Microbiology Is … Community Engagement

Nov. 18, 2021

Dr. Rajeev Nagassar describes his love of microbiology and explains how he engages with local communities in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago.

What’s the Issue?

Effective public engagement requires meaningful interactions between scientists and communities. For too long, the scientific community has taken a deficit-based approach to sharing scientific content, one that disregards any consideration of the interests, expectations or needs of their audience(s). As the COVID-19 pandemic has so clearly highlighted, this approach is not working. Moving forward, scientists must take an inclusive, asset-based approach to engagement that creates opportunities for true dialogue with public audiences. 

In this installment of “Microbiology Is …”, Dr. Rajeev Nagassar provides a great example of how public engagement can be done properly. As part of his role as ASM’s Country Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Rajeev works with several local organizations, including the Chaguanas Public Library, to provide scientific information to Trinidadians. His presentations and discussions are so popular that community members are continually requesting more, a clear marker of success.

How to Get Involved?

At ASM, we are always looking for members to serve as ambassadors to their local communities. Learn how you can get involved: We also offer online science communication training courses to help ASM members improve and refine their skills for sharing their science. Sign up for our email list to get notifications!

About Rajeev Nagassar: 

Dr. Rajeev Nagassar, M.B.B.S. is a Medical Doctor, Specialist Medical Officer and Head of the Department of Microbiology at the Eastern Regional Health Authority in Trinidad and Tobago. He is a member of the National Coordinating Committee to combat antimicrobial resistance and has been involved in National Action Plan development. Rajeev is also a Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow. In his capacity as ASM's Country Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Rajeev visits libraries and business places to speak with various social groups to advocate for microbiology. For him, “microbiology is life.”


About the "Microbiology Is..." Project

The “Microbiology Is...” project is a series from ASM in which we highlight how microbiologists around the world work with local, national and international partners to apply laboratory research to real-world issues that directly affect individuals and communities. From the obvious (antibiotics, safe drinking water) to the obscure (wine production), this project covers the entire spectrum of applications for microbiology. Through these stories, we are showcasing the human side of science and the true impact microbiology has on society. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to inspire more microbiologists to bring their work out of the lab and into their local communities. Because ultimately, microbiology is for everyone.

Author: Geoff Hunt, Ph.D.

Geoff Hunt, Ph.D.
Geoff Hunt earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University.