Tackling global problems
The Earlham Institute’s open day allowed young people and members of the public to get to grip with the organisation’s hugely important work
The Earlham Institute’s genomics research is helping to understand life on Earth, tackle climate change, protect biodiversity and investigate breakthroughs in health and medicine. On May 21, the Institute held Inside EI, an open day in which it opened its doors and allowed members of the public to come inside the Institute’s rather impressive Norwich Research Park headquarters to learn more about the diverse projects it works on everyday.
There was a lot to learn in just a single day. So, to combat this the open day was packed with interactive exhibits to engage and pique the curiosity of attendees.
These ranged from sampling cocoa beans in the GROW Colombia Zone to a scent-based experience designed to help visitors get to grips with synthetic biology.
“We want to get feedback on what we’re doing from young people, because that can be really valuable for them and us,” explains Prof Neil Hall, the Director of the Earlham Institute.
Getting young people engaged in science is of great importance to the Institute he explains: “This open day allows pupils to meet real scientists and gives them a greater understanding of what a career in science looks like.”
Inside EI was also open to members of the public in the afternoon: “We think it’s critical that the public understands what we do and our contribution to society and the environment,” says Neil.
“The Institute receives significant funding from
government grants, so in a way all our work belongs to the public.”
As the Institute works with labs across the world, from Africa to India, the value of different groups combining their research was prominently displayed throughout the various exhibits.
“Science in general has moved to a collaborative model,” says Neil. “The fields we work in often require a high level of expertise in multiple areas. One person can’t be an expert in all of them so it’s a requirement that we work collaboratively to combine knowledge.”
The Earlham Institute works on massive global problems that, in the next several decades, will have serious ramifications if not tackled.
“Our Institute isn’t going to single handily solve these problems, but it’s a global effort, and it’s important that we play our part.”