This week LSTM's Dr Adam Roberts took the Swab and Send project to London for Science Lates at the Science Museum, an event which ran alongside the museum's current Superbugs exhibit.
Science Lates is a monthly adult-only evening event, which allows members of the general public to visit the museum and engage with a variety of pop-up exhibits and activities. The institutions taking part in the Superbugs Lates evening included those supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which operates across the whole of the UK bringing together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.
The Swab and Send team encouraged the Superbug Lates attendees to take swabs of their environment including sites within in the museum, their homes or beyond in the hunt for the next antibiotic. The public were incredibly imaginative in their swab taking suggestions, with locations including airplanes flying back to the United States of America, the UK countryside and even as far afield as Australia, swabs the team are really looking forward to receiving!
Back in Dr Roberts's laboratory, the team will process all the swabs collected during Superbugs Lates and those sent back to the team over the coming weeks, searching bacteria or fungi that may be producing antibiotics, an important project considering there has not been a novel antibiotic discovered in the past few decades. Members of the public also had the opportunity to discover how bacteria have adapted to fight back against antibiotics, see what the world would be like if effective antibiotics no longer existed and get hands on with the science museum's current exhibits whilst enjoying a glass of wine or two!
LSTM's Public Engagement Manager Elli Wright said "It was a fantastic opportunity to take part in a very busy Superbugs Lates, the team worked non-stop engaging with the public who were delighted to take part in Swab and Send evidenced through their imaginative suggestions of places to swab! Taking Swab and Send to the Science Museum also gave the team's early career researchers experience of engaging with non-scientists, especially important as the team will now focus on taking Swab and Send to New Scientist Live in September."
For more information about Swab and Send and information on how to take part, please visit the project pages.