On March 26 in 1636, Utrecht University was founded and this year we celebrate 385 years of science in Utrecht. As part of this celebration, the project “A word about tomorrow” connects scientists with the general public. PhD students Rianne, Astrid, and Marloes participated in this project and visited libraries all over Utrecht to talk to visitors about their curiosities. Together with us scientists, the visitors came up with research questions. Everyone, young and old, from different kinds of backgrounds, were welcome to join a table with a scientist.
“We want to know what kind of questions they have and what they think are important topics to study”
Surprising and original questions came one after the other. One older woman wondered if we could improve preventive screening for colon cancer by actually studying cases where the screening was not accurate. She had experienced this herself. Some kids were wondering why only people above 12 were able to get a COVID-vaccine. Many raised ethical questions. An entire family was debating whether childhood disorders should receive more funding than age-related diseases. All questions gathered in this project are collected. To some of them, we might already have an answer. Others might actually end up at the Utrecht Science agenda to be studied in the future.
A visitor said: “It was super fun to talk to a scientist, completely different from what I expected.”
And not only the visitors had fun celebrating the 385 years of science in Utrecht, as a scientist these kind of conversations broadens your horizon and evaluate your own research. As the Translational Neuroscience department, we our students for their well appreciated effort.
An amazed 7-year old kid noticed: “Scientists ask a lot of questions”
Photos: Lize Kraan