Glasgow Science Festival: A Fruitful Nudge

What makes a balanced diet? How can we persuade children to eat more healthily? Elena, Alison and Carmen are three University of Glasgow PhD students who will be sharing the latest research through fun activities as part of this year’s Science Sunday.


1. Who are you and what do you do?

Elena – PhD student in Neuroscience and Psychology looking at what’s going on in our brain when we make food-related decisions.

Alison – PhD student in Molecular Cell and Systems Biology looking at mitochondria biogenesis.

Carmen – PhD student in Molecular Parasitology, studying the life cycle of Toxoplasma gondii – a tiny parasite that can infect and cause huge problems in humans.

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Elena – Yes! I first started with science communication, and I now regularly write science mini-articles for theGist magazine. Last year I was part of the “Met the Expert” program at the Glasgow Science Centre, and I also helped running activities for Explorathon ’16 at the Museum of Transport. This year I am an event manager for Glasgow Pint of Science which is so much fun. It’s just so good to be out of the lab now and then, and to make science accessible to everyone through fun events!

Alison – No! This is my first time, I hope to do a lot more of it in the future starting with the GSF and hopefully some STEM ambassador activities in schools.

Carmen – This is my first experience of public engagement! As I progress through my PhD, I become more and more eager to share my work with the public, and try to make science more accessible and fun.

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

Our activity will teach kids the importance of having a nutritionally balanced diet through a fun interactive game!

In the UK the EatWell Guide makes healthy eating easier to understand by giving a visual representation of the types and proportions of foods needed for a healthy and well balanced diet. With reference to the EatWell plate as an example of good balance between fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, kids will learn what makes a well-balanced meal by building their own dinner plate.

Don’t Be Late Fill Your Plate begins with kids randomly selecting food groups by rolling a dice. During each round, they’ll have to pick foods from a food group in our fun-food-box to build their own plate. After seven dice rolls their plate will be complete, and they will have the chance to tell us whether it looks like a nutritionally good and balanced meal or unhealthy and unbalanced. At this point they will have the opportunity to add/swap foods to reach a healthier, colourful, yummy plate that looks more like the EatWell guide.

To calm the appetite after all that food handling, kids will be able to make their own healthy fruit lollipop before leaving the Fruitful Nudge station.

4. This year’s festival theme is ‘Glasgow Explores’. Where would you like to explore?

Elena – India! I would love to go for a proper Yoga retreat there, a change after all those western yoga YouTube sessions 😊

Alison – Mount Everest, I’ve recently started hillwalking and love the sense of achievement (don’t think my tiny legs would ever carry me up Everest though☹)

Carmen – I would love to explore the outer space, at least the Moon…

 5. What’s the best thing about being a scientist or engineer?

Elena – ‘Scientist’ will always sound clever, no matter what you do! Also travelling to conferences around the world presenting your research work to like-minded people is always a win.

Alison – Learning new skills and meeting lots of interesting people every week, never a dull moment in science.

Carmen – Being a scientist can be hard, but I love that I can organise my own experiments, and that there’s always the chance of learning something new through my mistakes…even if that can be frustrating sometimes!

Make your own healthy food place with Elena, Alison and Carmen at Science Sunday on 18 June. For full details, visit the website.


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