Whenever I can, and given the opportunity, I like getting involved in science outreach activities. I believe it is fundamental for a working rational society that scientist engage with and communicate to the public (directly or through outreach specialists). It is also a way to keep the general public up-to-date with some of the newest findings and implications that, more often than not, their taxes are paying for. This also has the positive "secondary-effect" of pushing back on pseudoscientific beliefs, notions and the industries that profit from them. Check out below brief descriptions of the outreach activities where I have been directly involved in.
Contribution to two outreach articles at CORDIS and in Nature News (2019)
Towards the end of my MSCA-IF grant term, we got contacted by The CORDIS Editorial Team. The ONCOGENEVOL project had been selected for publication in the ‘Results in Brief’ section of the European Commission’s CORDIS website. In order for journalist Dr Elena Siapati to write this article, we answered specific questions about the project and gave concrete examples. The final article entitled "Papillomavirus evolution – the fight against cancer" was published on the CORDIS website in six languages.
After publishing our article on de novo emergence of E5 oncogenes in papillomavirus genomes, I got contacted by Dr Adam Levy, a reporter working with Nature on a piece discussing the field of de novo genes. At first, I was hesitant to answer him due to the great amount of spam we scientist receive every day. After doing some quick research, he appeared to be a rather legit science presenter, reporter and climate communicator. During a Skype interview I explained Dr Adam Levy the broad points of our article and expressed my thoughts about de novo gene evolution and its importance for future research. In addition, Dr Adam Levy interviewed many other researchers in the field and this led to the publication of his article entitled "How evolution builds genes from scratch" in Nature News.
Open house day. Expociència, University of Valencia Science Park (2011 and 2012)
These events are a regular Open house day organised by the University of Valencia Science Park where the different teams working on mathematics, physics, food engineering, and biology present concepts, principles, and results from the research that is being developed at the Science Park; all through simple experiments and interactive activities. The picture above is from the 2011 activity (see me in the middle using my recently learned Spanish), where I participated along with a group of researchers in Biology in an activity related to DNA extraction with household materials from strawberry and liver tissue. We explained that all living things have DNA and taught people how to use these common substances to help extract DNA. This activity was directed towards a young audience, although we also got al sorts of questions from parents and also other not-so-young kids and teenagers. We also organised a DNA origami folding station, where we explained the structure of the DNA double strand and people could take their folded DNA structure home. In subsequent years, even though I was not directly involved in the activity (due to me not really being affiliated to the University of Valencia anymore), I usually attended and helped out with some tasks at busy times.