Bringing the Ashworth Natural History Collection to life

Public Engagement with the Ashworth Natural History Collection!

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases is the network of researchers from across the University of Edinburgh and association organisations, who work on infectious diseases.   We have just received funding from the University's Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund to develop a public engagement project for primary school children based on the fabulous resource of the Ashworth Natural History Collection at Kings Buildings. 

APPLY NOW to be a part of this exciting project!

We are now looking for dynamic and enthusiastic students and postdocs from Edinburgh Infectious Diseases to take part in this exciting new project!

The students and postdocs who participate in the project will have the opportunity to work together to deliver truly novel workshops exploring such subjects as antibiotic resistance, vaccination, food security and pathogen evolution, taking inspiration from the treasures collected on expeditions to faraway and exotic places, and the stories of the men and women who collected them.

The Ashworth Natural History Collection itself is housed in the Ashworth Laboratories at Kings Buildings, and dates from the early and middle parts of the 20th century.   By combining robust vertebrate samples with examples of the parasites that inhabit these animals, children will be able to get a unique hands-on experience of the collection and discover something about the research carried out in Edinburgh today.

Treasure chest

One of the key aspects of this new project is the construction of a "treasure chest".  This chest is going to be especially made by staff at the University to safely transport some of the more robust mammalian skeletal samples from the Ashworth Collection.  For the first time we will be able to take selected specimens out of the University and into schools and science festivals, enabling a far great range of people to interact with the wealth of history, science and ingenuity that the Ashworth Collection represents.

Bringing researchers together

Since members of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases are spread out across Edinburgh, it can sometimes be hard for researchers to feel part of a single organisation.  For this Public Engagement project we intend to bring together between 6 and 9 students and postdocs from the different parts of the University and associated institutes, giving participants great opportunity for cross-campus networking and collaboration.

Communications training opportunities

Successful applicants will attend tailored training courses in communication and storytelling to enable them to unlock their own potential to deliver outstanding Public Engagement. Participants will then develop their own stories to tell children attending workshops that will either run at the Ashworth labs, or in their own schools, and which will bring the Ashworth Collection alive.

When the project will run

We anticipate the training and development aspects of the project will be delivered in late summer/early autumn 2013 and that the workshops will be run through the winter and spring of 2013/14.  Participants are asked to contribute a half day per 2 weeks during the development stages of the project and then be willing to take the workshops out to schools on an ad hoc basis after that.

APPLY NOW to be a part of this exciting project!

For more information please contact Hilary Snaith (

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