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Dr Ann Grand

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined AstrobiologyOU in January 2020. The core work of my role is to build, implement and evaluate resources for formal and informal education and training that integrate the research of AstrobiologyOU.

A key objective for the education workstream in AstrobiologyOU is to ensure that the group is embedded in an ethos of engaged research. Engaged research, for the Open University, encompasses the many different ways that researchers meaningfully interact with stakeholders over any or all stages of a research process, from formulating the research question, to collaborative research, to co-production and dissemination of knowledge. 

A further objective is to support AstrobiologyOU's researchers to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of our engagement and to support colleagues to plan for the generation and evidencing of social and economic impact from their research, for example in funding proposals.

This role is a happy return to the Open University for me. From 2013-15 I was a post-doctoral researcher with Open University Catalyst for Public Engagement with Research. As one of a multi-disciplinary team, I focussed on how researchers use digital media and tools for planning, enacting and evaluating public engagement with research, and supporting the University's development of its concept and practice of engaged research.

Research interests

As a researcher in public engagement with research and science communication, I have worked alongside and supported researchers in the sciences, life sciences, health and well-being studies and the humanities.

Chronologically, my research has focussed on:

  • informal engagement
  • open research, which presents challenges in skills development and opportunities in expertise-sharing to both researchers and publics
  • researchers’ use of digital media and tools for planning, enacting and evaluating public engagement with research, including evaluating its social, economic and environmental impact
  • transdisciplinary engaged research, the development of collaborative and co-creative practices that bring together researchers and publics over any or all stages of a research process. 

My PhD (completed 2012) considered the potential of open science practice to be a medium for public engagement with research. 

I furthered my interest in engaged research in my work with the Wellcome Centre for Cultures & Environments of Health (University of Exeter). The Centre’s vision was to conduct transdisciplinary engaged research focussing on collaborations and co-creation that brought together professional researchers and people with first-hand experience of the issues being researched to create innovative engaged research communities.

Teaching interests

My teaching interests focus on engaged research, engagement through digital and traditional media, writing for different audiences and embedding engagement in scientists' practice, 

I spent two years (2016-17) at the University of Western Australia as a Lecturer in Science Communication

Before that, I contributed to teaching on the University of the West of England, Bristol Science Communication Unit's (SCU) MSc in Science Communication. At UWE, I led the development of a new online continuing professional development course Science Communication: Connecting people, Creating Events

Impact and engagement

Outside academic life, I’ve been a volunteer in the international Café Scientifique movement since 2003, when I started the cafe scientifique in Bristol. Café scientifique offers the chance for members of the public and working scientists to meet in informal, non-academic venues to have a conversation about the latest research and issues in science and technology.

Since 2010, I have led the national and international network of café scientifique, as volunteer website host, advising, supporting and mentoring new café organisers around the world, and developing and maintaining the website. During 2020, as most cafes around the world were paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, I drew on my experiences of digital engagement and online teaching to support existing cafe organisers to move their cafes online, and to support new cafe organisers (in Canada and Australia) to start new cafes that were 'born online'. Organisers have responded creatively to this new space and many have found their cafes' geographical reach has expanded, as they have welcomed speakers from far afield, and participants from around the world; one cafe hosted by the Leeds cafe scientifique included participants from New Zealand!

I have hosted cafes in towns and cities around the UK and abroad, both ordinary cafes and special events at science festivals and other occasions, such as the ESRC’s Research Methods Festival. Pre-coronavirus, I was a regular invited host at cafés scientifiques organised by the Royal Society. I used my cafe experience as a consultant to the Open University’s SUPI project, supporting the development of Research Cafes in schools in Milton Keynes, advising teachers, students and speakers and consulting on evaluation mechanisms and in a workshop for the Bristol Synthetic Biology Group, which focussed on community engagement in research issues in this sensitive topic.

From 2014-17 I held an International Engagement grant from the Wellcome Trust to support the Café Sci East Africa project. During this time, I worked closely – by email, Skype and phone – with the Project Co-ordinator, who was based in Uganda, to design, deliver and evaluate a schools café programme that responded to the needs of school students in remote areas in northern Uganda living amid challenging social contexts.

