In partnership with VLIZ and the Ocean Explorer Centre at SAMS, we are currently developing a range of outreach and public engagement activities aimed at informing the general public, businesses, educators and policy-makers about the purpose and main concepts underlying the ALFF project.

The Marine Flanders Institute (VLIZ) has been very proactive in developing these activities to help ESRs and scientists communicate their research through various media. This works has included art, films, photography and exhibitions. Last year, VLIZ worked with first year multimedia technology students at the Karel de Grote Hogeschool to produce short animation videos about ALFF. The videos, which were showcased one evening in January 2016 at UGC cinemas in Antwerp, explain the concepts of parasitism, symbiosis, biofilms and endosymbiosis between bacteria and algae. The videos have been evaluated by a jury of staff from Karel de Grote Hogeschool and ranked – the top-20 animation videos are available via this link: http://animation.multimediatechnology.be/site/science_winners


VLIZ is now exploring the possibility of adapting this approach to communicating science through production of gif-animations and other products for scientific presentations. These will illustrate certain processes (e.g. interaction between algae and bacteria) and films about algae and their use for human society. VLIZ will continue to work with schools, including Karel de Grote Hogeschool and Sint-Lucas School of Art in Ghent, to develop fewer animated movies, with a more focused scientific content. These movies will be displayed at exhibitions, including the  Ocean Explorer Centre at SAMS. Six ‘story boards’ have been developed in conjunction with VLIZ and the ESRs, and they are currently being used by the art students to create 6 animations of 90 seconds duration. The six topics will cover the diversity of algae and the ‘social life of algae’ – what are their interactions with microbes and other organisms. Visits of Karel de Grote Hogeschool students to ALFF labs based in Belgium will allow direct interaction between the ESRs and art students. In addition to the planned multimedia content described above, the possibility of expanding textile design and 3D printing of the portfolio of ALFF exhibition material is also being explored.

In the near future, we will plan a 3-month (from January to March 2017) exhibition on Algae in the Naturmuseum of Constance, coinciding with the ALFF mid-term review meeting with EU staff. Based on professional, award-winning photographs supplied at no cost by the British Phycological Society, this exhibition will introduce the general public to the wonders of the algal world. In addition to these events, ESRs are also encouraged to organise or get involved in local events aimed at communicating science to the general public. Lachlan Dow has startef to augment Wikipedia’s content with specific articles on the organisms he works on, or to include information on algae in the existing entry on biofilms (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm).

More highlights on our outreach work can be found here