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Thursday 25 February 2016 1:55pm

The BHRC would like to extend our most sincere congratulations to PhD student Blake Porter who has been awarded an outreach certificate by the University of Otago SNAP committee. The outreach certificate recognises Blake's dedication to scientific outreach through his website and blog which uses popular culture to explain scientific concepts.

SNAP committee chair Andrea Brown, who presented the award, commended Blake on his commitment to the project. Blake has spent more than 95 hours on the work so far. His most viewed piece, an explanation of the neuroscience behind the Pixar movie 'Inside out', has received more than 18,000 unique views.

Blake, who is in the process of completing his PhD in Psychology under the supervision of BHRC director Prof David Bilkey, was very humble in his acceptance of the certificate. “It feels great to have my work recognised,” he mentioned later, noting how appreciative he felt that the university offered such a certificate to incentivize scientific outreach.

Why did science writing appeal to him? There are two main reasons: Education and accountability. “It is the public who is funding a vast majority of our scientific work,” he said, “and I think as scientists, being paid by the public, we owe it to them to explain our work and what their tax dollars are going towards.” He believes that by opening up these channels of communication the public can not only understand where their tax dollars are going but also gain a larger appreciation for the importance of science in society. “Now a days, there is not a single aspect of our lives that science and technology doesn't play a part in,” Blake said, stating that he believes “with a more scientifically informed public, better decisions can be made and more problems can be solved, rather than debated, in an efficient manner.”

We here at the BHRC could not agree more. Scientific progress can only be effectively integrated into society when it is understood, and these kinds of programmes are providing the tools that will help this happen.

To read some of Blake's writing follow this link:

And if you're interested in the Outreach Certificate the information can be found here:

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