Taking the plunge into public engagement can be a bit like joining a party in a new neighbourhood. Introduce yourself graciously, listen to the people you are talking with, relax into the event, and soon you’ll be having conversations you never expected. Why do it at all, though? Talk to scientists who have done it and the motives, and the benefits they saw, vary. Professor Geraint Rees of UCL’s Institute of Neuroscience, simply sees it as a natural thing to do. “I’m a great believer that science doesn’t exist unless it is communicated. Engaging with the public is an extension of normal scholarly activity.” For Rees, because public engagement “forces you to communicate in a clear way, and really think about what you are trying to say. You get feedback. People come up with surprising ideas. It all contributes to my overall research direction”.
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