Public Engagement

October 28th 2023

Mahrukh's EDI work with share!

Mahrukh has been working with Sheffield Anti-Racist Education (SHARE) to organise events centred around decolonising education to improve inclusivity. Her amazing work has been able to reach educators, researchers and the public. Of the experience Mahrukh said "I had a great time organising these events on behalf of Sheffield Anti-Racist Education. These events include:

We had amazing speakers from medicine, academia, the museum and the community, who talked about their knowledge and experiences. For the in person events, we also had great organisations who spoke about how they support these endeavours in academia and in the community through providing resources and networks."

Well done Mahrukh! We are so proud of the work you are doing and keep doing!

20th January 2023

International Conference on Cryptococcus & Cryptococcosis

Dr Simon Johnston attended this years 11th annual International Conference on Cryptococcus & Cryptococcosis in Kampala, Uganda.

About the experience Simon said "This has been a momentous meeting for several reasons: the first time the conference has been in Africa where the majority of deaths due to cryptococcosis occur and cause 20% AIDS-related deaths, the implementation of the AMBITION trial results (presented by Prof. Joe Jarvis, LSHTM in Sheffield last November) and the first meeting I've attended that has included a minister for health (see photo). The science has been phenomenal, there has been an amazing group of delegates from across the world and final moment of excitement is that the conference will next be in the UK in 2026!"

9th September 2022

ZDM15 and ZII6

Last week was a very exciting time for the Sheffield zebrafish research community as two incredible meetings, Zebrafish Disease Models 15 and Zebrafish Infection and Immunity UK 6, took place in our city. ZDM15 was set in the beautiful Sheffield City Hall. Research groups from all over the world were attending, including representatives from the US, Singapore, Malaysia and Eastern Europe. The conference pioneered a practice of having a DEI session. The discussions during that session were inspiring and encouraged people to develop wellbeing and equality practices in their respective universities.

Our own PhD student, Jacqui, represented the Johnston lab at the conference. She was selected for a flash talk, and further communicated her research in the poster sessions. 

Jacqui said "I am thrilled to see such a diverse representation from all over the world in this meeting. I felt lucky to be able to communicate my research to such a wide audience! Also, after hearing talks from a vast range of topics, I realised how much passion I have particularly for neuroscience research. My motivation to pursue a career in the field has been revitalised and I am very excited for what lies ahead."

After 4 days at ZDM15, the week concluded with the ZII6 meeting that was held in the Diamond building. Our own Dr Simon Johnston played a big role in the organisation of the event. The character of the meeting was very different from ZDM, it was a more casual and focused event, in which trainees had more space and opportunities for networking with PIs. Wider discussions were had on the topic of how the field of zebrafish infection and immunity is progressing, and what take home lessons we should all learn going forward with our research. 

Jacqui said "Overall, the two meetings were unique in their own way and both incredibly important for my development as a researcher. I come out of this conference week, full of ideas, inspiration and contacts from all over the world."

23rd August 2022


We recently attended the Home Educating Families' Festival ( to run a series of microscopy workshops over the week-long festival. 

We took a combination of seven stereo and upright microscopes for children and adults to use in the workshops. We looked at everything from different fabrics to pond water to anything anyone wanted to bring along (and there were some surprises!) It was an enormous success and we made plenty of new microscope addicts. We hope to go back to HEFF next year and we are very open to other festival opportunities if they come up!

11th November 2021

NEPG 2021

The North East Graduate Conference (NEPG) is a student led conference that was held online during the 11th and 12th of November 2021. The theme this year was connect, empower and innovate. Our very own Mahrukh helped organise the conference and organised the  keynote speakers and workshops. 

Mahrukh said "I really enjoyed working as part of a team to help organise this conference. It's especially important as we focused on how we can empower each other and ourselves through communication which has been even more difficult through COVID. I am so proud to be part of this team!"

We want to congratulate the entire team that helped organise the NEPG and you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

8th October 2021

equality and diversity seminar series

DiMeN Diversity organised 3 seminars this to increase awareness around equality, diversity and inclusion issues. The seminars included talks from Dr Jess Wade who spoke about ally-ship, Research Retold who spoke about accessibility in research and Dr Clara Barker who spoke about issues faced by people within the LGBTQ+ community. 

We are so proud of Mahrukh's work and her contribution to starting these very important conversations. If you want to know more about what they have planned follow them on twitter for more information!

28th September 2021

nuffield research placements

Mahrukh took part in the Nuffield Research Placement programme in which she supervised two students online on a literature review project. The placement focused on understanding the importance of structure in a literature review, how to carry out literature searches, how to critically evaluate research papers and producing original diagrams and images for scientific publications.

Of the experience Mahrukh said "I really enjoyed being teach students things I have learnt so far in my scientific career. I would definitely recommend this programme to anyone who would want experience in teaching and mentoring. I would definitely be part of the Nuffield Research Placement programme again!"

