Public Engagement

The exploration of the Solar System provides a wonderfully accessible topic to generate interest in science and technology  - images and new ideas from the edges of space can inspire, educate and excite, and is part of the reason why I became a scientist in the first place!  As researchers, we love the opportunity to ‘give something’ back to the public that fund our studies, which we do through outreach presentations, activities and, most recently, social media.  This page collects together some links and a list of activities I’ve been involved in, and you can follow my most recent activities on Twitter.

2017:

Astronomy Magazine (August 2017):  Ask an Astronomer column on how clouds form on the giant planets.

Conversation (July 13th 2017):  Article for the Conversation "Six mysteries of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot"

Mental Floss (July 12th 2017):  Interview with David Brown about the new images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot:  "Here's the Closest View of Jupiter's Great Red Spot That Humans Have Ever Seen"

Juno's GRS Encounter (July 11th 2017):  Radio Interviews with BBC Radio Kent (Drivetime, 17:30) and BBC Radio Scotland (Good Morning Scotland, 06:05).

Science Technicians Conference (June 16th 2017):  Keynote speaker welcoming 80 participants to the East Midlands Science Technicians Conference at the Education Department in Leicester.  I spoke on Leicester's involvement in planetary science, the needs for high scientific literacy in society, and served as judge for a spaghetti-tower competition.

Pythagoras' Trousers (May 31st 2017):  Podcast for Pythagoras Trousers on the finale of the Cassini mission.

Conversation (May 25th 2017):  Article on the Conversation about Juno's first results:  "The First Results are in and they already challenge our understanding of Jupiter"

New Scientist (May 3rd 2017):  Interviewed by New Scientist on the first Juno observations, as presented at the EGU in Vienna.

Royal Society Public Engagement (April 6th 2017):  Blog on public engagement written for the Royal Society Inside Science blog.

British Astronomical Association Winchester Weekend (April 9th 2017):  Keynote speaker at BAA "Winchester Weekend", presenting new Juno findings to an audience of 200 people.

Leicester Literature and Philosophy Society Geology Lecture (March 10th 2017):  45-minute seminar on the "Realm of the Giants" at the University of Leicester.

Sutton Trust and the Sun (February 12th 2017):  Interviewed by the Sun newspaper about the 20th anniversary of the Sutton Trust scheme.

Leicester Astronomical Society (January 24th 2017):  Hour long seminar on "Lifting Jupiter's Cloudy Veil: The Juno Mission" to around 60-80 members of Leicester's astronomy society at the National Space centre.

2016:

Sky at Night (December 2016):  Travelled to Green College Oxford to film in the Radcliffe Observatory for the Sky at Night review of 2016, updating the audience on Juno's exploration of Jupiter (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0857syb)

The Conversation (December 5th 2016): Article on the Conversation about Juno's first 150 days: "It's Been a turbulent start but Juno is now delivering spectacular insights into Jupiter"

National Space Academy (nationalspaceacademy.org) Careers Day Keynote speaker (November 12th 2016):  Half-hour presentation in the planetarium at the National Space Centre to ~80 Year 12 students, discussing what it's like to work on planetary science and where we might be headed in the years to come.

World Space Evening at the National Space Centre (October 1st 2016):  Opening lecture on exploring the outer solar system to an audience of around ~250 people (all age ranges).

UK Space School (August 2016):  Two lectures to the UK Senior Space School on planetary exploration, to an audience of around ~40 A-level students (16-18 year-olds).

Pythagoras Trousers and Radio Cardiff (July 28th 2016): Podcast for Pythagoras Trousers on the start of the Juno mission.

Juno's Arrival - Lecture at National Space Centre (July 5th 2016):  Event at the Space Centre featuring a 30-minute lecture on the Juno mission plus a stand in the galleries to engage with visitors.

BBC News Live (July 2016):  Live TV appearances on BBC Breakfast, BBC News at Five, BBC World News; live radio interviews on BBC Manchester, BBC Leicester, BBC World Service; interviews by local newspapers to cover Juno's arrival at Jupiter.

