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

EDP Norfolk - - PROMOTION -

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.”

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