Outreach and Media
Media Coverage and Appearances
We are always very keen to hear from journalists, producers, and other researchers, and are happy to talk about our research and general study areas. Our work is frequently covered by the national and international media – see Publications for details.
We have also helped with, and appeared on, a range of media productions for a variety of TV channels (e.g. BBC 1 & 2, NPR, Channel 4, National Geographic, History Channel), radio programmes (e.g. PBS, CBC Quirks and Quarks, AAAS) and magazines (e.g. Smithsonian, BBC Gardeners’ World, Science Illustrated).
We have given various public talks. For example, Martin has given, and is due to give, lectures on a range of subjects to the Royal Institution, Hay-on-Wye book festival, Brighton Science Festival, the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC, and a range of more local talks.
We are very active on social media. You can follow us on Twitter: @SensoryEcology, and ‘like’ our Facebook page for updates on current research and animal coloration, behaviour, and sensory systems in general. You can also visit our YouTube channel where you will find videos from our fieldwork and projects.
Citizen Science, Online Games and Videos
We have teamed up with David Griffiths, an award winning game designer from FoAM Kernow, to produce three citizen science games for our bird camouflage work. The purpose of these games is to generate genuine scientific data for our research in understanding the evolution of camouflage and vision, while engaging the public in the science we conduct. The games have attracted over 60,000 players.
The first two games involve participants trying to find hidden camouflaged nightjars or plover eggs, while seeing the world either through the eyes of a trichromatic primate or a dichromatic predator: you can play them here.
Egg lab is our third citizen science game where players search for evolving camouflage eggs. Here we are investigating what camouflage strategies evolve on different habitats. Eggs evolve over time with those taking the longest to find surviving and replicating with small mutations in colour and pattern. The aim is to understand how camouflage strategies and features evolve against different backgrounds.
With the BBSRC we have also made a number of videos about our work on camouflage in birds. One of these has attracted well over 500,000 YouTube views.
All the games and videos have received a range of media coverage, including from the Independent, Economist, Daily Mail, The Guardian, and organisations and prominent sites such as the BTO and ‘Why evolution is true’.
New game and interactive displays for NHM exhibition
We’ve been working with the Natural History Museum to make a new citizen science game about camouflage in shore crabs, as well as interactive displays on how animals see the world. It’s part of an exhibition on ‘Colour and Vision’, open from 15 July to 6 November.
Widening Participation and Outreach
We are very active in undertaking outreach activities both locally and more widely. To recognise this, Martin was recently made a BBSRC Schools Regional Champion for the South West. This award recognises the engagement of school children by researchers.
We have also undertaken a range of sessions for schools, both locally and further away, engaging pupils in activities related to animal coloration and vision, and taken part in events such as British Science Week, the Science of Christmas, and Science in the Square. Our citizen science games have been used by BBSRC as materials for schools to use in teaching, specifically their Vision of the Future Key Stage 4 resources.
Several members of our group are also STEM ambassadors visiting schools to enthuse young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects).