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PhD student Hayley wins I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here prize

24 March 2016

Photograph of Hayley Moulding
Hayley is a PhD student researching genetic conditions and sleep.

MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics PhD student Hayley Moulding has won a £500 prize in I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here, an X-Factor style public engagement competition judged by school children.

The Wellcome Trust funded outreach project is designed to get pupils interested in STEM subjects through one-to-one online interaction with scientists.

Over 130 schools from across the UK took part in the event between 7th-18th March, spanning both British Science Week and Brain Awareness Week.

Pupils can ask participating scientists any questions they like during a series of live chat sessions, and then vote for their favourite based on their answers. Competitors are split into ‘zones’, with Hayley winning the Gold Zone.

She will now be awarded the prize money for use as funding for future public engagement activities.

“The past 2 weeks have been fantastic” said Hayley. “The experience was so different every day, but I enjoyed every second of each session, and I am so appreciative to all the students for asking so many insightful, inspiring and challenging questions and for voting for me as the Gold Zone winner.

“I took part in the program as I thought it would be a really valuable experience to talk about science to a different, non-academic audience” said Hayley. “The idea of communicating with the next generation of scientists and mathematicians was something I found really inspirational.

“I also wanted to challenge myself - I wanted to know whether I understood my own research well enough to be able to explain some really complex ideas to a much younger audience - I’d like to think I managed it at least most of the time.”

Hayley works as part of the MRC Centre’s ECHO Study which investigates genetic conditions known as copy number variants, and is also involved in studies on the role of sleep in schizophrenia.

Hayley answered questions predominantly on the theme of sleep and its effects on mental health. Over the course of the competition Hayley was asked questions including:

“If I managed to influence one 10-year-old and inspire them to do science and continue with their excitement, it was all worthwhile” said Hayley.

Further I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here events will take place in June and November. If you’d like to get involved visit the competition website for more details.