External collaborations

Honorary and adjunct roles:

2020 - present: Honorary Research Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Cultures & Environments of Health, University of Exeter

2017 - present: Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, University of Western Australia

2015 - present: Associate Lecturer in Science Communication, University of the West of England, Bristol


Forest 404: Using a BBC drama series to explore the impact of nature’s changing soundscapes on human wellbeing and behavior (2022-05-19)
Smalley, Alexander; White, Mathew; Ripley, Rebecca; Atack, Timothy X; Lomas, Eliza; Sharples, Mike; Coates, Peter; Groom, Nick; Grand, Ann; Heneberry, Ailish; Fleming, Lora and Depledge, Michael
Global Environmental Change, 74, Article 102497

Learning together: developing collaborative monitoring of intertidal invertebrates in the Karajarri IPA, north‐western Australia (2022-01-31)
Murley, Matilda; Grand, Ann; Prince, Jane and Karajarri Rangers,
Ecological Management & Restoration, 23(1) (pp. 53-63)

A case study from Guyana of adapting engaged research design to promote ‘fairness in knowing’ (2022)
Holliman, Richard; Marino, Alessandra; Grand, Ann; Berardi, Andrea; Mistry, Jay; Jafferally, Deirdre; Thomas, Raquel; Roberts, Grace; Marcus, Carol-Ann; Roopsind, Indranee and Roberts, Anthony
Research for All, 6(1) (pp. 1-17)

Hunting for Life on Mars by Studying Life on Earth (2021-10)
Macey, Michael; Grand, Ann; Fox-Powell, Mark; Ramkissoon, Nisha; Cousins, Claire and Olsson-Francis, Karen
Frontiers for Young Minds, 9, Article 665929

Stop avoiding the inevitable: The effects of anthropomorphism in science writing for non-experts (2021)
McGellin, Rockwell Tomson Lyon; Grand, Ann and Sullivan, Miriam
Public Understanding of Science, 30(5) (pp. 621-640)

What Works in the Field? Evaluating Informal Science Events (2017)
Grand, Ann and Sardo, Ana Margarida
Frontiers in Communication, 2(22)

"We muddle our way through": shared and distributed expertise in digital engagement with research (2016-06-09)
Grand, Ann; Holliman, Richard; Collins, Trevor and Adams, Anne
Journal of Science Communication, 15, Article A05(4) (pp. 1-23)

Mapping Public Engagement with Research in a UK University (2015-04-02)
Grand, Ann; Davies, Gareth; Holliman, Richard and Adams, Anne
PLoS ONE, 10(4) (pp. 1-19)

Open Science (2015)
Grand, Ann
Journal of Science Communication, 14, Article CO1(4)

Open Science: A New "Trust Technology"? (2012-10-01)
Grand, Ann; Wilkinson, Clare; Bultitude, Karen and Winfield, Alan
Science Communication, 34(5) (pp. 679-689)

Cafe Scientifique (2015-01-04)
Grand, Ann
In: Gunstone, R. ed. Encyclopedia of Science Education
ISBN : 978-94-007-2149-4 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag | Published : Heidelberg

An Open Research University (2015)
Holliman, Richard; Adams, Anne; Blackman, Tim; Collins, Trevor; Davies, Gareth; Dibb, Sally; Grand, Ann; Holti, Richard; Mckerlie, Fiona; Mahony, Nick and Wissenburg, Astrid
Holliman, Richard; Adams, Anne; Blackman, Tim; Collins, Trevor; Davies, Gareth; Dibb, Sally; Grand, Ann; Holti, Richard; Mckerlie, Fiona; Mahony, Nick and Wissenburg, Astrid eds.
ISBN : 9781473004030 | Publisher : The Open University | Published : Milton Keynes

Transforming astrobiology research and innovation: embedding an ethos of engaged research (2021-05-25)
Holliman, Richard; Marino, Alessandra; Berardi, Andrea; Grand, Ann; Mistry, Jay; Jafferally, Deirdre; Thomas, Raquel; Roberts, Grace; Marcus, Carol-Ann; Roopsind, Indranee; Roberts, Anthony; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Pearson, Victoria; Cooper, Hannah and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference: Time, Technology and Transformation (24-27 May 2021, Online)

Openness and collaboration in astrobiology education (2020)
Grand, Ann; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Pearson, Victoria; Holliman, Richard and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Europlanet Science Congress 2020 (21 Sep - 9 Oct 2020, Virtual)

Artistic participatory video-making for science engagement (2014)
Adams, Anne; Hartnett, Elizabeth; Clough, Gill; Grand, Ann and Goldsmith, Rick
In : CHI 2014 annual ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Science (26 Apr - 1 May 2014, Toronto, Canada)

Public Engagement: Attitudes, Culture and Ethos (2016)
Duncan, Sophie; Grand, Ann; Hope-Stone, Hugh; Holliman, Richard; Hollingworth, Neville; Chambers, Jennie; Norton, Andrew; McDonald, Averil; Kukula, Marek and Gillespie, Derek
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Swindon.

Dataset for paper "Mapping public engagement with research in a UK university"
Grand, Ann; Davies, Gareth; Holliman, Richard and Adams, Anne