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Brain diaries exhibition picks up a vice chancellors public engagement with research award

Oxford Neuroscience and Oxford University Museum of Natural History have won a Building Capacity Award for Brain Diaries, an exhibition accompanied by a public event programme and online digital resources including an animation by Oxford Sparks. The award is part of the Vice Chancellors Awards for Public Engagement with Research, now in their second year.

The exhibition presents current understanding of the life of the brain from pre-birth to old age.  The accompanying public programme explores translational and clinical neuroscience research. Making use of multiple venues across Oxford it is the most comprehensive public engagement programme organised by Oxford Neuroscience to date. 

The programme included events exploring the effects of music and art on the brain, interactive activity days, public talks, a panel show and even a special screening of a film about autism, followed by a public discussion.

As ever researchers from the Department were very much involved in the team. Gaia Scerif and Kate Nation made a major contribution to the scientific content of main exhibition.  Numerous people from across the Department created interactive activities for events including Super Science Saturday, Brain Aware and NeuroNight.  Catherine Manning hosted a showing of the film about autism ‘X plus Y’ followed by a public discussion. Kia and artist in residence Sigune Harmann took part in ‘Art and Neuroscience’ at the Ashmolean  while Anke Ehlers spoke at the academic symposium accompanying the exhibition.  Lastly but not least, Lev Thankelevitch took part in the panel show ‘No Bell Prize’ which challenged young scientists to speak about their research without using any jargon.  The work of the department was also featured in an online animation ‘Brain Development in Teenagers’ created by Oxford Sparks

The exhibition also promotes active public participation in research, enabling visitors to take part in research studies and contribute new ideas for brain investigations.  

Brain Diaries enabled researchers at all career levels to leverage the museum's experience and skills in public engagement, while accessing the museum's public to engage in the research. Launched in March 2017, the programme and exhibition has reached an audience of more than 45,000 people from Oxfordshire and beyond in its first two months of opening. More than 150 research scientists from four University departments and over 20 support staff have contributed to Brain Diaries

“We all look forward to the opportunity to engage with the public through the museums. It is particularly useful for younger researchers to have to develop ways of conveying complex information and I know they always find it very rewarding." Christopher Kennard, Head of Medical Sciences Division and Emeritus Professor of Clinical Neurology