Science Outreach

Impact, science outreach and equality in science

Our group is committed to public outreach: why shouldn’t the public get to learn about the amazing lives of social insects, or how behaviour is underpinned by genes? Our activities include:

  • Science on the streets: Soapbox Science. Watch the film.
  • Popup Science
  • Edge Third Culture ( e,g
  • Films: ‘A Short Film About Ants’ – Explains the science behind social complexity in leaf-cutting ant colonies. Shot on location in Panama. 30 mins. 2002; ‘Of Hives and Hombres’ – Explores the economic, cultural and social importance of stingless bees in Central America. Shot on location in Mexico. 20 mins. 2004.  
  • Schools and Local Clubs:
    • Seirian currently hold a Royal Society Partnership grant with Dr Nick Isaac (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), which is a collaboration with a primary school in Oxfordshire to conduct an ecology restoration and monitoring project on school grounds.
    • Patrick is an ambassador for school outreach with the British Ecological Society
  • Popular science writing

Sumner, S. & Brock R. 2016. “Social Wasps: No ASBO Required.” Professional Pest Controller Magazine

Sumner S & Brock R (2016) In defence of wasps. The Conversation.

Asher CL & Sumner S (2015) The Genetics of Societies. The Scientist.

Sumner S (2014) Life Evolves Via a Shared Genetic Toolkit. In: This Idea Must Die (ed Brockmann J). pp 170-174. Harper Perennial, New York.

Sumner, S. (2013). A synthetic world. In: What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night (Edge Question Series 2013) (ed. J. Brockman).

Sumner. S. & Patalano, S. (2012). Is the natural world one big soap? New Scientist 214, 28-29.

Sumner, S. (2012). Help, I need somebody! The importance of helping behaviour in the evolution of biological complexity. In: This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (Edge Question Series 2012) (ed. J. Brockman).

Sumner, S. (2010). How the internet changes our behaviour. In: How is the Internet Changing the Way you Think? (ed. J. Brockman).

Sumner, S. (2009). How did the social insects become social? In: What’s Next? Dispatches on the Future of Science (ed. M. Brockman), pp. 199-210. New York: Vintage.

Sumner, S. (2009). Reassessing Relatedness. In: What have you changed your mind about? Today’s Leading Minds Rethink Everything (ed. J. Brockmann), pp. 416. Harper Perennial.

Equality in Science. 

Athena SWAN

Seirian was Academic Lead for the Bronze Athena SWAN award for the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol. She is now a  member of the Athena SWAN committee for the Division of Biosciences, UCL.

Recent articles by Seirian on Gender and Science include:

Sumner (2015) Four steps to killing off sexism in science. The Guardian Higher Education, September 2015

Pettorelli & Sumner (2015) Opportunity knocks for the Tories to boost gender equality in science. The Conversation, May 2015

Pettorelli & Sumner (2014) Women scientists take to their soapboxes on London’s South bank. The Guardian, 27th June

Sumner, S. & Pettorelli, N. (2013). Women in Science: Changing the game for women in science: it’s not a one-stop-shop. The Independent

Pettorelli, N. & Sumner, S. (2013). On a soapbox for women in science. The Guardian

Sumner, S. (2013). Breaking the taboo: advice that could help retain women in science. Soapbox Science Blog.

Sumner, S. & Pettorelli, N. (2013). Soapbox Science: Bringing Science to the Streets. British Ecology Society Bulletin.

Pettorelli, N., Else, L. & Sumner, S. (2012). Empowering Men to Balance the Gender Gap in Science. Science.

Sumner, S. & Pettorelli, N. (2012). Top Recommendations from Top Women in Science. Nature.

Pettorelli, N. & Sumner, S. (2012). Plug the leaky career pipes for women by challenging social norms. The Independent.

Sumner, S. & Pettorelli, N. (2011). The high cost of being a woman. New Scientist (UK), pp. 26-27.

Sumner, S. & Pettorelli, N. (2011). Women in Science: Getting women to stay in the field. The Independent.

Pettorelli, N. & Sumner, S. (2011). Conservation of an endangered species: the female scientist. Guardian Higher Education.

Media Interest:

Coverage of our research

BBC Online, Radio 5 Live, LBC, Radio Wales, New Scientist, national newspapers (including Guardian, Times, Daily Express and Independent), Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and numerous websites.

The most recent stuff:

Featured in film/radio

Seirian was the scientific advisor for an art-science collaboration with