcastle hoped that the IVF treatment, known as mitochondrial donation, might halt the transmission from one generation to the next of a devastating, incurable and often fatal condition - mitochondrial disease - that blights the lives of many thousands of families across the world. In 2015 the five year long campaign reached a dramatic conclusion when Parliament made its landmark vote on whether or not the treatment should be allowed in the UK. It was huge victory for the campaigners, shared amongst the doctors, scientists, patients and their families but much credit has to go to the man who spearheaded the campaign, Professor Sir Doug Turnbull. Professor Turnbull is one of the world’s

  • S01 Ep3 - Being Human Festivals Michael Eades on public engagement with humanities research
    S01 Ep3 - Being Human Festival's Michael Eades on public engagement with humanities research
    Duration: 42min | 20/03/2018

    This week's episode comes right from the heart of Bloomsbury in London; from iconic Senate House, to be precise, where the UK's only dedicated humanities festival, the Being Human festival, is organised. The man in charge of putting on this public engagement extravaganza is Michael Eades and I caught up with him to chat about the health of the humanities and to hear his insights into what it's like to put on a global festival celebrating the latest research into the humanities. Research Comms Blog  

  • Episode 2
    Episode 2
    Duration: 27min | 13/03/2018

    This week the Research Comms podcast is becoming somewhat introspective with an episode all about...podcasts! I was lucky enough to joined by Emily Elias, presenter and producer of my favourite research podcast around at the moment, the Oxford Sparks Big Questions podcast, and we shot the breeze about topics such as why podcasts are so popular right now; how to communicate complex research in an accessible, engaging way; whether or not there's a secret magic ingredient to creating a successful podcast; and the importance of building a community to help grow your podcast. Emily gave me some really valuable podcast production insights, which will be hugely helpful to anybody who is looking to use podcasting as a way of communicating their research to a wide audience. Research Comms Blog

  • Episode 1
    Episode 1
    Duration: 20min | 13/03/2018

    My guest on Episode 1 is science communication expert, Sam Illingworth. Sam is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University and he is also a prolific practitioner of digital science communication. Listen for Sam's top tips on how to avoid being overwhelmed when it comes to building an engaged community around your research, and a live rendition of one of his fantastic science poems 'A Piscine Problem' that addresses that age-old problem of people peeing in public swimming pools! Research Comms Blog