Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Guy's campus ;

Dr Hannah Rosa: Why public engagement is both fulfilling and essential

Dr Hannah Rosa is a Technical Manager in the School of Cardiovascular Medicine & Metabolic sciences. She is passionate about public engagement, and in particular, championing the virtues of a career in technical services. We spoke to her about some of her past and upcoming activities, and why she believes working with the public is important.

Hannah Rosa main

I was studying for a PhD in Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University when I first became interested in public engagement. My supervisor encouraged me to get involved in patient engagement, which really helped me understand the importance of involving patients in the research process. I would spend a lot of time in the lab working with patient samples, but to understand the perspective of the person behind the sample really motivated me. To see how they could be affected by the work I was doing and that the research could make an improvement to their life put everything into context.

I’m especially interested in working with school children and young people to highlight how important STEM research is in tackling some of the biggest challenges to health in our society. I think putting a friendly face to the “anonymous scientist” role helps break down barriers in communicating with these groups, and other members of the public, which in turn encourages them to engage and become more involved in STEM activities going forward. I’m also passionate about spreading the word about laboratory technical roles, particularly to young people. A lot of them think that to work in science and research they need good grades to get to university and do multiple degrees. They aren’t really aware of technical roles in research. Technicians are an essential component of any research ecosystem, they still work in a science arena but in a slightly different way to post-docs and academics. These types of careers might be more accessible to some young people who perhaps aren’t interested in university, or have a slightly different skillset, but many aren’t aware it’s even an option.


Giving something back to the public is really important, but working with them can also be beneficial to your own career. Designing and delivering these engagement events has helped develop my communication skills by having to describe science in ways that non-scientists can understand. It’s also boosted my confidence, and I’ve found great opportunities for networking and collaborating with technical colleagues across the country as a result of some of these programmes. Also, it’s fun – you get out of the lab for a day and get to hang out at the science museum!

Teaching kids about hazard awareness at the Science Museum

Hazard Hunters (1)

Earlier this year, Hannah volunteered at the Science Museum in Kensington, alongside a cohort of technicians from other UK universities, as part of the David Sainsbury Gallery, a space dedicated to showcasing the range of Technician careers. The goal was to demonstrate to groups of school kids what a technician does, why it’s important, and how they can get involved in technical careers.

Hazard Hunters desk

Hannah’s workshop “Hazard Hunters” focussed on hazard perception in a lab environment, a key part of her day-to-day role as a technical manager. Hannah set up fake lab benches littered with mock hazardous materials such as a bottle with ‘poison’ in it, pipette tips, sharps, flasks with coloured liquid, radiation tape and more. The pupils, who were competing in teams, had to recognise various hazards and locate the symbol or dangerous item on the bench.

Hannah also gave them tips on hazards they could look out for with their newly developed hazard-hunting skills that could be lurking around their schools, such as electrical cables, slips, trips, and chemical hazards.

Fellow King’s technician Chantal Hubens also volunteered at the Technicians Gallery. As a microscope imaging technician she set up a game where pupils had to carefully move mirrors to align lasers in order to hit targets as a simulation of how microscopes are set up for imaging. There were technicians from various backgrounds, one gave pupils the task of mixing different materials to create strong and sturdy environmentally friendly concrete, another was having pupils build towers to survive earthquake simulations. The variety of activities really helped reflect the broad range of technical careers available.

School work experience


Diabetes lab school visit

Alongside Dr Aileen King, Hannah helped organise a week of work experience for 10 local school pupils at the diabetes labs in July. The pupils were aged 16-18 and interested in a career in science. The cohort also included an In2Science student, a pupil from a more socioeconomically deprived background who might not ordinarily have access to this kind of experience.

Diabetes lab school visit 2

They were given the chance learn about and try a range of important tasks, including animal dissection, physiology practicals, pipetting, PCR and gel electrophoresis, tissue embedding, sectioning, staining and imaging and cell culture, and more.

They also discussed ethics in research and the importance of lab sustainability, and even toured the Gordon Museum.

The week culminated in ‘Lab Olympics’ – a set of fun games to test what they had learned.

Society for Endocrinology conference

This month, Hannah is taking a trip to Glasgow to run a workshop for kids as part of a conference organised by the Society for Endocrinology. The workshop, “Investigating Diabetes” will feature three interactive stations with activities developed in collaboration with researchers from the Diabetes and Obesity Theme. At the first station, pupils will be testing blood to determine glucose levels and identify samples from a diabetic patient. The second station will task them with diagnosing diabetes from urine samples. At the third station, pupils will need to match microscope images to the organs they represent, which are all affected in some way by diabetes and its complications.

In this story

Hannah   Rosa

Hannah Rosa

Technical Manager

Latest news