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John Innes Centre

Media & Public Engagement

It is essential that our world-leading scientists develop dialogue on the social impact of their research and that they are able to participate in public fora to discuss in a global context issues that face us all:- food security; health and environmental sustainability.  Thus, engagement is an integral part of our science mission.

A key objective is to inspire the potential ‘next generation’ of scientists, and citizens more generally, with the pervasive importance and relevance of this science to their lives. Within our strategy, a variety of measures - including practical activities, meetings and events, media engagement - are employed to interact with a broad set of target audiences.

JIC Scientists at the 2009 Discovery DayWhat about JIC's involvement with the general public?

JIC actively encourages its scientists to engage with the public and has an active Science and Society programme that uses various communication tools to reach a broad range of audiences. The programme is coordinated and facilitated by the JIC Communications Team.

Many of our Science in Society activities are designed to provide audiences with face-to-face contact with scientists, in an environment that facilitates understanding of emerging science. Our scientists are regularly involved in talks and activities throughout the year including National Science Week.  We provide speakers for public meetings, debates on science and its applications as well as engaging with interest groups (farmers, horticultural societies etc.). We regularly collaborate with a number of organisations at both a local and national level.

We have presented our science at a variety of different shows and festivals including: the Edinburgh Science Festival, Chelsea Flower Show, Cereals, the Royal Norfolk Show, the Royal Show and the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

Jointly with Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, the School of Biological Sciences, UEA, we delivered a series of workshops and events on ‘Growing Grain’. The aim of the project was to promote understanding of the issues surrounding crop improvement through a series of family-focused workshops and events. The project was funded through CUE East, the Eastern region Beacon for Public Engagement, and a report is available to download.

Friends of JICJohn Innes has a Friends organisation (FoJIC) that provides previews of JIC activities and an 'insiders' view of JIC science and resources. Some of the recent FoJIC events have been video recorded and are available to view from the Friends web page.

At a recent community event JIC scientists gave a series of short talks which we recorded and are now available to view:

Pupils on the Inside Science workshop at JICWhat does JIC do for schools?

For school students, JIC is leading on the organisation of a 4 day Yr10 Science Camp which enables us to host a larger group of students and provide a unique inspirational insight into life as a scientist at the NRP.

JIC participates in the JIF/NRP Nuffield Scholarship Scheme which provides local sixth formers with a four-week vacation placement as an opportunity to gain direct experience of research on the Norwich Research Park.

JIC's Kim Findlay in collaboration with the JIC Communications Team has produced Microscopy@JIC - a website with the aim of answering many of the questions asked of the JIC Bioimaging Team from members of the public and, in particular, teachers and students. They hope the website will provide basic educational information and inspire you to learn more about microscopy.

Inside Science ‘Inside Science’ - The Norwich Bioscience Institutes invite gifted and talented science students from around the region to spend three days on an intensive workshop, hearing about the research we do first hand, meeting students, post-docs and research assistants hearing exactly what it’s like to work in science.

We are following the ‘graduands’ to see what impact spending time in a real science environment has on their future career decisions.

Pupils participate in a Microscopy insight day at JICFor a complete list of opportunities for Schools, please see our 'opportunities for Schools' section.

JIC is committed to supporting science teaching in schools and actively encourages its scientists to join the Norfolk Teacher Scientist Network (TSN), which is an independent organisation that partners Norfolk teachers with scientists.

JIC scientist Anne Osbourn has established the SAW Trust to continue her work encouraging children to explore and experience the world around them through involvement with science, the arts and writing. A SAW Showcase event was held at the John Innes Centre in July 2008 at which 15 schools presented the fruits of their labours. View photos from the event.

What does JIC do for the Media?

JIC welcomes enquiries from the media. As an independent research organisation we can provide you with information and advice on a wide range of plant and microbial science topics from our expert scientists. If we are unable to help we will always try to refer you to someone who can.

We regularly contribute our expertise to TV and radio news and documentary programmes. Our scientists have recently contributed to Horizon, Bang Goes the Theory, Gardeners World, BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, BBC News and more.

We have an ISDN studio available for interviews and can supply high resolution digital images to illustrate copy.

Go to our Press Office page for further details.

What resources does JIC have that are potentially available to the public?

JIC produces 'Advances' which aims to reflect the originality of the science we do and addresses the interests and needs of our wide stakeholder base. We also produce other occasional publications on our activities and on plant and microbial science in general. These are available on our publications pages.

We maintain and/or contribute to various public domain scientific databases that provide access to large amounts of valuable scientific data.

As a result of our long history we have extensive scientific archives that include material from the early days of the John Innes Centre's founding organisations. This archive is a fascinating insight into the growth both of a major research centre and a significant part of the UK's plant science research.

The John Innes Foundation owns a unique collection of botanical books, which chronicles the development of botanical illustration over more than four centuries and includes many works that are landmarks in the history of plant science.

The Centre has a high-quality Conference Centre that is regularly used for scientific meetings but is also available to external users. The Conference Centre is regularly used for musical concerts and art exhibitions.