In early October I found out that I'd been selected to take part in the live finals of I'm A Scientist Get Me Out of Here. I'm a Scientist is an online public engagement event where students meet and chat to scientists from all over the world.
I was one of 5 scientists to be placed into the RSC funded "Energy Zone". Each scientist put together a profile detailing their research and over two weeks took part in 20 online "chats" with classes of students aged between 12 and 14.
I answered questions about my day-to-day life, my research, energy, general science and my hobbies and interests. Students also left nearly 150 offline questions for me to answer ranging from "what is X-ray crystallography and why is it useful?" to "would you like to be a unicorn for a day?" (Obviously the answer is yes).
Scientists were gradually "evicted" based on student votes until I was announced as the winner. I will receive £500 prize money to spend on public science communication and I'm looking forward to spending it designing a Giant Science Treasure Hunt around Edinburgh city celebrating the incredible history of scientific achievements, and the present day research happening in the capital.
The event was a hugely rewarding way of engaging with approximately 900 school students, challenging their perceptions about what it means to be a scientist and hopefully reminding them that beyond the facts they learn at school there is a whole world of science out there and it's getting bigger and bigger!