It’s taken me close to 5 years of being a student at a reputable research-intensive institution to truly grasp the potential impact of research on the world around us. In that time, I’ve concluded one thing: research is as much about effectively communicating a meaningful message to a wider audience as it is about developing the findings which inform that message. There are only so many people we can reach through writing papers and adding to the mass of research literature…
Imperial is undoubtedly a well-oiled machine when it comes to STEM research production. However, I have two concerns surrounding the way we use our research: 1) we don’t take enough time to leave the labs and lecture theatres - in which we find ourselves manufacturing great work - to showcase impressive work to the world around us 2) we too often close doors to fruitful collaboration by operating in disciplinary silos based on the routine culture and environment we find ourselves trapped within. In my opinion, an attitude change to research communication is needed. We need to break habits. We need to get better at communicating our research in creative ways!
However, I have to be honest in saying that positive steps have already been made to address this challenge at Imperial, a challenge admittedly faced by all research-intensive universities. And by the way, when we talk about research communication, I don’t mean the fortunate occasion when we happen to witness a science breakthrough on BBC news with Imperial’s name strapped to the headline. I’m referring to the inspirational impact which research can have (at all levels) on the lives of those within the institution, locally in the community and internationally on a global scale.
This brings me on to the Imperial Festival, which for me is the existing embodiment of creative research communication and celebration. It is a highlight in the academic calendar and is one I wish to champion for many reasons. The array of activity year on year is spectacular and having sat on the Festival committee over the past year, I can assure you, the 6th and 7th May will be bigger and better than ever before.
This is single-handedly an opportunity to immerse yourself in treasures unlocked from the jails of the Imperial research repository, and to experience revelation upon revelation of how capable this institution really is. It should not be perceived as ‘more work’. It should be perceived as technical nourishment, as community-oriented sharing, and as the future! The atmosphere will be alive as you spectate and engage, side by side with inquisitive children, fellow students and adults.
What’s more, the festival is impregnated with culture, delicious food, live music and dance performance; this year we will see the addition of a mouth-watering Food Zone. Every visitor can explore a series of zones comprising live interactive experiments, new technology demonstrations, probing talks, lab tours and performances themed around Robots, Superbugs, Health and Wellbeing and Energy and Environment.
So register for free and join us 12:00-18:00 on Saturday 6th May and 12:00-17:00 on Sunday 7th May as Imperial College, familiarly known as a university campus in the heart of Albertopolis, is transformed into a world of wonder, fascination and discovery. Keep up with developments at #impfest on Twitter.