World Antimicrobial Awareness Week with Microbiology Society Champion Jazmin Conway

Posted on November 22, 2022   by Jazmin Conway

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) runs from 18–24 November each year. One of our Champions, Jazmin Conway from the University of Plymouth, has organised a series of events about as to bring awareness to this serious challenge. In this blog post, Jazz discusses the process of planning these events and how the Microbiology Society provided support throughout.

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World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a week dedicated to raising awareness about using antibiotics appropriately and educating individuals on the threat antimicrobial resistance poses to all of us. As antimicrobial resistance (AMR) researchers at the University of Plymouth, we felt it was our responsibility to help raise awareness of the issue before us. And with COVID having prevented interactive events in previous years, we decided to go all out and arrange a number of activities throughout the week for everyone and anyone to enjoy!

We went about this by deciding what our two main focuses were for the week:

  • Aim 1: make it as fun and interactive as possible;
  • Aim 2: every individual will leave the event having learnt AT LEAST one new fact!

With our main focuses decided, we moved onto what events would help us to achieve the aims throughout the week. We decided an expert panel (Quiz the Experts) would create a comfortable area for discussion where people from all backgrounds can come together to share their questions and ideas. Our diverse panel includes a patient advocate, a science illustrator, a pharmacist and AMR researchers – this gives a great spread of expertise and we hope to be able to field questions across all areas of AMR and demonstrate how different views are needed to help solve the complex AMR problem.

In addition, we decided that a pub quiz would test people’s knowledge, teach them new facts, and help us identify gaps in knowledge for future public engagement events. To get active, we also organised a UV dodgeball event, hoping to bring out people’s competitive streaks help them visualise the battle between antibiotics and bacteria. And finally, we planned an interactive stall where people can get hands on with the bacteria and potentially discover their own novel antibiotic! This last event was inspired in some ways by the Microbiology Society ‘Antibiotics Unearthed’ campaign that ran a few years ago.

Having created the plan for the week, we then required funding to secure the equipment needed to make our event a success. Not to mention guidance in running an event this large – that’s where the Champions Scheme came in handy. The Champions Scheme gives support to individuals to help raise awareness of anything microbiology related, so for this year’s WAAW, their support and guidance was truly invaluable.

The Champions Scheme helped fund the free nibbles and drinks at the Quiz the Experts event, enabled printing of posters, and paid for lab consumables. We were even sent free merchandise to give away at the stall! We remained in regular contact with the Champions Scheme, and they helped us to ensure everything would run smoothly and helped us to publicise the event through social media and newsletters.

Overall, being part of the Champions Scheme enabled us to feel confident in the run up to the event and in our own organisation skills. It also enabled us to feel supported and recognised by a well-respected society – making the week of events feel even more important. This support has extended to frequent re-Tweets and shares on social media by the Microbiology Society Team. We are extremely grateful for all this support.

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© Jazz Conway Around 70 people attended the pub quiz event on 22 November. The winners won £60, two bottles of wine and a specially-made, glow in the dark, bacteriopage trophy.