Public engagement

Outreach & science communication

We aim to share our enthusiasm for science (and DNA replication) across all age groups.

Primary & secondary school

Our custom DNA base jigsaw pieces used to make replication fork.
Ana & Phoebe delivering dynamic DNA at the Cheltenham Science Festival (2017).

We have created and brought together educational resources that are linked to our research into DNA replication. Using our DNA nucleotide jigsaw pieces – the building blocks of life (designed by Ana Wallis & Joe Ceaser and produced by The Oxford Robotics and Additive Manufacturing Society) – students of all ages (Key Stage 1 – 5) can discover for themselves how DNA is built. Our workshop, ‘Dynamic DNA‘, helps students answer key questions:

  • what is DNA made of?
  • how is DNA built from single blocks to make metre-long chains?
  • how and why do our cells make new copies of DNA?
  • how does DNA encode the instructions for all life on earth?

We have run successful workshops, in both primary & secondary schools, to help teach complex topics in a fun and interactive manner. These workshops help teach younger students the molecular basis for life and show older students the molecular basis for concepts such as mutation and natural selection. The 3D pieces are structurally accurate, and can be used to teach more advanced topics such as gene translation and transcription to Key Stage 5 students. Finally, we’ve used these resources to excite the general public about our research via stands at Science Festivals.

You can try these yourself, since we aim to share all our resources (from how to 3D print your own DNA nucleotides jigsaw to class room activity sheets and example workshop formats). For schools in the Oxfordshire area, we might be able to visit and run a workshop for your students – please get in touch.

Laboratory placements

Sixth-form placement students giving molecular biology a go!

We host students within our laboratory to gain experience of molecular and cellular biology.

Through the Science Oxford STEM placements scheme we host local school students (years 11 or 12) and introduce them to laboratory work. This offers an amazing opportunity to discover what a scientific research career would be like.

We accept undergraduate students for research placements as part of their degree course or for summer research experience:

  • for summer research experience we have taken students from around the world for a minimum of six weeks during July/August/September. Interested undergraduates should make contact in January/February to allow time for suitable funding to be applied for. Crucially, prospective summer students must make clear how their interests match our research goals.
  • for placements that are part of a degree course, we primarily take Oxford undergraduates (final year Biochemistry students). Interested students should get in touch in January/February explaining their interest in our research.

Science communication

Chromosome mosaic illustrating replication origins (by Dr Catarina Gadelha from the University of Nottingham).

Here are examples of scientific writing, from group members, aimed at a general audience:

  1. How to replicate a genome (2018), published in Phenotype Journal.
  2. How to replicate a genome (2015), published in Fusion Magazine.
  3. Selfish gene solves DNA replication puzzle (2013), published in The Conversation to accompany our Nature paper.