2016 Award Winner, Easter Bush: A Year of Engagement

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It is coming up to a year since we received Scotland’s Life Sciences Community Engagement Award and among the many building developments and scientific advances on Easter Bush Campus, our programme of engagement and outreach events has gone from strength to strength.

We were delighted to receive this award which recognises the valuable work carried out by both staff and students in local communities. The award has helped to increase awareness of our projects and initiatives in Midlothian, the University of Edinburgh and beyond. It has also raised the profile of these activities among our own staff and increased their appetite to do more.

In addition to our annual events such as the Campus Open Day, the work experience programme “Science Insights” and the “Hands-On Pathology – Understanding Disease” event, we also developed a whole range of activities to celebrate Dolly the Sheep’s 20th birthday.

Our stand at this year’s Royal Highland Show was devoted to sheep research at The Roslin Institute. We talked to over 4,000 visitors of all ages about our current work on lung microbes, brain disease, reproduction and genetics in sheep, as well as Dolly and her impact on our research today.

Dolly the Sheep was born on 5th July 1996 just outside Roslin village, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary we held a birthday party in the village for local residents and members of the original Dolly team.

Dolly also made an appearance at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. In “Dolly the Sheep: Major Discovery or Minor Distraction?” Prof. Helen Sang, alongside University of Edinburgh colleagues from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the School of Social and Political Science challenged the audience to question whether we should still be talking about Dolly twenty years on, or focusing on new research. The consensus was – both!

On the 1st September Prof. Sir Ian Wilmut, leader of the Dolly team, Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Shinya Yamanaka and Prof. Angelika Schnieke were brought together for our Coming of Age: The Legacy of Dolly at 20 public lecture at Surgeon’s Hall.  Following the talks and subsequent discussion about the legacy of Dolly in the fields of stem cell science and genetically engineered animals, we hosted a drinks reception that provided attendees an opportunity to meet researchers from The Roslin Institute and the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

To round off our year of celebrations, Dolly made several appearances at the Midlothian Science Festival in October, with a team of researchers delivering our DNA, Dolly and You workshop in three local primary schools, a week-long exhibition of the Dolly Memories project at Ikea in Straiton and Dolly-themed questions and a Dolly prize at the Midlothian Science Festival Pub Quiz.

Our clinical outreach continues to embed good practice for the community, with free student-led clinics for pets of the homeless and a strengthening partnership with Liberton High School as part of the Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools.

Another important highlight this year has been receiving the Investors in Young People Silver Award, which recognises our commitment to recruiting and developing young talent. We participate in schemes that promote career opportunities such as Career Ready Internships and participate in STEM Ambassadors events.

The Campus has also increased the number of Scottish Modern Apprenticeships it hosts. We currently have six apprentices in various operational areas and anticipate offering another three in 2017. Our apprentices and interns participated in the International Youth Day social media celebration on the 12th August posting messages about their experiences on Campus which included: “Working at The Roslin Institute has enabled me to see my own potential” and “During my internship I was trusted with important tasks that were imperative to my learning”.  Our Career Ready intern was also shortlisted for a national competition for their work with the Communications team. 

With the Roslin Innovation Centre and Science Outreach Centre opening on Campus next summer we are eager to further expand the depth and breadth of our engagement on site. We are currently working with Midlothian Schools to develop a School Enhancement Scheme which will be piloted in 2017-18.

Click here for more information about Easter Bush Campus

Click here for more information about Dolly the Sheep