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Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund for TREE has now come to an end and we would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for their support over the last 10 years. All of TREEs funding has come to an end and will not be renewed.


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 Communities Engagement Manager, Rachel Etherington:

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. 

MAGPIE payments

We will offer you a ‘thank you payment’ for your involvement in MAGPIE: £30 for half day involvement/ meeting; £60 for full day involvement/ meeting. 

When you participate in meetings online (on Zoom) we will supplement the above with an extra £5; this is to cover your telephone or internet connection to join meetings remotely, and/or printing out papers at home that have been sent via email.  

When you attend meetings at the University of Exeter campus, we will reimburse reasonable travel expenses.  

Sometimes, in between attending meetings, we may ask you to review some documents or website content. For this type of one-off remote work we will offer you a £10 ‘thank you payment’. 

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.