The School of Mathematics and Physics Colloquia is directed at Mathematics and Physics disciplines for students and academics. 

Why Researchers Need to Engage with the Public

Mon 23 Oct 2023 2:00pm3:00pm


Physiology Lecture Theatres, Building 63
Room: 358 (and via Zoom:

Speaker: Professor Chris Allton
Affiliation: Swansea University

Afternoon tea will be provided after the colloquium at 3pm. 


Researchers are trained to interact with colleagues, grant funders and journal editors but often see little benefit in engaging their research with the public. Since most university research is paid by the public, this exposes its funding to the fickle nature of political trade winds. If the public don’t understand the societal and cultural benefit of research, why would they want to pay for it?

Oriel Science is a public engagement project which showcases Swansea University’s research in the community. It is designed as a university shopfront where visitors see, feel and touch our research via interactive exhibits in our city-centre venue. Its aims are to enhance the public’s appreciation of university research, and expand the educational horizons of the younger generation, particularly those from under-represented groups. Over 150,000 people have interacted with Oriel Science since it launched in 2016. Our venue is the first university experience of 40% of our visitors, and the region’s socio-economic profile is mirrored in our visitor demographics.

This talk will present an overview of Oriel Science, its ethos and design principles, and explain how it can be a model for University-Community interactions. Professor Chris Allton will also detail best practice approaches for researchers to engage with the public - using techniques which often run contrary to our research training. These methods can be used as part of a researcher engagement toolkit when planning your next interaction with the public.


Chris grew up in Australia and is a graduate of the University of Queensland.  He is now a Professor of Physics at Swansea of University and is director of Oriel Science.  He researches fundamental particles such as quarks which make up protons and neutrons, and hence 99% of the known universe. Away from work, he enjoys running, cycling and generally being outdoors in and around the beautiful Swansea and Gower beaches.