EU-funded LASSIE Network

Providing training for a research network, to support activity linked to an international exhibition:
The case of training for the EU funded LASSIE network

The Training Group provided training for researchers involved in the EU funded LASSIE network. The training helped to develop researchers’ skills in order to support an exhibition, as well as building capacity for public engagement across the Europe-wide research network.

The Training Group was asked to provide public engagement training for the EU Framework 7 funded LASSIE network.
LASSIE (Laboratory Astrochemical Surface Science In Europe) brings together research related to solid state astrochemisty from partners across Europe, including: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK; Aarhus University, Denmark; Paris Observatory, France; University of Münster, Germany; the National Institute for Astrophysics, Catania, Italy; Leiden University, The Netherlands; Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden; University of Gothenburg, Sweden; University College London (UCL), UK; Queen’s University, Belfast, UK; and Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK.

The research network supplies training and research opportunities to Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), including PhD students, and ERs (Experienced Researchers such as post-doctoral researchers). The LASSIE Initial Training Network (ITN) was pulled together to provide a unique interdisciplinary and cross-sector training environment, to prepare ESRs and ERs for careers in astronomy and astrochemistry but also to equip them with other relevant skills, of which public engagement was to be a key element.

The researchers, who were recruited from across the EU, were also involved in a travelling exhibition designed to engage the public with astrochemistry.

In advance of the exhibition, LASSIE researchers were involved in a summer school training programme during which they received public engagement training from The Training Group. The workshop took place in Leiden, The Netherlands in 2011. It was delivered over two days and provided researchers with an introduction and overview to public engagement. Participants were also introduced to a number of astrochemistry-specific science-busking activities, to prepare them for delivery of their own public engagement activities during the exhibition and beyond.

The masterclasses have allowed me to develop specific skills such as presenting and writing to give me more confidence in public engagement events. We’ve also been given loads of help and advice in developing our own PE activities to take into schools.

Jenny Crabtree
PhD Student at the University of Bath’s Doctoral Training Centre in Sustainable Chemical Technologies, Cohort 1; and attendee at masterclasses delivered by The Training Group