CASE STUDY 1: Carole L. Marshall, Programme Leader for MSc Public Engagement with Science

Newspaper headlines frequently comment on the latest scientific developments but how do communities benefit from this kind of research in everyday life?

Rachael Bush with Carole Marshall
Rachael Bush with Carole Marshall

Newspaper headlines frequently comment on the latest scientific developments but how do communities benefit from this kind of research in everyday life? Northumbria University academic Carole L. Marshall works with organisations to put science to practical use in ways that benefit the people they serve.

Carole, a Registered Nutritionist and senior lecturer, is the perfect candidate to lead the MSc Public Engagement with Science degree programme – one product of the new partnership between Northumbria University, Newcastle and the International Centre for Life.

Eleven years ago Carole gave up work as an art and textile tutor to study Human Nutrition at Northumbria University. She graduated at the age of 50 and set up her own successful consultancy, advising North East communities, nursery and care home staff on how to get the most nutritional benefits out of food.

Through the consultancy, which has recently come under Northumbria University management, Carole has trained staff at over a hundred care home and nurseries across Tyne and Wear and Yorkshire. Staff are encouraged and empowered to deliver highly nutritious meals that will benefit young children and the elderly. Carole has also helped to shape menus at several care homes and nurseries, including Northumbria University Nursery.

Her role as a nutritional trainer and consultant is just one example of a career that could be open to graduates of the new MSc programme. 

Carole said: “I developed an interest in nutrition while teaching art classes to adults. Conversations about ill health and diet sparked an interest in the subject and I decided to change my career.  After gaining distinctions in Chemistry, Biology and Quantitative Methods HEFC’s, I thought, ‘well I’ve done this, maybe I could try a degree too’.

“I was 50 when I graduated from Northumbria University and decided to start up a consultancy. I continued teaching in the community, but instead of art I was now running nutritional awareness courses helping the very people who motivated me to change my career.”

The MSc Public Engagement with Science is a hands-on programme that will teach science graduates to translate scientific research into cultural activities and public outreach events. Starting in September 2014, the degree is aimed at graduates from most science disciplines who have the ability and desire to communicate science to the public.

Carole said: “Teaching in the community and working with the general public requires a special approach. As a public engager, my role is to encourage people to understand nutrition in order to improve their quality of life. It’s about understanding the science and knowing the target audience you are delivering it to.”

Carole, along with Northumbria University colleagues and project PhD students, bases her research in nurseries and care homes throughout the North East. The results of the research inform the training which is delivered to the staff.

“I feel I have the best of both worlds. Working at Northumbria University provides the opportunity to keep up to date with the latest scientific advances and carry out research and then I have the opportunity to share that knowledge with students and through consultancy with a wider audience of people involved in the care of the very young and the elderly.”

Children at Northumbria University Nursery are also beneficiaries of nutritional research as the diet provided by the nursery has been analysed for nutritional content by Carole’s team. Parents using the nursery can rest assured that their children are enjoying balanced meals influenced by the latest scientific research.

Deborah Thorpe is Executive Childcare Manager at the multiple award-winning nursery.

She said: “We embraced the opportunity to engage with this research to seriously examine the nutritional content and balance of the meals that are cooked fresh at nursery every day. By sharing our menus for analysis and taking on board any recommendations we can be confident that we are serving our children a nutritionally and well-balanced diet at every meal time.”

For more details about Northumbria University Nursery, visit http://nursery.northumbria.ac.uk

For more information about the MSc Public Engagement with Science degree, contact Carole L. Marshall at carole.l.marshall@northumbria.ac.uk

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer