CVS drop-in session at Falkirk Science Festival 2022

Our researchers hosted an engaging drop-in session at the STEM@The Helix as part of the Falkirk Science Festival 2022 programme.

On the 14th May 2022, Sophie Walker (BHF PhD student with Professor Shareen Forbes), Ben McNeill (PhD student with Professor Roland Stimson), Dr Karla Suchacki (Postdoc with Professor Roland Stimson), Dr Ahmad Al-Mrabeh (Transitional Research Fellow) and Dr Will Cawthorn (Senior Lecturer) delivered various interactive activities designed to increase the public’s understanding about adipose tissue, metabolism, obesity and diabetes.

CVS Falkirk Science Festival

The main questions that the researchers aimed to answer were: How does our body store fat? Is this always a bad thing? Is all fat the same? Is it just used to store energy, or does fat play other roles in our bodies? What are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

The festival visitors had a chance to measure the blood glucose levels, use a microscope to detect different types of fat and learn more about how different organs store fat tissue.

CVS Falkirk Science Festival photo

Why do you do Public Engagement?


The Falkirk Science Festival event at the Helix was great fun to be involved in and also very tiring! There was a constant flow of families coming by to learn more about fat and diabetes and it was great to see so many enthusiastic kids!

I am keen to do outreach projects, both this one and ones in the future, to highlight the differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes, and to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes in particular. It’s often misunderstood and gets incorrectly associated with aspects of type 2 diabetes. Raising awareness of the early signs and symptoms will also hopefully help someone in the future.

I find that outreach work also helps to give me more motivation in the lab on tiresome days – it shows you the reason why you’re doing the work you do when you speak to people with type 1 diabetes and what they endure day-to-day.

Sophie Walker, BHF PhD student


My motivation for doing any public engagement is to share how exciting research can be, and how discovering new things can help to improve the lives of individuals and society. My particular motivation for this activity was to teach people about the many fascinating things that our fat tissue does and to question the widely held perception that fat is ‘bad’. Speaking to non-scientists is also a great way to get new ideas and reflect on parts of our research that we might not have thought about… this was certainly true at the Falkirk Science Festival, where several people (young and old) raised questions that scientists can often overlook in our day-to-day research.

Overall I had a great time at the Falkirk Science Festival (my family came along and my kids also had a brilliant time, not just learning about fat and diabetes but the many other activities on the day. Sunshine and ice cream also helped).

I look forward to the next opportunity to take our ‘Many Faces of Fat and Diabetes’ activity on the road.

Dr Will Cawthorn, Senior Lecturer

Metabolism, Obesity, & Diabetes (MOD) research theme

Falkirk Science Festival 2022 - Falkirk Herald article