One of them is Dr. Helen Metcalfe, who is putting on her lab coat this Saturday lunchtime and climbing onto a soapbox in the middle of a Milton Keynes shopping center to talk about her work with weeds and about her journey to a life in agricultural science. Metcalfe is a postdoctoral research scientist working at Rothamsted Research where she creates models of ecosystems to understand the effects of farming practices on the environment.
She is one of a dozen female scientists talking for an hour from four points in Middleton Hall between Noon and 3 pm. Other topics range from astrobiology to recycling, from aerodynamics to child development.
Soapbox Science was started in London in 2011 by two women, Nathalie Pettorelli, now a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, and Seirian Sumner, now a Reader in Behavioural Ecology at University College London. Since then it has spread as far as Australia, Sweden, and the U.S.
Nearly 600 scientists have taken part in Soapbox Science since 2011, and more than 50,000 people have attended the events. In a survey in 2014, nearly three quarters of those questioned thought it was important to know how science affected their lives, and nearly as many wanted scientists to spend more time discussing the social and ethical implications of their work.