Scientists from the University of Salford joined revellers at Latitude Festival 2017 as part of a Read Your DNA Live event.
Microbiologists Drs Joe Latimer, Sarah Withers and Ian Goodhead were the first to sequence bacterial DNA at a UK festival, swabbing fans and offering them an analysis of the range of bugs about their person. The Salford trio set up as mobile laboratory at the festival site in Suffolk and they delivered personalised insight into the trillions of organisms which live in and on us.
Science can often feel like it is contained within the scientific community. Performing at latitude with colleagues allowed us to see the tremendous response and excitement from people of all ages that may not have previously indulged in the scientific world. People not only listened, but engaged with us and what we were doing. With such a massive crowd in an interactive environment, we got asked a myriad of questions about our work that we may not have been asked before. This lead to us viewing our own research from new angles and perspectives. Research is near void if we cannot effectively communicate to a wide audience mabout it. I got a chance to practice my explanations and understanding of DNA sequencing and its applicabilitys just by talking to the crowds about it. With the equipment present, I could even show them how it all works. It is difficult to remember how confident I was beforethis festival but now I'm nothing but excited for my next opportunity for science/festival outreach. This has reinforced our passions for working in the biological sciences, and future student-centred festival outreach programs can even ignite new passions amongst the audiences. Sam Browett – a PhD student who worked on the project