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Spreading the Optoelectronics Research Centre's excellence in outreach and public engagement across Latin America

Published: 18 May 2022
Angeles Camacho Rosales pioneers best practise outreach in Latin America

Spreading the Optoelectronics Research Centre's excellence in outreach and public engagement across Latin America

A Southampton PhD student was so inspired by the excellent outreach and public engagement by the University's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) that she is setting up a network of STEM ambassadors to replicate it across Latin America.

Angeles Camacho Rosales, from Mexico, started her PhD at the ORC in 2015 and became involved in outreach through the Optics and Photonics Society (OPSoc). In her acting role as a diversity officer, she organised and promoted activities aligned with the Equality and Diversity initiatives within the University of Southampton and won the Women in Science, Engineering, Technology and Humanities+ (WiSET+) award in 2017 for her constant work in outreach and public engagement with local authorities and international organisations.

Even though Angeles had never participated in outreach before, she took part in a variety of outreach activities at the University, in local schools, overseas and in collaboration with local research councils in Mexico.

She said: "What inspires me about the public engagement and outreach we practice here at the University is the dynamism and the rapport we have with the students. They not only learn scientific concepts, but they also have fun. We make science something reachable ? it is no longer an abstract and complex concept for them. We humanise it and hopefully inspire them to pursue a career in the field.

"I wanted to share this best practice back home in Latin America and researched a number of ways in which I could successfully implement it.

"Myself and my colleague Natalia Canas, from Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, gathered a team of 20 people with vast experience in outreach and communication to produce an outreach training programme in Spanish entitled Iluminando el Futuro. This online training programme will be shared with a network of STEM ambassadors across Latin America to teach them how to develop outreach activities that emphasise the importance of science in society, particularly taking into consideration diversity and inclusion.

"We approached the IEEE Photonics Society, who welcomed the idea and worked with us to develop, implement and fund the initiative as part of their globalisation initiative."

Angeles and the team have just finished a pilot of the scheme and are due to launch an open call for potential ambassadors in the Spring.

She said: "I hope this programme will create a global and multidisciplinary network based on good practice for outreach and public engagement. My dream is to help with this kind of initiative to close the gap between science and society in Latin America."

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