It’s often hard to know in advance of its release just how far and wide a news story about our research will travel.
In December, when my colleague Rob sat down with Chris Chuck (Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Department of Chemical Engineering) to discuss this story about news of significant new funding to develop a yeast-based alternative to palm oil, neither – I imagine – would have predicted that six months on this work would be referenced on a hit, prime-time US TV show.
But that’s just what’s happened.
Via a tweet from former CSCT PhD Rhod Jenkins, we were alerted this week to a recent episode of Grace and Frankie - the America comedy drama starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin currently streaming on Netflix – and a specific scene where the character Frankie, the hippy art teacher played by Tomlin, quite incredibly, talks directly about Chris’ work.
Frankie tells Grace:
“The word is yeast. I’ve done some research and I’ve found that scientists at the University of Bath believe yeast will duplicate palm oil’s key properties almost exactly.”
— Rhod Jenkins (@rhodrij) May 17, 2016
We think this must be a first for our research, so please do catch it (Season 2, Episode 10) if you’re on Netflix! Thanks very much to Rhod too, who is currently working as a Post-Doc researching sustainable biofuels at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Extensive media coverage
In truth Netflix's Grace and Frankie is just the latest in a long list of media around the world to have picked up on this research. What started out as a news item for regional print, radio and TV, soon became a national story featured by UK broadsheets, before spreading around the world, most significantly perhaps thanks to coverage by Reuters US.
This has helped generate a huge buzz around Chris’ work, including in the sector in influential trade publications. This extensive coverage has helped Chris reach future collaborators and industry partners – proving just why media engagement can be an important pathway to impact.
Finally, if you missed it at the time, here's the initial video we created that started the ball rolling in the first place!