The 7th Annual Public Engagement Prizes saw winners from across all Heriot-Watt schools and campuses, recognising those who go above and beyond to share their research outside of the university, communicating enthusiasm and fascination with a subject to an audience that may otherwise not have engaged with it.
This year, the expert panel received a vast array of high quality applications, with some really innovative activities being undertaken across the University to engage the public with research.
The prizes were awarded by Principal and Vice Chancellor Richard Williams at an awards event in Oriam. Chief Scientist Prof John Underhill shared his thoughts on the importance of engagement, our relationship with society and what we could be doing going forwards. Famelab's Scottish finalist Calum Hill also wowed the audience with his dramatic explanation of nuclear fusion, an example of the initiative ways our academics and students share their research with the public.
The team award went to the Year of Robotics Team, which brought together academics, students and professional services staff from across all schools and campuses, led by colleagues in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.
The prize recognised the diversity of events and audiences, from brownies and guides, to engagement through the Edinburgh Robotics Forum, and future plans to engage via CarFest and school's projects.
The early-career award recognized the commitment and enthusiasm of Dr Ana Catarino from the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society. Ana leads the Edinburgh wing of the Native Scientist project, which engages with audiences traditionally less engaged in science and outreach – drawing on the linguistic diversity of the staff and students at HWU and the variety of disciplines.
The Senior Researcher awarded recognised the strong collaboration we have with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, and was awarded to Dr Nicola McGuigan from the School of Social Sciences. Nicola's approach empowered high school students to lead activities with 5-7 year olds to stimulate an interest in biological science at a very young age – with excellent feedback and quantifiable impact on all involved.