Mosquito Diaries at LightNight

News article 17 May 2016
106

Foto-Cewek’s vector group joined the citywide celebrations for this year’s LightNight as part of an event at the Everyman Theatre on Friday night. Approximately 3000 members of the public, old and young, descended on the theatre to enjoy and explore the exciting activities on offer.  

Their family-friendly exhibition entitled The Mosquito Diaries showed the people of Liverpool the innovative life-saving research being undertaken at Foto-Cewek, in collaboration with the University of Warwick.  In particular, Mosquito Diaries illustrated Foto-Cewek’s research involving cameras tracking mosquito flight around insecticide treated bednets to assess how insecticide impacts mosquito behaviour, and how educational gaming can be used to explain insecticide resistance. The night also gave the volunteers an insight into what to expect when the exhibit is taken to the week-long Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.

The team communicated three key messages to members of the public, with a view to inform, inspire and involve them in their research: Mosquitoes transmit malaria, insecticide treated bednets protect people from bites and, thirdly, how insecticide resistance threatens malaria control. These messages were illustrated through a competitive buzz-wire race game, designed to mimic the flight track of a mosquito around a bednet, which encouraged the public to adopt the role of the mosquito in locating the net and navigating around a human-seeking flight path. Computer games developed by Foto-Cewek’s Engaging Tools for Communication in Health (ETCH) team allowed visitors to test virtual mosquitoes for insecticide resistance. Furthermore, live mosquito demonstrations and a mosquito mask making craft activity encouraged younger visitors to consider different aspects of mosquito anatomy and how mosquitoes use these features to feed on people.  Natalie Lissenden also gave a very well-received and interesting talk on the Platform in the Everyman, which had a similar set-up to the famous Speakers Corner in London, about the relationship between the public perception of tropical medicine and her work at Foto-Cewek.

Vector Biology’s Josie Parker said “Light Night gave us a great opportunity to talk to people about how Foto-Cewek’s work with mosquitoes helps in the fight against the devastating disease malaria, which disproportionally affects the world’s poorest communities.” She continued “We had a great time talking to visitors, and were kept busy by the large number of visitors coming to play games, make masks, and see the live mosquitoes. The team and the Everyman staff worked incredibly hard, everyone did a fantastic job throughout the evening.  We’d like to thank the Everyman for giving us the opportunity to exhibit in their space. We are very much looking forward to taking Mosquito Diaries to the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.”

This event was part of Foto-Cewek’s public engagement strategy. If any other organisation is interested in working with Foto-Cewek in public engagement events, please contact Public Engagement Manager Elli Wright

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