The Conversation (June 30th 2016): Article on the Conversation about Juno's arrival: "NASA's Juno arrives at Jupiter to lift cloudy veil"

Sky at Night:  Juno's Mission to Jupiter (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07k88x9):  Travelled to the Diamond Light Source in Didcot, Oxfordshire to use the large video wall in an interview about the Juno mission.

UKSEDS Conference (March 2016, University of Sheffield):  Hour-long lecture on the exploration of the solar system to ~300 UK undergraduates interested in space research.

2015:

Open University Geological Society, Oxford, December 8th 2015:  An hour-long lecture on giant planets and their satellites to approximately 40 members of the OUGS.  The lecture was hosted at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Barwell Meteorite:  Interviewed by a BBC researcher for personal reflections on the Barwell meteorite (the UK's largest meteorite fall, 1965). Published in the BBC magazine.

Astronomy Now Magazine (November 2015):  Interviewed for a piece by Paul Sutherland on "Winter Wonderlands", looking at how the planets in our solar system change as a function of season.

Royal Society 'Extremes in Science' discussion event, Carlton House Terrace, June 1st 2015:  A debate between a planetary scientist, evolutionary biologist, volcanologist and education specialist on the extremes of science.  A two-hour show to an audience of about 150.  https://royalsociety.org/events/2015/06/extremes-in-science/

Pint of Science Event, May 19th 2015:  One of several short science presentations over a three day festival in pubs around Oxford.  I spoke for 45 minutes on the search for life in our solar system, to sold-out audience of approximately 50 people in the Oxford Retreat.  This was followed by a lecture on nanorobots, and then by a pub quiz on the topics covered during the event.  Great fun.

http://pintofscience.co.uk/event/from-giant-planets-to-nanorobots/

Guildford Astronomical Society, May 7th 2015:  A 60-minute lecture at the University of Surrey, Guildford, on the same night as the UK General Election.  The topic covered the exploration of the giant planets, and I was touched to receive a gift from an 8-year old girl (a handmade Saturn model, comprised of pipe-cleaners and tissue paper!) as a way of thanks.

Bicester Cooper School, April 17th 2015:  An hour long presentation on exploration of the solar system to approximately 100 Year 12 students (17 years old).  The staff were apparently amazed that this was followed by a long question and answer session, and were pleased enough to invite me back!

Henley-on-Thames Cafe Scientifique, April 15th 2015:  A 45-minute lecture to an audience of approximately 50 people, followed by a lively 45-minute question and answer session.  Some great feedback:  David Reid ‏@judgedreid:  Huge thanks to @LeighFletcher for coming to Henley Cafe Sci tonight.  Entertaining, informative and he seemed to like the beer too!  I can wholeheartedly confirm the last part.

Astronomy Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, February 9th 2015:  A 90-minute lecture in the Schrodinger Lecture Theatre of Trinity College Dublin, to 150-200 people.  The lecture was preceded by live appearances on Irish National Radio:  Newstalk, the Pat Kenney Show, and the Last Word.

2014:

Abingdon Astronomical Society, December 8th 2014:  Christmas Lecture on the Realm of the Giants to approximately 50 people (amateur astronomers).

Portsmouth and District Physical Society, December 3rd 2014:  Christmas Lecture on the Realm of the Giants to approximately 15 people at the University of Portsmouth.

Oxford Outreach Lecture:  Our Violent Solar System:  Planetary Impacts and Meteors, Lecture given to approximately 150 local members of the public at Oxford Physics.

