Ellie Jarvis

2021 PhD Studentship
Citizen science in behavioural ecology
Improving evolution literacy with citizen science and co-participatory research
Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath


When I worked for the COVID-19 Infection Survey, I spoke to participants with a range of scientific backgrounds about the pandemic and the principles and standards of good practice for health research. I found that the scientific findings and the entire nature of research were poorly communicated, which in turn led to wider mistrust in the very processes meant to benefit the public.

My research addresses these issues. I challenge the idea that the public cannot be involved in academic research and demonstrate their potential for agency beyond simply collecting data.

I aim to develop effective methods to engage the public at all stages of the research process and demonstrate the importance of extending research impact beyond university walls.

science education
Accessible science

COVID-19 has increased the public awareness of microorganisms and disease.

The emergence of different virus variants between 2020 – 2022 was an opportunity to highlight evolution in an applicable context, but instead it was poorly communicated to the public.

I aim to show that improving evolution literacy can support the public understanding of wider societal issues, such as public health policy compliance. I also want to show that making science more accessible for everyone enhances the understanding of evolution.

Bath Taps into Science 2019, a week-long science festival for all age groups at the University of Bath. Photo: Ellie Jarvis
More citizen scientists

Our experiments investigate how the self-medication behaviour of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) drives the evolution of the dietary microbes they choose. I involve the public directly in this work as citizen scientists, running workshops for secondary school pupils and outreach events to educate about evolution, demonstrate the research process and increase science capital.

Transforming research

I place academics at the heart of science communication to build ongoing, meaningful connections with the public about research that impacts them. I strongly believe that being an active cross-disciplinary researcher in biology and science communication is key to succeeding in engaging the public in research that impacts them. I welcome the challenge of bridging these fields throughout my degree.

After my PhD, I am considering multiple career options centred around science communication, including roles in science journalism and public engagement with universities.

My EET scholarship gives me the opportunity to build skills in many aspects of science communication and helps me access a valuable network of specialists.

More about Ellie’s work:

Researcher profile