6th January 2021

PUBHD sheffield

On the 16th of December the monthly PubhD Sheffield Online event was held. Amongst the organisers was Jacqui, a PhD student in our lab. The event involved three speakers explaining their research in a simple way in front of an audience of mostly postgraduate students with a large variety of backgrounds. The talks lasted 10min followed by a 20min of questions from the audience. 

The event had talks by Ffion Hammond, Charlene Cross and Christina Schoettler who all spoke about their interests and relayed them to a lay audience in a captivating interactive way. 

The atmosphere of the occasion was incredibly warm and welcoming, it made for exciting discussion between the audience and the speakers. Jacqui tweeted the event live, it reached a lot of people and allowed for the exposure of the speakers research and lab groups. Check out the tweets here! 

PubhD aims at creating a relaxed environment in which students can share their research and practise their presentation skills. It is attempting to spread the word about all the compelling new research that is happening in our city,  and to create connections between two universities, Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield. To contribute to the relaxed environment, the event used to be held in the pub, hence the name. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the organisers decided to adapt it to an online event, which so far has been quite successful and still enjoyable for everyone involved. Nonetheless, they are hoping to bring it back to the pub as soon as possible. Check out their Facebook group for  more information about future events and to contact the organisers if you want to get involved as a speaker or if you want to help run the events.

26th November 2020

Launch of WHISPERS

Mental health issues are currently rampant within the academic community. And although services are in place, often people don’t know about them until after things have gotten too bad.

Therefore, The Johnston Labs very own Jacob Rudman - along with other students within The University of Sheffield - have started a newsletter - WHISPERS (Wellbeing & Health In Students, Postgraduates and Early Researchers in Sheffield). The aim of this newsletter is to provide signposts for mental health services, as well as tips and strategies for coping with work. By not aligning the newsletter with a department, the thought is the newsletter will act as a ‘mutual friend’ for people who may be having a tough time. It also provides tips for avoiding burnout, and ways to best manage yourself in the workplace. Finally, pandemic specific advice is offered, for working from home, to ways to socialise online to local businesses you can support during this time.

WHISPERS now goes out monthly, and soon will hopefully reach every department within the university. 

3th August 2020

INSPIRING diversity in STEM

Conversations about diversity and inclusion in STEM are incredibly important. Mahrukh is part of the Discovery Medicine North (DiMeN) doctoral training programme. Together with students from her DTP, she founded DiMeN Diversity and is the president of the group. They organised an event called Inspiring Diversity in STEM. 

The event had talks by Dr Habib Naqvi, Laura Evans, Dr Lola Solebo and Dr Izzy Jayasinghe, and 2 breakout sessions. 

The event focused on understanding disparities between majority and minority groups in STEM, understanding issues faced by people in these groups and ways to bridge the gap. They also had two interactive sessions which focused on case studies and understanding the issues that people from minority groups face. Laura Evans at Nifty Fox illustrated the main points from the talks and interactive sessions in her amazing illustrative posters. 

This was the event for the DiMeN Diversity group and was attended by PhD students, technicians, lecturers, professors and programme managers. The group hopes to continue on with this work in the coming future. Well done to Mahrukh and the DiMeN Diversity team for the amazing event!

28h March 2020

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!

Mahrukh took part in the "I'm a Scientist Get me out of here" as a member of the part of the Medical Research Zone from the 2nd and 27th of March, funded by The Wellcome Trust and The Medical Research Council. The aim of this programme is to break down the barriers that exist between the perception’s students have about scientists and who they truly are which is real people. 

Mahrukh enjoyed the experience and said "I had a great time being part of this and I’m looking forward to doing this again next year! It was fun to talk to kids about normal things like anime, films and music and make them realise that we’re just like them and not unapproachable scientists

20th March 2019

BSMM annual meeting 2019

On the 17th to 19th of March, the British Society for Medical Mycology (BSMM) Annual Meeting was held in Royal Victoria Holiday Inn, Sheffield. Johnston lab led organising this important scientific gathering for clinicians and researchers to advance researches on medical and veterinary mycology.

11th June 2018

Cheltenham Science Festival 

As part of various outreach commitments of Florey Insitute of the University of Sheffield, Jaime together with other representatives from the Institute participated in Cheltenham Science Festival 2018 held from the 5th to 10th of June. They designed different activities to engage the public, especially students in primary and secondary levels, in understanding anti-microbial resistance and the different ways of tackling it. 

Jaime was very happy to interact and share his knowledge with the younger generations. He also commented, "With the enthusiasm and wit I saw from these kids, I strongly believe that the future of science in the UK is very bright!"

22th April 2016

The microscopic army event!

The Microscopic Army Against Disease and The Festival of Life event was part of the 2016 Festival of Life in Sheffield and was about the cells that protect our bodies from microorganisms and injury. Researchers were on hand to show how we use flies, fish and amoebae to study blood cell behaviour at the University of Sheffield. To find out more click here!

22th April 2016

krebs fest!

Dr Simon Johnston helped organise Krebs Fest at The University of Sheffield in Firth Court! The event was open to local schools to learn more about science. There were many different stalls and activities including a huge inflated Escherichia coli! 

Check out the photos to see more!