The Society of Biology Science Communication Awards are an annual event intended to reward outreach work carried out by young scientists and established researchers to inform, enthuse and engage the public. There are two categories of awards and this year both winners are from The University of Manchester.
Projects the applicants are involved in can range from talks and written articles to hands-on demonstrations or art displays. The audiences vary from school children to patients to the general public. Overall the judges were looking for a programme of activities that have brought good quality science to non-academic audiences in engaging ways that are likely to foster a lasting interest in biology.
Rebecca Williams (far left) with A level students and Dr Sheena Cruickshank right with children.
The New Researcher prize was awarded to developmental biology PhD student Rebecca Williams. Rebecca set up an organisation called Fastbleep Biology that runs biology workshops in Greater Manchester Schools. She is also a demonstrator at Manchester Museum and worked as a Widening Participation Fellow at the University, as well as undertaking a PhD!
Ben Johnson, director of Graphic Science and chair of the judging panel, said: "The standard of entries this year was extremely high, and we had applications from many talented communicators. What struck us about Rebecca's application were the variety of activities she was involved with and her ability to improve projects based on participant feedback. Rebecca had some great projects and was really committed to ensuring they continued after she finished her PhD."
The Established Researcher prize will be presented to Dr Sheena Cruickshank, a lecturer in immunology from The University of Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences. Sheena co-developed an initiative called 'The Worm Wagon', combining art and interactive activities to improve science understanding and raise awareness of global health issues. This initiative also works with community groups of immigrant women from the Indian sub-continent and Africa to raise awareness about the impact of parasitic worm infections in their home countries. This interaction has helped change Dr Cruickshank's research by shedding light on the way that worm infections are transmitted and treated.
Dr Steve Cross, head of public engagement at UCL and fellow judge, says: "Sheena's application stood out for us because she's getting to audiences beyond the places science normally goes, and focussing her time and effort to make successful projects that involve her colleagues. We loved the creativity of her communication and the very clear passion for her own field of immunology."
The winners will be presented their awards at the Society's Annual Award Ceremony at the King's Fund on Thursday 17th October during Biology Week 2013.
The Society of Biology would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for their support of these awards and judges Ben Johnson, Daniel Glaser, Steve Cross and Susan Jebb.