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The Curiosity Carnival rolled into town on 29 September for a festival of all things research. Over 30 researchers from across RDM took part in the largest public engagement event Oxford has ever staged.

Curiosity carnival 3 Ian Wallman

The day kicked-off with researchers from the Eggeling Lab (MRC Human Immunology Unit) taking to the streets with bubbles and rainbows. The team are developing new microscopy techniques to better understand the immune system and cancer. In their ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’ stand, the researchers got back to microscopy basics and discussed the science of light.

Meanwhile, our Cardiac Contractility Group were at the Botanic Gardens sharing a cup of green tea with visitors as they discussed their work on cardiomyopathy – an inherited heart muscle disease. They are exploring how the key component of green tea could be used to treat the disease. Elsewhere in the Gardens, Medicinal Chemistry DPhil students who collaborate with RDM researchers were taking the public through the uses of different plants in treating heart disease.

The festivities continued into the evening at Oxford’s iconic museums. In the Museum of Natural History, researchers from the Dong, Rorsman and de Bruijn labs hosted ‘The Blood Factory’ – an immersive experience where visitors could learn more about the components of blood including the hormone and immune systems. After an afternoon of DIY, turning a classroom full of specimens into a blood vessel, it was wonderful to see so many visitors chatting to our researchers about the latest research.

For those wanting a slower pace, there was the opportunity to take a seat at the Researchers Café, and learn about the latest diabetes research with Reshma Ramracheya and Sam Stephen.

Over at the Ashmolean Museum, researchers from the MRC Computational Biology Centre took people on a virtual reality tour of the genome, bringing to life the latest theories of the influence of DNA folding on health and disease.

We were delighted to be joined by Flux Dance, who debuted [AF] – a performance about atrial fibrillation, inspired by work in RDM. Audiences were captivated as the four dancers performed a danced infographic about the heart and heart rhythms.

Discussing the Curiosity Carnival, Professor Ian Walmsley FRS, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), said:

Curiosity Carnival - Oxford’s contribution to European Researchers Night - was a great success. Over 500 DPhil students, researchers and academics took part in this project, engaging the public with the exciting, world-class research and innovation that takes place at Oxford.

I would like to thank all of those that took part in Curiosity Carnival and for developing and delivering such high-quality and creative activities that have engaged thousands of young people and adults.

Oxford is committed to embedding public engagement as an integral part of research culture and practice and Curiosity Carnival is one of the many ways that we are offering researchers the support and opportunity to become more experienced in how to communicate their work effectively to new audiences”.

Curiosity Carnival attracted 10,000 visitors to Oxford City Centre – 5,000 of them in the Ashmolean and Natural History Museum. It was a fantastic night and it was wonderful to see so many different groups from RDM taking part. Thank you to everyone involved!