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The Principal’s Public Engagement Prize was in 2014 awarded to the team from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering, led by Professor Rory Duncan. The awards, now in their fourth year, were set up by Professor Steve Chapman to recognise an individual or team’s ability to reach new public audiences not already engaged with research.

Principal Steve Chapman awarded the prizes at the culmination of Engaging Researcher Day 2014, a series of events organised by HW Engage, designed to inspire future public engagement champions and celebrate the staff and students who drive public engagement activity at Heriot-Watt. Other highlights of the day included Tom Pringle (AKA Dr Bunhead) and his jaw dropping techniques for engaging audiences of all ages – from blowing things up to creating wow’s with just a copper tube and a magnet.

The awards ceremony also featured a keynote speech from Prof. Stuart Monro, Scientific Director of Our Dynamic Earth who posed the question, ‘Why Engage’. His enthusiasm for engaging with the public was infectious, with PhD students and Professors inspired to get out of the labs and fascinate the public with their discoveries.

The winners

At the annual awards' ceremony, Heriot-Watt University Principal, Professor Steve Chapman, announced winners in the four award categories as:

  • Team Award and Overall Winners – The IB3 team led by Professor Rory Duncan, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences
  • Early Career Researcher Award - Dr Svenja Wurm, School of Management & Languages
  • PhD Student award - Ms Jenny Wood, School of the Built Environment
  • Individual Award - Dr Daniele Faccio, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

The award winners each received a Principal's Public Engagement trophy and a grant towards future public engagement activities (£500 for the first three prizes; £1500 for the overall winner). Short videos highlighting their public engagement activities are featured on our YouTube channel.