BBC Future Magazine:  A telephone interview for an online article about missions to Uranus:  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140822-the-mission-to-an-un-loved-planet

Austria's Radio 4:  Reality Check:  A 10-minute radio interview about why we should be returning to the ice giants, to be aired in September 2014.  The interview can be found here:  http://fm4.orf.at/stories/1746343/

BBC Sky at Night:  Sixth appearance on the Sky at Night, filmed at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.  Maggie Aderin-Pocock interviewed me about future exploration of the Ice Giants of our solar system.  Aired on October 12th 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lpvzv

Stratford Astronomical Society, August 19th, 2014:  A two-hour lecture on 'Beyond Mars:  Exploring the Realm of the Giants' to 30-40 amateur astronomers at Alderminster Village Hall near Stratford.  A letter of thanks from their president read:  "The general opinion seemed to be that your talk was one of the best we have heard for a long time. Your enthusiasm for your subject  embraced us all and carried us with you. My wife, who is no scientist, said she was enthralled right to the end. It is usually a bad sign when  she says "well, all that was over my head"!"

Lutterworth College (May 2014):  Three classes on the search for habitable environments in our solar system, followed by a Q&A session with the students.  I gave classes for Years 10, 11 and 13, with approximately 30 students per class.

Science Now:  Webcast, March 2014 - Robot Recon:  Our First Steps into the Solar System, interactive web-based course.

Oxford University Space and Astronomy Society (OUSAS):  Presentation on March 10th - Strange Weather!  Exploring the Giants of our Solar System, Outreach Presentation.

BBC Sky at Night:  Invited for an interview in the 'first episode of season two' of the Sky at Night, now presented by Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock.  The episode was filmed at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on January 27th 2014, and I was speaking about the discovery of plumes of water vapour on Europa.  Full details here.


2013:


Sutton Trust Expanding Access Summit at Banqueting House, London (November 2013)

Pythagoras Trousers Radio Show for Radio Cardiff (August 2013):  A show about exploring the solar system presented by Dr. Chris North, with interviews from myself, Emily Lakdawalla (Planetary Society), Meg Schwamb and Pete Lawrence.  Download the episode here.

Cunard Guest Astronomy Lecturer on the Queen Mary 2 for a one-week voyage from Southampton to New York City (July 2013), featuring four lectures and planetarium shows.  For full details please refer to my blog of the voyage.

Naked Astronomy:  The Giant Planets (June 2013) - A series of interviews with Dominic Ford of 'The Naked Scientists' for their show on giant planets, featuring John Rogers and I.  Specifically you can find me talking about 'The Weather on Giant Planets' and 'Future Missions to the Giant Planets'

Newbury Astronomy Society, June 2013 - Strange Weather!  Exploring the Giants of our Solar System, Outreach Presentation.

Royal Observatory Greenwich, Summer Science Series, May 2013 - Exploring the Solar System with Robotic Spacecraft, Immersive Planetarium Show.

Sky at Night:  Storm Chasing (May 2013).  My fourth appearance on the Sky at Night took me to the Space Applications Catapult near the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, using their huge visualisation wall to describe some of our latest Cassini discoveries related to Saturn's storms.

New Perspectives in Astronomy - The 35th Annual Astronomy Weekend, April 2013 -  Robotic Planetary Exploration:  Revealing the Mysteries of our Solar System, (Invited Talk),  Oxford Centre for Continuing Education.

Chipping Norton Astronomy Society, April 2013 - Strange Weather!  Exploring the Giants of our Solar System, Outreach Presentation.

Oxford's Museum of the History of Science, February 2013 - Strange Weather!  Exploring the Giants of our Solar System, Outreach Presentation.

ScienceNow Webcast, January 2013 - Robot Recon:  Our First Steps into the Solar System, interactive web-based course.

Oxford Stargazing Live, January 2013 - Robot Recon:  Our First Steps Away from Earth, Outreach Talk in Oxford Physics. Video here.

BBC Stargazing Live Event, Newbury Racecourse 2013 - Strange Weather!  Exploring the Giants of our Solar System, Outreach Presentation.

2012:

Institute of Physics Teachers Conference (December 2012):  A one-hour lecture to approximately 70 teachers attending the Autumn Refresher course at Oxford’s Department of Physics, entitled ‘Robotic Exploration of the Solar System.’

Institute of Technology and Engineering Presentation, Cheltenham (November 2012):   Lecture at the University of Gloucestershire jointly hosted by the IOP and the IET- Robotic Planetary Exploration:  Exploring the Mysteries of our Solar System, Outreach Talk.

