Female researchers present their projects to the public at Soapbox Science Event

August 23, 2023

Eleven female researchers presented their work in the city centre of Düsseldorf to the wider public at this year’s Soapbox Science Event.

In the spirit of London's Hyde Park Speakers' Corner, the participating scientists presented their scientific projects in a engaging and enjoyable manner, while standing on a small platform. This simple act transformed the public space into a hub of learning and discussion.

With her title „Plant roots: Secret languages and hidden friends“, Swati Mahiwal introduced a glimpse of her PhD and explained to random passers-by, how microorganisms act as friends or foes of plant roots:

Specific bacteria interact in symbiosis in Legume plants such as peas, chickpeas, and soybean, causing the plants to make brown-colored globular structures on the root surface.

These structures are nodules, and the bacteria sit inside these nodules and fix nitrogen from the air for the plants. The nodules arise at specific positions on the root near the vasculature.

To protect this vasculature, plants build barriers.

Swati wants to understand how these barriers are modified during the process of symbiosis using the model legume Lotus japonicus.

“I was very excited about the idea of presenting my project to the public and soapbox science just gave me the right platform to do it. I was very happy after the event because of the very positive and active engagement of the public passing by our venue.“

Soapbox Science is a public science communication event promoting women and non-binary scientists and the science they do.

It is a great opportunity for female* researchers to present their research to a broader public in an engaging, accessible, and fun way. At the same time, it is an opportunity to improve the visibility of women and underrepresented genders in science.

The local Soapbox Science Rheinland event is a collaborative effort between the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and the University of Cologne (CEPLAS, CECAD, ML4Q).

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