Lichen: Urban Naturalist, science and art.

I held my first workshop in almost a year last Saturday. This was an Urban Naturalist event on Lichen. The last workshop I did was for the Manchester Science Festival, 2012 and was aimed at children. This most recent workshop was for an adult audience. You might not know but I like to think of myself as a unique member of the science communication team because I have an art degree. I don’t often call myself an artist because of the stigma that comes with the title. I don’t draw or paint, make sculptures or videos, the usual questions I am asked. Instead I used my art practice to develop Lichen workshops as citizen science projects. My aim of my Urban Naturalist was to teach people about Lichen and share my passion with them, giving them skills to identify species. But this workshop ended up being more science than art.

I realised that I have strayed from my creative roots more than I would like to and so I am making a change. I will take the criticism that I have and will receive from the science community and I can pretend to be something that I am not or I can use my talents to help the science communication community. So, this is a call out; I want to do more, excite people more, and I want to do that with engaged and enthusiastic science folk! Anyone fancy it?

Tweet me @jo_keogh 


Bright Club: The History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester.

When you turn up to your first bright club, you really have no idea what to expect. Walking through the doors of the venue (the bar Jabez Clegg) there was certainly a fear the next two hours were going to be filled with cringeworthy, unfunny tales of boring science! However, we should have known better! What would ensue would be five very funny, engaging, satirical stories from the history of science.


Bright Club, founded by UCLs Steve Cross (@Steve_x above with blurred hand) throws together the research academic, a stage and an audience, with the hope that this combination will result in a great night for all. Bright Club is all about making people laugh. In the ‘ten commandments’ on its website,  rule number 10 states the audience should feel like they have been  to a proper comedy night. When Bright Club came to Manchester as part of the ICHSTM conference fringe events, it certainly delivered on this.

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Kicking off the show was Mr Bright Club himself, Steve Cross. A great compare, he kept the audience regaled with tales of … Jodrell Bank (you had to be there). One by one our comedians/academics came up on stage…

The night was a great success, with stories on old misogynistic scientists to a (potentially concerning) revelation that Canada was out to kill us. The evening was a successful mix of science, history and most importantly comedy.

The next Bright Club will be a ‘Monsters’ special on 31st October 2013 for the Manchester Science festival.


Social Media Training Day


Just because some people shout the loudest doesn’t mean they are worth hearing. After a half-day session with Chris Norton from Dinosaur PR, I am feeling very inspired by social media. I wrote a piece for Digital Innovation on social media for academics and I want to add to my last opinion blog on Digital Innovations Opinion section about it.

We might be on social media, but how many of us are actually contributing or are we ‘lurkers’ as Chris said. Do you want to promote yourself but aren’t creating conversation and instead posting out tweets with no question incentive? Previously I had said it is fine to watch and listen, but I never added the importance of conversation. An academic asked how to keep his students engaged after a lecture. This is a great chance to continue the conversation, having relevant and up to date debates, sharing content and extending the lecture. However, remember you need to know what people want to talk about, ask those who you are trying to engage so your content is right for them.

Not everyone will reply to you on twitter, but if someone talks to you, remember it is important to reply so that you actually have a conversation. Comments can be scary, they are not always positive. A friend of mine has a blog, and for the first time had a comment from someone on its content, a negative comment. Looking back this is great, I explained that comments make a blog, if it gets people thinking so much that they actually add their opinion then you are doing something right!  I think we can forget that social media, or digital media as it is becoming, is all about conversations. We should be sharing knowledge with others, giving opinions and not always agreeing. How many of us are actually digesting the information and then really thinking about it? Maybe it’s time to come out of the virtual shadows and open yourself up to the conversation potential, I know it’s time I did.

MICRA Public Lecture: Holding Back the Years: Living to 150 – Ethical and Social Challenges

Date: Tuesday 23 April 2013

Time: 6.30 – 8.00pm,

Venue: Lecture Theatre A and B, University Place, University of Manchester

Price: Free
“I’m spearheading the global crusade to defeat aging” – Dr Aubrey de Grey

On Tuesday 23rd April 2013, Dr Aubrey de Grey author of the book, ‘Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime’, will present his views on the ethics of radically postponing age-related ill health.

Dr. de Grey believes that the key biomedical technology required to eliminate ageing-derived debilitation and death entirely is now within reach.

Professor Jason Powell, Professor of Social Justice and Community Practice, Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Sarah Chan, Deputy Director of ISEI and Research Fellow in Bioethics and Law will then respond in what is expected to be a lively and challenging debate.

Professor James Nazroo, Co-director of Manchester Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Research on Ageing (MICRA) at the University of Manchester will be chairing the event. Professor Nazroo said: ‘Ageing populations raise significant ethical as well as economic and social issues for society in the future. The discussion will highlight some of the key questions confronting all generations in responding to the challenges raised by demographic change’.
Please register for this FREE public lecture via: http://micrapubliclecture-eorg.eventbrite.com/#

Any queries?: please contact micra@manchester.ac.uk

Manchester’s Development Education Project


DEP Current Projects:

DEP has a number of funded projects that we are delivering and these range from smaller one of commissions to bigger three year grant funded projects.

The projects include:

  • North West Development Agency (NWDA) funded Teach Climate Change Project which ran from 2009-2011 and produced the teach climate change website and directory as well as the climate trump game.
  • Department for International Development (DfID) funded Science for Global Citizenship SFGC a three year development awareness project finishing in March 2012
  • Department for International Development (DfID) funded Personal to Global Finance P2GF a mini three year project finishing in March 2012

Manchester’s Development Education Project Website

Coffee and Conversation with Directorate

Enjoy a chat and a cake
Staff are reminded that we are holding Coffee and Conversation sessions this week and next at Hollings and All Saints respectively.
We received very positive feedback from those of you who attended last year’s sessions and we are hoping more staff will come along to future sessions.
These informal sessions provide an opportunity for any member of staff to drop in for a chat about issues you are interested in with the Vice Chancellor and his colleagues on the University’s top management team, whilst enjoying a morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Dates are:
Thursday 7th March between 11am and 12.30pm in the Refectory at Hollings, with Colin Renfrew Dean of Hollings & Ruth Ashford Dean of MMUBS.
Thursday 14th March between 12.30pm and 1.45pm in the Refectory, Mabel Tylecote building, with David Crow, Dean of A&D, Mary Heaney, Director of Services and John Brooks, Vice Chancellor.
Come along between the times shown for a complimentary morning coffee or afternoon tea.  Further session are planned for the summer term, dates for these session will be communicated via ManMetLife.
Head of Organisation Development, Training and Diversity