LifeLab 2019: Coming soon to Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge!

LifeLab 2019: Coming soon to Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge!

Last September, a group of our region’s major research institutes helped bring hundreds of scientists together with over 3,500 people, through talks, performances, storytelling, hands-on activities and tours, all in a time period of just 36 hours!

It was the first outing of LifeLab – a coordinated effort to bring the excitement and opportunities of our region’s life science sector to a wide range of audiences. LifeLab focused activities on Cambridge and Peterborough, but is part of a much larger celebration of science and research called European Researchers’ Night. Every year, on the last weekend in September, 360 cities across Europe stage activities at the same time, reaching a collective audience of over 1.5 million people. It’s the world’s biggest festival promoting public engagement with research.

LifeLab’s aim is to interact with audiences that might not necessarily be drawn by the science festivals or events in Cambridge and the surrounding areas. This meant making an active effort to take the lab to people - quite literally in Peterborough where a fully staffed makeshift biology and genetics lab sprung up for the weekend in the heart of the Queensgate shopping centre. Researchers also descended on the city’s Cathedral Square, while in Cambridge, science buskers flooded the city’s Grafton Centre and Grand Arcade. A mix of other events took place for adult audiences, including a comedy night at the Cambridge Brewhouse, a film night at the Light cinema and a science-late at Cambridge Science Centre.

Words can’t really sum up the enthusiasm and diversity of the reactions LIfeLab achieved, and our short video digest of the event tells the story much better.

LifeLab returns in 2019 on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 September, and we’re introducing Ely as a third centre of activity, kicking off the programme in Ely Cathedral on the Friday night, and holding a range of interactive activities in a marquee just outside on the Saturday. In Peterborough, we’ll be again turning Queensgate Centre into a lab for the day, while a special LifeLab Loud production will be staged at the city’s Key Theatre. In Cambridge, our comedy night returns, this time taking over the Cambridge Junction while a host of other events will be taking place across the city.

The best way to keep up with LifeLab is to follow our twitter account @camlifelab. This website will include full details about the 2019 programme once these are finalised. We’re hoping to engage even more researchers with even more people in 2019. Mark your diaries for the end of September (27th & 28th) and look out for inspiring ways to connect with the world-leading life science being done in our region every day.

Authored by:

Ken Skeldon, Head of Public Engagement at the Wellcome Genome Campus and LifeLab coordinator.

About Ken:

Ken has worked in research, outreach and public engagement for over 20 years. As a researcher he worked in diverse areas including gravitational waves and medical spectroscopy, supported by fellowships from STFC and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Ken’s interest in outreach and engagement was energised with the award of a NESTA Fellowship in 2005 and from 2008 he worked in Aberdeen, building partnerships to create multiple platforms to connect researchers and communities and coordinating the local effort to bring the British Science Festival to the city in 2012. In the same year, he received an MBE for his work in science engagement in The Queen’s Birthday Honours. While in Scotland, Ken also spearheaded Explorathon - Scotland’s first European Researchers' Night - which is now in its fifth year. Since 2017 Ken has headed up Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement, forming LifeLab in 2018 as a partnership with the major research institutes across Cambridgeshire. In tandem with his team at the Campus, supporting over 2000 staff, Ken continues to work across local, regional and international agendas focused on empowering and supporting engaged research.