The scientists and support staff in the National Collection of Type Cultures, NCTC, are driven and passionate about what we do. We are continuously fascinated by the strains in the collection; those with a rich history and the new emerging pathogens. We are always keen to take an opportunity to talk about the collection, microbiology and how we started our career journey.
Several NCTC staff are involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) outreach with the public with the view to instil an interest in young people for a STEM career.
Our NCTC Quality Control Supervisor, Hannah McGregor, explains why she is a STEM-Ambassador and the events our staff have taken part in.
'I love being a STEM-Ambassador and sharing my experiences with a wide range of communities. I am also keen to enable others in our organisation to do the same. This year I have helped to coordinate a number of events within Public Health England, where NCTC is situated, to help promote the work we do.
As part of British Science Week in March 2019, we hosted a visit from 45 students studying Biomedical Science to our site in Colindale. The students were able to observe the wide variety of science that takes place in Public Health England. This included: talks from epidemiologists, a visit to the containment level 4 facility, seeing an electron microscope in action and hands-on experience in a microbiology laboratory. The visit had given the students a better understanding of the range of career options available to them.
Alongside this, we set up a laboratory in Harlow College for the week and prepared hands-on activities for 90 A-level and BTech students. Amongst the activities prepared by NCTC staff were “How clean are your hands” in which the role good hand washing techniques play in preventing the spread of disease and “Disease Detectives” where agar plates were inoculated with fake patient samples.
Further activities NCTC staff have taken part in include the Big Bang Fair, Birmingham, the School Science Conference and Biomedical Science Day. Our QC Microbiologist Dipali Pindoria ran activities at the London Big Bang Fair in July at Westminster Kingsway College. Over 50 schools attended with a range of children aged 6-14 years. The children really enjoyed the dexterity boards as they learnt how to pick up small bolts and nuts with forceps mimicking how small volumes and objects are grasped in the laboratory.
I would recommend anyone in the UK with an interest in STEM engagement to register as a STEM ambassador. It has opened a lot of opportunities for me to meet new people and spread the word about NCTC. In our centenary year, 2020, we will be holding many more public engagement events so watch this space!'
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