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"The Biology day for everyone" in the IBCh: how it was

Festival of Science, exhibitions of Polytechnic museum, Geek Picnic, Gutenberg’s Kurilka, Scientific fights, open lectures at universities. All of these scientific and popular events attract a wide audience. The activists of the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry decided that it is time for the institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences to maintain interest both adult and children in the natural sciences and the desire to grow. Therefore, on April 26 in IBCh was "The Biology day for everyone". 

excursion, lectures, popular science, IBch Open, The Biology day for everyone

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For several years Council of Young Scientists of the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of Russian Academy of Sciences has told about their work to pupils and students, has read popular lectures about  biology and biotechnology and has involved in scientific battles and other open source projects. At April 26th members of the council had initiated its first own educational activity – "The Biology day for everyone".

Thus, the Institute became one of the first institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences who has decided to not only tell, but also to show how to live Russian science, what the researchers do and how their results may be useful to ordinary citizens.

– Some people consider that scientists only sit in white gown in the private laboratories and satisfy their own curiosity through a state budget, exchange scientific results in their community, but especially not share this secret knowledge with others, – prof. Roman Efremov says, Deputy Director for Science, head of the Laboratory simulation of biomolecular systems. – If such stereotype exists, then there is reason to think so. Just yesterday I read "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift who describes the Academy of Sciences. He paints both a very bright and repulsive images of the scientists: cartoon, clumsy, sometimes funny. But I am sure that today's meeting will break into pieces the wrong stereotype.

The Biology day for everyone, or rather a night (because the event has begun when labs had been emptied and the citizens had returned to work) consisted of two parts. The first part was a lecture one and the second was the excursion.

The lectures of the Institute concerned scientific trends in biology and biotechnology. In the standup format scientists for 15 minutes tried to explain all of that what they do for years. Irina Alekseenko told whether it is possible to create a GMO at home, and during the tour she showed how to do it. The customers knew how microbiology smells and how see your own bacteria that live on the fingertips using only the agar and the Petri dish.

Nadine Antipova fascinated by stories of the essence at the same time beautiful and deadly Ebola virus and Zika virus, of her bacteriophages research and the role of parasites in the correction of hereditary diseases and fight against cancer. Denis Kuzmin argued that biofuel from algae is the most high-quality and environmentally friendly fuel. Now scientists are looking for ways to make it cheaper.

Zinaida Osipova passed in the wake of the story of the hunt for the glowing worms in the Siberian taiga, mining luciferin, solving the riddle of its chemical formula, and the opening of the eighth and ninth light formulas. Anton Chugunov showed differences between laboratory studies and computer experiment, explained their relationships with computer named Anton, and what we owe to Leeuwenhoek.

In the second part of the evening the visitors came in the laboratories: Department of Molecular Bases of Neurosignalization, workplace of Group of Fluorescent Dyes for Biotechnology, Laboratory of Biocatalysis, Laboratory of human genes structure and functions and Experimental Biotechnology Plant.

– We faced with an incredible interest in our event: the tickets instantly were sold out, and I had to answer dozens of emails about how you can get to us in the Institute, – Anton Chugunov explains, one of the organizers of the event. – I think this is the effect of the fallen fortress wall. Before nobody offered people to get into the holy of holies – the ivory tower in which supposedly highbrow and arrogant scientists sit. And here we are, developing the successes of the popularization of science in recent years, went even further: we not only come out to meet the people of this "tower", also we offered to come to visit us. I am convinced that such format would be more or less popular in the near future.

Research Institute is a place where people do fundamental and applied research. If the audience's interest in science is justified, then why scientists need to communicate with people?

– Scientists have to make popular science event, – Irina Alekseenko said, PhD, head of the "The Biology day". – The first reason is that journalists often give misleading information about scientific discoveries. I do not know, they do it on purpose or not, but when I read articles in the press about the treatment of cancer or genetic engineering it make my hair stand on end. Secondly, in our country there is a perception that science is on the verge of ruin, and scientists drinking tea at work from morning to night, and almost no one knows that in Russia some labs work on a global scale!

On the lectures there were a lot of pupils who attend educational activities to get closer to this science. Students and adults come to supplement their knowledge and keep abreast of the latest developments. The audience demand grows and therefore the number of educational events must increase too, including through institutions such as the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry.

april 28, 2016