West of London Astronomical Society, December 2012 - Strange Weather:  The Future of Outer Solar System Exploration, Outreach Talk.  A lecture to approximately 100 amateur astronomers in Uxbridge.

Northampton Natural History Society, November 2012 - Exploring Giants:  The Future of Outer Solar System Exploration, Outreach Talk

Mount Grace High School, Hinckley, Leicestershire (November 2012):  Returned to my old school for 11-14 year olds to spend a full day giving assembly, meeting with science classes and giving interactive talks on the exploration of our solar system.

Society for Popular Astronomy, October 2012 - Strange Weather: Exploring the Giant Planets.  A presentation at the Khalili Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) off Russell Square in London.  Watch the video here.

Science Oxford Seminar:  August 2nd 2012, hour-long seminar on Exploring Giants:  The Mysteries of the Outer Solar System as part of their Summer Space series, audience 30-40 people.

Oxford Summer Program:  Science and the Boundaries of Knowledge for US School Teachers:  Ran a morning workshop on robotic exploration for 5 teachers on an Oxford Residential Course at Mansfield College, followed by a tour of the Radcliffe Observatory at Green College (June 24th 2012).

Sky at Night:  JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE):  Filming for my third appearance on the BBC Sky at Night, this time with Michele Dougherty to talk about the new European mission to Jupiter (May 18th 2012).

Radio Interviews Associated with the selection of JUICE for Jupiter:  BBC Radio Oxford Drive Time, Jack FM (May 2nd 2012).

Pythagoras Trousers Radio Show for Radio Cardiff:  A ten-minute interview on planetary exploration with Dr. Chris North.  May 1st 2012.

Movie Making for University College Oxford:  A morning of filming to advertise my research and Oxford physics themes.  To watch the finished product, visit my blog entry here.

British Astronomical Association:  Residential Weekend in Windsor, Keynote Lecture on Long-Distance Storm Chasing:  Cassini’s Exploration of Saturn, March 31st 2012.

Stargazing: Oxford!  A full-day event at Oxford’s department of physics to accompany the BBC Stargazing Live events.  I organised the planetary science contributions and provided ‘Flash Talks’.  Read my blog entry here (April 2012)

Primary School Questions:  Answering 30 letters from St. Peters Primary School, Hinckley, Leicestershire (April 2012).  You can read some of my responses here.

Philip Wetton Telescope Evening (January 10th 2012):  Exploring the solar system presentation, making a comet, and observing Jupiter’s dark belts, barges and icy moons from the Oxford Astrophysics telescope.  The audience was a group of 20 Year 9 students from Wallingford.  More details about the telescope can be found here: http://www.wettontelescope.org/


2011:

Oxford Magdalen College School (December 1st 2011):  Presentation on solar system exploration to 15-20 sixth form students.

Sky at Night:  Recorded a 30-minute BBC show on the ‘Outer Limits’, discussing the Ice Giants and Kuiper Belt of our solar system.  The show went out in December 2011, and might still be seen on the BBC iPlayer.

Nantes University Outreach Videos (October 2011):  Recording movies about Saturn’s extreme weather for the University of Nantes undergraduate students.

Oxford Academic Taster Days (June 2011):  Hour lecture to 15-17 year olds on exploring the solar system via robotic spacecraft and giant observatories, Christchurch College, Oxford.

Cassini-Huygens Analysis and Results of the Mission (CHARM) telecon, Tuesday May 31st 2011, "Seasonal Storms on Saturn: New Views from Cassini".  This live one-hour telecon went out live to educators, museum owners, outreach specialists across the United States and was hosted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  CHARM telecons are the last Tuesday of the month at 11:00 Pacific Time.  You can ‘Listen Again’ by following the link above.

British Astronomical Association Annual Meeting (Norwich, May 7th 2011):  A two-hour seminar with Mike Foulkes and John Rogers, the Saturn and Jupiter Section leaders of the BAA, on Pro-Am Collaborations in Exploration of the Outer Planets of our Solar System.  The audience consisted of 80-100 amateur astronomers from across the UK.

