22 December 2021

Interacting with the world

During 2021 the NCCR Microbiomes was able to share its fascination with microbial communities with thousands of people, both online and live. We have participated in science fairs, produced videos about our research, and established contact with schools. And that is just the beginning!

At Scientifica 2021, the biannual science festival hosted by the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich in September, we discussed microbiology with more than two hundred visitors throughout a whole weekend. Our exhibition booth on the Zentrum campus allowed visitors to discover the microbiomes of animals, plants or their own skin through games, videos and small experiments. An almost constant flow of curious and interested visitors, at times even queuing, kept us not only busy, but also very entertained! On the Hönggerberg campus, a series of workshops hosted by the Stocker lab were almost booked out: up to 60 children and teenagers explored the world of microorganisms and how they have evolved to thrive at the microscale. The Covid pandemic unfortunately forced the Mystères de l’UNIL science fair to be moved online: Our contribution informed the public about microbiomes and their importance. We are excited to collaborate with the Department of Fundamental Microbiology at UNIL in organising workshops for the 2022 edition of the Mystères!

On 8 March, International Women’s Day, we were honoured to open the #NCCRWomen campaign. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote at the federal level in Switzerland, this campaign has highlighted the central role that women play in all domains of research. Throughout eight months, short videos from 22 different NCCRs have shown the work and life of female researchers in every imaginable scientific field. Almost 10’000 viewers have enjoyed and shared the NCCR Microbiomes’ videos so far. The campaign has had a strong and lasting impact, illustrating the importance of women in research, bringing across complex scientific topics in an understandable manner to over 100’000 viewers so far, and serving as a launching pad for an initiative that brings researchers to schools.

Indeed, partly spinning off from the #NCCRWomen campaign, we are excited about our first collaborations with schools: NCCR Microbiomes’ researchers will be visiting four different schools across Switzerland between December and January. Children between 6 and 16 years of age will discover the fascinating world of microbial communities and gain insight into how research functions. We hope that this will be just the beginning of many more exciting interactions!