The winners of the 2018 Connecting Science Public Engagement Prizes were announced last week at the Connecting Science Summer Celebration. This new annual prize scheme coordinated by our Public Engagement team, as part of a suite of new activities, recognises outstanding efforts by Campus staff in engaging public or schools audiences with the work which takes place on the Wellcome Genome Campus.

The prizes were assessed by a panel of judges who looked for a variety of qualities including relevance to Campus science, creativity of approach, partnership, sustainability of impact and efforts to tackle equality, and diversity through the public engagement activity. The entries demonstrated the rich and varied engagement work which takes place across our Campus. There were three prize categories, and you can find out more about the winners and runners-up below.

The judges for our inaugural prizes had a very difficult task, presented with a fantastic set of applications from across the Campus. We hope the diversity of people and projects featured in this year’s competition helps to grow the enthusiasm for, and uptake of, our public engagement programme.

Dr Kenneth Skeldon, Head, Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement

INNOVATOR PRIZE

This award recognises staff at earlier stages of their careers or public engagement journeys, who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in engaging with schools or public audiences.

The first prize was awarded to María Duque for her work on the Worm Hunters project, a collaboration with the University of Antioquia, Colombia, that combined public engagement with a de-worming programme in Ciénaga, a town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

The runner up was Kim Judge for her sequencing in schools project, an innovative outreach programme that takes the Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencer into the classroom.

  1. Dr Maria Duque
    Dr María Duque with school children in Ciénaga. (Image credit: Jose A Dianes)
  2. Award winners
    Dr Kim Judge with award presenter, Dr Cordelia Langford, and Tapoka Mkandawire collecting an award on behalf of María Duque.

EXCELLENCE PRIZE

This award recognises staff with a long-standing commitment to public engagement and activities that have helped influence or amplify the impact of their research.

The first prize was awarded to Francesc Galban, whose engagement portfolio represents an impressive track record of engagement through public and patient involvement, collaborative research, and community engagement with research focusing on under-served communities in Africa. Francesc’s approach demonstrates the value of embedding a strong public engagement ethos into a sustained research journey.

The runner up was Alena Pance, who has been involved in a wide range of public engagement activities for over eight years. Her work includes a long-standing relationship with the William Westley Primary school, volunteering at school STEM fairs, developing content for the Cambridge Technical level 3 qualification in laboratory skills, and writing blogs and answering readers questions for New Scientist magazine.

The judges also highly commended Valerie Vancollie, who has been involved in Campus public engagement activities since 2009. Valerie has taken part in a range of festivals and events including the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, Big Biology Day and the Peterborough STEM festival, and is an experienced Campus tour leader. She is an advocate for speaking openly and honestly with people about how, why and when we use animals in research, and all of the legal requirements and oversight that ensure high welfare standards are adhered to.

  1. Excellence awards.
    Award presenter Dr Giles Yeo with Francesc Galban and Alena Pance.

ENGAGED TEAM PRIZE

This award celebrates an outstanding collaborative effort in engaging external audiences with aspects of Campus science.

This year’s winner of the Engaged Team prize was Genome Decoders, a collaboration between the Wellcome Sanger Institute Parasite Genomics team, the WormBase team at the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the Institute for Research in Schools.

This innovative project engages A-level science students with the topics of neglected tropical diseases and bioinformatics, through the curation of gene structures in the human whipworm genome.

  1. Team award.
    Members of the Parasite Genomics and WormBase teams, with award presenter Dr Gerard Kleywegt.

This new award scheme is a fantastic way to highlight the breadth and variety of engagement activities across our Campus, and the commitment and passion of all who take part. Congratulations to all our winners and nominees, and I hope that their achievements will provide inspiration for other Campus staff to start their engagement journeys with us too!

Dr Julian Rayner, Director, Connecting Science

Visit the Public Engagement website to watch films about the award winners and read more about the judging panel.

Congratulations everyone!

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