Gates scholar highlights innovative Rising Stars programme

  • January 7, 2011
Gates scholar highlights innovative Rising Stars programme

Niraj Lal has written about Rising Stars in British Science Association magazine.

Gates scholar Niraj Lal [2008] has been featured in a British Science Association People and Science article on a pioneering communications programme run by the University of Cambridge.

PhD student Niraj took part in the Rising Stars programme, which is run by the Community Affairs Department at the University and aims to give outstanding undergraduates, postgraduates, post-docs and early career academics the chance to develop their communication skills.

He says it gave him not only the skills to get over complex scientific ideas to the general public, but also taught him how to keep them engaged. It also led to other opportunities, including a session on a BBC radio Naked Scientists show on the science of how solar cells work, presentations to foster care and in care students on the science of electricity and work with hard-to-reach students on a film for the science of the future.

Niraj believes the programme will help him to communicate with all sorts of audiences “including august academic ones”.

He says outreach work is vital for scientists because it helps explain the wonders of science to children and gets them engaged in what can be challenging concepts. It also gives something back to a community which is giving scientists “vast amounts of funding”.

He says: “When the best bits of science are conveyed in a way that’s intuitive and understandable, and I think all good science can be, the amazement shines through. Seeing that expression of wonderment – the realisation that nature truly is incredible – is absolutely priceless and is one of the biggest joys of engaging in outreach.”

Nirajis studying for a PhD in physics. He is in the NanoPhotonics Group researching how to make solar cells more efficient with nanosized Buddhist singing bowls. He was a 2009 Rising Star.

To read Niraj’s article, click here.

Picture credit: Filomena Scalise and www.freedigitalphotos.net

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