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The Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) held their annual Winter Meeting, which focused on widening participation and public engagement with science, hosted at the Natural History Museum, London.

The event convened heads of university bioscience department from across the UK, alongside those working in universities and learned societies.

The Natural History Museum provided an excellent backdrop to discuss the role that universities can play in improving practice and achievement in widening participation and public engagement with science, and delegates had the opportunity to hear about the collaborative partnership work the Museum is undertaking with schools.


The Natural History Museum hosted this year's HUBS Winter meeting (Photo credit: RSB)


Speakers covered a wide range of pertinent topics, including how scientists can best engage with the media; research in schools with the Authentic Biology programme; widening participation with STEM initiatives, and an update on the Research Excellence Framework 2021.

In the morning, the audience heard from Dr Annalisa Alexander from Imperial College London, Professor David Nutt, Imperial College London, Hayley Gowen from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Professor Kate Nobes from the University of Bristol.

In the afternoon, the audience then heard from Tom Sheldon from the Science Media Centre, Ed Santry from the Natural History Museum, Professor Kate Nobes from the University of Bristol, Professor Martin Warren from the University of Kent and Dr Catriona Firth from HEFCE.


Professor David Nutt discusses the challenges facing neuroscience research  (Photo credit: RSB)


Jess Moody from the Equality Challenge Unit and Simon Burall from Involve also featured on a panel discussion, on what can universities do to improve widening participation and public engagement with science.

Dr Sandra Kirk FRSB, chair of the HUBS Executive Committee, said of the event: “We are delighted to be able to showcase the breadth of work that is being done around widening participation and public engagement with science, to universities.

“The discussions today highlight the value of university-school and museum collaborations, as well as the need for universities to continually engage with young people and the media on science.

“We would like to thank the Museum for providing a wonderful backdrop for these discussions, and providing us with a glimpse into their vast and fascinating collections.”

The event was chaired by HUBS Executive Committee members Professor Andrew Lawrence FRSB and Professor Paul Lynch.


Professor Kate Nobes talking to those in attendance about authentic biology programmes in schools (Photo credit: RSB)


After the talks finished, attendees had the unique opportunity to explore behind-the-scenes at the Museum and to view a small portion of the Museum’s 80 million specimens.

Photos from the conference are available on the RSB Flickr page.

HUBS is a Special Interest Group of the Royal Society of Biology, and acts as a forum for discussing national issues on the provision and funding of research and teaching in the biological sciences, and as a source of informed comment on issues that affect higher education institutions delivering in the biological and life sciences.

If your institution is interested in joining HUBS as a member please email for further information.