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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend PhD, MSc, BSc

LifeLab Programme Manager

Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend's photo

Kathryn is the LifeLab Programme Manager in the Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton.

LifeLab is a novel educational intervention designed to promote health through science literacy in young adolescents. As its name suggests, this state-of-the-art teaching laboratory, located in the heart of University Hospital Southampton, has a focus on life and lifestyle.

As a scientist and an educator, Kathryn is committed to the importance of effective and stimulating science education from an early age enabling young people to develop their powers of scientific thinking.  A key objective is to engage teenagers with understanding the science behind the health messages thereby empowering them to make healthier lifestyle choices. This is of particular importance for adolescent girls; crucially, providing opportunities to increase science literacy as a means to increasing health literacy will impact the health of their future families.

As part of the project, Kathryn has been involved in developing the ‘Meet the Scientist’ component. This has required both science communication training for the participating research scientists, and facilitating their interactive sessions with school students.  A passionate advocate for opening up the world of science to school students, a key motivator for Kathryn is to ensure that all students, but particularly girls are given opportunities to see themselves as scientists and to support their growing confidence in occupying that role.

Qualifications:

Employment:

January 2009-present: Lifelab Programme Manager, University of Southampton

June 2009-present: Team Leader and Assessor (GCSE Exam marking) OCR exam board

Sept 2005-Dec 2006; Jan-Mar 2006; Feb-Aug 2009; Science Teacher, Bitterne Park Secondary School, Ringwood School, Thornden School

Apr 1999-Jan 2000; Feb 2000-Dec 2004; Jan-Aug 2005: Feb 2007-Dec 2008; Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Birmingham, University College London, University of Southampton

Skills/expertise

  • Design and delivery of activities for school students (5-18yrs old)
  • Evaluation of impact of activities
  • Design and delivery of teacher professional development
  • Design and delivery of science communication training for researchers
  • Design and delivery of summer school activities
  • Event organisation and management
  • Design of education space
  • Grant writing for PE-related activities
  • Provision of British Science Association CREST awards (Bronze) for school students

Experience

  • LifeLab programme manager, overseeing delivery of programme to >7000 school students and >200 school teachers
  • Delivery of science communication training to >300 scientists
  • Supporting Big Bang events (Richard Taunton VI form College, Winchester Science Centre, Ageas Bowl) and other career-related events at University Hospital Southampton
  • Partnership with Winchester Science Centre to support the STEM ambassador programme
  • Delivery of summer schools and apprenticeship days
  • Delivery of activities at University of Southampton Science and Engineering day and University Hospital Southampton’s annual Open Day
  • Organisation and delivery of the annual LifeLab showcase

Woods-Townsend, K., Christodoulou, A., Rietdijk, W., Byrne, J., Griffiths, J., & Grace, M. (2016). Meet the scientist: the value of short interactions between scientists and students. International Journal of Science Education Part B, 6(1), 89-113

2012: Finalist for BBSRC Social Innovator of the Year

2015: Finalist for Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in the ‘Outstanding contribution to the local community’ category

2016: Finalist for the WISE awards in the Impact category (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl806kGEuRo&t=3s)

2017: Finalist Daily Echo Education Awards in the Innovation category

Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend
Lifelab
Mailpoint 847
Level D, Room LD150,
South Lab and Path Block
University Hospital Southampton
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