The launch of LSTM’s ‘Connecting Citizens to Science’ podcast

News article 1 Feb 2022

LSTM researchers, Dr. Kim Ozano and PhD student Bea Egid, have launched an LSTM podcast called ‘Connecting Citizens to Science’. Through a series of conversations with researchers from around the world, they will explore the questions of why it is important to engage communities in health research and how different approaches can be used to do this across disciplines and contexts. The podcast aims to share learning on the successes and challenges of these approaches, and to inspire other researchers to think about how they can create equitable partnerships in their work.

The first series, co-hosted by Dr Akinola Oluwole, focuses on participatory research methods, exploring how these methods can be used to co-produce knowledge and solutions to complex challenges in global health. Featured guests are from Nigeria, Liberia and Bangladesh and talk about connecting with people affected by NTDs and youth living in informal settlements.

In the first episode Kim and Akinola talk to COUNTDOWN’s Dr Motto Nganda and research assistant for both COUNTDOWN and REDRESS, Shahreen Chowdhury. Motto and Shahreen present the innovative toolkit they have developed with researchers across LSTM, which contains diverse research participatory methods that can be used by different communities and adapted to different settings in a very practical way. The importance of working collaboratively with communities so that citizens play an active role in the whole research process and feel a sense of ownership of the research and in decision-making, will also be discussed in the first episode. Motto and Shahreen also raised the importance of engaging with community gatekeepers and prioritising marginalised voices in communities.

In the second episode, Kim and Akinola talk to Noela Gwani and Dr. Luret Lar about using two participatory methods - transect walks and social mapping - to explore community structures and spaces for mass drug administration for NTDs in Nigeria, as part of COUNTDOWN.

Each four-episode series will have a topical or contextual theme and will be co-hosted by a guest-host from a partnering institution.

In the next series, Bea will be joined by co-host Fatou Jaiteh from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, to explore community engagement in vector research, with episodes covering topics such as participatory integrated vector management (IVM) and public attitudes towards the release of modified mosquitoes. In series three, there will be a focus on TB ready for world TB Day.

Dr Kim Ozano, says: “We are passionate about understanding how to connect research with people and communities and look forward to hearing about the diverse ways this can be achieved across disciplines and research areas. Let us know if you would like us to host a series and do subscribe and like the podcast to support LSTM’s future podcasting!”

Bea Egid adds: “Engaging with communities in health research is essential for achieving sustainable and effective improvements in health. This podcast explores how researchers can work with communities to understand local contexts and priorities, develop, and implement health interventions, and evaluate intervention effectiveness and acceptability. We hope that everyone with an interest in global health will find it a useful resource!

Dr Sarah Roberts, LSTM's Knowledge Exchange Manager, continues: “Our engagement with communities is key to delivering LSTM’s mission. With relation to Knowledge Exchange (KE) activities the podcast series is an excellent example of contributions to Public and Community engagement that can be featured in LSTM’s return to the KE Framework and subsequent institutional rankings. There is always an open invitation for anyone to get in touch if they want advice, support or to discuss further KE opportunities or KE activity."

Dr Elli Wright, LSTM's Public Engagement Manager, continues “Podcasts are an incredibly popular tool for people to gather information and be entertained within a busy day, as podcasts can be played on mobile devices anywhere. I am delighted Kim and Bea have begun LSTM’s journey into creating and disseminating podcasts. Utilising the podcast as a tool for engagement will enable their team and others at LSTM to target new audiences in these digital spaces.”

Connecting Citizens to Science can be listened to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts or from the LSTM website.