Science and science communication along the Marco Polo trail
In August and October 2011 the group of scientists, journalists and media representatives who participated in MarcoPolo2010 will travel through Armenia and the Crimea to continue collecting data alongthe Silk Road.
Just as they did on the previous expedition in 2010, the travellers will meet representatives from the Terra Madre communities and collect DNA samples toexplore the links between genetics, food preference and culinary traditions.
MarcoPolo2011 (again like MarcoPolo 2010) will study the taste perceptions of the Terra Madre communities and compare the results with the data on their culinary traditions, alongside data on the prevalence of common pathologies such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
Researchers obtain these data through a series of quite simple tests:
- bitterness and saltiness taste tests;
- a questionnaire about their dietary preferences;
- a sense of smell test;
- a colour test;
- an audiometric test to measure hearing;
- a brief general questionnaire on their general state of health and lifestyle choices;
- a collection of saliva samples - from which we can extract DNA, so that a genetic analysis of the population can be carried out.
The local communities along the way play an active role in all the activities of the project thanks to the Terra Madre network.
Science for everyone
Again, likeMarcopolo2010, the whole enterprise (from design, to expedition, to data analysis) will take place entirely in the public eye.
In this way, important scientific research will become, in addition, an interactive and fascinating science communication project.
Before, during and after the expedition, a team of experts in science communication (writers, journalists, museum experts, photographers, directors and cameramen, multimedia developers, etc.) will work closely with scientists in order to prepare avideo of the expedition, materials for further exhibitions and events, activities with local participants etc., and to ensure a comprehensive and accurate media coverage of the entire project and its contents.
Communication and popularisation initiatives
The journey, the topics and the research methods are used for popularisation initiatives at various levels:
- Participative website with the blog of the expedition
- TV programmes: on specialised and entertainment channels
- Scientific and photo reports
- Series of books for different audiences and on various topics
- Great travelling, interactive and multimedia exhibition
- Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS BurloGarofolo, Trieste
- Sissa Medialab, Trieste
- Terra Madre
- Department of Medical Science, University of Trieste
tel. +39 040 3787 620