National Astronomy Meeting (April 2011):  Video interviews with Astronomy Now about Saturn’s extreme weather, catch it on Youtube.

SET for Britain 2011:  Selected as one of thirty early-career scientists to present my research in the Terrace Marquee of the House of Commons, March 14th 2011.  I displayed a poster on “Unravelling the Mysteries of the Giant Planets”, discussing my work on gas giant dynamics and planetary impacts with peers and MPs.


National Science and Engineering Week:  Solar System lecture at Pimlico Academy, March 14th 2011, London,years 11-13 after-school lecture.

Oxfordshire Science Festival 2011:  Exploring the Solar System lecture at Carterton Community College, Oxfordshire, Year 10-11 students, March 2nd, 2011.

2010:

Exploring the Solar System:  Planetary Science in Oxford.  A 1-hour lecture for Oxford’s Academic Taster Days, Lincoln College, Oxford, November 11, 2010.

Sky at Night:  Events on Jupiter.  My first appearance on the BBC show alongside John Rogers, and my first opportunity to meet Sir Patrick Moore (September 2010).

The Mysteries of Jupiter, 30 minute lecture for the Oxford Astronomy Open Day, September 2010.

Climate Video and Teleconference (June 2010):  The relation between planetary science and studies of the Earth’s climate, plus what it means to be a scientist.  Video and teleconference with St John the Baptist CE Primary School, Nottingham.

Impacts on Jupiter (April 2010):  Presentation to Undergraduate Students (University of Amsterdam).

2009:

JPL Blog Posts during the 2009 Impacts on Jupiter.

National Geographic Interview:  New Results on Jupiter, August 2009.

2007:

Video Conferencing (2007): Using the video conferencing equipment at Oxford Physics Department to hold a question and answer session on Physics and Astronomy with 16 year olds in Ballyclare High School, Northern Ireland.

2006:  

Family Science Saturday at the Sheffield Winter Garden - March 11th 2006:  The Centre For Science Education based at Sheffield Hallam University organised this special event as part of Science Week 2006 as an opportunity for the public to meet young scientists and engineers and find out about the exciting work they do.

Oxford Community College:  February 9th 2006: Science@Work organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, this scheme introduces school children to adults working in industries which require science everyday - from dry-cleaning, to Army careers, to formula-one racing and exploring the universe.

Science and Engineering Ambassadors Jam Rutherford Appleton Lab, February 2nd 2006.

2005:

Leicester National Space Centre Talk November 8th 2005.

Express Yourself 2005 Final Royal Society, London, September 23rd 2005.  Conferences for pupils to give oral presentations or posters on their own science investigations.

Lab in a Lorry - Oxford August 2005:  Roving laboratories from the Institute of Physics.  I volunteered for two days as the lab parked up in Broad Street, Oxford.

John Flamsteed Community College July 25th-July 29th 2005, Denby, Derbyshire.  The school had chosen to theme their ‘Gifted and Talented Student’ summer school around astronomy, so I was to be on hand to provide the ‘science element’ for what was otherwise a school about different learning techniques and team building.

Express Yourself Regional Conference University of West England July 7th 2005.  Hosted the science presentations for student science projects (11-14 year olds); performed ‘Soapbox Science’ to describe my own research; and took on the role of Team Captain for the ‘Universally Challenged’ quiz.

Hinckley Astronomical Society April 5th 2005: Invited by Hinckley Astronomical Society to give a public lecture on Cassini-Huygens to an audience of interested amateurs from all over the county, from the age of 13 upwards.

Bartholomew School April 2005, Oxfordshire:  Combined talk and careers session to a sixth form physics group.

Neale Wade Community College  June 18th 2004, Cambridgeshire.

Hubble:  Galaxies across Space and Time (2003):  A 10-week internship at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, working on a large format movie of the Hubble Deep Field Survey.  You can find out more by reading the news release.


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