Celebrating engaged research

The University’s Public Engagement Unit recently held its inaugural Engage event, an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the diverse range of engaged research happening across campus.

Jon Chouler presenting at Engage

Over 120 people from the University and from external organisations that partner us in research, headed to the new Edge building on Wednesday 13 May to preview this year’s Images of Research entries and to hear from the finalists of the Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards.

Three finalists battled it out for the Postgraduate Award – Benjamin Bowman (Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies); Jon Chouler (Department of Chemistry); and Annelisa Sadler (Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology).

They were challenged to engage the audience with their research in whatever way the deemed fit, but for no more than six minutes!

Jon Chouler was the eventual winner of the £500 prize, using a mix of audience participation, science stand-up skills and balloons to explain his research on using microbial fuel cells to detect toxic compounds in water for developing countries.

Jon commented: "It's an absolute honour to win this prize. From science festivals, to school workshops, and stand-up comedy in pubs, it's great to get recognised from the University for all the hard work I put into public engagement. I really do enjoy showing people how fascinating and inspiring the research I do actually is!"

The Staff Award for Public Engagement with Research saw Dr Kit Yates (Department of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr Sarah Bailey (Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology) facing the same challenge of engaging the audience with their research for six minutes.

Sarah was the eventual winner, taking us through her research on anxiety (a mental health condition that affects about 1:6 adults in the UK) and using grains of sugar as an analogy for brain cells that control our emotions and behaviour.

Dr Sarah Bailey

Sarah will be awarded her prize (£500 plus a £1500 grant to develop her public engagement work further) at this summer’s graduation ceremony.

Sarah said: “I am so pleased to have received this award. Like many engaged researchers, I became involved in public engagement because I enjoy it and think that PE is an important part of my research; this recognition demonstrates that the University values these activities too.”

As well as announcing the winners for the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Public Engagement with Research, Engage saw judges announce the winners of this year’s Images of Research competition:

Best overall entry

  • Winner: Dr William Wadsworth (Department of Physics) — Twinkle, twinkle, little dot...
  • Highly commended: Professor Michael Beverland (School of Management) — Is your diet sustainable?

Best image

Best description

Alongside these six IoR winners, attendees at Engage voted for their own favourite images. The top six posters from this vote will be displayed alongside the judges’ six winners at the Festival of Nature in Bath on Saturday 27 June where the public will be able to vote for their overall favourite.

View more photos taken at the Engage event.

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