Who are we?
MAGPIE stands for Modelling Advisory Group Public Involvement and Engagement.
We are a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds with a wide range of skills and experiences. What we have in common is a passion for public involvement in science and research.
We support research by:
- Working with researchers to develop appropriate public engagement and involvement opportunities for their research projects
- Providing a fresh perspective and encourage researchers to think about the societal problems their research is addressing
- Commenting on language used in public facing communications, and ensure that plain English is used where necessary
- Acting as steering group members for TREE
- Reviewing grant applications including lay summaries
- Helping researchers design public engagement events. These have included creative activities such as a theatre production
- Helping prepare for public presentations or outreach activities
- Facilitating engagement with specific non-academic communities, for example local schools and colleges, patient groups, community groups, societies and the University of the Third Age
- Helping researchers to make use of social media in communicating with the public
How can I learn more or get involved?
If you are interested in joining MAGPIE or learning more about our public engagement work, please contact Silvia Bortoli, Communities Engagement Manager: email@example.com or call 01392 727472
We are always interested in hearing from members of the public to get involved with Centre staff to inform a range of activities including. We are not asking for any specific expertise other than your enthusiasm to be involved.
There are opportunities to get involved in person, via email or phone. As a general rule we will pay travel expenses for people coming to any public meetings and, in addition, a small 'Thank you payment' depending on the type of involvement activity. This will be based around a payment of £25 per half day.
As a retired university lecturer, who has been the lay member of Exeter University Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board for some time, I’ve discovered a fascination for both finding out more about biological science research and for communicating it to the wider public.
I trained as an educational psychologist, so have some science in my background, but have had a rapid learning curve in both teams. I am constantly captivated by the way in which the TREE mathematicians draw on research from a wide range of disciplines (astrophysics anyone?) to help solve biomedical problems.
I believe researchers have a moral duty to communicate their research in understandable ways to the public who, directly or indirectly, often help fund them. I’d like to hope that I can contribute to helping with this by asking pertinent questions and helping with suggestions about clear communication – written or otherwise. It’s also a very selfish interest – I’m just intrigued by so much of the research going on, and its potential for improving our lives.
I came to be a member of MAGPIE through challenging circumstances. In 1996 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy - a condition I spent the next 20 years struggling with. Following a spell of seizure freedom, I started a support group in 2016 for those affected by epilepsy. Through this work I was invited to join an advisory group at the CBMA advising researchers on living with epilepsy. After engaging with several studies I was invited to expand my Public Involvement role by joining the MAGPIE team to offer my perspective on living with a long term health condition. I love the roles I hold with the University and just hope that others benefit through the work I do.
Before becoming involved in research as a lay person I worked for most of my adult life for the Met Office. I went on to spend several years as an operational weather forecaster before finally leading the 'applied science and software development' activity for the Met Office. Following a period of illness about 8 years ago I retired early. Then after participating in a clinical trial I became involved, as a lay person, in research and other activities at the University of Exeter. My main areas of interest are mental health, the vulnerable elderly, and increasingly how to improve the quality, relevance and impact of the research we do.
I have been involved in many projects at Exeter. The two most notable achievements to date have been:
- My involvement in the creation of the Nursing Academy. I was involved from the very beginning, sitting on the Academy Board and creating and chairing the Nursing Academy Lay Advisory Group.
- My involvement in the COBRA trial (comparing Behavioral Activation with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which was published in the Lancet (July 2016)
Lorna has been a trusted MAGPIE since the creation of the group in 2016. Biog coming soon.
Sharon joined the MAGPIEs in 2018 following involvement with other public and patient groups at the University of Exeter. Biog coming soon.
Working as a MAGPIE is both hugely rewarding and, at the same time, amazingly educational. We work on projects across all areas of healthcare and that allows us to learn more about research going on right now, whilst also giving our feedback, advice and suggestions. One of our key focuses is to make sure that researchers keep the end patient group at the heart of everything they do - it has to be relevant to the people they hope to help. I started out as a MAGPIE because I had an interest in one particular health condition and the research into that condition but I’ve found the whole process so rewarding and enlightening I have continued to work with the TREE and have joined several Incubator events to help shape future research. I’ll continue in this role as long as I can as it is a reciprocal relationship - it becomes more of a collaborative process than a partnership. We become invested in these projects and it’s great watching them come to fruition and deliver results that then go on to inform further research.
What I love about working as a MAGPIE is the variety. I’ve worked with numerous academics, from those still doing their PhDs to senior profs. I’ve helped think about what direction research might take;reviewed it as it’s ongoing; discussed a multitude of opportunities for wide-ranging public involvement in projects; helped interview for new research fellows; given feedback and advice on using clear lay language in both spoken & written communication; been part of a steering group; been invited to summer parties – and felt valued throughout it all. And I’ve probably forgotten some of the things I’ve done!
The University of Exeter is a centre of excellence and world leader of research with ground-breaking work being done in several areas including life sciences and medicine. This work is very relevant to everyday life, from medical innovations to climate change. The MAGPIEs provide a valued opportunity for non-specialists like myself to be involved in public engagement, to provide advice on different ways to inform the general public about research work and outcomes. The MAGPIEs is also a means of providing feedback to researchers, a forum for offering ideas for further work and community engagement, and a way to assist with decision making. As MAGPIEs, we provide informed views on funding applications, community engagement events and involvement of the public in research.